S: Photographs by Michaela Braun
FC: South Africa 2012
1: Tim bought a lion hunt at the SCI banquet, which was the catalyst for us heading to Africa. I never imagined I would go there. But with that auction, we began to plan. Because Tim didn't want to travel straight through (say a 16 - 18 hour flight) we decided to try to find a place that had a long layover, and was somewhere we hadn't been. Cairo turned out to be the most interesting option. It was also not a place we ever thought we would go. The history there is amazing, and it is such a shame that political conditions make tourism a declining industry for them. Seeing the pyramids and a few other historical sites were a chance of a lifetime.
3: While in Cairo, our guide Ahmed Ramadan took us around to the sites. He was such a kind man and very knowledgeable. He explained to us a lot about the Egyptian political climate, the conditions since the revolution in 2011, about being Muslim. His wife and daughter were very sweet, and prepared an amazing meal for us.
5: We were treated very well every where we went, but we were the only tourists anywhere. Ahmed told us that conditions were due to interim government and a failing infrastructure.
8: Ahmed made sure we got to see as much as possible in the day. We went inside the second oldest step pyramid, visited another sphinx, saw Ramses II statues, and traveled all around the city. It was quite an adventure.
11: Upper left corner: Statue of Ramses II. He was a robber of tombs himself, so when he was building statues of himself, like the one in the picture, he covered it with cartouches in order to preserve his personal identity on it. From his own actions, he knew that often rulers would chip away identifications of a previous ruler, and replace it with his own. The remaining pictures are of the step pyramids. We went into the second oldest, which is the one that looks like a pile of rocks. | Step Pyramids
12: We were able to stop at a rug making school. There were master rug makers working, even though it was Friday, the Muslim weekend. It was amazing and beautiful. Most rugs takes months to make. I got to make a tie on a silk rug.
13: Cairo was different than I imagined it would be. It was modern and ancient at the same time. These are some snapshots of the city.
15: I was overwhelmed by all that we saw, including the apparent lack of ability to keep their city clean. You won't see that in the photographs, but it was very sad. The lower right picture is the citadel.
16: So we arrive in South Africa on Saturday morning, met at the airport by Roelof, Pietra, and Hani. Roelof loaded us up and headed from Johannesburg to Phillip Bronkhorst Safaris Lodge-Bateleur Lodge. It was a four hour drive, much of it on dirt roads. When we arrived, they met us at the truck with a sort of morning drink in martini glasses, and then took us to our accommodations. We stayed in a tent, but it wasn't like any tent we'd ever seen before.
19: The pictures here are of our "tent", the entrance to the lodge, and just miscellaneous pictures of Bateleur Lodge.
20: Chilling out at camp in Bateleur Lodge. Phillip and Tim. George and Roelof. George was camp manager, and one of our favorite people. His dog was Sarky, and he was always sent to do what others didn't want to do. For example, when Phillip told his wife she had enough gas to make the 30 mile trip to Lephalale and she ran out of gas, Phillip sent George with the fuel. George, George, George.
22: Sarky, George's dog. Julia, the dog on the lower right, became my friend during our stay.
25: Tim had to go site in the rifle he was using, and then we went out and did some hunting right away. Throughout this album, you will see some of the amazing sunsets we saw every night.
26: Day 1: Zebra | The zebra is a beautiful animal. When a baby is born, the mama circles it for a long while in order that the baby remembers its mother's own unique pattern before it ever sees another zebra.
28: Day 2: Hartebeest. Tim, being in the business he is, wanted to try the meat. So a couple of days later our chef Nicholas made us an amazing dinner of fillet of hartebeest.
31: Day 3: Blue Wildebeest
32: Day 4: Warthog. These are fun animals to watch. They run with their tails straight up, and then when they stop, it droops. Not what I would call cute however.
34: I was constantly taking pictures. The truck was always moving so there was rarely an opportunity to compose a great shot, just to get the shot. Not to mention that these animals were easily spooked, and sometimes before we saw them, they were running. These are blue wildebeest.
37: The Stalk
38: I never got tired of sunsets and landscapes, or animals that popped out of the bushveld.
44: More snapshots
45: 3000 year old Boabab Tree
46: A giraffe makes me smile. They were so fun to watch and so calm. The guy on the opposite page, upper left, was an old male. The darker the spots, the older he is.
48: Impala at the watering hole. They grunt at one another and it is very distinctive.
50: As I was taking pictures of funny warthogs, I caught a photo of a black back jackal too.
52: Day 5: Baboon
53: We didn't set out to shoot a baboon, but after watching them at the watering whole all day, Tim saw a big male and went for it. They are vicious creatures.
54: Day 5: Blesbuck
58: Day 6: Impala
61: Pietra told us that one of the most important parts of PH training was taking the pictures of each harvest. They spent a lot of time making the pictures as perfect as possible. It was fun to watch them.
66: Day 7: Let there be rest. After 6 days of hunting, Tim decided it was time for a break. Our camp was only about 40 miles from the Botswana border, so we decided to drive to Mahalapye for lunch. When we ordered, they came back and said the only thing on the menu they had was a t-bone steak. So, we had t-bone. It wasn't like Nebraska beef.
70: We got back to South Africa from Botwsana and decided to take an evening boat ride. We went on a pontoon boat, and in addition to seeing a hippo, we saw another amazing sunset.
78: Day 8: After spending seven days at Bateleur Lodge, we packed up and moved to Tishape (God Be With Us) Lodge. This was the lion territory and it was a 7 + hour drive on mostly dirt roads at high speeds. However, we followed the Botswana border for miles and miles and it provided us the opportunity to see a lot more of South Africa.
80: These were the types of roads we traveled on for hours. And even in South Africa, Tim can't resist trying the jerky. Let me just say, it wasn't something I would try again. This is the Southern Kalahari Dessert.
82: This camp is one of the oldest in the Kalahari. Tim had four animals left on his list when we got here. We didn't have Nicholas to cook, but Clayton's mother and family did a great job. One of our favorite things was a sandwich made with pulled meat, cheese, onions, fresh tomato, mayo, and a little Mrs. Balls Chutney. They told us most Americans pulled off the tomato and onion. It was prepared like a panini or grilled cheese, and we will try to make it at home! They also had feta cheese that was the best I've ever had. | This is the lion camp owned by Clayton. He has named it Tishape, and my favorite part was falling asleep listening to lions roaring....all night long.
84: These kudu are called "gray ghost" for there ability to hide in the brush.
87: Day 9: Gemsbok was the one animal, besides the lion, that Tim most wanted. It was such a difficult animal to find. They were all very wary of us, but the gemsbok would run like mad every time it saw us. And it always saw us first.
90: Day 10: Lion This was an amazing hunt. Our tracker, Midrieu, was nothing short of gifted. He saw one track in the sandy road covered in millions of tracks, and so began our chase. Clayton estimated she was approximately 220 kilograms-400 lbs. That is a BIG lion.
97: Tim, Ruelof, Pietra, and Midrieu
102: After the excitement of getting the lion, we went back to camp and rested. Later that day we went to the local "town" which consisted of a school, a few shacks, a fuel/supply station, and a bar. When we got to the bar, a little meerkat walked in behind the owner. He liked us. | Pietra told us meerkats are very social creatures with their own families. When she worked in the Kalahari a few years earlier, they would have their evening camp fires and a meerkat family would join them at a distance and groom one another.
104: Day 11: Black wildebeest and springbok. The black wildebeest are called "clowns of the field" because they dance and play with one another. The springbok was harvested about 1 hour before dusk. Nothing like waiting until the very last moment.
108: Last animal, Springbok. He was harvested on the last hunting day, one hour before dusk.
114: One of my favorite quotes is from Mark Twain. "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." Tim and I both have this idea that we don't want to live our lives waiting, but rather to jump in and participate in all the opportunities that present themselves to us when possible. We haven't gone on a single trip, visited a single country, or met a single person where we didn't come home a little bit altered, with our eyes wider open, our hearts touched and warmed by those we met, and our hopes up for the next experience. Coming home, though, remains the single greatest experience.
115: "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have been altered." Nelson Mandela