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About Andy


I am an avid adventurer, conservationist, teacher, and outdoor photographer whose photography celebrates the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. My photographic safaris allow my travelers to not only enhance their understanding of photography, lighting, and wildlife, but to develop a life-long admiration for Africa ‘s beauty and culture.

Banana Republic recently used my photographs as the cornerstone of their Urban Safari campaign, and my images were seen in all 750 stores around the globe, as well as in their billboards, catalogs and annual report. I was also the winner of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the ‘Wild Places’ category in 2008 and a highly commended in the ‘Creative Visions of Nature’ category in 2007.

I launched Gura Gear in 2008, in an attempt to deliver lightweight camera bags to the market. I was looking for a lightweight camera bag to hold all of my photographic gear, and there was nothing desirable on the market that suited my needs. After spending 2 years with many prototypes, the Gura Gear Kiboko bag was born. More products are now available on the Gura Gear web site.





Entries in Tanzania (57)


Safari Update - Serengeti


Zebras at a Watering Hole

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. March 2011

Nikon D3, 200-400mm, 1/800 @ f/6.3, ISO 400

Today we said goodbye to the wonderful Kusini staff, and headed north through the acacia woodland towards the central Serengeti. We are spending the last 3 nights of this safari at the new Kempenski Bilila Lodge, and I can already tell you that I really do like the accommodations here. But I digress…

The morning game drive was fairly quiet until we got to the Moru Kopjes, where we stumbled on a lion pride with many young cubs. We didn’t have a long time with them, as they were rapidly moving from the open grasslands to shaded trees, and we were on our way within a few minutes. It’s funny to be so casual about passing up lion opportunities, but these safaris really do allow my travelers to get picky about which opportunities are good and which are marginal. I am spoiled, for sure.

When we made it to the Moru Kopjes we saw three female lions in the distance, as well as a solo female leopard out in the waving green grass. These weren’t photographic moments, but rather great sightings that make me think long and hard about walking out in the open in the middle of the Serengeti. I had that thought on my mind as we also came across two large male lions at the Masai paintings area. I am glad we noticed them first, as we might have had a problem on our hands had we exited the vehicle too early.

We had to fill up the vehicles at Seronera, as we were running low on fuel. I thought we would be at the lodge by noon, however we decided to stop at a watering hole to watch the huge herds of zebras and wildebeest come in to drink. We definitely found a HUGE chunk of the migration right in the middle of the Serengeti. I always like to have 2 camp locations when I visit the Serengeti, as you never know where the migration is going to be. The herds we saw today in the Seronera valley were fairly substantial, and I know how many we saw down near Kusini yesterday, which means the migration is splintered right now. It’s a really cool sight to see.

I really like to drag the shutter on these types of shots, however I decided to go for the fast shutter speeds this afternoon to try something new. I think it worked, and I am happy with the results.


Safari Update - Serengeti


We were out early this morning (duh), and we headed towards the open plains towards Ndutu. Since we are on the Serengeti side of the border, I suspected we wouldn’t run into many people at all today. Well, I was right, because Kusini is the only camp in the southern Serengeti National Park. There are many many camps and also a few lodges on the Ngorongoro Conservation Area side, but the two management areas really don’t have many people that move back and forth between the two, as the costs and logistics can get more than messy. I find it is easiest to make a decision which side to stay on and then just do it.

Other than our vehicles, there are only 2 others in the entire southern part of the Serengeti right now. You can really feel all of the area has been set aside for just us.

When we entered the open plains, we noticed a few lions who were walking towards a sizable water source. After about 30 seconds, we all noticed there were actually 12 lions in total, with adult females and subadult males and female. They were all running around, jumping all over each other with joy. It was great to have good subjects in the early morning light.

After a while, we noticed there were some hyaenas congregating for a huge standoff with the lions. One by one, the hyaena numbers went from 2 to 3, to 10, to 12 and then ultimately to 17. It was interesting watching their behavior, as they encircled the lions. I could tell there wouldn’t be a fight, but it was clear that the hyaenas weren’t going to let the lions take advantage of them in any way.

We followed the lions for about 2 hours, and left them when they finally settled down underneath the shade of a large acacia tree. We then drove around on the open plains, looking for interesting subjects. I thought it would be fun to try and get ostrich images, so we worked with a small group of them for probably 30 minutes. The problem with them is that they run away when you get close to them. My goal was to get them to run in the same direction our Land Rover was heading, but we didn’t have any luck today. Not a big deal, because watching them is good enough for me.

We went back to camp for a wonderful lunch, and then headed back out around 3:30. Again, we went to the open plains. We did follow a large herd of giraffes for a long time, and eventually they were tired of us and ran away. I decided to try and get them running, while bouncing around in our Land Rover at 40mph off-road. Oh joy!


Safari Update - Serengeti

We drove around the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater early this morning, and as we lost elevation on the way down to the Serengeti plains we lost the green vegetation and cool highlands air. There is a section of whistling thorn acacia bushes that routinely have grazing giraffes, and today had a very nice congregation of them on both sides of the road. As a side note, I love shooting them in this area, as I am able to put the Serengeti plains as the backdrop.

We had some water on some of the roads heading down, and I can definitely feel that the long rains are almost here. It did rain both evenings when we were at Gibbs Farm, and it rained when we were in Ngorongoro, and now signs of recent rain in the southeastern Serengeti. Good news, for sure.

We made it to the Ndutu area in the late morning, and we ate a picnic lunch under a large acacia tree, which overlooked Lake Masek and its flamingos. After lunch the cyclone of water began. I mean really began. We had a solid wall of water around the swamps west of Ndutu, and our vehicles were sliding sideways because of the heavy rain and mud. I haven’t been in a rain like that in many years, and it was awesome.

The drive from Ndutu to Kusini was, well, interesting. The solid wall of rain and wind followed us almost the entire way, and I wasn’t able to take a single image today. Not a single image. The rain was so hard it would have ruined all of my gear, so it wasn’t worth it.

The Kusini area has some amazing granite kopjes, and the Kusini Camp is settled on top of one. We arrived around 5pm, as we couldn’t continue our game drive any longer due to the rain. Since arrived before sunset, we all showered and came and enjoyed one of the most amazing sundowner dinks on top of their central kopje. The staff placed large pillows near top for each of us to sit on, and hoisted up a drink cart for the serving of drinks. It is the small touches that matter in the hospitality industry, and the staff here have it nailed to a ‘T’.

After our gorgeous sunset, we had appetizers around the fire, and finished with dinner in the dining room. Not much else to add, other than today was a great day, even though I didn’t take a single photograph.


Safari Update - Ngorongoro

I think my guests were itching to see the Ngorongoro Crater, as everybody was rearing to go very early this morning, with no stragglers. I rarely have people who are late for game drives, and today was absolutely no exception.

We spent the bulk of the morning with lions, wildebeest, zebra, hyena and black rhino, however the absolute highlight was a pair of adult male lions right next to our vehicle. It is difficult to explain the feeling I get when I am only a few feet from such large predators, and today really hit it out of the park. They were walking, lying down, sitting up, you name it. We had different looks every few minutes. Our heading into lunch had many happy smiles on faces, for sure.

After lunch the awesome weather continued, as we had warm, direct light early, then soft light and spotty cumulus clouds for the afternoon, and then warm light at the end of the day. The highlights for me were 2 sparring male zebras, as well as 2 adult cheetahs only a few feet from our window. I blew hundreds of frames on my D3 as the zebras reared up onto their hind legs and tried to bite each other.

Ngorongoro is one of those wildlife destinations that rarely disappoints, and today was another day in paradise. I won’t see the crater again for another year, as I have other safari destinations planned for the rest of this year: Botswana, Rwanda and Kenya.

Tomorrow we are heading to the Serengeti, and will be staying at Kusini Camp in the southern end of the park. Rumor has it that the wildebeest have moved north from Ndutu, and we hope to see them somewhere between Kusini and the Moru Kopjes.


Safari Udate - Lake Manyara

I met my safari group this morning at Arusha Coffee Lodge, had a nice breakfast and loaded up the Land Rovers for the first leg of my second safari. Our destination was Gibbs Farm, in the Ngorongoro highlands outside of the village of Karatu.

The drive took a few hours, and in my vehicle I got up to speed on world politics and world events that have occurred over the past few weeks. For some reason I didn’t expect updates on Brad Womack, the current star of the tv show The Bachelor. Lol.

Our rooms weren’t ready when we arrived, so we took the oppportunity to have their wonderful coffee out on the veranda. The late morning breeze in the highlands is like no other, and it felt like coming back home. The staff at Gibbs Farm haven’t seen me in a few years, and it was great to be back.

Gibbs Farm is a quaint place to stay that has wonderful organic food for all of their meals, and I don’t lie when I say that the best, most fresh food in all of Tanzania is served there. I don’t know the current count, but I remember that they employ 100 to 150 peole from the surrounding area to help run the accommodation side of the business, as well as tend to the coffee and farming of food.

We went on our afternoon game drive in Lake Manyara National Park, and as usual the vervet monkeys and olive baboons were there to greet us when we arrived. Since the sun was getting low in the sky, we decided to leave the forest to see what was going on near the lake’s edge. Not much, actually. Just a bunch of Leopard Tours vehicles (yuck).

We did stop to shoot a few giraffes at the edge of the forest, and I was hapy to get something from the afternoon. I have to admit that it was fairly slow, as we saw few elephants or giraffes. I was in Tarangire a few days ago, and there were tons of both on the other side of Lake Manyara, so that must explain the lack of them over here.

We had a wonderful dinner at Gibbs Farm, and I could see the jetlag on my guests’ faces, and we turned in early for the night. Tomorrow is Ngorongoro!


Safari Update - Ngorongoro

Today is this safari’s last day of game drives, as my safari group will be going home tomorrow. We were up at 5:30, and we were ready to get to the bottom of the crater at 6am, when we are allowed to do so.

Again, we met up with the lion pride along the Munge River and spent a few moments taking inventory of what we had to photograph. We noticed that most of the pride was missing, so we looked around with our binoculars to see where the lion cubs were. We spotted a few lions up on Mawe Meusi (black rocks) and headed in that direction.

Well, we hit pay dirt. As we drove up all 4 lion cubs were running and jumping all over each other, while the adult females and 2 adult males ignored them. The show lasted for at least minutes, and this was one of those challenging photo situations where they would run behind and amongst tall blades of grass. Talk about autofocus hell. They wouldn’t stay still long enough to manual focus, so my approach was to bump the ISO from 800 to 1600 and stop down the lens to f/11. Why? Depth of field. If I missed my focus point I could rely a little bit on an increased DOF to bail me out.

The drive around Ngorongoro is amazing, because you think you are close to the middle, but you aren’t. You also see things in the crater that may be less common somewhere else, like lions hunting in the middle of the day. I like my guests to have their best day on their last safari day, so we worked hard to find something unique and uplifting. We watched the moments after the birth of a baby thomson gazelle, and sat and watched his first steps. Gosh, how amazing it is to watch the first few minutes of life outside of the womb. It took a little while for the little guy to get up, and once he was up his mother would walk a little to make sure he was getting strength in his legs.

I ran into some friends of friends today from South Africa, and you should check out their blog. They are driving across Africa in 70 days, and they are updating their blog on a daily basis. We chatted for a while in the middle of the crater, and we parted ways after a good chat. It rained heavily this afternoon, and I ended up taking 2 of my guests back to camp early as they were under the weather. The rain on my tent was one of those things that felt foreign to me, as I have spent the past 8 days on a fairly dry and dusty safari. Very refreshing, to say the least.


Safari Update - Ngorongoro

I woke up 5 minutes before one of the staff came and brought hot water to the tent, and I cherished that 5 minutes of silence. The Ngorongoro winds were minimal, however the chill had settled in and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt alive this morning, as cool elevations often do, and once I was up and running I could not wait to get to the bottom of the crater. Uh, more like caldera. But I digress.

There is a pride of lions that hunts along the Munge River, and I often see them coming down from the crater’s edge at dawn. They hunt in the upper reaches of the northern Munge River at night, as their is a pasture that often has zebra, wildebeest and cape buffalo at night.

Well, we had great success today, as we were down at the bottom of the crater by 6:15 and over at the Munge a few minutes later. They were already inactive by that time, but we did notice a fairly noticable wound on a male cub. Poor guy. He did have a full belly, but I don’t like to see wounded animals. That’s just how I approach wildlife viewing and I tend to have a soft heart in this area.

General game was found throughout the morning, from buffalo to zebras to large bull elephants. The main highlight for me was a serval cat who was hunting along side our vehicle. I haven’t seen a serval in a little while now, so it was a good sight to see. He was actively hunting and eventually jumped high in the air to come down and catch his prey.

We also came very close to a mother black rhino and her subadult, and this was likely the closest I have ever been to a black rhino in the crater.

On our way to Ngoitokitok spring for lunch we found a lone cheetah (a total of 11 so far on this safari) in the grass. He was actively hunting, so we moved off and eventually continued on for our picnic.

After lunch I went back to camp a little early to shoot some video of the Thomson Safaris camp, as I need some more marketing video clips that can be assembled into a 2 minute video for my web site.

I took the time to clean my gear, clean my sensors and download my images from the past 2 days. I often skip downloading for many days, as I work with the staff to make sure all goes as planned. This takes time away from my own photography, unfortunately. It is my job, though, and I really love it. I work hard for my customers and trust that it is noticed.


Safari Update #7

We left the Serengeti today, and made our way to the Ngorongoro highlands. Along the way we stopped at Lake Masek to photograph sparring giraffes, as well as a larger family group that was walking along the water’s edge. After a half an hour, we continued on our journey to the Ngorongoro Crater, which took much of the morning and into the early afternoon.

We stopped at the Oldupai Gorge (not the incorrect spelling of Olduvai), for fuel at the top of the crater rim, as well as for a picnic lunch. We ate underneath one of the largest fig trees I have ever seen, which provided more shade than I had ever seen from one. Truly marvelous. My guests commented on how green the crater is, as well as how much they liked the cool weather. It was probably 65F this afternoon, and I watched the crater floor as the passing clouds created shadows that looked like the spots of a dairy cow.

We arrived at camp around 2pm, and we took a nice rest until the light was good enough to go photograph some local Maasai near our camp. At 4:30 we loaded up and made our way to a boma nearby. Saitoti met us outside, asked us to come in and mingle around for a while. I helped Troy shoot some portraits, as he needed help with the strobe light setup. We used Pocket Wizards with his 580EX flash, with the flash set to manual. We mostly shot at 1/4 power, with the flash around 3 to 4 feet away from our subjects. He had a great time, and I was glad to help. The local ladies really like the Polaroid shots we gave away, and I should bring a small printer with me next time. I think Canon makes a Selphy model, which is battery powered.

I was happy to see that everybody was having a good time, and we went back to camp after 90 minutes of laughing, dancing and chit chatting.

The sunset was beautiful tonight, and I can tell that it will be cbilly tonight. No clouds equals chilly morning temperatures, for sure. The dinner tonight was local fare, with nyama choma (grilled meat), sukuma weike (spinach), maharage (beans), rice and chaati bread. My favorite Tanzanian meal at the end of a long and fruitful day.