2013 01Newsletter, September African Photo Safari toTanzania and Kenya

 Renner Safaris

Dream, Explore, Discover

We were on a photo safari to Tanzania and Kenya. It was September and the weather  was beautiful as usual. Daytime temperatures were between 70 and 85 degrees, with nights cooling down to the sixties.  On our photo safari, expectations were high as to what wildlife we hoped to encounter. Our driver/guides were amazing as always and by the end of the safari everyone was thrilled at how much we had seen!  It was another amazing safari!


Hippos, One Yawning, One Peeking
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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Directly following the Tanzania/Kenya safari, eight of us continued on to Rwanda in hopes of some good photography with the endangered mountain gorillas. It too was amazing! You will find more photos of the gorillas toward the end of the newsletter.

 Giant Silverback and Baby Mountain Gorilla
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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In Ngorongoro Crater we were extremely fortunate to see a Caracal. Caracals are the smallest of the larger cats, weighing between 25 and 40 pounds. They have exceptional jumping and climbing capabilities which enable them to leap into the air to catch birds such as storks that are taking off. 

 Caracal
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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Early one morning in the Mara we found a family of hyenas cleaning up a zebra that had been left by a pride of lions.  I thought this one was kind of cute for a hyena.

Young Spotted Hyena
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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Our guide, Mamai, told us there was a leopard in the bushes. After searching and looking behind what must have been every leaf, we were finally able to make out some spots laying on the ground. Mamai said ” I know this leopard and I think she will come out of the bushes.” We had been waiting for some time when a herd of elephants came to drink from the pond that was only about thirty feet from the leopard. One of the elephants wandered into the bushes until it was only six feet from the leopard but she was well hidden and didn’t move. Shortly after the elephants left the water hole, our patience was rewarded when the leopard came out of the bushes and sat right in front of us to look around. What a beautiful cat!

Leopard
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

It was thrill for me when she stood up and then walked by, just a few feet from me.

Leopard
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012  

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In Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park we saw hundreds of elephants.  This afforded us many opportunities to watch their behavior. Here a young elephant befriends a small baby.

Elephant Friends
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF Canon 400 mm, f5.6L USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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With each safari, I become more interested in the birds of Africa.  Most parks have between 350 and 450 species. Many of the birds are cloaked in dazzling displays of brilliant colors, as evidenced by this Superb Starling.

Superb Starling
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF Canon 400 mm, f5.6L USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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An Auger Buzzard was on the ground in Ngorongoro Crater and appeared to be eating something. Upon getting a closer look we saw that it was eating a snake. Good bird!

 Auger Buzzard Devouring a Snake
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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These back lit cheetahs were sitting atop a grassy knoll to get a better view of the surrounding area.  They appeared to be on the lookout for gazelle but none were to be found. It was actually lucky for the cheetahs because in the direction they were looking, we had seen a pride of lions laying in the grass only about 500 yards from them. Because of the terrain and vegetation between them, the cheetahs could not see them and had no idea that the lions were there.  Had the cheetahs caught something, the lions would have taken it away or worse yet, even killed the cheetahs. Lions do not tolerate competition for food. 

Cheetahs
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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We could tell by its behavior that the cheetah was hunting. From the top of the hill, it could see some gazelle but they were almost a half of a mile away. We drove down to wait on the far side of the gazelle so that if the cheetah did give chase, they would run toward us rather than away. This would give us better photo opportunities. It slowly got up and cautiously began stalking the gazelle but at a point about 300 yards from the herd, the bushy ground cover changed to short grass.  The cheetah stopped and laid down just inside the edge of the bushes from where it could watch the prey without being seen. I thought the distance between them was too far for the cheetah to run, so I  began looking through my binoculars for something else interesting when I heard, “It is coming!”  I looked up to witness the the cheetah’s blazing speed as it ran almost directly at us.  Suddenly a small gazelle veered out from the herd and ran parallel to our vehicle.  The cheetah instantly changed course and caught the Thomson’s gazelle about twenty feet from us.  Deb Komatsu, from our group, had filmed the entire chase and later told me that only 12 seconds elapsed from the time the cheetah started running, covered the 300 yards, caught the gazelle and looked up at me. It then picked up the gazelle and carried it all 300 yards back into the taller bushes were it could eat its meal without being spotted by vultures or hyenas. Being a cheetah is not easy.

Cheetah with Thomson’s Gazelle
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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 African Photo Safaris In 2013

At this time, except for the recently added South Africa safari late in September,  the remainder of our 2013 safaris have been sold out for some time.  See the second table below for the dates of our 2014 safaris. Be sure and book your trip early so you wont be disappointed.

Tanzania and Kenya-17 Days – Birthing Season for the Great Migration (closed) Feb. 1-17, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Botswana-15-Days (sold out) May 16-28, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Tanzania and Kenya-18-Days – Season for Great Migration Crossings at the Mara River    (sold out) July 18 – Aug.4, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Tanzania and Kenya-17-Days – Season for Great Migration Crossings at the Mara River  (sold out)
Aug. 28 – Sept. 13, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trek (sold out) Sept. 13 – 17, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
South Africa Photo Safari  (Recently added) Sept. 19 – Oct. 2, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing

African Photo Safaris Schedule for 2014

We have set the dates for our 2014 photo safaris per the table below.  We will post the itineraries in the next month and as soon as we receive confirmation and prices from the lodges we will post the prices as well. We hope to receive the prices for our 2014 safaris by the end of April 2013. To keep the prices of our trips competitive, we wait until we receive the actual prices from the lodges and airlines. We could guess at the prices, but then we would have to guess high to make sure we didn’t underestimate.  We appreciate your patience and understanding. Our safaris are a great value and definitely worth waiting for!

Tanzania and Kenya – Birthing Season for the Great Migration  Feb.1-17, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing coming soon
Botswana and Zambia May 20 – June 4, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing coming soon
Tanzania and Kenya – Season for Great Migration Crossings at the Mara River   July 16 – Aug.2, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing coming soon
Tanzania and Kenya – Season for Great Migration Crossings at the Mara River   Aug. 28 – Sept. 13, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing coming soon
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trek   Sept. 13 – 17, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing coming soon

 Important information about our safaris

Prices for our safaris to Kenya and Tanzania include international airfare from LAX – most other companies do not include airfare.
We have only three passengers per nine passenger 4×4 safari Land Cruiser so You will enjoy plenty of space for you and your equipment.
We stay in luxury safari lodges and tented camps.
You do not have to be a photographer but you must enjoy watching the wildlife because that is what we do!
I will be there to photograph with you and available to answer your questions.
 Parks we visit on our African safaris.

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On our Tanzania/Kenya safaris we have only three passengers per nine passenger vehicle giving you plenty of space for you and your photo equipment. You can photograph through windows on BOTH sides of the vehicle and also from the top, which pops up to create shade so you are protected from the hot, equatorial sun. Compared to other tours that pack the vans with up to eight people, this is a huge deal! Our African photo safaris are limited to eighteen people, including the leaders.As we leave the lodges, the vehicles separate and spread out. This allows us to have up to six guides out looking for wildlife. They each have radios to share what they find. This way no one misses out on

seeing the wildlife! When using  six great guides, you will hardly believe all of the wildlife they find. We have trained them to  understand lighting, composition and what we are trying to achieve. Our guides are awesome!Our safaris are designed for the ultimate photographic experience, however please don’t be intimidated from enjoying one my photo safaris just because you are not a photographer or you don’t use a “great camera.” If you enjoy wildlife you will love these safaris and more than likely you’ll come home with your own great photos too!I will be photographing on our game drives too, but I am available to answer your questions and let you know how I am photographing each subject so you can learn more about photography and bring home your own great photos too.To avoid disappointment, make your reservations today.

To reserve your space on our photo safaris, please call Paul Renner at (949) 295-3136, or email him at: paulrenner3@cox.net or call Prem Sharma at Best Safaris (800) 757-6625

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This beautiful bird is a Speke’s Weaver. They live in colonies sometimes consisting of hundreds of birds.  The males are the nest builders and upon completion the female (light brown in color) inspects the nest. If she approves, they start their family, if not he has to build a new nest. They actually weave the grasses together to build a sturdy, intricate nest.

Speke’s Weaver
Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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The White Headed Buffalo Weaver is another member of the large weaver family. The nests, rather untidy (by weaverbird standards) are built in the fork of a branch out, away from the trunk to foil predators. Both the male and the female work to build their nest.

White Headed Buffalo  Weaver
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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If he could talk, I would love to hear the stories this old lone bull could tell.

Old One Tusker
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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Topi are common in the Masai Mara and the northern Serengeti.  A single animal can often be seen standing almost motionless on the top of a termite mound. They have excellent eye sight and stand guard to watch for predators from the higher vantage point.

Topi
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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During our safaris in Tanzania and Kenya we visit local Masai villages.  It’s an interesting, eye opening experience to see how they live. They are friendly, proud and happy people. The men herd the livestock and the women build the homes, walk to the well to get water, do the cooking and raise the children.

Masai Woman
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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It was near dark when we spotted this big male lion up on the dead tree. As far back as I can recall, this is the first male lion that I have seen up on a tree. At the moment we arrived, he was roaring, sending out the message for all to hear, that this was his domain. His pride of eleven or twelve lions was about a quarter mile away eating a buffalo. After roaring, then stoping for a drink, he rejoined them at the buffalo for dinner.

 Lion in a Tree
Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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Mom appeared to be getting a little tired of nursing these cubs.

The Nursery
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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They were sure cute cubs and fun to watch! Always entertaining, I am sure they think life is a game to be enjoyed!

Cute Cubs
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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Okay, can you cubs please smile for the camera?  Typical kids!

Same Cute Cubs
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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Later in September, on our gorilla trip we were fortunate because each day our trek up to the gorillas was an hour or less. The length of the treks depends on where the gorilla families are located when we hike in. In the past years we have had some long, hard hikes.  Whatever the difficulty level is while hiking through the rainforest and up onto the volcanic mountains, it is worth the effort when one comes face to face with these gentle giants relaxing in their own home! It really is a once in a lifetime experience!

 Giant Silverback Mountain Gorilla
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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 Giant Silverback Mountain Gorilla
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF 100-400 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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No, it is not an eel! Things aren’t always as scary as they look. It is just a Tree Hyrax yawning.

 Tree Hyrax
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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The tree hyrax is a small nocturnal mammal that is distantly related  (believe it or not) to elephants and sea cows. They have 4-toed front feet and 3-toed back feet with rounded nails, and rubbery soles that help them climb

Tree Hyrax
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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I hope you can join us on safari in 2014 to see and experience all of this for yourself?

Watching a Pair of Lions From One of our 4×4 Land Cruisers
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF100-400mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM

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Storm clouds sometimes blow in from nearby Lake Victoria and with beautiful sunlight and clouds create beautiful elements for landscape photography.

Brewing Storm 
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon EF 400 mm, 5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012

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 Baobab Tree at Sunset
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF Canon 400 mm, f5.6L USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2012    

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For more safari information, prices and itineraries click here.

I hope that you will be able to join us on one of our safaris in the not so distant future. Why not join us in South Africa this year in September?

Enjoy each day.
Paul Renner

paulrenner3@cox.net

www.rennersafaris.com

(949) 295-3136

Read more about what our clients have to say about our safaris

 

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