Japan: Winter Wildlife Safari 2013: Day 1

A truly amazing start to an amazing safari!  Starting early with the rare and endangered Japanese red crowned cranes in the river, we moved timeously to catch their arrival at a nearby crane sanctuary, before the real highlight of the day, the interaction between several white-tailed eagles and the cranes.  We finished up with a sunset shoot, watching and photographing the cranes as they flew over the sunset.

Major sightings of the day:

  • Many Japanese red crowned cranes.  (Great interaction between the cranes and the white-tailed eagles)
  • White-tailed eagles
  • Stellar sea eagle
  • Red foxes

The Polar Bear Safari 2012: Day 3

We woke up to beautiful clear skies, and it seems the good weather brought the bears out!  We spent a solid four hours in the company of the great bears, which filled the memory cards in all the cameras.  A red fox made a brief appearance, and a small flock of the elusive ptarmigans showed themselves after being flushed by one of the bears.

Major sightings of the day:

  • Five different polar bears.  The real magic was spending four hours of the day with the bears close by.
  • Red fox
  • Ptarmigans

The Polar Bear Safari 2012: Day 2

Setting out in a light snowfall, we had another great day, which included 4 new bear sightings; one of the bears spent a good hour standing over a seal’s breathing hole waiting for his meal to pop out of the ice – hats off to his patience.  We also spent some time checking out a wrecked ship, that now stands completely iced in, and made for some interesting images.  The Northern lights were out again in full force, and we took a short trip out of town to maximise the photo opportunities – well worth it!

Major sightings of the day:

  • Four different polar bears
  • An amazing two hour northern lights display

The Polar Bear Safari 2012: Day 1

Amazing start to a great Safari!  The day started with a 60km/h+ wind storm which set the mood for the day’s images.  Five different polar bears were seen, two of which were active, even in the winds, and one chap who spent close to two hours walking around us – fantastic!  After dinner, an amazing Northern Lights display made for some awesome images.

Major sightings of the day:

  • Five different Polar Bears, the highlight being spending two hours with one male
  • Ptarmigan
  • Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights)

The Great Migration Safari – A little teaser

Having recently come back from Kenya, and having witnessed the most incredible wildlife spectacle first hand, I thought it was only fair to share with you some of the madness!

I will be leading The Great Migration Safari again next year, and am already looking forward to getting back amongst the tens of thousands of wildebeest as they gather on the banks of the Mara River waiting to cross, as well as all the predators that roam those beautiful, wide open plains.  The photographic opportunities are endless, as animals seem to constantly fill the viewfinder of your camera.  It really isn’t fair that one place on earth can have so many animals, with so much diversity!  It is a photographic safari like no other.

It does all come down to the famous crossing of the Mara River though. There is something about that experience which is quite difficult to explain – you can watch it on TV a hundred times, but you will never get the level of panic at each crossing.  The wildebeest herd is extremely sensitive, which seems odd given that they are not the sharpest animals around, and even the slightest disturbance will turn the mega herd around, delaying the crossings.  They seem to do their best not to cross, but the overwhelming instinctive drive eventually pushes them to do it. The tension that emulates from the herd is palpable, as they pluck up the courage to start the crossing.  Eventually, one brave/stupid/pushed wildebeest makes the leap of faith, and is rapidly followed but the rest of the herd.  The tension climbs to a maximum in seconds as literally tens of thousands of wildebeest and a few hundred zebra hustle to get across the most daunting challenge that faces them on their yearly migration.  Add a crocodile to the mix, and the panic reaches melting point.  The wildebeest do their best, but many succumb to the strong current, and even stronger crocodiles.  The only way to truly understand what happens each year, and what has happened for millions of years, is to experience it.

Have a look at the little teaser I have posted for you, which should whet your appetite!  If you would like to join me on next year’s safari, click here!

See you soon on Safari!

Kurt Jay Bertels