Travel Blog

Peru

Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloropterus) Green-winged Macaw (Ara chloropterus)

INFO: This was my second visit to the South America and Peru. The first one was in the July 2009 and now in the same month but 3 years later or in 2012. This is the first part of the trip which lasted round 8 days with some useful information and pictures. This was one of my favorite bid shots (Green winged macaw – on the right side) captured during my first visit to Peru in the area called Manu and has nothing to do with the rest of the story.

Day 1
We arrived to Lima late in the afternoon and spent the rest of the evening at the hotel making plans for our first week. The first 8 days we didn’t plan at home as we usually does, but rather left them open. We wanted to visit Cusco with all important archeological sites and later also the Secret Valley. The valley is well known for all its archeological sites and Inca trails. After that we decided to visit Nazca town with the famous lines on the ground and later two more areas. The first area was Ica with its Archeological museum, lake Huachina and thereafter Paracas.
Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) Male Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)Day 2
For today we had two plans, first to explore the surroundings and secondly to take a City tour and explore Lima. Lima is the largest city in Peru and the capital. We visited a few plazas and main square of Lima to take some photos. Later  we did stop at the Gregorian monastery Convent of San Francisco & its old catacombs. In the end of the tour we visited two parts of Lima mostly visited by other tourists, such as San Isidro and Miraflores.  Our guide was really good and we had good time during the tour. If you don’t plan to spend more than few days in Lima then the city tour is good way to see and explore the city. For all bird lovers: the municipality of San Isidro put up signs showing birds you can watch in the olive grove. Therefore keep your eyes open, it’s amazing how many different species you can find in the middle of a city like Lima. My favorite bird from this park was male Vermillion Flycatcher with his beautiful red colours (photo on the left side).
Day 3

We had an early flight from Lima to Cusco which lasted around 50 min. Cusco was little bit cold as we had expected, around 16C, but it later became warmer around 20C. After we checked into our hotel we had enough time to take a taxi to a restaurant and get some lunch before the City tour started. This excursion included the most outstanding places in Cusco, both from the Inca period and the time of the Spanish colony. First on the list was to visit the main square with its renaissance style cathedral, Coricancha, thereafter came Sacsayhuaman, Kenko, Puka-Pukara and Tombomachay. Coricancha temple Coricancha temple
The cathedral was known for its beautiful carvings in cedar wood cowered with silver and gold leafs. This cathedral was even known for the paintings of the Escuela Cuzquena and a variety of silver engraved objects. This wasn’t my favorite place knowing that all gold and silver was stolen from the previous Inca temples and built on the same spot as well.
Coricancha was the most important temple in the Inca time and was dedicated to the Sun god. The Spanish colonists built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the cathedral.
Sacsayhuaman was built outside of Cusco city on a hill above. I personally don’t believe that it was built by Inca as most of the temples and structures in Peru. You can see tree different construction styles on the many sites, and the oldest one used giant stones carved with incredible precision and later connected with each other with perfection like in the Ollantaytambo. Next stone masonry or style was still with incredible precision but with smaller but still big enough stones which matched each other with the same perfection. This style you can find in Cusco and other places in the sacred valley like Machu Picchu, were you can even find the third or Inca reparations and constructions. Most of the Inca buildings was built on top of earlier constructions and later repaired and extended during their time. They used smaller stones which we still use today in construction of our buildings, and which is much faster and easier to do, and doesn’t need hundred of thousands of workers to accomplish. This is my personal theory and I strongly recommend to visit those places and make up your own mind. Sacsayhuaman SacsayhuamanIf you believe in today’s explanations based on archeological guessing and theories, then you can skip mine 🙂
Sacsayhuaman was built with giant lime stones which weighed up to 100 tones in some parts. Located on a steep hill at an altitude of 3,701 m and overlooks the city of Cusco and contains an impressive view of the valley to the southeast. No one know for sure how and why it was built and maybe we should leave it like that. I did few panorama shots of the Cusco and the stones and wasn’t listening so much to the guide. During the guided tours sometimes you need to chose if you want to listen or to photographs when it is not enough with time for both… and I always chose to photograph.
Day 4
Today we had planned to visit the Sacred Valley with a few famous Inca places and small towns. All those places were located on high altitude and was a little bit difficult to walk and climb to. The guide was really good and knowledgeable and provided many interesting facts about the visited areas. We traveled in a large buss and the guide spoke only in English which most of us appreciated.  The first place to visit was a small market place in a little village close to the main road. There we had the opportunity to photograph locals in their traditional dresses with lamas and other domesticated animals and to buy their craft. Then after we visited a small farm with all kinds of lamas, alpacas, jamas, etc… with introduction  about the animals evolution, and how they came or migrated to South America.
Pisac PisacNext stop was the old Inca site Pisac with great constructed agriculture terraces, buildings and even cemeteries. It was located on a really high altitude and all the tourists in our group, including myself was not so happy about that. But after we saw what this incredible place had to offer we were all pleased in the end of the visit. Here we saw the second building style and the Inca building style mixed together. After this we had lunch in some kind of big house restaurant in the middle of the nowhere. We drove through the small village with very pore scenery, and turned into a small and dusty road and suddenly we ended up in this beautiful house or restaurant with an enormous variety of food, such as salads, fruits and deserts. They even had sushi and live music in the garden, and down by the river alpacas and lamas were gracing for tourists to photograph.
After a good vegetarian lunch we went to Ollantaytambo village and archeological site. This is the only place where you can find all tree building styles together as previously explained. The biggest stones was made out of red granite and the biggest one weighed more than 120 tons. All those stones had been transported from a quarry on the opposite side of the mountain. The guide explained that Inca carved, transported and put together all those stones without having a written language, advanced mathematics knowledge and using primitive technology available for them during this time. He said that they used meteorite stones which they found on the Andean mountains to cut the extremely hard granite stones with such grate precision. I saw many tourist questioning this theory and for me this didn’t make any sense at all. How and why this part of the building was constructed died together with the builders if you ask me. Later we visited the local market in Chinchero and was taught how local people make their incredibly beautiful tapestries with natural based colors. The day was over and it was time to return to Cusco.
Day 5
This day became really short. We had only time for a short visit to the main plaza for coffee at Starbucks and to get some lunch before the long bus trip to Nazca started. The stone with 12 angles was on our list from our previous visit to Cusco, but which we at that time hadn’t had time to see. This time I found it and took some photos. The bus trip from Cusco to Nazca started at 2 P.M and lasted more than 14 hours. During the ride I saw some really beautiful sceneries of the Andes mountains and small towns and villages. We arrived around 5.00 AM to the bus station and expected to be picked up by the tour guide but no one was there. We were sitting in the cold bus station for more than one hour before our guide arrived. He was looking for us at the hotel which was owned by the same company which had booked our flight over the Nazca lines and expected that we were there. It was a really cold and foggy morning and our early flight over the lines was canceled until the weather had changed. There were nothing to do in this small town and even the few shops and coffee places we found was closed. We had breakfast at the hotel and was allowed to sit in reception before we received any news from the local airport. It was really cold even in the reception area and we had to sit and wait, and wait…
We found out that there where two small museums and we were recommended to visit one of them. The museum was owned by an Italian owner but didn’t open until 9.00 A.M and we had to wait until then. The short walk to the main street was a good way to waste some time before we could enter the museum. Weather started to change to the better and we were happy about that. The Condor -_Nazca The Condor -_Nazca
The museum was nice to visit and we got some information about previous societies which lived in this area which were given credit for creating the lines and other structures. I took a few shots with my little camera and then we went back to our tourist agency to see if we were going to fly soon. After we returned we had to wait more than tree hours before we received good news from the airport.
Our flight started 12:39 PM and lasted around 30 minutes. We flew together with an older couple from Japan in a small airplane for 4 passengers. After 10 minutes I was feeling very bad and was on my way to start vomiting. I succeeded to take photos of all motives on the ground which you can see here.
After this adventure we had a good lunch in one of the towns hotel and we had to wait yet a few more hours before we could catch the bus to our next place and to go to a hotel to rest after a very long day.
After two hours by bus we arrived in the city of Ica and was transported to a beautiful small hotel. After such a long and exhausting day we went straight to bed and fell asleep.
Day 6

After good and long sleep and after the breakfast it was the time to visit few interesting places in the Ica. First we had to visit the Huschina lake. This little lake was the last one in this area and was located in the middle of the desert just few kilometers from the city. Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)I was surprised to see birds today and had more use of my 1D mark IV with my new lens Sigma 120-300 F/2.8. I get plenty of the bird shot and was rely happy after that specially if it wasn’t expected. One of the few bird kind was Black-crowned Night Heron which you can see on the right side (photo). Later we went to the Ica archeological museum to see the areas rich history of the many past civilizations. This was the place with the elongated skulls which I was interesting to see since many years ago. We even get private guided tour inside the museum and later I did may shots of the skulls and few mummies. After this visit we went to the next place to see the old and the new way of producing the alcoholic drink called Pisco and Peruvian sweet vine. I made some photos during the guided tour and later we get the chance to prove some of the places alcoholic drinks. It was the 12 o’clock and time for the lunch. Our new place served many old Peruvian food all back to the Inca time. We are both vegetarians and get two different foods with beans and vegetables mixed with rise.
This was the last adventure and we went back to our hotel to spent few hours before the  buss tour to the next town and new adventures. The new place was the town of Paracas.
Day 7
El Candilabre El CandilabreAfter the early breakfast at our hotel our driver transported us to the main harbor. This was the place where our next adventure would start. The Balletas islands was the our destination which we where going to reach by fast gliding boats. Round 40 persons get the place in one of the boats and we get the place almost in the end of the boat which was the vise choice. First on the list was the El Candilabre or the big ground archeological monument carved deep in the stone surface on the one of the islands. I made few shots with my pocket camera because we where to close for my Canon 1D mark IV with Sigma 120-300 F/2.8 together with extender Sigma 1.4 which was now 168-420 mm F/4. I had my tripod with me which I couldn’t use because of the lack of the space.  So I had to shot handhold from the boat without my tripod or even my Sigma hadn’t IS either. I was little bit worried if my shots would be sharp knowing all that plus that boat was moving and the sea wasn’t calm as well. It was really nice experience and I saw many different birds, sea lions and seals. The islands locked really special with thousands of the birds colonies and tones of the guano which was collected and exported to the USA and few more countries. This trip lasted round the two hours and was something to recommend if you wist this area. South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens) South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens)
We had few hours left four our self before our next trip to the Lima. We had a plan to visit small local exhibition of the archeological finds collected by one gentleman from Paracas. I was really interesting to see and photograph few elongated skulls and fe more artifacts with special purpose. I donated some small amount of the money and get access to photograph few skulls placed outside the glass cupboard and the gentleman explained and shoved dates which doesn’t match main archeological dates. He said that most of his special artifacts was carbon 14 dated and was older more than 2000 years than main archeology usually talk or was accepted by world scientists. Peruvian Booby (Sula variegata) Peruvian Booby (Sula variegata)
Later we where transported to the buss station to catch the bus to the Lima. The buss was late because of the straik and we had delay of more than two hours.
Day 8
Today was our resting day in Lima in the same hotel as we arrived. We liked this hotel and decided to spend or last day and the half before our trip to the Iquitos and the rainforest f the north Peru. Our flight to the Iquitos was planed for the day after in the morning. Our visit to this place would last round the 9 days
Day 9 Elongated skull Elongated skull
We took taxi early in the morning to the airport in Lima. Our destination was the city in the north Peru with name of Iquitos. It was located in the rain forest on the bank of the Amazon river.  The flight lasted round 1:50min and we landed at the local airport round the 13:00. It was really hot and humid weather. Our hotel had a car weighing for us and other guests who booked  the same hotel. The streets where crowded with old cars and trucks and hundreds of the motorcycles and tok-tok or motorcycles with 3 whiles. We saw many old buildings from the beginning of the 20th century in very bad condition. They where still beautiful but almost ready for demolition. Few of them was restored and looked amazing. People on the streets was friendly and helpful. We spent rest of the day in our hotel resting and eating good vegetarian food…

More bird photos from Peru

Egypt

The Boat, La BohemeINFO: Adventure started with the long journey which lasted more than five hours. It was the destination from Sweden to the Hurgada in Egypt. After that we had five more hours by bus through the desert. We arrived in the Luxor our final destination in the late afternoon just after the sunset and checked in on our hotel or the boat. We stayed at the boat with name of La Boheme.  La Boheme boat has been inaugurated in 2008. This exquisite vessel is built according to the standard of the new 5-star deluxe generation of the Nile boats. Inside the boat was exactly as described in brochure and I was really pleased.

YEAR: March 2012


STORY:
Early in the morning we started our first day in the Luxor by visiting the Valley of the Kings. The valley where used for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC as a tombs constructed for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom (the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties of Ancient Egypt). The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes (modern Luxor), within the heart of the Theban Necropolis. The wadi consists of two valleys, East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs are situated) and West Valley. Photography wasn’t allowed and we left our cameras at the bus. I was been there 3 times before and will upload some pictures later in my photo gallery.
Hatshepsut TempleOur next stop was at the Hatshepsut temple. She was well known as the first female pharaoh. This temple was located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile and near the previews visited Valley of the Kings. This was my first visit to this temple considering that I have been in Luxor many times before. It was already plenty with tourist present at the site making my photographing more difficult. Taking the shot of the whole temple without people was almost impossible. Nowadays we have the Photoshop which can fix all this problem but it still takes some time to do the work. I started taking the photos with my Hasselblad but I didn’t cheek for the battery. I forgot my second battery at the bus… somehow. Luckily I had with me my Canon 5D Mark II with 16-35 F/2.8 Mark II which did good work anyway. I was really hot and after 45 minutes we decided to leave the place and continue to the next place.
Colossi of MemnonThe alabaster factory and the shop was the next stop. This is the part of the tourist attraction showing the way how to hand made the alabaster vases and other products. Even for tourists to spent some money and help local economy. The shop had anything you wanted created in all kind of the stones and other material inspired from the ancient times. The last place to visit was the Colossi of Memnon or two massive stone statues depicting the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Both statues are quite damaged, with the features above the waist virtually unrecognizable. The western (or southern) statue is a single piece of stone, but the eastern (or northern) figure has a large extensive crack in the lower half and above the waist consists of 5 tiers of stone. These upper levels consist of a different type of sandstone, and are the result of a later (Roman Empire) reconstruction attempt. It is believed that originally the two statues were identical to each other, although inscriptions and minor art may have varied. I have been there many times before but this time we where the only visitors. I made many good shots with my Hasselblad without single people in the front of the statues and was really happy about that.

Next and the last visit in the Luxor before we stared our cruise was located at the other side of the Nile and it was the temple of the Karnak. Karnak PanoramaThe Karnak Temple Complex comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings. The complex is a vast open-air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world. It is one of the mostly visited historical place in Egypt after the Giza Necropolis in the Cairo area. I have been in this temple complex many times before and it was always crowded with the tourists. Right now after Egypt’s revolution number of the tourist was less that usually and was good for my photography. I used my Hasselblad with the 35 mm and my 5D Mark II with 16-35 as well. The rest of the afternoon we spent at the boat floating in the south direction to our next stop. I took many pictures from the upper deck during this day.

Edfu TempleDay 2 We started early in the morning by visiting the Horus temple located in the city of Edfu. Transportation from the harbor to the temple was organized by the horse chariot. The temple was located in the middle of the city and the trip was short but interesting. Whole town was built on he same location as the old one and as the guide pointed probably on the original ground foundation. This is the same story all over the Egypt. HorusTemple of Edfu is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. The temple was dedicated to the falcon god Horus-Apollo and was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 and 57 BC. The inscriptions on its walls provide important information on language, myth and religion during the Greco-Roman period in ancient Egypt. It was plenty with salesman in the front of the entrance trying (aggressively) to sale their products. They don’t accept no please or not interesting and continuously follow after you. This is everywhere in the Egypt not just in the Edfu and is the part of the adventure. I used my Hasselblad with 35mm and Leica D-Lux 5 to document this ancient site.
We get same kind of the transportation on the way back through the towns main street. When all passenger was back on the boat than we continued to float to the new destination. During this afternoon I was on the upper deck taking the pictures of the landscape and people on the river Nile.
Kom Ombo TempleWe arrived late in the afternoon at the Kom Ombo temple area. The temple was located five minutes from the docking station and we just took the shot walk to get there. It was the beautiful light with the afternoon sun crating ideal atmosphere for photography. We arrived almost first at the temple area and I took few good shots outside the temple with just a few people inside the temple.
The Temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual double temple built during the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. It was dedicated for tow gods, crocodile god Sobek and falcon god Horus. Soon after the guided presentation we get an hour to explore temple and wait for the sunset. On the way back as already mentioned before you need to past through the salesman barrier. If you want to win this battle (if you are not interesting to buy anything) simply ignore them and avoid the eye contact.  Same evening we continued to cruse south on the way to the Aswan. We arrived late in the evening and anchored at the same place for the three nights.
Day 3
Aswan dam panoramaWe started early in the morning around seven o’clock. We always get wake up calls from the reception approximately one hour before excursions. This was enough with time to wake up and even for the breakfast. This morning was planed for visiting the Philae Temple of Isis, on Agilkia Island in Lake Nasser and the Aswan dam. Mini bus was waiting outside ready to take us to the first destination. We draw through the city and get possibility to see some people on the street on their way to the work. Aswan dam was constructed to control overflow of the river Nile and for production of the electricity. The dam was constructed between 1960 and 1970, and has had a significant impact on the economy and culture of Egypt. We had 30 min to take some pictures and read some information about construction and usage. I took shots from both sides of the dam and even the monument called The Lotus-Tower. This tower was the gift from Soviet to Egypt when dam was finished.

I was more exited to see the temple of Isis. To rich to the island and visit the  temple we had to use the small motor boat. Just before the harbor area where all tourists busies stop was located plenty of shops with attacking salesman’s. It was noting new or uprising and so far we get enough with practicing and learned how to avoid them. Our guide arranged the private boat for only our group. This short boat Isis Templeadventure lasted round the fifteen minutes and son after we saw the island and the temple. We get on the land, passed one more salesman invasion in order to start with our guided tour in the temple complex.
The island temple was built during the Ptolemaic dynasty. The principal deity of the temple complex was Isis, but other temples and shrines were dedicated to other deities such as Hathor and Harendotes. When Aswan Low Dam was completed it threatened many ancient landmarks, including the temple complex of Philae, with being submerged. In 1960 UNESCO started a project to try to save the buildings on the island from the destructive effect of the ever increasing waters of the Nile. The weather was really nice and with few tourists giving me opportunity to explore and photograph in piece. One of the small temple was still under the reconstruction and I saw few workers working on it. On previous visit on the dam and here in the temple complex I used only my Canon 5D Mark II with EF 16-35 F/2.8 Mark II and Sigma 70-200 OS for documentation.
In the late afternoon we arranged two the cars to visit the special coffee shop located on the hill above the city. The place had the great view on the city and surrounding. We had a plan to spend an hour there and later take a walk on the bazaar located in the middle of the city. Only me and my two new friends went there by our self and was the only tourist walking around. It was many shops and salesman’s located on the each side of the walking street willing to sale and to get us inside their shops. We hadn’t plan to by anything it was just curiosity that was the main reason of visit. Later we saw huge shop with plenty of the exotic spices and decided to follow inside. Saffron is really exotic and expensive spice here in the Sweden and the guy from the shop said that he had some for sale. He promised the good price and that it was the real stuff and we bought 45 gram each. I don’t have any shots from this walk or any place.
Day 4
Abu Simbel TempleDay 4 started really early in the morning. We get wake up call 30min before our trip started or 03:30 AM. Breakfast box was prepared and waited in the reception. Somewhere in the Aswan city was the minting point for all cars and busies planed for desert drive. We left the city just few minutes after 04:00 AM and started the more than three hours drive south of the Aswan in the direction to the Sudan. We saw sunrise from the mini bus driving more than 100km/h and taking picture wasn’t good idea. I get 45 min sleep in the bus and was pleased with that. Usually I can’t sleep in the car or bus and this time I was really happy with that.
The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples in Abu Simbel area. Both temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC. Ramses II built those temples to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors. The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir.
We arrived at the 07:30 in the temple area and get guided tour as usually. After that we had almost two hours for our self to explore and photograph. It was plenty with tourists but if you have patience you can get picture without tourists on it. Me and my new friend from the group who was interested in photogrNefretari Templeaphy worked really hard and succeeded to get plenty with good shots.
We come back to the boat round the two o’clock and lunch was served. Afternoon was free from any kind activities and we spent some time on the upper deck lying on the comfortable sun beds with some Egyptians beer. Later after the dinner we had belly dancing show and some kind of the dervish dance but on the Egyptian way.
Day 5
After breakfast round the 8 o’clock was the time for the sailing with the traditional sailing boat called Feluccas. After 45 min sailing we changed to the motor boat and it was the time for some exploration of the flora and fauna. The guide was the expert on the birds and I was really happy to hear that. We saw plenty of the birds and I get some really cool shots. Our next stop was the Nubian village and if someone was interesting even camel riding. I was the only one who didn’t wanted to ride and arrived to the village by the boat. I get cool pictures from my group members riding on the camel backs and having the desert in the background. We visited one Nubian house and had really fun experience with house owner and their big family. Family women’s was playing and dancing for us and later even some of our group members  joined as well. This family had baby crocodiles as the house pets captured from the river Nile. We had enough with time to visit the local school and learn how to count to 10 in the Arabic and Nubian language. After that it was the time to come back to the boat and had a lunch.
Nubian people,This was the last day in the Aswan and we started to cruises back to Luxor. It was planed that it would take two days to reach to the Luxor with two stops during the nights. Same evening we had funny theme by using the same cloth from previous Egyptian night. Late at the evening we arrived in the Edfu and stayed for a night. Just before the sun set we went outside the boat to the local coffee shop and had some fun.
Day 6
We had late breakfast at the 8 o’clock and free time on the boat all the way back to the Luxor. it was planed to reach the Luxor in the late afternoon and later visit the local carpet shop and the temple of the Luxor. We had quick visit to the captain cabin during the time and get short information about our boats history. In the afternoon we reached to the Esna lock on the Nile River. Plenty of salesman was around the lock trying to sale their handcrafts and other products. Most of them was children and few was adults. We continued our trip and as the planed we arrived to the Luxor round the 3 o’clock.
The first visit was to the one bazaar area with the carpet shop located close to the Luxor temple. The owner was really funny guy and had plenty with beautiful silk carpets, but no one bought any of them. I guess no one was prepared to spend bigger amount of money even if the price was extremely good. After this place we went to the Luxor temple. The sun was on the way down and I missed opportunity to document this monument during the daylight. All ancient monument in the Egypt are illuminated which binged the opportunity to get nice night shots. I had with me my monopod which helped me a lot considering that my Hasselblad don’t have high ISO opportunities. I didn’t planed that we are going to spent so much time at the market place Luxor Templeand didn’t binged with me my 5D Mark II. I succeeded to take few good shots with beautiful light of the parts of the complex before the night was over. With this temple my Nile adventure was over.
Day 7
We waked up really early in the morning and checked out from our boat. We still had round 400 km left to the Huragada city located on the Red Sea coust. At least five hours drive through the desert with one short stop before airport and five more hour flight to the Stockholm Sweden. The whole bus trip was nice and safe and we got some extra time to drive inside the Huragada and drop half of the group at their hotel for one more week and rest of the group including me strait way back to the airport to catch the plain to Sweden.

More photos in my photo gallery

EQUIPMENT:
• Camera: Hasselblad H1 & P30+
• Lens: HC 35mm F/3.5,  HC 80mm F/2,8
• Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
• Lens: Canon EF  16-35mm F/2.8 L USM Mark II and Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 DG HSM OS
• Camera: Leica D-Lux 5

CONCLUSION
If you are interesting in photography and you are on your way to the Egypt you should consider this:
1. The weather is always good and it newer rain which mean that you don’t need to worry about damming your camera with water. On the other hand if you are vising the desert areas you should consider that it is windy sometimes and small dust and sand particle can end in your equipment. So have in mind that you need to protect your camera somehow and clean later back to your hotel or place of say. Sand can easily damage your lens or inside your camera house. If you are just visiting the historical sites than you don’t need to worry so much. Usually you have the bus transportation all the way to the site and most of the places are located in the urban areas. Giza plateau and Sakara desert are little bit more open areas and you should be careful.
2. Most of the sites don’t allow tripod to be used so check before you are visiting. Some places do but with paying some extra fee. I had monopod on the few places and i dint payed any extra for that. Only the one place is not allowing any kind of photography and this is the Valley of the Kings. We get recommendation from our guide to left the camera in safety on the bus. Flash was not allowed in the just few places. I newer use the flash and can’t remember in which areas was not allowed.
3. The light can be really different depending of which time you are visiting the site. Even in the morning the light can be really harsh creating the strong shadows. It is not easy for cameras if you are using camera on auto or any other program to meet the light properly and you can get sometimes some parts under or over exposed. I always photograph with manual preferences and like to have control over my camera. I don’t even use auto ISO as well. In some situation I choose to underexpose my shots and later fix it with the help of software than to overexpose and lost all details. Taking shots in desert when you have light colored sand reflecting the sunlight and blue sky with some clouds sometimes can be problematic and using the filters can help a lot. Even the best screen behind the camera can be difficult to see and use when the light is to strong and using the histogram is really important. If you don’t know how to use it than take some research on the internet and learn it. It is really easy to understand how it works and can save your day.

Good luck…

PHOTOS:

 

 

Iceland

Icelands Visited placesINFO: Iceland is a European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km2 (39,769 sq mi). The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with the surrounding areas in the southwestern region of the country being home to some two-thirds of the national population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior mainly consists of a plateau characterized by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle.

YEAR: April 14-17 – 2011

Blue lagun Blue lagunSTORY: The Iceland trip was planed together with my 3 colleges from the work. One of them work as a professional photographer and the rest of the group where interested in photography and work with prepress. I have been on the Iceland before and this was my third visit. We booked a rental car and all places of interests was planned and saved in my GPS before the trip.
Flight time from Stockholm to Reykjavík was around 3 hours and the weather was nice. We arrived in late afternoon, picked our car (4WD Jeep) and packed our equipment. Soon after it was a time for our first adventure, Blue Lagoon.
Blue Lagoon is geothermal spa and one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The steamy waters are part of a lava formation with averages temperature 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). The lagoon is fed by the water output of the nearby geothermal power plant Svartsengi and is renewed every 2 days. Superheated water is vented from the ground near a lava flow and used to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the steam and hot water passes through a heat exchanger to provide heat for a municipal hot water heating system.
It was a really funny experience to be there and as a bonus we got changeable weather. First we got sun then blizzard and snow and in the end came rain in less than 30 minutes. Besides the cold and changeable weather our whole experience with this place was really good. So if you are visiting Iceland then I can recommend this place for you. Later we went to our hotel to check in and took a short trip to the Reykjavík’s downtown to find something to eat.

Day 2
Lake Kerid Lake KeridWe took an early breakfast and had a short briefing about the days plan. After that we packed our equipment in the car and I chose our first point in the GPS, lake Kerid. After Kerid we had a plan to take the geyser area with the well known Storkkur geyser with a lunch pause and then later continue to the waterfall Gullfoss and end our day trip with the historical site Thingvellir. It was a nice plan and the only thing which we couldn’t plan was the weather condition.
On the way to the Kerid we had to pass lot of interesting places on which we made short stops to photograph. Lake Kerid is a volcanic crater lake located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland and one of several crater lakes in the area. We had luck to get some sunshine and decided to make a quick walk around the lake. The whole area was covered with snow and we missed to see the red volcanic rock around the lake. The lake wasn’t frozen and the water was dark green with small waves made by strong wind. From the top of the hill we had a beautiful view of the whole area.
Geyser Strokkur Geyser StrokkurStorkkur geyser is one of Iceland’s most famous ones and was next on our list to visit. Strokkur is part of a geothermally active site, with various mud pools, algal deposits, and other geysers. Erupting time is about every 5 to 10 minutes with variations of size of eruption. It was always plenty with people around the geyser even if it was cold weather with snow. We succeeded to take many good shots and then moved to the restaurant area to buy something to eat. It was a strong and cold wind the whole day and we needed some rest as well.
Gulfoss waterfall Gulfoss waterfallOn the way to Gullfoss weather changed to really bad with strong and cold winds mixed with snow creating really bad visibility. I remember from previous visits that even if weather was good that close to the waterfall it was always some wind mixed with water steam and drops. Considering that we hadn’t proper cloth and that we had our equipment exposed to this kind of weather created some problems. It was possible to take some shots from long distance but when we went closer then we would get wet. I decided to go back to the car park and the rest of the group decided to take a walk around anyway. After some time we decided to leave this area an see if the weather was better in the Thingvellir area.
After 45 minutes we found out that the weather will not change but we decided to continue our trip anyway. Driving thru the Iceland’s landscape was really interesting and we made a few short stops.  Thingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological importance and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. It is the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is also home to Tingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. Bad weather made our last visit a short one and later we decided to drive back to Reykjavík.

Day 3
Seljalandsfoss waterfall Seljalandsfoss waterfallWe took an early and short breakfast to save some time for our long drive day. We had a plan to visit few waterfalls and some paces located on the south coast line. The weather wasn’t good in Reykjavík’s area and we were little bit worried that we are going to have this kind of weather in the whole day. After one hour drive when we left the highlands and were close to the coast line the weather started to be better.
Our firs target where Seljalandsfoss Waterfall situated in between Selfoss and Skógafoss at the road crossing of Route 1 or the Ring Road. Considering that we were on the Iceland almost in the end of April few weeks before tourist season than we had a luck to skip plenty with tourists. I knew that it was possible to go behind the waterfall and after few shots from the frontal side we decided to get wet and went behind.  I was the only one with my heavy Hasselblad and tripod and wasn’t so quick to walk and climb as my colleges with their 35mm cameras. I was really wet and my equipment as well but I succeeded to made few shots of this magnificent place. It was more small waterfalls few hundred meters on the left side and we took a shot visit. It was really cloudy and 15 minutes later it start to rain. We where already wet and didn’t had so much time than we decided to leave the place and continue our trip south east.
Skogarfoss waterfall Skogarfoss waterfallSkogarfoss was our next waterfall located at the cliffs of the former coastline. The weather wasn’t good, cloudy and windy but still possible to photograph. We knew that it was the question when it would start to rain so we were little bit in a hurry. Just 15 minutes later it started to rain with hard and strong winds making impossible to be outside the car and photograph. At the eastern side of the waterfall was a hiking and trekking trail which we had a plan to climb but the weather was so bad so we had to cancel our visit and continue to the next place.
Our next place was the small peninsula, or promontory, Dyrhólaey. It was formerly an island of volcanic origin, which is also known by the Icelandic word eyja meaning island. The view from up there was really good and interesting. At the north side was the big glacier Mýrdalsjökull, at the east side was the black lava columns of the Reynisdrangar come out of the sea, and to the west the whole coastline in the direction of Selfoss. In front of the peninsula, there was a gigantic black arch of lava standing in the sea, which gave the peninsula its name. We spent rest of the day in this area photographing the landscape and birds. The weather was much colder in the end of day. Strong winds and rain made our trip little bit shorter and we decided to went back to our hotel.

Day 4
Reykjanes peninsula Reykjanes peninsulaWe had a flight in the afternoon and after we packed our belongings we left the hotel. Weather was good enough for our last photographic adventure. We decided to drive to the south part of the island in the direction of the town called Grindavik. We made quick stop on the way to take few shots and after approximately 40 min we entered the town area. We parked our car in the harbor area and took the walk around.  Town was almost empty and we decided to continue our trip by driving the coast road. We where at least one or two months before the official tourist season and that was the reason of not seeing anyone on the streets. Local people hadn’t any reason to walk around in the cold and windy weather. We found southern peninsula very interesting with few interesting places. We spent our last hour in the Reykjanes lighthouse area and made plenty of wonderful photos.

I hope you liked my short story from the Iceland and get some inspiration for your own trip…

EQUIPMENT:
• Camera: Hasselblad H1 & P30+
• Lens: HC 35mm F/3.5,  HC 80mm F/2,8
• Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
• Lens: Canon EF  16-35mm F/2.8 L USM Mark II and Sigma 70-200 F/2.8 DG HSM OS

PHOTOS:
You can see more photos from the Iceland in my photo section:

Kenya

 

INFO: The Republic of Kenya is a country in East Africa. Lying along the Indian Ocean to its southeast and at the equator, Kenya is bordered by Somalia to the northeast, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the northwest, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. Kenya has numerous wildlife reserves, containing thousands of animal species. The capital city is Nairobi.

YEAR: October 2010.

STORY:
Our itinerary for our ten-day trip to Kenya was the following:

Day 1: The remains of the first day of our arrival in Nairobi was left to our own leisure;
Day 2: Travel to the Lake Naivasha game sanctuary for a safari by boat, and the following transportation to the next lake;
Day 3: Game safari on Lake Nakuru;
Day 4: Transportation to Masai Mara and an afternoon game safari;
Day 5: Whole day game safari at Masai Mara;
Day 6: Morning safari at Masai Mara and transportation back to Nairobi;
Day 7: Flight to Malindi and transportation to the coastal town Watamu;
Day 8-10: Spending time in Watamu;
Day 11: Transportation to Mombasa and the following night flight back to Sweden.

Our adventure started from Stockholm airport, Arlanda. We arrived in late afternoon, and after we had checked in our luggage we had enough time for a final visit at a “Swedish” coffee bar. We had a night flight and had planned to see a movie and then go to sleep, but as usual we couldn’t sleep since it is very difficult to be comfortable in an airplane seat. We landed for an hour in Rome for refueling, and after additionally 6 hours we took ground in Addis Ababa, totally exhausted. This was not our final destination, we still had one last flight of approximately three hours to endure before reaching Nairobi.

At the airport in Nairobi; an agent from the travel company which we had engaged for this trip, was waiting for us. It was a young guy and his name was Wilson. It took quite a lot of time before we could meet up with Wilson, since a substantial amount of time was spent applying for visa. At that time we regret not having applied for visa in advance. It was two different documents which needed to be filled out per person, and there were lots of information asked for. When we handed the documents to the officer, he just stacked them with hundreds of others without reading any of the information, he asked a few questions and completed the procedure by taking our picture and finger prints. What a waste of time.
Finally we could go outside and meet Wilson. We easily found him since he had written our names on a piece of paper. Unfortunately, we had arrived to Nairobi at rush hour so there was a lot of traffic in the city, and we got stuck in a bit of a traffic jam, therefore it took quite a long time before we reached the hotel. We walked inside being both exhausted due to the long and inconvenient flight, and sweaty after the long and slow drive through the city. According to the itinerary for the trip, the afternoon was determined to be for our own leisure, and we were very grateful for that. We spent our time showering, eating and making it an early night so that we would feel most invigorated for our safari the next morning.

Masai Mara

Masai Mara Masai MaraINFO: The Masai Mara National Reserve (also spelled Maasai Mara, and known by the locals as ‘the Mara’) is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park game reserve in Tanzania. Named after the Maasai people (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from a viewpoint – “Mara”, which is Maa (Maasai language) for spotted: an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savannah and cloud shadows that mark the area. It is famous for its exceptional population of Big Cats, game, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest from the Serengeti every year from July to October, a migration so immense it is called the Great Migration.

YEAR: October 2010.

Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis) Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)STORY: After breakfast we checked out and met up with Wilson who was going to transport us to our next destination. We had received information before hand that this morning we had a long and exhausting drive ahead of us, until we would reach the Masai Mara National Reserve. Approximatley after 30 minutes drive we spotted a Crested Eagle on a tree top along the road and we decided to pull over to take some photos. It was a huge bird and according to Wilson it is not very common these days, so it was a rare sight. The road which we had to take in order to reach Masai Mara was heavily trafficked, and the vehicles around us was quite loaded. For instance, we saw one truck who was packed in three layers; at the bottom layer was live sheep’s standing almost on top of each other, above them was a layer filled with cut up bushes and branches, and finally it was topped off with 4 persons balancing in the four corners trying not to step on the animals. One could easily imagine that such a over-loaded truck doesn’t stop easily in case of an emergency. Besides all of this they often drive very fast and in my opinion quite recklessly. Unfortunately we happened to arrive at the scene of an accident approximately 10 minutes after we had spotted the crested eagle. It was a petrol truck which had collided frontally with a minibus, which was completely loaded with people. There were great turmoil and people on the scene tried to stop passing cars since they needed help with separating the two vehicles, in order to try and assist the people in the minibus. It was impossible to help the people that was trapped in the minibus without separating it from the petrol truck. They saw us coming and since our vehicle was a huge terrain jeep, they started to run towards us and begging us to stay and help them. We could see people bleeding inside the minibus, and there was a woman crying and screaming heavily out of pain and chock. It was a very traumatic situation for everyone involved. We pulled over and a rope was tied onto the rear of our jeep and the other end was fasten onto the minibus, and then we tried to pull the two vehicles apart. Unfortunately the rope wasn’t strong enough so it broke without having any effect on the collided vehicles. Luckily, another enormous truck came by and had proper equipment to assist with the pulling apart. Wilson said that now we can leave, and we were relieved to hear this. The next couple of hours of our trip was spent in silence, since we were all pretty chocked and saddened by the whole incidence.

During the last part of our trip the road got really bad, it was filled with big holes, and we were also a bit late due to the accident, so Wilson decided to drive a little bit faster. Unfortunately, the hard seats in the jeep didn’t really absorb the non smoothness of the road, so we were bouncing around for an hour. When we finally arrived, Wilson said that we had gotten true African massage.
We ran into the main building just in time for lunch. Masai Mara Sopa Lodge Masai Mara Sopa Lodge

Our lodge was really beautiful, and built in traditional African style with lots of tree ornaments and Masai decorations. The hotel was surrounded by a large garden flourishing with flowers and birds. We asked Wilson to pick us up after a couple of hours for our late afternoon safari. Unfortunately we were unlucky, since after only 30 successful minutes it started to rain, and we spent more than one hour closed up in the jeep waiting for the rain to stop. It was already late afternoon and after the rain had stopped we hadn’t so much time for further exploration before it became too dark. However, we saw elephants and many wildebeest and plenty of beautiful feathered friends. Masai Mara is a really huge reserve and so we decided that we would start really early the next morning. We went back to the hotel, and after a quick fresh up we went down for dinner. They had a big buffet which we enjoyed greatly. After dinner we returned to our room to download the photos and to do some writing.

Dik-Dik Dik-DikDay 2: It was an early, cold and humid morning after a whole nights rain. We started our safari at 07:00 AM with hopes of seeing several more birds and animals than yesterday. The first animals we saw was a dik-dik family, and it turned out that we would see them every time we passed their “habitat”, since they had chosen a rather small passage with lots of vegetation which we had to drive thru in order to reach the open planes. The first animals we came across entering the open planes was a large group of mongooses, and we saw them since we where trying to photograph a Hoopoe, and they where running right into the picture. Wilson pointed at a group of jeeps which had gathered at a point and appeared to search for something. We decided to drive over there, and it turned out to be a lion family comprised of four lionesses, several cubs and one younger male. They where hungry and looking for a suitable prey. Within less than 10 minutes so many vehicles had gathered that the lions choose to hide in the bushes, and the whole event was over. We decided to drive on and later we came across elephants, ostriches and a warthog family.
In the afternoon we drove back to the lodge to have a late lunch and to get some rest. One doesn’t really picture that it could be quite exhausting to drive around in a jeep, but it is. The terrain is quite inaccessible and you have to stand up the whole time in order not to miss any action.

Serval (Leptailurus serval) Serval (Leptailurus serval)For our late afternoon safari we had planned to visit the Mara River and hopefully see some hippos. It was a really long drive on some really bad roads, and so we got some African massage again. We arrived at the Mara rivers well known crossing over point for the wildebeest and zebras when they migrate from Masai Mara to Serengeti into Tanzania.  It started to rain again and the sky was really dark, which was to be expected since the rainy season was literally standing on the threshold. We saw a group of hippos swimming in the water, and bit further down we saw several dead wildebeests which had been washed up on the river bank. It was plenty of scavengers around having a great feast on the cadavers. We decided to only make a short stop at this rather gruesome display.

On our way back we saw the beginning of the formation of the great wildebeest migration. Groups of wildebeest and zebras were aligning themselves in big columns comprising of hundreds of thousands of animals. We also spotted a type of ” Serval – wild cat” and a pair of Southern Ground hornbills.

When we returned to our hotel, we freshened up and went to dinner. After we had completed our dinner we came across a posting in the lobby which announced that it would be Masai dancers performing that evening. We found a nice place to sit and enjoyed a cup of coffee while we waited for the performance to start. The dancers arrived and they were a group of approximately 15 masai men who where singing and doing their characteristic jumping. After they had completed we went back to our room for a good nights sleep.

Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)Day 3: This morning was our last in the hotel, and even in the national reserve. After we had enjoyed our last breakfast we checked out and packed our stuff in the jeep. The roof was opened and we hoped to see and photograph yet more wildlife before we had to leave the reserve. We had had lots of rain during our days of safari, and we hoped to have better luck at least this last morning. Unfortunately after only 15 minutes it started to rain again, and we had to close the roof on the jeep. We continued to drive around but visibility was not to good sitting down in the jeep, so spotting small animals where ruled out. Therefore we decided to try and find the cheetah and hopefully be able to photograph it. After 45 minutes of searching we saw an old lion male lying alone beside the road. Wilson explained that he probably had lost a fight to a younger and stronger male which had taken over his flock. He was still in good shape considering that a male lion are not as good hunter as a lioness, but thanks to the hundreds of thousands of wildebeests present in the area, he could still hunt with rather ease. We left him and continued our search for the cheetah. Wilson communicated with other drivers in the reserve to hear if they had seen cheetah or leopard, and finally we got some information about their possible location. After approximately 15 minutes we found tree cheetahs laying in the bushes 30 m from the main road, trying to take cover against the rain. It wasn’t an easy task to try and photograph them considering that it was a lot of branches in the way and heavy rain, so I had to handhold my heavy camera and lens. After some examination I found out that we were to close, and since we couldn’t back up our jeep, I had to switch to my second camera with 100-400 mm lens. I made a few shots and a little video clip with two playing cheetahs, and our “mission” was completed.

The lion (Panthera leo) The lion (Panthera leo)It had been raining a lot the last few days making it problematic to drive around on the roads, they had become muddy and very slippery. It felt almost like we were driving on ice, and it was very easy to get stuck. We had planned to take a shortcut to the entrance of the reservate to avoid having to drive all the way around. We searched for a small passage to cross over the river and to continue our trip, but we couldn’t find it. We got in contact with a local who tried to help, but when we arrived there it turned out to be impossible to cross over due to the heavy rain which had literally turned the road into a mud-hole. We had to try another way and the local guy knew the surroundings and recommended another way for us which worked, and so we could leave the reservate.
A little after 10 minutes drive, our engine died. We got a bit concerned since we had such a long way to drive in order to reach Nairobi, but Wilson was sure that it was something concerning the gasoline pump. We were in a little village and we spotted a local car mechanics and decided to discuss the matter with them. The jeep contained two separate gasoline tanks, one main and one second, and the main one was empty but the second one were almost full, so we had gas. The mechanics explained that the main tank must always hold at least 20 liters of gas in order for the engine to work. It didn’t matter if you had lots of gas in the second tank. So we fueled up the main tank and we were on our way again. It was more than 60 km to drive on very bad roads before we reached the good road, which was also in a rather bad condition. After shaking and jumping for an eternity we stopped for lunch. We had polenta made of white corn served with vegetables and a spicy tomatoe sause, it tasted wonderful.
After lunch when we were all back in the jeep it started to rain so heavily that we couldn’t see more than 20 meter in front of us, but after approximately 20 minutes the  weather changed for the better again.
Eventually we arrived in Nairobi and we checked in at our hotel. We rested at the hotel until the next day and Wilson escorted us to the airport. We flew in a small plane for 1 hour and then we reached Kenyas coast, where we intended to relax for four days, hopefully with better weather.

PHOTOS:

Lake Naivasha

Lake Naivasha Lake Naivasha and red point as our start positionINFO: Lake Naivashaisa freshwater lake in Kenya, lying north west of Nairobi, outside the town of Naivasha. It is part of the Great Rift Valley.

YEAR: Oktober 2010

STORY: We started our day with an early breakfast in order to be in time for our pickup at 8:00 AM. We were being picked up by a young guy by the name of “Wilson”, who came driving in a large terrain jeep and which was working for the current company which we had engaged for our private safari.  Our first visit was the Lake Naivasha game sanctury which was located north of Nairobi, and it took us more than two hours to reach the sanctuary. We were informed that we were going to spend the next few hours in a boat where we would be guided around the lake in order to explore the wildlife on and around the lake.
The boat was quite big and suited for twelve persons, but luckily enough we were the only ones going that day. The wildlife on the lake was extensive and I had placed myself in the front of the boat with my camera secured on a tripod. I used Canon 1D mark IV and my favorite EF 400 mm F/2.8 L IS USM. I also had in my pocket 1.4 and 2X extender, but we always managed to get close enough to the objects, therefore I never needed any extender. My biggest expectation was to see the African Fishing Eagle and Kingfisher in action. We saw three different kinds of Kingfishers (Great Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher and Malachite Kingfisher) and a couple of them with a catch in their beak. We were also fortunate enough to see the Fishing Eagle hunting for fish, and I even succeeded to get it on picture. I believe that we saw more than 30 different kinds of birds on the lake in less than two hours. Additionally, we discovered a few hippopotamuses as well, enjoying their bath in the lake. Almost by coincidence, Wilson discovered a little green snake, which had crawled up in a bush which was growing out in the water, and was hunting for insects from one of the branches.
After the boat ride on the lake, we enjoyed a nice lunch in the beautiful garden at the Lake Naivasha Resort. There were plenty of birds flying around us in the garden and another one of my “bird favorites” came by, the Superb Starling, and I managed to get a picture. In the end of our lunch we got a special visitor, which was trying to steal the rest of the food from us. The visitor was a a big male Velvet monkey who was just waiting for Wilson to leave us, so that he could take action. Wilson had previously informed us that the monkeys don’t fear white people, therefore we were determined to see the intruder off, since we didn’t believe in that. Unbelievably, Wilson was correct, we clapped our hands and I even touched him on his back, but he just turned his head and looked at me like he was telling me “Don’t disturb me, can’t you see I am eating”, and continued as nothing had happened. The monkey didn’t leave until he saw Wilson running towards the table, trying to save what was left of his french fries.
This concluded our day, and Wilson drove us to our new hotel which we checked in at, and there we were left to “recharge” for the next day’s adventures.

PHOTOS:

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru Lake NakuruINFO: Lake Nakuru is one of the Rift Valley soda lakes. It lies to the south of Nakuru, in central Kenya and is protected by a small Lake Nakuru National Park. The lake’s abundance of algae attracts the vast quantity of flamingos that famously lines the shore. Other birds also flourish in the area, as do warthogs, baboons and other large mammals. Black and white rhinos have also been introduced. Nakuru means “Dust or Dusty Place” in the Masai language. Lake Nakuru National Park, close to Nakuru town, was established in 1961. It started off small, only encompassing the famous lake and the surrounding mountainous vicinity, but has since been extended to include a large part of the Savannahs.

YEAR: October 2010.

STORY: Early in the morning after breakfast we were ready for a long day’s safari. The entrance of the national park was located just 10 minutes drive from our hotel, and we were there exactly when they opened the gates. Wilson opened the “roof” of the jeep for us and I prepared my equipment, and the adventure started. I had brought two camera houses with two different lenses. My first set was 1D Mark IV with EF 400 mm F/2.8 L IS USM and later during the day when light was brighter, I attached 1.4 extender as well. Second camera was 5D Mark II with EF 100-400 mm F/4.5-5.6 L IS USM, which I used occasionally when the distance between the camera and the object was to narrow. My expectation was to see as many species of birds as possible and hopefully to be able to catch a few of them in action, and by the end of the day: I wasn’t disappointed.
The first game we saw was a lion family sleeping in the long grass, and there was one of the cubs which popped his head out when we drove by, and I managed to get him on picture. Later on, we entered a forest area which flourished with birds and monkeys. Wilson assisted us grately on our safari by being able to name all the bird species and other animals which we saw. He even invented a stand for my heavy lens, which was a sack of beans that I could use to place my heavy leans on when shooting from the roof of the jeep, since it wasn’t possible to mount the camera on my tripod. This lake was alkaloid and it was the perfect habitat for flamingos and pelicans, and we saw houndreds of them along the coast line. We also spotted several types of plowers, stork’s, water buffalos, white rhinos, giraffes, zebras, jackals, several kinds of gazelles, water bucks and so on.
We were beginning to feel a bit hungry so Wilson headed the jeep up on a peak which presented an astonishing view. He unpacked our previosly packed lunch box for us which he had ordered from the hotel, and we gratefully accepted the invitation.
On the way back to our hotel it started to rain and it kept on all night. We where really tired after a whole day’s safari, and after our dinner we went to bed, knowing that we had a long drive ahead of us the following morning in order to reach the Masai Mara National Reserve.

PHOTOS:

Mexico City and Teotihuacan

Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of MaryINFO: Mexico City is the Federal District, capital and largest city of the Mexico and Americas… Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site in the Basin of Mexico, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures. Teotihuacan is also known for its large residential complexes, the Avenue of the Dead, and numerous colorful, well-preserved murals. Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas.

STORY: We arrived in Mexico City buss station after six hours trip from Vera Cruz. It was in the mid of the day and city was crowded with cars. Our hotel was located in the north part of the city ad we had to take a taxi. When we booked our hotel in Vera Cruz we had a plan to find a hotel somewhere in the city and we found one with similar description. But if you don’t know how big Mexico City was than you can be 50 km from the center of the city in any direction and still you are in the city. After almost two hours in taxi we arrived to our hotel from buss station and was still in the city… huh. We had plan to find some tours to explore area called Teotihuacan and some part of Mexico City. Teotihuacan map Teotihuacan map
Our tour started one hour earlier than usually with reason the we stayed on the opposite side of city. As usually crowded streets and many stops before we arrived in the right area to rejoin with the rest of the group. Weather was cloudy with chance of raining. First on the list was largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico, Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary. It was situated a top the former Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor on the northern side of the Plaza de la Constitución in downtown. Our guide explained whole history of this place during the walk around and later we visited a tourist shop with souvenirs.
Next place to visit was Teotihuacan. We arrived on the parking area where our guide collected tickets and quick explained what we are going to do and how long time was before a lunch. I wish I had my camera equipment as I have today but only camera I had was my Canon 20D and 17-85. It is not bad camera but today’s technology is much better than many years ago.
Teotihuacan - The Sun pyramid Teotihuacan - The Sun pyramidAfter guided tour at the complex it was the time for personal exploration. Teotihuacan was much bigger and impressive than expected. Just walking the Avenue of the Dead and seeing how big and enormous the Pyramid of the Sun was with all people on their way up to the top. The moon pyramid was smaller then the Sun pyramid and located in the end of the avenue. My plan was to climb on the top and take wide panorama shot. After climbing the Moon pyramid I was really exited and my attempt to climb the Sun pyramid was interrupted by heavy rain. Of the security reason climbing was canceled for many visitors and we left the whole site and want to the restaurant. After good vegetarian meal the adventure was over and it was time to go back to the hotel.

CONCLUSION: One day I will definitely return to this place and properly document with better equipment. If you are visiting the Mexico City than don’t miss the opportunity to visit this magnificent place!