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Safari Journal

September 4, 2014:  Hi everyone. Got back last weekend from back-to-back safaris -- 38 days in 6 countries -- South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania -- organized by Overseas Adventure Travel - www.oattravel.com.  I've put together a curated list of 90 pix from the 5,000+ I shot.  Here's the link:

 https://picasaweb.google.com/117042641309323048406/SafariSelect

There are also 4 videos on YouTube: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2hM3u3JRfA (Chopper/Victoria Falls)  

http://youtu.be/E_dLXBIMpzI   (Rainbow/Victoria Falls)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd8yGEmTSZ0  (Wildebeest Stampede) 

http://youtu.be/d1O2T8UBvmg    (Rocky Road)

There are no videos or pix of the most dramatic event -- a cheetah and her 3 cubs successfully running down a Grant's gazelle.  I was too focused on my binoculars.  But the action was riveting.  One of the cubs jumped on the gazelle's rump to help bring it down.  The gazelle was estimated to be about 180 lb and can run 50 mph. Once the mother cheetah jumped on the gazelle it was clear the gazelle was much bigger than she was, with sturdy 30" horns.  I watched the hunt unfold for about 45 minutes, as the big gazelle slowly wandered within the cheetah's striking distance. The chase itself only last about 15 seconds, but it then took a few minutes to subdue the gazelle, which had gotten back on its feet and used its horns to fend off the attack.  But in the end the cubs got a nice meal.  Our guide said that with so many mouths to feed the cheetah must've been desperate to go after such large prey.  I was impressed at how patient and quiet the cubs were while stalking.  They were estimated to be about 5 - 6 months old.

It pays to be patient.  There wasn't much to see for 45 minutes. The cheetahs were barely visible through the tall grass, about 200 yards away.  If you took your eye off them  for a second they were hard to relocate.  Just a small black spot thru the grass was all you could see, even with good binocs.  There were several other vehicles parked near us, watching, but they got bored and drove off before the action. Our guide asked us if we wanted to stay and we voted yes.  When we got back to camp and told the others what we had witnessed none of the others believed us.  We had several pranksters in the group and they thought this was just another tall tale. But eventually their incredulity turned to anger that they had not stayed.  The chase was the highlight of the trip. I was using cheap 10 x 50 Bushnell binoculars while our guide had much more expensive 10 x 50 Leicas.  The overall view was exactly the same through both, although the precision and light-gathering superiority of the Leica was apparent.  Neither one is compact. 

Below - a personal fave: beetle pushing dung ball.

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