Tanzania – a land of relentless wildlife beauty.

If Looks Could Kill – A very close leopard stares with intensity from its grassy hiding place. Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, Africa

Beth and I had the good fortune to travel in Tanzania on a photography safari. So much wildlife, it made my head spin. Wildlife at every turn on the dirt roads, of which there are thousands of miles. How the guides manage to navigate the terrain with no signs or maps and in Ndutu no roads at all, is an impressive skill. We photographed in Lake Manyara National Park, Ndutu Region, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Ngorongoro Crater (see map).

Tanzania Africa

Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ngorongoro Crater, Ndutu, Lake Manyara National Park, Serengeti National Park,


The weather was hot, dry and dusty (a real challenge keeping the camera gear free of dust), but clear for wildlife photography. Twelve days of game drives in safari vehicles that were specially fitted for just 2 photographers. Since it was Beth and I together in one vehicle, I essentially had the entire vehicle to myself for my photography. The vehicle had an open roof with no “pop top” – a real advantage in that there were no roof posts to get in the way of the visibility or camera sweeps. With three camera bodies with lenses (Sony A7R3, Canon 5D4, Canon 7D2, Canon 500 mm F/4, Sony 100-400 GM F/4.5-6.3, Canon 24-105 F/4 ),  I could shoot in any direction in seconds notice.

Rich in His Safari Vehicle


Classic Shots

There are two classic photographs that I wanted to capture: 1) Acacia tree at sunrise and 2) the Lilac Breasted Roller bird in flight.

Serengeti Sunrise – The sun rises over the Serengeti grassland under an Acacia tree. Serengeti National Park

The Serengeti Sunrise image took 5 attempts, 5 mornings in a row. One must have the right location, the right camera lens, the right distance from the tree, the right clouds, the right camera settings and the sun in the right position relative to the Acacia. And a lota luck! It finally came together in the Serengeti National Park with the expert help of my guide, James, on the 5th attempt.

Beautiful Lilac Breasted Roller in flight with wings down. Ndutu, Tanzania

The lilac breasted roller is a difficult bird to photograph in flight. It flies quickly and erratically. While standing in the safari vehicle we drove through its habitat and scanned for the bright, beautiful blue colors of the roller in the trees. Trying not to disturb the bird we would drive as close as we dared. Then we waited for the bird to fly. I was rewarded with this flight shot. Wings down is my favorite position


The Safari Guides

The safari was organized by Roger Clark, a friend and fellow member of the Mile High Wildlife Photo Club. Roger contracted with Roy Safaris (Arusha, TZ), who provided the vehicles, the guides and the incredible expertise for finding and identifying wildlife (all their guides must graduate from Wildlife Guiding College). This was Roger’s eighth trip to Tanzania.


Our Guide James


The safari guides for the four vehicles in our group.


World Class Accommodations

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Brunch in the Bush

After an early morning game drive (start at 6 am to get into position for the sunrise shots) of several hours we would regroup, circle our “wagons” and have brunch in the bush.

Brunch in the Bush


Navigating the Family Tree

We watched (seemed like hours – we came back several times to see them) a mother leopard and her cub move around in the limbs of a tree. When it came time for them to descend the leopardess climbed down with agility and poise. The cub however, was reluctant to climb down. We could see the hesitation as it seemed to be judging the distance and the difficulty. Finally it descended with no problems. Mom must have been proud. Interesting how the tails are straight, up and at a slight angle for balance.

Navigating the Family Tree – A leopardess first and then her cub descend a tree that has seen much family activity. Serengeti National Park.


Ngorongoro Crater

For many years I have been hearing about this famous crater for its wildlife. I was excited to experience this seemingly magical place. It did not disappoint. The crater, also know as a volcanic caldera is 17 km across and has a flatish bottom. One can stand in the safari vehicle and look across the crater in any direction and can see wildlife almost to the far rim. While wildlife can move in and out of the crater, it does act like a natural fence that creates a concentration of animals. It is famously known as the home of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, cape buffalo). I was not interested in photographing the Big Five as an objective, since there are so many beautiful birds and other wildlife to photograph. But when reviewing my images, I did realize that I had captured the Big Five.


180 Degree Surround Panorama

Surround 180 degree Panorama, Ngorongoro Crater; Click on image, Click again on circular arrow, Click and Drag.


Heron on a Hippo

We were eating brunch by a pond after a morning game drive when I watched a grey heron fly over us and land on the back of a hippo in the pond. I jumped up, grabbed my camera and ran to the pond’s edge to photograph this unusual sight. Then the heron jabbed down into the water and came up with a fish. What a surprise to me and the fish.

Catch on a Hippo – A grey heron catches a fish while standing on the back of     a hippopotomus. Ngorongoro Crater.


The Black Rhino

The black rhino is critically endangered, because of the rising demand of rhino horn. There are only about two dozen rhinos in the crater, so seeing one is an event to be remembered. We did see one black rhino, but it was a long shot.

Canon 7D Mark2, Canon 500 mm lens+2x TC or 1600 effective millemeters:

Black Rhino, Ngorongoro Crater


The Serval Cat

What is a Serval Cat? Basically a wild cat. I had never seen one, not even in a zoo. I never expected to see on in the wild since they are very stealthy. But on the way back to the lodge, one dashed across the road right in front of our vehicle. I jumped up and started shooting as the cat slipped through the tall grass. With a one second of look-back, I was able to get this image. What luck!

Serval Lookback – A rare Serval cat slips away stealthly but turns to look back through the grass. Ngorongoro Crater

From 20,007 Images to my Top 40

My Top 40 Images

~ by richardseeley on April 18, 2018.

14 Responses to “Tanzania”

  1. Absolutely beautiful! Maria has been there. I have not. One more thing on the bucket list. Basil.

    On Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 5:34 PM, Richard Seeley Photography Blog wrote:

    > richardseeley posted: “Tanzania – a land of relentless wildlife beauty. > Beth and I had the good fortune to travel in Tanzania on a photography > safari. So much wildlife, it made my head spin. Wildlife at every turn on > the dirt roads, of which there are thousands of miles.” >


  2. Awesome photos!


  3. Rich- How on earth (literally) will you ever top this?? Amazing shots!! Joyce

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. Richard,
    Great stuff, both narrative and photographs. Especially liked the Sunrise, snacking heron and serval cat.!


  5. Good stuff Rich! We did the same trip in 13. Had a great trip. We saw way more wildlife than I’d ever imagined we’d see.



  6. Hi Richard and Beth, Wow, trip of a lifetime! And you didn’t have to share your vehicle (or get along with other people on the tour So wonderful that the people who set it all up and the guides were top notch

    I so enjoyed looking at your blog and the TOP 40 shots too

    How amazing! I have never been on photo safari, or any safari, and never to east Africa. I went to Nigeria and Senegal for dance and drum and culture workshops.

    Hope all else is well with you for the coming summer. Hugs, Monique

    Sent from my iPad



  7. Thanks Rich nice review of the trip! Love the story! Linda


  8. Love this. When I was in Arts Alive, I used to look for all your pics. Especially love spin cycle.


  9. What an adventure for you and Beth!!!!! We were in Kenya and Tanzania about 20 years ago. I have always wanted to return since it was such a wild, exciting, full of energy place BUT. There is just so much time in life so other adventures have always gotten in the way of our return. Of all of our adventures Africa is certainly near the top to the list!!! You certainly were able to get some OUTSTANDING pictures. Did you ever see the white rhino? We saw one but the pic I took was of very poor quality. (All the pictures I took were of poor quality compared to yours.)



  10. While I have seen these animals on Safari in South Africa and Namibia, it is most special to see them through your camera lens! Thank you…


  11. Hi Rich,Your trip to Tanzania was very similar to mine, went to a lot of the same sites and had a blast. A safari in Africa is hard to top.My only photo regret was not getting a Leopard shot and in 1999 when I went I was still shooting film.  Looks like you had a lot of great sightings and got lots of great shots. Love the face of the leopard! After my last safari I found it difficult to visit a zoo. I doubt if I will ever go to Africa again but it would be better now shooting digital. I have outgrown my 10 year old iMac so I just ordered a new iMac 27 inch Pro, and am now waiting for a Nikon D850 which is backordered.Who knows when it will get here. How are you liking the AR7lll and does your adapter for the Canon lenses work OK? My friend who shoots Canon is curious about how it’sworking for you. I think he’s tempted.We plan to go to Asheville,NC for a family get together with in laws and John and Cody and Goldie and possibly Paula sometime in Mayif it works out for everyone. I’ll try to see Dick Williams and Kathy if possible when there. No date is set so far. Really enjoyed your blog and shots.Take care old friend,from your old friend Rod


  12. please change e-mail to: read13@comcast.net



  13. Great photos! Amazing that something as large as a leopard can run headfirst down a tree like a squirrel.


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