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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 safari (118)


Today is International Cheetah Day

Happy International Cheetah Day, everyone. Today is the day when we recongize the cheetah, one of the most elegant and beautiful big cats on our planet. This is a photograph from a recent safari in Botswana, where we spent some time with this mother and her two 5-week old cubs. Taken near Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge.



India Tiger Safari Trip Mini Report

I have been back from India for more than a month and I have had some time to reflect on the amazing trip. My 2016 trip has already been planned and is now being actively marketed, and now it’s time to do a quick write up with photographs to talk about what we saw, photographed and felt.

In May 2015 I made my first trip to India. It was a trip that was long in the making, and the purpose of the trip was to combine some cultural sites with wildlife and nature. At the top of the cultural sites was of course the Taj Mahal, and on the nature list was the majestic tiger. These two goals of the trip helped us piece together an itinerary that looked like this:

  • Delhi (1 night)
  • Agra (1 night)
  • Ranthambhore National Park (4 nights)
  • Delhi (1 night)
  • Bandavgarh National Park (4 nights)
  • Delhi

I don’t want to go through a blow-by-blow detail of each day, but describing the trip in broad terms is more of how I want this report to be talked about. First off, India is a HUGE country, with many different cultures, climates and cuisines. This trip was limited to the central part of India, and in future years I will be branching out to see even more. India is a place that will challenge you in many ways and excite all of your senses: your sense of smell, sight, touch and hearing. The colors are often bright and colorful, the large cities are loud and energetic, walking the streets can mean bumping around between people and the spices of the food overwhelming (in a good way). I loved it. I loved everything about it.

We split our time between two different wildlife areas: Ranthambhore National Park and Bandhavgarh National park. We spent 4 days at each park, and because they aren’t close to each other we flew commercially back to Delhi and stayed for a night in between. On my 2016 trip we are connecting to parks that are closer together, in order to minimize fatigue.

Our group had some great sightings of tigers in total, of which a few of them were off the carts in a good way. In between tiger sightings there were so many mammal and bird species to photograph to keep us busy. Those other species really made the trip special for me, as it helps me understand and area and how an ecosystem works. Seeing tigers in the wild really was a sight to behold, and they really are as majestic and regal as I had hoped they would be. Many of our sightings included younger tiger cubs that were quite playful, which made great sightings into excellent sightings.

Photographing tigers is very different than that of other big cats, in that much of the process involves tracking and waiting. In some of the places work in Africa we track and track and track until we find our subject, however in India we track until we get a good understanding of where the tiger(s) may be and then find the nearest water hole and hunker down for a while. Eventually the forest will make some noise and we will a better understanding of what is going on. It may be the sound of a chital, a bird or some other noise. It’s a fascinating process and one that paid off for us.

So here are some images that I captured along the way to help illustrate what the trip was all about, with short captions underneath each photograph. I am looking forward to going back in April 2016!!


Luxury India Tiger Safari, April 2016


Tigress and Cub, Bandhavgarh National Park


Finishing Up Our Game Drive, Ranthambhore


Tigress, Bandavgarh National Park


Chital Deer (also known as spotted or axis deer), Bandhavgarh National Park


Beggar Girl’s Hands, Agra


The Tea Room at the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, with the Taj Mahal in the background


My private deck and view of the Taj Mahal from the Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra


Tiger, Ranthambhore National Park


Samode Safari Lodge, Bandhavgarh National Park


Tigress and Cub, Bandhavgarh National Park



Tiger, Ranthambhore National Park




Floating Flowers, Oberoi Amarvilas, Ranthambhore


Samode Safari Lodge Lanterns


Samode Safari Lodge







Back to Africa

I am shoving off for yet another adventure in Africa, and this time I will be guiding two back-to-back safaris between three different countries. My first safari will be my Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees: The Ultimate Great Apes Photo Safari. We will begin with trekking with chimpanzees in Uganda, and then ending with trekking with mountain gorillas in Rwanda. At the conclusion I will then head over to Kenya to guide my Luxury Great Migration Photo Safari, in hopes of capturing some beautiful sights out on the open plains of the greater Maasai Mara. And if that weren’t enough I will be finishing my trip in Amboseli National Park, where I haven’t visited in many years.

As far as gear goes for this 3+ week long trip, I am bringing a combination of medium format and 35mm gear. As you may know, I sold off all of my Nikon camera eqiupment earlier this year as I moved to Phase One medium format. This trip has some challenges that medium format may not be able to handle, so I am bringing a backup Canon system with me for either longer focal lengths or for ultra high ISO’s. Here is what will be in my Gura Gear Bataflae camera bag:


  • Phase One DF+ camera body
  • Phase One IQ250 50 megapixel digital back
  • Phase One IQ280 80 megapixel digital back
  • Phase One 75-150mm
  • Phase One Schneider 240mm
  • Phase One 2x teleconverter
  • Canon 5DMk3 + portrait grip (rented from
  • Canon 70D (rented from
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II (rented from
  • Canon 1.4x III (rented from


Phase One has graciously loaned me the new IQ250 50 megapixel digital back for the trip, and I can choose between the 50 and 80mp backs, depending on the situational need. The new IQ250 allows me to shoot at higher ISO’s, say up to 1600 or perhaps 3200, has a higher frame rate and is a slightly smaller chip in size (and thus a more narrow field of view is captured), and the IQ280 has a larger file size yet at the cost of only being able to use lower ISO values, like 50, 100 and perhaps 200 or 400. It’s the best of both worlds and I am going to feel spoiled.

The Canon gear is all being rented from This allows me to flip flop between Canon and Nikon systems on different trips, a wonderful bit of flexibility that I need in this day and age. Why would I want to have different systems on different trips? It’s easy: I want and need to communicate to my travelers that I understand the systems that they use and that I can understand how to setup and use their cameras and lenses.


Photo of the Day - Stretching Leopard


Stretching Leopard

Okavango Delta, Botswana. November 2013

Phase One DF+, IQ280 80mp digital back, Schneider 240mm lens


As many of you know I have been working with digital medium format for a couple of years, and even though medium format digital equipment isn’t the most appropriate for much of my wildlife work it definitely has its place in my bag on those trips. Why? If you could see this image printed in person you would have that answer. The detail and crispness stand out in a way that no other capture device can do so.

I recently upgraded from a 60 megapixel digital back to an 80 megapixel back and I am very glad that I did so. The new dimensions are 10,300 x 7,760 pixels. Whoa. Yup. That’s a big file to deal with, but the results are astounding. My longest lens is a 240mm, which equates to around 155mm on a full frame 35mm camera. Since I photograph many subjects and not just wildlife, the new Phase One IQ280 on a Phase One DF+ camera will be in my bag on all of my trips going forward. For my wildlife trips I augment either Nikon or Canon gear, however for landscape trips I am 100% medium format.

I am heading back out to the bush tomorrow, and I hope to come home with another image or two from this new camera system.


Photos of the Day - A Trio of Mountain Gorillas

It’s been a crazy 2013 so far, and I haven’t done a good job of posting timely and useful content on this blog. In an attempt to even it all out, how about a Photo of the Day entry with 3 images? But seriously, when life and business get busy the first thing that typically falls off is posting to this blog.

Last month I lead a safari into the Virunga Mountains of Rwanda, and had some amazing experiences wtih the resident mountain gorillas. This year’s hikes were quite difficult, however the resulting photographic opportunities were over-the-top amazing. I couldn’t be happier, and I have included just a few of the images down below. For some reason I ended up preferring to use black and white over processing the images in color, likely because I have a better ability to create a sense of mood without having to stay in the ‘color box’, otherwise known as reality. I can get much more aggressive with dodging and burning without breaking too many rules that color photographs somehow are judged by.

I will be leading a trip back to the Virunga Mountains for mountain gorillas in 2014, and the trip will also include trekking for wild chimpanzees as well. It will be a 1-2 primate combination, limited to only 7 people.



Nikon D800E, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/400 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600



Nikon D800E, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/250 @ f/2.8, ISO 1600



Nikon D800E, 70-200mm f/2.8, 1/400 @ f/2.8, ISO 2500


Photo of the Day - Serengeti Giraffes


Serengeti Giraffes and Clouds

Singita Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania. May 2013

Phase One DF, IQ160 digital back, Schneider 240mm. 1/320 @ f/11, ISO 100


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.



Botswana Safari Announcement


I am super excited to be running a safari in November 2013 to two camps in the Okavango Delta. Here are some of the highlights:

Botswana: Okavango Delta Photographic Safari

November 8-17, 2013


  • We have private vehicles throughout the entire safari, with only 1 person per row of seating (the vehicles have 3 rows behind the driver, plus a seat next to the driver if you want to be lower down to the ground.)
  • An increased luggage allowance so you can bring all your camera gear - up to 80 pounds per person allowance. Standard weight allowance is typically only 44 pounds by comparison.
  • Exclusive and private use of both safari camps, ensuring freedom to make our own schedule and maximize time spent in the field.
  • Knowledgeable and passionate safari guides in Botswana will drive us in open Land Cruisers to help us get the images we are after.
  • This safari offers superb game viewing and photographic opportunities in some of the best areas in Southern Africa.
  • This itinerary focuses on a real wildlife experience from the surroundings of your premier accommodations.
  • The areas visited offer an insight into the fantastic wildlife in Botswana.


I have setup an information page for additional information. Please email me at if you are interested in joining me in Botswana in November. This safari in November 2012 was one of my most popular safaris to-date, as I ran a pair of them and both were sold out more than 9 months in advance.

If my November date does not work for you, I do have other safaris on the books in 2013 and beyond, and you can see my entire schedule online here.



Bull Elephant near Sandibe Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana