Here is part of the family that I was able to visit with, in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. The family had 9 members. This is the Silver Back, just hanging out with one of the females and a few babies. The photo is taken with 1600-speed "actual" film at 10 feet away since flash photography is forbidden around the gorillas. The site borders Rwanda and the Congo. It was a 5-hour trek into this jungle without any paths or trails. You are allowed to watch them for ONE hour once you find them. We were lucky enough to get as close as 3 feet to some of the family.
Nothing in my life has compared to witnessing the interaction of these animals with each other for that one hour, and I feel like nothing ever will. The entire experience was like watching life in a vacuum. Almost better than watching infants. The way that they climbed up and down the trees. One baby fell off a tree and landed on the head of the mother. She just picked him up, kissed him, and put him back down after making sure he was ok. Then, she just let him go off and run around some more. Watching two brothers wrestle and fight with each other, including the typical chest pounding and roaring, was absolutely comical. I felt like I was the inferior species. There was an easily recognizable level of intelligence and love between them that I often don't see even glimmers of amongst people. Note: Males are males. Notice the Silver Back scratching himself while watching his women. Too funny. Where's the couch and remote? And where's his sandwich?
I will tell you it is a rigorous hike through the jungle, up and down hills in a forest so thick that the sun doesn't reach the floor. You are accompanied by a few guides who are carrying fully automatic weapons. The funny thing about this was that they told us that the soldiers were there for the protection of the gorillas, and they would not fire on the poachers if they were just firing at us. It is not cheap to visit these animals. However, it's a price I would pay again in a heartbeat. There are some 800 gorillas left in the world, and more than half of them live in Bwindi. The population has actually increased by 100 gorillas since there are now daily patrols throughout this forest region. With that in mind, I'm happy to purchase my gorilla-visa and gladly shake the hands of the soldiers that help keep these incredible creatures alive and well.
These are two different termite mounds from two separate continents. For perspective, I'm 6' 5" tall. Both of those mounds are easily twice my height. When I saw the cone one in Botswana, I was amazed. Then, while in the northern territories of Australia, I saw this even bigger one. The coolest thing about the Australian mounds is the number of them in the same area. Some are called magnetic mounds, because no matter where they build them they are incredibly thin and n-shaped so that the two ends point to the North and South poles.
This is a rhino that had infiltrated the waterhole about 1 hour after being kicked out by a herd of 35 elephants at Etosha National Park in Namibia. Earlier in the evening, when the elephants came rumbling in, they chased out every animal that was drinking or hanging out near the waterhole, including 5 lions that were stalking prey trying to get a cheap meal that night. I figure this rhino got tired of the elephants monopolizing the water hole. He made a mad dash for the center of the pond and proceeded to just stand there, hence half of his body is dark from being partially submersed. After about 10 minutes of mocking the bull elephant, the bull lifted up his trunk and let out an incredible noise followed by chasing the rhino out of the middle of the hole. The wall that separates the observers (me) and the animals (them) is only a 3 to 4 foot high stone structure. This rhino allows the bull to chase him out at the far end of the pool, then proceeds to prance very slowly along the wall that separates us. He was less than 8 feet away from me at the time of this photo. He walked by so slowly along the 100 meter or so wall in a manner that made me think he was saying, "Did you people see what I just did crashing the party." I'm convinced he was thinking this is, because just as he was getting toward the end of his casual procession to the people, the bull elephant came roaring toward him and really chased him away. It was incredibly enjoyable to witness.
For those who care to spend their time and money wisely, here's some insight into the African Safari. First, I would skip Kruger National Park. While it is popular and probably the cheapest, you can get the same experience at the animal adventure drive at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. Secondly, Etosha National Park has a man-made (German) floodlit waterhole. During the dry seasons, it becomes a cultural waterhole for the animals if you will. It is almost natural for the animals to migrate miles through the region to this site in this season. In one night (meaning one 6 hour sitting), I watched 35 elephants, 5 lions, 12 rhinos, and at least that many hippos and giraffes drink from the same waterhole. It was like watching the Discovery Channel without the couch... at a distance of less than 50 feet. Brings new meaning to HD TV, kids. The day we arrived, we were told not to fall asleep on the bleachers, because a lion jumped the 3-foot rock wall that separates you from the animals, to devour a particular sleeping gentleman. There is a game park (Moremi) in Maun, Botswana that only lets a set number of trucks in everyday, so its still full and vibrant of many types of animals that are not so skittish when they hear the trucks. Some drivers will even take the truck off the path into blind jungle terrain, which they are banned from doing in the Serengeti... Lastly, if you truly desire the real African experience, I suggest that you get yourself up to Arusha to visit Ngorongoro Crater. It's not only amazing animal activity (30,000 different animals in a 10 square mile blown out caldera volcanic crater), but they can't get in or out of the caldera so it's like a modern day eden. All the big 5 (animals) are there and everything in between flamingos, hippo pools, Servel cats etc. Its simple. The geography is just as breathtaking as the animal factor...
Cape Point, Cape Town. No other place on earth can you see Penguins, Beautiful beaches , and oh yeah beautiful nude girls, the beaches in Cape Town are topless and nude..
This is the only photograph I have ever waited to take. Most pictures I take are on the fly, because that is the point. However, every day at this campground in Zambia the elephants would cross right through the campsite, once even stopping to eat all our food. Apparently, they love melons (who would've guessed?). So when they were crossing through one morning, I was eating my breakfast by the river and realized they were gonna cross right in front of the crane and hippo...
Lake Malawi, it was over 120 degrees the 4 days i was relaxing on this amazing counties natural resource.
I have explored 76 countries, no hand holding, no tour guides just a drive to see, smell, taste, experience, and enjoy the earth. I have been on Reality Television and spend much of my time giving back to the community. From a unique perspective of sports, adventure and travel.