Sept 6—Okay, so we practiced focus, exposure, and composition yesterday. All of you reading this blog are thinking "Thom's just adding a padding day to the workshop for nothing." Read on.
We moved out of the lodge about on time, but by the time we stopped in Maun for a few last minute supplies and hit the road to the park for real, we were running a bit late. No problem, there's not a lot between us and the park, so we'll just drive on through.
Indeed, there is very little North of Maun. The asphalt becomes packed dirt becomes washboard becomes sand.
Once through the Buffalo fence we expected to see a few impala and other common sightings, but our first stop was...wait for it...wild dog. Not just a fleeting glimpse, either, but a full pack resting under a tree not far from the main road into Moremi.
The funny thing is that my vehicle, the first in our group of four, drove right past the wild dogs. I was watching the left side of the road so didn't see them. Fran in the back meekly said she had just seen something like a small dog with big ears. After getting more of a description, Adam and I both thought "jackal" and kept driving. But the second vehicle didn't make that mistake: when they saw it they knew what it was. Within a few minutes, all four of our vehicles were positioned nicely shooting wild dogs taking a mid-day break.
To put this in perspective, wild dog is the one animal that no guide in his right mind will promise that a client will see during a trip like this. Even a two-week trip. That's because there are very few wild dogs left in the wilds. They cover huge territories, and when they're on the move they move fast and continuously. Most photographers, if they see one, see only a tail heading off into the bush. And here we were sitting with an entire pack of them perfectly oblivious to us.
So now you know why I was so bent on practice before heading into the bush. I was actually quite pleased to see that none of the vehicles were rocking, no one was firing off wild bursts of random shots, and that no one was having issues with focus or exposure. In short, the practice paid off.
The day continued with other interesting sightings, but we'll get to more animal stuff later in the blog for the trip (I'm not going to out all the animal stories on day one of a two-week trip!).
So we'll skip to dinner. Where we had a significant birthday to celebrate. This, of course, requires that you bake a cake. So our birthday girl gets the cake and knife to cut it. And she tries really hard to cut it and it just keeps crumbling and crumbling and...well, that's because you always give the guest the gag cake first ;~). Basically, you put a rice frosting on a pile of elephant dung and watch with amusement as the unwitting victim tries to cut it. It can't be done. Moreover, you wouldn't want to eat it. So once the locals get their laughs at the expense of the paying customer, the real cake comes out and all is well. (I hope.)
After dinner, I'm laying on my cot reading something on my iPad when I hear Tony in the latrine at the back of the tent say "Man, you can't believe the view from the toilet." Okay, Tony, let's pony up the image so everyone can enjoy what you saw on your evening constitutional.