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About Andy


I am an avid adventurer, conservationist, teacher, and outdoor photographer whose photography celebrates the African landscape and its rich wildlife, people, and culture. My photographic safaris allow my travelers to not only enhance their understanding of photography, lighting, and wildlife, but to develop a life-long admiration for Africa ‘s beauty and culture.

Banana Republic recently used my photographs as the cornerstone of their Urban Safari campaign, and my images were seen in all 750 stores around the globe, as well as in their billboards, catalogs and annual report. I was also the winner of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in the ‘Wild Places’ category in 2008 and a highly commended in the ‘Creative Visions of Nature’ category in 2007.

I launched Gura Gear in 2008, in an attempt to deliver lightweight camera bags to the market. I was looking for a lightweight camera bag to hold all of my photographic gear, and there was nothing desirable on the market that suited my needs. After spending 2 years with many prototypes, the Gura Gear Kiboko bag was born. More products are now available on the Gura Gear web site.





Entries in Okavango Delta (7)


November 2012 Botswana Safari Report


Leopard on a Branch

Canon 1Dx, 300mm f/4 L IS, 1/500 sec @ f/6.3, ISO 1600


A few months ago I led a pair of safaris into Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and here is my write-up from my experiences. My goal is to not bore everybody with a day-by-day account of all of our game drives and activities, but rather what made these two safaris unique and exciting. Read on…..

I left home the day after our USA Thanksgiving, and when I arrived in Botswana I spent 16 straight nights between two camps in the Okavango Delta: Nxabega Tented Camp and Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge, both operated by &Beyond. These two camps are quite different in both lodging style as well as the ecosystems where they are located. Nxabega is considered more of a ‘wet’ camp, with both boating activities as well as game drives. Sandibe is a dry camp, especially later on in the season in the months of October, November and December.

Equipment Used

Even though I use a Phase One medium format system, I did choose to only bring along a small Canon kit that I rented from my friends over at Why did I not bring my Phase One gear? At the end of 2012 I can safely say that I was pretty darned tired from all of my travels with big and heavy gear. I also realized that I needed to return to my Canon roots and know what my Canon-shooting customers are using these days. Here is what I brought:

  • Canon 1Dx
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II
  • Canon 300mm f/4 L IS
  • Canon 1.4x teleconverter
  • Sony RX-100 point and shoot

That’s it. Seriously. I took a Gura Gear Bataflae 26L camera bag, and had tons of room leftover for clothing items. I didn’t bring a second 35mm camera because I just wanted to be simple about the trip, and if I had an equipment malfunction at least I knew that I am not directly earning my living from my photographs. My living is made by running the best photo safaris that I know how to run, and the happiness of my travelers is much more important than any images I bring home. My Sony RX-100 was used for people shots, behind the scenes types of shots and any other quick grab shots. It was very liberating to take such a small amount of camera gear, which reminded me of what my camera bag looked like back in 2002 and 2003 when I had a Canon 300mm f/4 as my longest lens. The only difference was that this time I was shooting with a full-frame 1Dx camera body and back in 2002/2003 I had the Canon D30 or 10D. Talk about a long time ago in technology terms. 

The 300mm f/4 worked perfectly for the way I like to shoot, which means I like having plenty of space for my subjects to ‘breathe’ in the frame. Call them animal-scapes or whatever you wish, but I just photograph in a way that tells a story about a place as well as a subject. After looking at my favorite images from the trip, I used the 70-200mm more often than the 300mm. And I rarely used the 1.4x teleconverter at all. I am glad that I don’t need a longer lens in Botswana, because my Phase One equipment has a maximum focal length of 300mm, which is actually closer to 190mm in 35mm terms. On a side note, longer lenses are needed on the open savannah grasslands of the Masai Mara and Serengeti, so please regard the above comments as being specific to Botswana or South Africa.


My Vehicle Mates

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II, 1/3200 @ f/3.2, ISO 320



Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II, 1/200 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600


Helicopter Flights

While at Nxabega, we spent some time flying around in our privately chartered helicopter. Nxabega is a fantastic location for aerial photography, because the flood plains to the east and north of camp are some of the most beautiful in all of the Okavango Delta. We had flights over papyrus forests, open flood plains and dry savannah. We had superb cloud reflections, elephant herds, giraffes, cape buffalo and the super special sitatunga. I am a big supporter of not interfering with wildlife on these aerial flights, and this means keeping a respectful distance from my subjects. I am NOT a fan of aerial photos with wildlife subjects who are running away with scared and fearful nonverbal communication. Not a fan. It’s also reckless.


Elephants From The Air

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/8000 @ f/4.5, ISO 2500



Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II, 1/800 @ f/8, ISO 800



Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II, 1/1000 @ f/4, ISO 800


Big Cats

We had more success at Sandibe with the big cats, and I likely had more leopard sightings per day than on any other safari in the Okavango in the past. On my first safari we logged 7 leopard sightings in only 4 days. We even had some great cheetah sightings, including a lone male cheetah on his recent kill. And lions were plentiful as well. We observed leopards stalking and hunting on a few occasions, as well as mating lions. Oh, and lions hunting wild dogs. More on that below under Unique Sightings.



Canon 1Dx, 300mm f/4 L IS, 1/80 @ f/4, ISO 1600



Canon 1Dx, 300mm f/4 L IS, 1/400 @ f/7.1, ISO 1600



Canon 1Dx, 300mm f/4 L IS, 1/1000 @ f/4, ISO 800


Wild Dogs, Wild Dogs and More Wild Dogs

On my second stint at Sandibe we had African wild dogs near camp for 2.5 days straight. We followed them on a hunt, which wasn’t the easiest of game drives. Wild dogs can run straight through the bush, which can make for a very rough experience. Of course some times they can run out in open areas as well, but I haven’t seen that very often when they are on a hunt. We spent enough time with the pack on 5 straight game drives where we all came away with wonderful experiences. And we had the wild dog pack being stalked by 2 adult lionesses. UGH. That really tore me apart, so read on in the next section.


African Wild Dogs

Canon 1Dx, 300mm f/4 L IS, 1/1600 @ f/6.3, ISO 800


Unique Sightings

We had great sightings on these two safaris, however a couple of them really stood out. Let’s dive into the first one, which involves leopards and dogs. At the same time. On one afternoon we located the dog pack, sat with them until they woke up from their afternoon naps and then watched them get excited about going on a hunt. This was our first sighting of the pack on the safari, and so we had tons of desire to spend as much time as possible with them. When they began to hunt we worked very hard to keep up with them as they ran through the thick bush. After 45 minutes of bushwhacking our way to keep up with the pack, we lost sight of them but still knew their general direction. The light was fading quickly, and then we realized we had found the pack on a kill. Not just a kill, but a kill from a leopard and her two leopard cubs. The dogs had chased the leopards up a dead tree. We positioned our vehicles where we had good lines of sight of both sets of predators: dogs on the left and leopards on the right. The dogs had stolen a kudu from the leopards, and the dogs were all over it. And the leopards were stuck up a tree that they couldn’t come down from, as the dogs would continue to pursue them. Predators are extremely competitive, and a leopard with cubs will not put her cubs into a life or death situation without any benefit. African wild dogs 1, leopards 0. That was a first for me to see interaction between leopards and wild dogs, and this was a humdinger. 

The other unique sighting was both thrilling and sad at the same time. There are two dominant lionesses in the northern NG31 concession, and we had spent some time watching them on earlier game drives. On this particular drive we were out searching for the wild dog tracks in an attempt to locate the pack. We found the pack sleeping under some shaded trees and sat and waited for them to get ready for their late afternoon hunt. After some minutes went by we noticed 1 lioness stalking into the area. The dogs did not see them and by the time the 2nd lioness had appeared there was 1 male adult dog fighting for his life. The lionesses had ambushed the pack from two different sides, and nothing makes me sadder than to see a wild dog meet its end. African wild dogs, often referred to as painted dogs or cape hunting dogs, are the most endangered predator in Africa with roughly 4,000 individuals left in the wild. The primary challenge for them is loss of habitat, as well as human / wild dog conflicts.

As the two lionesses stood over the wounded dog, those in my vehicle had nothing but sad thoughts. I don’t often get emotionally charged with wildlife interaction, but this one just didn’t sit with me. We left the scene as soon as a few shots were taken. Even our guide and tracker were shook up by the event.


Lionesses Killing a Wild Dog

Canon 5DMk3, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/1600 @ f/5.6, ISO 1000


Weather and Scenery

Northern Botswana can be a difficult place to learn, especially for somebody like me who has to build a business around leading the best wildlife photographic opportunities possible. The challenge is that each concession, park and camp has their own unique ‘best’ times of the years, and I have to always be on the ball to know when and where to go to serve the needs of my travelers. November and early December are a fantastic time to be in bush in the Okavango Delta, as it is when babies are born (zebras, impalas, etc), the colorful migrant birds are present and most importantly the skies are very very dramatic. Think huge clouds, reaching high in the sky, that are filled with moisture and color. The grasses are starting to green up a little bit, however it isn’t later in the season when the grasses can get tall.


Giraffe and Oxpecker

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/1250 @ f/6.3, ISO 1000


Early Morning Game Drive

Canon 1Dx, 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II, 1/640 @ f/5.6, ISO 800


Closing Thoughts and Looking Forward

In all of the times I have been in the Okavango Delta and Linyanti ecosystems this was likely the happiest set of travelers I have ever had on any safaris. I cannot wait to return again in November 2013. I have already announced the details on my dedicated safari page:

Botswana: The Premier Okavango Delta Photo Safari, November 8-17, 2013

The schedule is nearly identical, and the costs are exactly the same as last year. Come join me and Grant Atkinson in Botswana this November! It will be a safari experience you will not forget.



Photo of the Day - Elephants in the Okavango


Elephant Family in the Okavango Delta. July 2011

Nikon D3, 28-300mm f/3.4-5.6, 1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 1250


Photo of the Day - Legadema




Mombo Camp, Botswana. July 2011

Nikon D3x, 200-400mm f/4 VR, 1/640 @ f/4, ISO 800


Photo of the Day - Lion Pride Crossing


Lion Pride Crossing The Okavango Waters

near Chitabe Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana. July 2011

Nikon D3x, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/250 sec @ f/8, ISO 640


We waited and watched patiently for a pride of lions, sans adult males, to cross some open water in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and our patience paid off. I have about 50 different images of them walking towards the vehicle, but the one that I like the most is this one, as I had most of the eyes visible. I also like the gentle curve of the lions from right to left. I do wish that I had used a 2nd camera with a wide angle lens, as my 70mm was barely enough to fit them all into the scene.


Day 2 –Chitabe Camp, Okavango Delta

We were up at 5:30 and out of camp by 6:30 this morning, and it wasn’t as cold as I have been expecting for this time of the year. It wasn’t any cooler than the upper 40’s or lower 50’s, which was kind of nice, and made for an easy morning. When we left camp we wanted to follow up on some lion roars in the distance, and it took us around 45 minutes to locate two adult males. It took us some time offroad, but it only took a couple of roaring sessions for us to home in on their location.

The male lions were good examples of how majestic big cats can be, as they had very dark and large manes. My guests appreciated the early sighting, however the sun never came out during our time with them. On a perfect wildlife photography day we would have a bright and warm sunrise, followed by clouds for the rest of the day for soft light, and then the last hour of light would be warm, direct light again.

After our lion sighting, we located a pair of adult cheetahs, a male and a female. They put on a great show for us, and there were smiles all around. A cheetah on a clean perch, such as a termite mound, is a great thing. Two cheetah on the same perch are an even better thing, indeed. 5 stars!

On our way back to camp, we saw circling vultures overhead. We took the time to check out what was going on, and saw an adult female leopard climb up into a tree when we arrived. What excellent luck on our first full safari day: the 3 big cats all on one game drive. The light wasn’t the most ideal, however we did get some good vantage points to watch her on a low limb in the tree.

We took a break for lunch and returned in the mid afternoon to watch the leopard again. She had not moved an inch since we had left, and we all enjoyed watching and photographing her from different vantage points until after sunset. What an excellent safari day!

Note: All images in these daily blog postings are very very rough edits of the things we have seen, and I often omit the photographs that take too much time to process. I don’t take much time off during the day, as I am working with people with their photographic needs. All of my images in these posts will have to be re-processed when I get back home, and they are only included in these blog entries for illustration purposes.






Photo of the Day



Mombo Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana. July 2009

Nikon D3, 200-400mm f/4 VR, 1/160 @ f/4, ISO 6400


Botswana trip report

As promised, I have a short safari trip report from my latest trip to Botswana.


We visited 3 different camps: Kwetsani, Savuti and Chitabe, plus 3 additonal nights at Mombo as an optional extension. These camps were a mixture between a wet camp (Kwetsani), wet/dry camps in the Okavango at Mombo and Chitabe, and also a camp outside of the delta at Savuti.

Camera Gear

There was an even mix of Canon and Nikon equipment. Canon bodies varied from 40D's, 50D's to 1-series bodies, while the Nikons ranged from a D90 to mostly D700's and D3's. The lenses were all over the board. We had a few Canon 500mm lenses, numerous Canon 100-400mm and 70-200mm lenses, and on the Nikon side the most popular lens was the 200-400mm f/4. Here is what I took:

Nikon D3, D3x and D300 camera bodies.

Nikon 24-70mm, 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and 200-400mm f/4 VR lenses. 1.4x II teleconverter.

There were many different approaches for stabilizing one's camera equipment, and I will be writing up a separate post just on this topic. I used many different methods, and I have much to say on the topic. I was able to try out multiple solutions from multiple vendors, and the most interesting product from Novoflex, called their QuadroPod, made quite an impression on me.


My D3 + 200-400mm + 1.4x on a 4th Generation Designs Mongoose 3.5a, supported by the new Novoflex QuadroPod kit.

Who Came on the Trip

All photographers who joined the safari were non professionals. For the first time ever, the trip was 100% men. I typically have a few married couples on each of my safaris, the rest are men and women who are traveling without their significant other or spouse. The conversations at time were, well, a bit different than normal. Our head guide was the man himself, Grant Atkinson, who accompanied us throughout the entire safari. He is the most amazing guide, as well as photographer.


Grant Atkinson, our head guide

The Safari

Kwetsani was the first camp on the itinerary, and here we met up with our specialist guide, Grant Atkinson. Grant works for Wilderness Safaris, and is one of the best guides and photographers! Kwetsani is primarily a water camp at this time of year, and as such was intended to give us a chance to photograph the Okavango Delta’s more aquatic habitats. We had helicopter flights each day and we also went out in aluminium boats in search of up-close kingfishers and jacanas. We made use of mekoro (dugout canoes) to photograph trees, islands and papyrus, and one group had a great elephant sighting from the canoes. On game drives we photographed a very good looking male lion that was on the floodplains at sunrise. We spent twenty minutes with him, and everyone got great shots. The lion really turned it on for us by crossing water right in front of us. You can see one of my photos of him here.

We also managed to photograph a leopard for a few minutes, and banded mongooses on foot (that is us who was on foot!). The leopard that we saw jumped right across the road in front of us, which would have made for an incredible image. The problem was that all 3 of us in the vehicle were setup for longer lenses and just didn't get our shorter lenses out quickly enough to make the shot. This is a funny story, which I will illustrate in a future blog posting.


 Lion walking on the floodplains, Kwetsani Camp, Botswana. July 2009

Nikon D3, 200-400mm f/4 VR, 1/200 @ f/5.6, ISO 3200

At Savuti we had the rare fortune of being able to visit an active wild dog den in the area. These den visits are limited to one vehicle from the camp per activity, which meant that we all got to see the dogs with their 13 pups. Also in the area were the local lion pride, all 9 of them, feeding on a freshly-killed giraffe. Kane, one of our most experienced guides, tracked them to the site of the kill. Another photographic highlight took place when a large herd of elephants took to the water of the Savuti channel right in front of the camp, and we put aside our teatime meal to try capture the action as the elephants swam, drank and played. More information and photos can be found on the Wilderness Safaris web site.

Two male cheetah provided more great photo opportunities as they patrolled their territory with us following.

At Chitabe we had two big male lions alongside each other in perfect afternoon light, then a group of four lions the next morning playing in the grass and another single male on the move who stopped to drink water. On our last afternoon there we had a fantastic sighting of a young male leopard feeding on a baboon in a tree. There were also some excellent sightings of elephants, zebra and wildebeest.

Mombo was our last camp, and there we found some silhouetted giraffe at sunrise, as well as red lechwe antelope splashing through water. We had several sightings of the well-known female leopard Legadema, which included her resting in a tree with an impala kill. We actually saw her on 4 out of our 6 game drives. Amazing! We had fun crossing a deep channel in the Landrovers with Pete (the Mombo guide) driving the other vehicle. Perhaps some of the best photo opportunities came about for us when spending time with one of the local lion prides, which consisted of 4 adult females, and their 8 young cubs. The very cute lion cubs made great subjects. More good reading on the even can be found on the Wilderness Safaris web site.

We also had male lions and several hyena sightings at Mombo.


Paul "the strongman" attempts to pull Pete "P.T. Boat Captain" out of a deep water crossing.

Something we all had many giggles about, for sure. Mombo Camp, Okavango Delta.


What worked and what didn't work

There were a few equipment failures on this trip, primarily between me and another Canon shooter. There was a malfunctioning shutter on a Canon 1DMkII camera, which resulted in 5% of the final image being overexposed on an edge of the frame. The camera is now in for service as a result.

I had some issues with my 200-400mm lens when being used with my brand new 1.4x II teleconverter. Funny things would happen that I just couldn't figure out any rhyme or reason. Sometimes the lens wouldn't focus, sometimes the lens wouldn't stop down and sometimes the lens would have a wobbly vibration reduction. Frustrating, to say the least. I encountered similar behavior this past January in Tanzania, however I thought I had isolated the problem to a specific teleconverter. If anybody has heard of this behavior, please drop me a line before I blow my brains out.

What I continue to find amazing, and I really do take advantage of this, is that the Nikon D3 has usable and publishable images at ISO 1600, 3200 and 6400. This is something that continues to blow me away, and is the primary reason that I have the D3 on my main lens (instead of the D3x) in marginal light.

In conclusion it was a fantastic trip with high-quality sightings, and a wonderful group of photographers who all had the patience to wait for the good things to happen.

You can see my 2010 African safaris online here. I have spots available on some of my safaris and not on others. If you are interested in one of these safaris, please email me at while there is still space available. My safaris book up early!