My three week trip to Africa in July of 2005, (via a brief four day visit to London England), was my second adventure with a digital camera. I had only recently upgraded my 6 megapixel Canon 10D to an 8 megapixel Canon 20D and still being fairly new to the digital era of camera equipment I thought that this would be my last needed digital camera upgrade. How wrong I was! I had also recently acquired the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L lens which was used for most of these images. A friend and I set out for an eight day trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and then do a week safari in the Masai Mara of Tanzania. The climb of Kilimanjaro was fun but not extremely difficult. Kilimanjaro is without a doubt the worlds most "touristy" mountain climb. It's not a real "mountain climb" per say...as much as it is a high altitude hike. You don't need any mountain climbing experience, skills or equipment. Oxygen equipment is not needed although some companies do supply it and I did see some people accessing it at the higher levels. All you have to bring yourself is a good set of well worn hiking boots, some warm clothing and a decent level of fitness. Groups of kids from high school to college and people of all ages from around the world routinely hike to the summit of Kilimanjaro. There are numerous trails that lead you there and they are all packed year round with companies of professional guides and porters who will take care of your every need. They carry all of your baggage, set up all of the tents, cook all of your food, and tend to any other needs you have. All you have to do is carry a small day pack with your water, camera and other personal daily needs. There's practically a chocolate mint on your pillow waiting for you when you bed down for the night. Mountain climbing doesn't get any more "touristy" than Kilimanjaro. The mountain does indeed require a sensible amount of fitness to climb as it is 19,530' above sea level and it is literally the highest mountain in the world that is not in a mountain range, but almost anyone can acclimatize to the increasing altitude by slowly climbing at the pace set out by the guides. Rarely do people suffer from severe problems with altitude on Kilimanjaro. Only two of the eight in our group were unable to make it to the top. Kilimanjaro is a peak I recommend to anyone who has "climbing a mountain" on their bucket list. The safari portion of our trip was unfortunately in the dry season of the year on the Masai Mara. We were beset with clouds of dust swirling around our camper van as we drove endlessly through the empty Savanah looking for game animals to photograph. I must confess that I also felt somewhat amateurish standing in a van with the roof popped up driving to within feet of a sleeping lion at the side of the road to get a photograph. I was hardly the stealthy photographer capturing a fabulous image by stalking the trail of an animal for hours through the virgin bush. You may as well have posed the animal for me in front of the vehicle we were travelling in. Most of the animals in Ngorogoro crater were so used to the presence of humans that they would walk right across the road in front of the vehicle you were in without care or concern that you were even there. I guess I could withhold this information from you and allow you to think that I was in "the wilds" of Africa, deftly stalking animals for miles through the bush to acquire these images. I wasn't, and I didn't. None the less the trip was fun but one day soon enough I will return to Africa and I hope to pursue game in a real safari and capture images that far exceed the prosaic ones I got from this trip
© Steve Tambosso - "The Wandering Fireman"