My favorite challenge in photography is to get an up close and personal shot of an animal. To execute this, I have a 600MM lens on my camera, for as any photographer knows you should never try to actually get up close – not only is it stressful for the animals, it can also be extremely dangerous. I am sure you have read articles about tourists getting gouged, mauled etc while “innocently” trying to get a selfie with some animal. I personally have seen tourists get stupidly close despite being told in no uncertain terms by guides and rangers that this is not to be done.
The cheetah at the top certainly looks like it is right in front of me, with his mouth still dripping from his drink at a small watering hole. In reality – this was the distance between us:
Despite my best intentions, however, a few times I found myself way too close to a variety of animals. Fortunately in all of the occasions there were no altercations or attacks, but they all did get my adrenaline pumping sky high. Let me share some of these:
While in Africa I did have a number of close encounters. Some were with small beasties like the hyrax, who screams in the night like a person being murdered but is actually very mild mannered and friendly. They were plentiful at most eating areas in the parks, as despite again being admonished constantly by the rangers and guides, certain tourists still fed these wild animals:
I also had a totally awesome experience going almost face to face with some gorgeous giraffe in the Giraffe Center Sanctuary in Nairobi. Of course to do this I had to climb up into a wooden viewing platform where, being careful not to get head butted by an over friendly giraffe, I was able to offer some treats and watch as their long blue tongues (16-20 inches) gently scooped them up. Their tongues are blue, or purple or even black, incidentally as a sort of sun block.
I almost didn’t get to experience being close to some ridiculously adorable baby elephants in another Kenya Sanctuary. What was supposed to be an intimate time with these babies turned out to be a scrum between lots of visitors due to a holiday. My wonderful travel companion Peggy solved the problem by asking a guide for “assistance” and before you know it we were in front and center enjoying the view as the baby elephants rolled and played in the red mud.
There was adrenaline pumping moment when we paused at a watering hole in the Serengeti. While we sat EXTREMELY QUIETLY and still in our jeep which had opened windows we were suddenly greeted by a pride of lions, including one adorable cub:
The patriarch was sporting a rather severe looking injury, perhaps from a fight with another male, but it didn’t seem to effect his stately approach to the watering hole:
See how close our safari truck is – a fellow traveler in another jeep took this shot. The pride was much more interested in getting a drink that looking for a meal.
Truly a once in a lifetime experience.
There are more close encounters coming next week!