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Trip Report - Tanzania Northern Circuit - Otis in Africa - Part III

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Mar 9th, 2011, 12:58 PM
  #41
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Laurie -

Purists scoff at monopods, but it is far better than free-handing, which I did in 2007, and allows you to move fast. A beanbag is essential, and easy to fill and use in the truck. I am tall, and sometimes bending over to use the beanbag on the top rail or through the window was burdensome, especially on long sightings. My compromise was to use the beanbag to stabilize the monopod against the side of the top hatch or window-sill. I had a Promaster Clamper Jr., but didn't use it much.

I took some decent video, but panning and adjusting zoom while shooting is very difficult. I would have had better results using the Clamper Jr. with some sort of panning fitting on it, but didn't have that! In the end, my best videos (most 30-90 seconds) were done on the beanbag with as little adjustment as possible. While the quality is low (shaky or jumpy in spots) they really complement the still photos in the presentation that we put together for friends and church groups. Having the audio of herds (especially barking zebras!) is nice too.

I had Class 6 cards for doing video, as recommended by Canon, but had sporadic problems with writing speed being insufficient. So I would recommend getting something more than that (e.g. Class 10) if you want to shoot full-size video. I ended up reducing the size of my videos and that eliminated the problem (or it didn't happen again).

The Serval Cat was a wonderful gift, especially the slow exit. Our guide thought she would bolt once she broke cover, but she teased us for what was probably 45 breathless seconds.

One tip: no matter how stable you think the beanbag is on the top rail, IT WILL BOUNCE OFF AT THE WORST POSSIBLE MOMENT, so be careful.

Jim.
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Mar 9th, 2011, 05:09 PM
  #42
 
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Thanks Jim for the info. When I bought the T2i, the store sold me a Class 4 card. Course after reading the manual, I saw that minimally I needed Class 6. I asked the camera shop why they would sell me a 4 and they said that most people don't buy the T2i for the video but for the large photo file size. I actually got some good deals on Class 10 for the same price as Class 6 so I've been using them for video. I find if the subject isn't moving a lot (i.e., don't have to pan) the video is pretty good. It's the panning that is a problem. I've tried some different settings so that I can focus while shooting, but in bright light, it's challenging. That's why I like the vehicles where the top remains overhead like I had the last trip. Since I had the vehicle to myself, I could move about any place (really got spoiled). My guide provided bean bags for me but I only used them a couple of times and threw them on the seat when not in use. I did however, have a wrist brace with me, using that on my left wrist, and that did help stabelize the weight a lot. Sounds like the best plan is to allow enough room in my checked bag for the monopod. It has always been right on the edge of the 50lb limit. My carry on bag, which is the largest allowable, with camera gear, 1 change of clothes, important meds is about 32-34 lbs. No room for the monopod in there.
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Mar 9th, 2011, 05:28 PM
  #43
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Atravelynn -

Arusha – Arumeru River Lodge (Overnight on arrival to TZ) Jan 31, 2011
Tarangire NP – Sopa (1 day/night) Feb 1
Lake Manyara NP – Serena (1 day/night) Feb 2
NCA Ndutu Area – Lake Masek Tented Camp (3 days/nights) Feb 3-5
Serengeti NP – Sopa (2 days/nights) Feb 6-7
NCA Crater – Serena (2 days/nights) Feb 8-9
Arusha – Arumeru River Lodge (Day room prior to JRO departure) Feb 10
Back in the land of the ice and snow late on Feb 11. Ouch.

We broached the topic of Serengeti road project with our Driver, but he didn't engage. He was pretty direct about nearly anything, but not that. Didn't raise the issue with anyone else.

Now that I have a bit of Kiswahili, we are thinking Botswana for next trip. Setswana anyone?
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Mar 11th, 2011, 11:02 AM
  #44
 
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Pula pula!
--The beginning of your Setswana lessons.

Interesting about the feedback or lack thereof on the road.

Thanks for the itinerary.

I can relate to ice and snow.

I liked your bean bag tip and can concur. We found a beanbag on the ground on the last trip. Looked like a specially made one from a camp that must have fallen off a vehicle. I was impressed that your beanbag was made out of local beans obtained upon arrival. Clever planning. I brought Navys from home but I like your idea of getting them there. Was that pretty easy?

Still have your photos to look forward to.
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Mar 12th, 2011, 02:02 PM
  #45
 
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Jim,

I enjoyed ready your trip report and looking at your pictures. We used Good Earth for our safari trip in 2007 and had Moses as our driver in Tanzania. We all liked him a lot. I wasn't sure if was the same Moses, then I saw the picture of you and him at lunch. Yep, the same one. Back in 2006, in Aswan, Egypt, I took a picture of an unknown bird, to me, and had to come home to find out what it was. It was a Hoopoo bird! What a pretty bird, we saw one in the Serengeti while in Tanzania also.

Julie
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Mar 12th, 2011, 03:28 PM
  #46
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Atravelynn - Many safaris start at the Shoprite in Arusha to buy water. Lots of beans to be had there. Also a good spot to cash in Western currency for TZ Shilling, the exchange rate wasn't bad. They want to give you large bills, so ask for 1000TS notes which are more useful.

Julie - I had used your photos to get a look at Moses before we left. We ate lunch on the same rock at Moru Kopjes. You were smarter and ate on the ground; trying to sit on the dome and keep us, food and camera from sliding off was a chore!

Jim.
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Mar 25th, 2011, 12:41 PM
  #47
 
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Jim
We are looking at a trip very much the same as yours. Would it be impolite to ask what that trip cost, w/o international flight cost.I ask as it would give me idea for the range of private trips as excellent as yours. Your reports are OUTSTANDING (and yes I mean to shout - they are that excellent) and there can never be to much detail when it comes as well written and informative, as your
Allen
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Mar 25th, 2011, 05:14 PM
  #48
 
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The photos! Your cover shot is a riot. But I was even more impressed with your leopard in the tree, posing serval, cheetah kill, and male Paradise Flycatcher.
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Mar 26th, 2011, 05:17 AM
  #49
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Thank you for the kind words and encouragement.

AllenJ - What we paid was driven by many variables, tempered (I hope) by the continuing relationship we enjoy with one particular operator. Pick a few operators from the many good ones discussed in this Forum and ask for a quote, and you will have first-hand and current information to work with. With the world's economy as it is, there is good pricing available and operators eager to contract new business. For those considering their first safari, the New East Africa Trip Index (a link follows) is the best place to start. A little homework goes a long way.

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...port-index.cfm

Jim.
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Mar 28th, 2011, 03:31 AM
  #50
 
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I never fail to take my monopod and use it far more than the beanbag, especially when we have private vehicle. I simply don't have arm and shoulder strength to hold the heavier lenses up for more than a few seconds without some kind of support and the monopod allows me to have the camera at my desired height rather than limiting me to the height of whatever I can put the beanbag on!
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Sep 16th, 2012, 09:19 PM
  #51
 
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Great trip report!
I especially liked getting specific info about temperatures in February.
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