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I’M GOING ON A SAFARI!!!!

A little over a year or so ago, I read about Gerry Van der Walt from Wild Eye Photo Safaris as being the one to watch on Periscope for wildlife. I started watching him on safari tours and it was amazing to see the lions, hippos, elephants, rhinos, big cats, etc ~ and all of it was live. But I became “hooked” when I switched over to Snapchat which is my preferred forum for seeing all the wildlife updates. Gerry posted lots of the baby animals. Seriously, what’s cuter than those amazing strong animals as tiny (and not so tiny) babies. Cue: Heart Melting!!

Gerry and the rest of the Wild Eye team are very consistent with updating their social media, so much so that when Gerry went quiet for a few days ~ I became worried something happened on one of the safaris. Those animals do get close to the vehicles. Turns out, I missed the snap where he said he was going somewhere without wifi and he would be off-line.

The photos and snap stories are so amazing and I shared many of them with my husband and daughter. Through Gerry’s instagram account, I found a youth photographer, David whose award-winning photo is now on exhibit at the National Museum of Natural History’s Nature’s Best Photography Exhibit.  If you’re in Washington, DC and have an interest in wildlife/photography, I highly recommend seeing the exhibit. The “Leopards” photo was taken while David was on a safari in the Timbavati Private Reserve.

photo-young-boy-with-winning-youth-photo

Youth Photographer viewing “Youth Photographer” winners at the Museum of Natural History

I’ve dreamed about going on a safari ever since those Wild Kingdom TV shows back in the day. Whenever my husband and I discussed going, it always came down to time and money. Mostly money. It seemed out of our reach. And I’m not a fan of being on tour groups where I’m required to be around a lot of people and on their schedule. I was overwhelmed with the logistics, money and basic planning. I didn’t want to go on a trip of a lifetime and not enjoy it because I didn’t know what or where to go. It seemed too daunting to tackle.

Things changed this past fall when one day Gerry asked on Snapchat “What’s keeping YOU from going on a safari?” My first thought was “the logistics” and secondly, I thought about the cost. It must be common to everyone because he immediately addressed how Wild Eye can organize a tour based on a budget provided by the guest.

I took a chance and emailed my per-person budget along with possible dates. Gerry wrote back within hours and asked pertinent questions about my preferences: which were the top animals I wanted to see, luxury v. eco-lodge, and did I prefer to be with other people or on a private guide. A few days later, Gerry recommended we go on a privately guided safari in the Timbavati Private Preserve in South Africa with Michael from Wild-Eye. Having already seen David’s (youth photographer) great photos from Timbavati, I was sold.

Timbavati borders Kruger National Park and, because there are no fences, the animals go back and forth between the park and the preserve. Bottom line, we wouldn’t be going on this trip if I hadn’t stumbled onto Wild Eye through periscope. They’ve made it too easy to plan such a fabulous adventure.

More on the details of planning in my next post but if you want to follow Wild Eye to see their fabulous wildlife images, you have your pick of social media outlets:

  • Gerry (Wild Eye founder) is on Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat as: Gerryvanderwalt
  • Gerry’s The Wildlife Photography Podcast is on Itunes/Soundcloud
  • Our guide is on Instagram and Snapchat as: Michael.Laubscher
  • For additional info on Wild Eye click here
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Goodbye Guam

Sadly, we’re down to our last night in Guam. FG and I shed a few tears yesterday as we drove off Andersen. We’re really going to miss the friends we made in our short year here. And FG is worried there won’t be anyone her age in our NY neighborhood. Little does she know how much bigger the new post with be.

I thought a lot about Bennett, our lab who died here last October. Wish he were able to still be with us. I felt like we were leaving abandoning him. Makes me doubly sad about our departure.

We’re staying at the WONDERFUL Pacific Islands Club in Tumon. We’ve stayed at a few hotels here on Guam, including the Hilton, Outrigger and Days Inn but this is the best so far. The room is large, service great and we’re within walking distance of the Jamaican Grill and Proa restaurants. FG is in her glory ~ they have a huge waterpark here where she and FM are currently getting their fill of the slides, kayaks and snorkeling in the salt water fish-filled pool. I, on the otherhand, would love to be sitting on the balcony looking out on Ypao Beach and the ocean but the only location in our room where the wi-fi is “excellent” strength is in the middle of the, thankfully, large bathroom. I’m perched on a rather uncomfortable chair. Ah, the things I do to keep this blog updated 😉

I’m using my clunky old laptop which I think is about 4-5 years old so I don’t know how successful I’m going to be with photos of our island-hopping. I can’t imagine the island of Majuro has any better internet connections than this hotel BUT you never know.

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