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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)


Give the Gift of a Wildebeest Migration This Christmas

Are you still looking for that unique gift for your spouse who loves photography and nature? I have 1 room (2 spots or 1 person who wants his/her own room) left on my March 3-14, 2011 Tanzania Luxury Lodge-Based Photo Safari. We can get you signed up and mail you a beautifully wrapped safari gift to place under the Christmas tree on Saturday. All you need to do is get signed up no later than Thursday by noon, and we will take care of the rest. My email address is, so drop me a line.

March 3-14, 2011 Tanzania Luxury Lodge-Based Photographic Safari with host Andy Biggs

If this coming March doesn’t work with your schedule, take a look at other photographic safaris in 2011.


Zebras In A Row

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania


Mahale Mountains National Park (Part 3 of 3)

Today we did the same morning routine again, and again went out on our morning hike with the chimpanzees after breakfast. The hike was much longer today, and I think we were gone around 4 to 4.5 hours. In the whole scheme of what these hikes could be, it was certainly middle of the road. The forest behind our camp is quite dark with dappled light coming through, and this is very difficult for photography. One has to pay attention to every little light source, and hopefully one of those light sources can help illuminate a dark face.

I decided to take my D700 instead of my D300, primarily because I was wanting to shoot higher than ISO 1600. My shutter speeds from my first attempt weren't quite what I would want, so I took the risk that my subjects would be closer to me and I could get close to filling the frame at 200mm. Technically we are not allowed to be closer than 10 meters away, however the chimpanzees make the rules in the jungle and they would come close to us after we had stopped at the 10 meter point.

Here are some photos from the day:


Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/200 @ f/2.8, ISO 3200



Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/1250 @ f/2.8, ISO 5000


The Thinker

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/400 @ f/2.8, ISO 4000


A Walk In The Forest

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/1000 @ f/2.8, ISO 5000


Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/320 @ f/2.8, ISO 6400


Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/800 @ f/2.8, ISO 6400


'Chimping' wild animals in the forest

Nikon D700, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/640 @ f/5, ISO 6400

Today's light was technically better than on our first hike with the chimpanzees, as it was more overcast. The challenge was that I easily lost at least 2 stops of light because of it. I was very very happy that I chose to bring my D700 instead of the D300, and when I go back to Mahale I will definitely take the best low light camera in my bag. I would rather have better pixels at the same ISO or be able to push it higher, even if it means cropping. Fewer pixels that are better will definitely trump the larger file sizes.

My time at Mahale was a magical one. I had amazing travelers/customers who I absolutely loved spending my time with, the setting along the shores of Lake Tanganyika were otherwordly, and at the top of my list was spending time with the largest free-living colony of chimpanzees on the planet. It isn't for everyone, however I am now hooked on photographing primates in the wild. Large primates. Chimpanzees have human qualities in many things that they do, and it is easy to bond with them (this only goes 1 way, as they don't really regard us when were were there).

Highly recommended. Greystoke Mahale is a location that isn't to be missed.


Mahale Mountains National Park (Part 2 of 3)

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise, ate a leisurely breakfast, and then our guides told us what the day's activities were going to be. We were going to split into 2 different hiking groups, and we would hike until we had spent up to an hour with the wild chimpanzees. A hike can be an hour or it can be 8 or more hours. I depends on where the chimps are in the forest. We got lucky on our first day and the troop was located by the park rangers and they weren't too far away. They were close to the beach, however they were a few kilometers to the south. That's easy, let's take the boat! :-)

The best and most appropriate camera gear for photographing chimpanzees in a dense forest is a camera with decent high ISO performance as well as a fast zoom. I took my Nikon D300 and a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. This wasn't ideal, and I replaced the camera with my Nikon D700 for my hike on the second day. I did shoot some images at ISO 1600 with my D300, however I really wanted faster shutter speeds or a tiny bit more depth of field. Lesson learned. Since no other photographic equipment was needed, I just hiked with the camera and lens over my shoulder with the camera strap. Easy.

On our first encounter we ran into an adult male by the name of Darwin. Darwin walked down a path towards us, and I only had a few moments to rip off a few photos. I remember my breathing pattern was hurried, as we were hiking in a hot forest for half an hour, and I also had a medical mask over my mouth. He stopped only feet away from us, and he completely ignored us. It was like we were invisible. And that is what I loved the most. He didn't feel threatened at all that we were there.



Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/160 @ f/2.8, ISO 1250




Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/250 @ f/2.8, ISO 1250

We spent an hour with at least 25 individual chimpanzees, and what struck me the most about them was how emotional they were. Raw emotion. I could easily tell the mood of each and every individual, and it made for excellent photography!


Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/160 @ f/2.8, ISO 1250


Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/320 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600


Nikon D300, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR, 1/200 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600

After our hike, we returned back to the beach and we took the dhow back to camp. A nice lunch was waiting for us, and after lunch I sat back and enjoyed a nice conversation with the camp staff. As the heat of the day set in, we decided that we would take the dhow out onto the lake for some cocktails and photography. What a combination.


Our afternoon boat ride on Lake Tanganyika


Sunset at Greystoke Mahale


We got back to camp right after sunset, and all I could think about was how amazing the day was. Walking with primates in a remote and pristine location made my list of things to do before you die. Wonderful dinner. Dead asleep by 9pm. Up tomorrow morning to do it all again. Oh yeah.


Photo of the Day


The Chase

Nikon D300, 200-400mm, 1/1600 @ f/4, ISO 800

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania


Cheetah on the Serengeti Plains

Cheetah on the Serengeti Plains

Canon 5D Mark II, 600mm f/4, 1/800 @ f/4, ISO 50

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. March 2010


As many readers of this blog may already know, 1) I don't shoot with Canon gear any longer, and 2) didn't even take a digital camera with me to Tanzania last month. So let me explain the image above. We were out on a morning game drive, and we came across this cheetah mother on the open plains. One of my generous travelers, Ben, quickly loaned me his 600mm lens on a 5D Mark II camera body, as he had a great opportunity to photograph the above female as she was moving her week-old cubs by her mouth. The 600mm was waaaaaaay too much lens for this, as she was passing only a few meters in front of our vehicle. The 'real' shot of this type of behavior was with his 100-400mm lens, and I just took his 600mm lens in the hope that she would get up on a termite mound at some point. Well, she certainly did it for me, and I ripped off a couple of quick shots. I haven't written about this before, but none of my 6x24cm panorama film worked out. It is a long and heartbreaking story for me, but the short story is that there must have been some damage to the helical focusing mechanism during transport to Africa. So at the end of my 3 weeks of safari in Tanzania I only ended up with 1 photograph that I will be able to show. I kind of have to laugh about it, because I know that I am out on safari so often that it doesn't really matter. It would massively upset me if I only go on safari once in a lifetime.

So here you have it: a cheetah on a termite mound, taken with somebody else's camera. I do have a ton of video from the safari, though. Maybe I should learn how to use Final Cut Pro.



Tanzania safari report - Day 18

Well, today was our last full day on safari. When I say that I am tired I really mean it. I know that all of my guides do this day in and day out, and my hat is off to all of them for their hard work on my safaris. Their dedication does not go unnoticed. I feel extremely fulfilled, knowing that my past 2 safaris had great wildlife sightings with great photographic opportunities.

Today was our last full day out on safari, and we took advantage of what Tarangire is known for: elephants. The morning was overcast and cooler, and I couldn't have asked for better conditions. Cloudy days is good, because of the soft light. It is difficult to include the sky in a scene, however that is ok because you can get good shots all day.

We lost the clouds late in the morning, however we did have good elephant viewing along the Tarangire River. Very similar viewing as yesterday, in that we had much paying and sparring between the younger males. We sat and watched two lionesses stalk impala, but the hunt was over before it began. The impala were downwind of the hunting females, and they knew what was up before the lionesses could get close.

I will be going home tomorrow, and I will surely sleep on the plane without any effort. I miss Leslie, Christian and Will, and look forward to spending some time with them in a few days. I also look forward to my coming back to Africa in July! I will be in Botswana and South Africa in July, and then Tanzania next February. It isn't as much time in Africa in years past, however I am slowing down my safaris to concentrate on Gura Gear and family. Chris Gamel is also running a Tanzania safari in June, John Paul Caponigro is running a Namibia landscape workshop in September and Randy Hanna is running a Tanzania safari in February. Plenty safaris to choose from! The combination of all four of us adds up to a great selection of safaris in Africa.


Tanzania safari report - Day 17

It was difficult to leave our Ngorongoro camp today, as I truly believe that it is the most beautiful place to camp in all of Africa. The Thomson Safaris seasonal camp location is second to none, the accommodations very comfortable and the staff is always accommodating and fun to work with. All of the Thomson camps make my work life so much easier, and I can call all of the staff friends.

We drove around the crater's edge in the early morning light, and took some time at the overlook for some quick photos. It amazes me that God created such a beautiful place with such abundant wildlife, and it doesn't go unnoticed.

We left the Ngorongoro Conservation area and fueled up our Land Rovers in Karatu, in the heary of the Mbulu district. Karatu is primarily inhabited by the Iraqw people, who are of cushitic origin and have a language that is more similar to Maa than any bantu based language. It was nice to have tarmac roads for a few hours!

We drove down from the Ngorongoro highlands, past Mto Wa Mbu, Manyara Ranch, Makuyuni and into the the northen part of Tarangire National Park.

We entered Tarangire just after lunch, and immediately ran into large herds of elephants. We spent a few hours meandering around Tarangire River, and settled across the river from a family group that was playing in the water. The young males were sparring, and the resulting action made for good shots. I loved the spashing of water, which added an additional piece of eye candy to the scene.

We started running out of luck in the late part of the afternoon, and then all of a sudden Robert spotted a large male leopard in a sausage tree near the Sopa road. He didn't stick around for long, and he jumped down into the tall grass. Afterwards we headed for camp, as we were already commited to driving towards the camp, and the only other way to prolong the excellent elephant herd viewing was to head back towards the north.

It was a very hot day, and it was a relief to have the sun set behind the Ngorongoro highlands. It hasn't rained in a few weeks, yet there is ample amounts of tsetse flies in the area. Fun!

I added up the leopard and cheetah count in the past 7 days, and we have seen 5 leopards and a whopping 13 cheetahs!! Amazing luck. Almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the cheeath count.


Tanzania safari report - Day 16

Today we were up at 5:15 and we headed out as early as we can get away with. Early birds do get the biggest and best worms, and here at Ngorongoro this is especially true. I am familiar with all of the lion prides here, and I do have an idea where to be and when. I have many many early morning sightings of entire lion prides, and this is one very cool sight. Oh, and have I mentioned that I like to have sightings by myself? I prefer to not have competition for the best shooting positions, so I just get out earlier. It isn't rocket science, but it is a good lesson for nature photographers.

We did see a pride of about 12, however they were a little far away. We moved around the crater to the upper portion of the Munge River, and we noticed that our Land Rover was having a difficult time turning. Well, the problem ended up being a bent tie rod. We were able to take it off, bend it back, and reinstall it. Nothing like looking over your shoulder for lions while repairing a vehicle.

We worked the Munge, then came across a hunting cheetah. This was a great way to watch how they hunt, however we realized that there was also a lioness in the tall grass as well. Did they know about each other? Nothing transpired, however it made for great watching for an hour or more.

The afternoon was filled with lions on feet away from us. This happened on three different occasions. Smiles all around! The afternoon light was challenging, however we did have great landscape shots with the passing clouds.

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