OUTTA HERE: Africa- Timing Is Everything

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Extreme weather in Africa can be devastating.

Whether it is drought or heavy rains; each has its own set of life threatening problems. For a photographer on safari in Kenya, rain presents a different set of problems. Animals disappear and seek cover. Rain causes the rivers to rise; making SUV river crossings a challenge. Since the roads are not paved, rain causes deep ruts in the roads and travels becomes an uneasy experience.

Our adventure started in the pre-dawn darkness when our group’s five SUVs took off in different directions, hoping one would find some animal “action.” Patience is the key to getting great shots, and this theory was tested as we waited an endless two hours in our van for something to happen worth photographing. The shortwave radio was silent.

Out of nowhere, four young lionesses appeared and sauntered towards us, oblivious to our presence. With the prior night’s heavy rainfall, the tires tracks had become deeply rutted and filled with water. Just feet from us, the lions stopped to drink. Looking around and lapping, they crouched and took turns drinking.

The morning silence was broken only by the bursting, machine-gun clicking of cameras set at continuous speed.

Then, in unison, the lions moved on as quickly as they appeared.

Happenstance brought these magnificent beasts into our lives that memorable morning. In the evening, when I was downloading my pictures to my computer, I thought to myself how lucky I was to be in the right place at the right time.

— Photos and story by Charles Weinberg ©

Observation balloons search for wildlife following a heavy rain. A few elands pass in the foreground. Photos by Charles Weinberg
Ruts on the trail filled with water in the recent storm.
After hours of fruitless waiting for some “animal action,” a group of lions appears out of the high grass.
The lions approach to within a few feet of the safari van.
The big cats take a leisurely drink from a rainwater-filled rut, oblivious to the furious whirring and clicking of tourists’ cameras.
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