by Nicole Cambré: Blog en-us Copyright (C) Nicole Cambré - All rights reserved [email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:40:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:40:00 GMT by Nicole Cambré: Blog 120 80 Timely planning of our family safari photography trip to Southern Tanzania and Northern Serengeti We will this summer be spending 13 nights in Tanzania (Selous, Ruaha and Northern Serengeti). I already booked this trip in September last year. As we are a family of five we would not have been able to fit this trip in our budget if we had waited much longer. One of the places has 8 furnished tents, the other one only 6 and for our family I already need two of them. 


By booking early I also managed to get a discount between 20% and 50% on the published rates of the camps due to combining two new camps in Ruaha and Selous where there was in 2012 an introductionary promotional offer which they extended to our 2013 reservation. This offer is no longer shown on their site in 2013. In the third camp in case you stay longer than 4 nights a discount of 20% applies to the entire booking.  Safari is of course not a cheap holiday but there is a fine line between it being still more or less affordable and it becoming outrageously expensive.


In addition, Tanzania offers child discounts for children under 16 years and not 12 years as is the case in most other African countries. In two of the camps where we will be staying, one child stays for free and the two other ones pay 50% of the promotional adult rate.  If we had travelled as a couple at the published rates it would have costed us more than what we are now paying for our family of five.

What eats my budget are the internal flights as here the  full rate for five people applies. If you are on a budget you should be able to combine the Ruaha and Selous parks. Flying from Ruaha over Arusha to Kotagende in the northern Serengeti is probably a stretch but I absolutely wanted to see the wildebeest migration away from the crowds on the Kenyan side of the Mara river. There was thus not really any alternative to flying to get to the northern Serengeti.

For our international flights, we are flying with Ethiopian airlines, which turned out the cheapest option as we wanted to plan in a stop-over in Ethiopia and Ethiopian airlines does not charge more if you are flying out from a different airport. The multi-destination ticket (1) Brussels-Dar-Es-Salaam (2) Kilimanjaro-Addis Ababa (3) Addis Ababa-Brussels was not more expensive than a return flight to the same destination in Tanzania.


We picked the parks in the south as we have travelled already the classic Northern Tanzania safari circuit in 2011. The parks in Southern Tanzania are not crowded which is a big advantage.  Those of you that have read already some other of my blog posts know that the sight of a lion being surrounded by 20+ safari vehicles in the Masai Mara or Serengeti during high season is not my definition of a true wilderness experience. In addition Selous has the highest density of the endangered African wild dog. With my luck with wild dogs it probably won't happen that we see them but there will be more enough other wildlife around and hopefully I will come back with some good photographs.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Family safari Tanzania migration northern serengeti ruaha safari budget selous Sun, 11 Jun 2017 18:00:00 GMT
Serra Cafema - Boy with albinism received protective clothing In my blogpost of December 2013 on the Angolan himba boy with albinism suffering from heavy burning wounds near Serra Cafema at the Kunene river, I got an update on his condition from a traveller that visited the region in May 2014. On the picture below the boy is completely covered and he seems in a much better health condition than when I saw him.


Thank you Volker A. for sending me the picture.

If you are going to Wilderness' Serra Cafema camp in Northern Namibia you may want to consider leaving any excess sun protection for the  boy.  If you have any pictures , I would be very happy if you could share them with me.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) serra cafema Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:45:00 GMT
Abut Dhabi has the largest falcon hospital in the world In April 2014 I had the opportunity to visit the falcon hospital in Abu Dhabi. It is an impressive facility where the hunting falcons of the sheiks are treated. From clipping and sharpening of the nails over replacement of broken feathers to complicated surgery, the clinique does all of it.


More of my images from my visit to the falcon hospital can be found in this gallery




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Abu Dhabi Sat, 12 Apr 2014 08:15:00 GMT
How to photograph a stranger? Try with a friendly smile ! I get asked frequently how I manage to photograph people I do not know. In April I was travelling through the empty quarter in the Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi and I saw this group of Arab men at the other side of the salt  lake taking pictures .



I walked to the other side while photographing my colleagues until I was standing next to the men and then I just smiled and asked if I could photograph them.



My colleague captured my approach to make contact.  Thank you Maria-Louisa!






[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Abu Dhabi Sun, 06 Apr 2014 09:45:00 GMT
Abu Dhabi; Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque In early April 2014 I was for work in Abu Dhabi. It provided me with the unique opportunity to finally meet my photographer friend Julian John.  As I had a free evening Julian took me to the big mosque.  Especially in the evening light the mosque provided many fantastic photographic opportunities. I was allowed inside without having to wear an abaya dress as te guard deemed my buff sufficient to qualify as a head scarf. After twenty minutes photographing the inside of the mosque the mullah came to throw me out as he was of a different opinion than the guard and told me to come back in with an abaya.


While Julian was still photographing the inside of the mosque I decided not to search for an abaya but to wait outside instead.  I am so happy that I did as I got the opportunity to photograph those muslim women taking pictures with their phones.


The visit to the mosque ended with a great dinner with Julian and his wife.   Thank you both!  You can check out Julian's great photographs on




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Abu Dhabi Sat, 05 Apr 2014 22:16:00 GMT
Albino boy has received protective clothing and has been seen by a doctor Wilderness' Serra Cafema camp responded to my blog post on tripadvisor. Thank you so much Serra Cafema for sending the doctor to the albino child and having provided him with protective clothing!  I am so happy for the kid that he is getting help.


Here is an extract of the response from Serra Cafema:

"With regards to the young boy, although he does live in a village around the Kunene river he is not from the Serra Cafema community but a nearby village on the Angolan side of the river thus making it somewhat more tricky for us to offer him all the help we can. We at Serra Cafema have given his mother medication as well as hats and protective clothing (long sleeves and pants) to help prevent further damage. The problem is he is a typical little boy who just wants to play with his friends and does not like being bundled up in layers of clothing. Added to that the extreme temperatures that are experienced having to wear several layers upon layers to protect him from the sun becomes unbearable, so off come the protective clothing with dire consequences. This however has not deterred us from helping this child and his ever endeavouring mother, we have called a Doctor out to meet with mother and child and advise them on any medications or alternative solutions which can be employed to prevent the child from further ailments. We would like to thank you for your concern for this child and for asking others to help, as is the Wilderness Safaris way we do put great effort into caring for the local people that live around and near all our camps and it is always inspiring to see guests such as yourself taking as much care for this as we do "

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Namibia serra cafema Wed, 19 Feb 2014 21:08:24 GMT
Himba boy with albinism near Wilderness Safari's Serra Cafema camp in the Kunene region of Namibia I wanted to link this blog post to my review of Wilderness' Namibian Serra Cafema camp on Tripadvisor  but Tripadvisor refused to publish the review with the link as they considered the url commercial and self promotional and a violation of their rules, while all I wanted to achieve is that perhaps some future travelers read this post and pack something extra when they are visiting the region to help the boy.



We found this albino boy  (around 10 years old) at the river bank of the Kunene river while staying at Wilderness' Serra Cafema camp. He had severe burning wounds on his arms and legs and could not open one of his eyes.  He was suffering a lot. I had some creme against burning wounds in my travel pharmacy so we went back to treat the boy as good as we could and give some basic advice to his family about having him wear long sleeves clothes and keep him out of the sun as much as possible . This would not have been possible without the  help of our friend and guide Albert who was fabulous in disinfecting his wounds.


I also left all sun protection I had with me but that only provides help for a short period of time.  The boy and his family have no access to any medical treatment.



I took pictures which I have sent to our doctor in Belgium to see how to best continue to help the boy.  I will be sending this week a parcel with long sleeves UV protection t-shirts and trousers as well as a cap and sunglasses together with some more sun protection to Serra Cafema for the boy. I hope it will arrive.


According to the doctors and pharmacist I consulted the problem with most in Belgium available cremes against burning wounds is that they have to be stored in the fridge or at least at temperatures below 25°C and as that is not possible they recommend to desinfect his wounds and treat him with high protection sun cream on a daily basis.



I want to help this boy  on a permanent basis but sending a parcel from Belgium may take several weeks. If you read this post and are planning to visit the Serra Cafema camp in Northern Namibia  at some point in the future, please pack some extra high protection sun block.  If you are based in Europe you can always get in contact with me and I would be happy to send you some things to bring as it will be faster and more secure than if I were to send them to Namibia directly.



If you see the boy while at Serra Cafema  and you have some pictures please send them to me so that I can keep track if the wounds are healing and it will enable me to keep this blog post updated on any developments on his condition.


Thank you so much!




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Namibia Serra Cafema Sun, 19 Jan 2014 13:31:32 GMT
Runner-up in the Travel Photographer of the Year contest 2013 My middle daughter Myriam has been Runner-Up in the 2013  Travel Photographer of the Year contest in the age category 14 years and under. For Myriam (12)  it came as a big surprise as it was the first time she participated in a photo contest.  Her elder sister Rebecca was Runner-Up in the same contest in 2012.  Myriam's  images will be featured at the TPOTY exhibition in the Royal Geographic Society in London in July 2014.

Myriam took the images of the wildebeest crossing the Mara river in Northern Tanzania in August 2013 using a compact Sony HX50V.


Myriam was interviewed by the newspapers De Morgen and  Het Laatste Nieuws on December 18th and in the programme " Frituur de Wereld" on Radio 2 on December 20th



Copyright © 2013 Myriam D.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) travel photographer of the year Mon, 23 Dec 2013 10:15:45 GMT
Angry hippo versus elephant My images of the angry hippo versus the elephant have been published in various newspapers and on national geographic this week through the UK press agency Rex Features.

This elephant had crossed to an island in the middle of the Chobe river in Botswana. The hippo was not happy about it and was apparently defending its territory. When more elephants crossed the river to the island the hippo backed off and went back into the river. 

Here is the url to some of the publications:




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Botswana Sat, 05 Oct 2013 09:36:38 GMT
Baboons versus leopard We find a heavily bleeding baboon in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. His troop is making loud alarm calls.  It turned out that the baboon had attacked the cub of a female leopard and the leopard had subsequently wounded the baboon. 


8.34 we find this wounded baboon8.34 we find this wounded baboon


Our guide was convinced that the leopard would return once she had brought her cub into safety.  We waited for a little over an hour and indeed he was right. 


09.35 the female leopard returns09.35 the female leopard returns


The baboons were in vain trying to protect their friend. 


09.35 the baboons are still trying to protect their friend09.35 the baboons are still trying to protect their friend


In the meantime a group of Zambian school kids on school excursion had arrived at the scene. 


09.40 a group of Zambian kids watches the event09.40 a group of Zambian kids watches the event


While I was capturing the expressions of the kids one of the troop baboons bit in the tail of the leopard. A shot I missed but my 13 year old daughter captured it on video. 


movie by R. Deckmyn


The sound at the end of the video is the sound is a  jeep getting a flat tyre. 



09.40 A baboon of the troop had just bitten in its tail (see video)09.40 A baboon of the troop had just bitten in its tail (see video)






[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Zambia Fri, 04 Oct 2013 09:15:00 GMT
AUGUST 2013: The famous Mursi tribe at Mago NP The Eco-Omo lodge in Jinka was fantastic and the Italian food an absolute delight.  The friendly Italian owners made this the best place to stay in the whole of Ethiopia. Too bad that we were only staying for one night.

In the morning we leave this wonderful tented camp to drive to Mago National Park where the Mursi tribe is living. Many Mursi women are still wearing a lip plate made of clay in their lower lip.



The Mursi are a very proud tribe and if you treat them with respect they are friendly. We found them to be the nicest tribe of the Omo valley. I know this is subjective and many people had different experiences.


MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi MursiMursi


More of my images from the visit to the Mursi can be found in in the Ethiopian gallery under this link





[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Ethiopia Mon, 12 Aug 2013 09:15:00 GMT
AUGUST 2013: Second part of our trip: On the road to Ethiopia's Omo valley After 13 nights on a fantastic safari to Tanzania's Selous, Ruaha and Northern Serengeti the second part of our trip brings us back  to one of the most beautiful countries in Africa, Ethiopia. Last year we went up north but this time the plan is to visit the tribes in the Omo valley and search for the Ethiopian wolf in the Bale mountains.  Our flight from Kilimanjaro to Addis is nearly three hours delayed due to technical problems. Our friend and guide Tsegaab is waiting for us at the airport.


After a shorter than expected night of sleep we are on our way south.  It is a long drive of about 600km to Arba Minch. On the way we make a photo stop at a market and there was a Khat auction ongoing. Khat is produced mainly in the horn of Africa and in many countries a controlled substance but legal in Ethiopia.


Khat sellerKhat seller



Below are some images from our visit to a Dorze village near Chencha. The Dorze are weavers and are living in 4m high huts.


Chencha-DorzeChencha-DorzeThe Dorze tribe lives in the mountains around Chencha. They live in large (up to 8m heigh) elephant shaped bamboo huts covered with false bananal leaves . They build their huts that high because every year the hut reduces in size due to termites. From the false banana tree they make "kocho", a sort of fermented pancakes. Next to the main hut, there is a smaller honeymoon hut, were the married couple stays for about three months until they have constructed their own hut. The Dorze are famous for their weaving skills. Chencha- DorzeChencha- DorzeThe Dorze tribe lives in the mountains around Chencha. They live in large (up to 8m heigh) elephant shaped bamboo huts covered with false bananal leaves . They build their huts that high because every year the hut reduces in size due to termites. From the false banana tree they make "kocho", a sort of fermented pancakes. Next to the main hut, there is a smaller honeymoon hut, were the married couple stays for about three months until they have constructed their own hut. The Dorze are famous for their weaving skills.


The next day we visit the Arbore tribe on our way to Jinka.  I did not take many pictures there as I was ill that day after the fish at Paradise lodge in Arbra Minch turned out not to be that fresh.


ArboreArboreThe Arbore migrated from Konso some 200 years ago. The Arbore are acting as diplomats in conflicts between the other tribes. They are led by a Chief. The arbore women cover their heads with a black cloth and are wear colorful necklaces and earrings. Small children wear a shell type hat that protects their heads from the sun. The kids body paint their faces. ArboreArboreThe Arbore migrated from Konso some 200 years ago. The Arbore are acting as diplomats in conflicts between the other tribes. They are led by a Chief. The arbore women cover their heads with a black cloth and are wear colorful necklaces and earrings. Small children wear a shell type hat that protects their heads from the sun. The kids body paint their faces.








[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Ethiopia Sun, 11 Aug 2013 09:15:00 GMT
August 2013: Northern Serengeti- Lamai: An excellent safari destination Besides the spectacular crossings of the wildebeest over the Mara river (see my previous blogpost), Northern Serengeti - Kotagenda and Lamai wedge have so much more to offer. The vegetation here is very similar to the Masai Mara. You have the plains and the kopjes only far less people than in Kenya.


Northern Serengeti (Lamai), TanzaniaNorthern Serengeti (Lamai), Tanzania


The area is a predator's heaven. We saw several lions and cheetahs. Only the leopards were hiding during our five night stay. The most spectacular lion sighting was the lion mother with her three week old cubs.


Northern Serengeti (Lamai), TanzaniaNorthern Serengeti (Lamai), Tanzania


The food in the Olakari Lamai camp was the best of our entire trip to Tanzania. The tents were wonderful and the bucket shower was always warm when we needed it. Messenga our guide was great and Richard the camp manager a fantastic host. 






[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Tanzania Fri, 09 Aug 2013 18:15:00 GMT
August 2013: The great migration (Mara river- Tanzanian side) In August we spent five nights in the far north of the Serengeti in a new Asilia Africa camp, Olakira Lamai, at  the Lamai wedge not far from the border with Kenia. I can highly recommend the area and the camp. Richard John, the camp manager was great and with Messenga we had a fantastic guide.



Northern Serengeti is where you have to be to have the best view of  the spectacular crossings of the wildebeest over the Mara river as part of their annual migration. The wildebeest often cross several times a day in both directions.  When it is raining, they get confused. You also need some patience!. Sometimes the wildebeest look as if they are just about to cross but after a while they decide to turn round and move on.  More than once we saw the smaller group of wildebeest that was already at the other side of the river crossing back to rejoin the large group that had decided to move on.


The great migration in Northern Serengeti (Lamai)The great migration in Northern Serengeti (Lamai)


People often think that the Mara river is located only in Kenia's, Masai Mara. A large part of the Mara River is however located in Tanzania.   Around Lamai, the Serengeti is desolated. You are over 100km north from Serenora where 90% of the tourists to the Serengeti are and more importantly you are far away from the traffic jams at the Kenian side of the Mara river .


We had seen the wildebeest crossing the Mara in Kenia in 2011 surrounded by 60+cars but on the Tanzanian side the experience is so much better. Once it was us and just one other car and we were in the prime spot when they started crossing. The crossing lasted for over 1.5 hours.


the Great Migration in Northern Serengeti (Lamai)the Great Migration in Northern Serengeti (Lamai)


The wildebeest get very excited at a crossing point and some become suicidal and can't wait for their turn to cross and just jump from high up onto the other ones.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Tanzania Thu, 08 Aug 2013 18:15:00 GMT
August 2013 : Northern Serengeti: Lamai Wedge the local school This trip report  of our fantastic trip to Northern Serengeti (Lamai  Wedge) near the Mara river  in August 2013 is long overdue. I want to start with the most important part of our entire trip being the visit to the local school.  Asila Africa's Olakira's new Lamai camp had only  opened in July 2013. We were the first visitors to the local village school and some children had not even seen a car before. 


The school is in a bad condition and needs urgent renovation.  We had brought some footballs, pens & pencils from home but as the kids had no writing books the pencils were of not much use. We therefore also bought Tanzanian school system writing books in the local village store for all the 200+ children. It is only a small cost for us but it makes a big difference to these children. 


We received a very warm welcome from the teachers and the children  My own children have travelled widely overland through various African countries and they have a pretty good understanding about how difficult the life is for children in many parts of Africa but still this experience was also a true eye opener for them.



Any profits I am making on the sale of my African portraits are already used to support two families in Ethiopia (through the Belgian charity ) and also a child in Zambia  through (


However I want to continue to find ways to support this Tanzanian school. I am working on a wildlife photo book where I will compile a selection of my best images. 100% of the profits of such book will be going to support the school.  Please check my website for updates on the status of this project.


If you go on safari to Northern Serengeti please ask the Richard John, the Olakira Lamai camp manager how you can support the school. If you travel to anywhere in Africa think about packing something extra to help such as English(French depending on the country) school books, footballs, solar powered flash lights.


More of the images from this visit can be seen in this gallery












[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Tanzania Wed, 07 Aug 2013 18:15:00 GMT
August 2013: Ruaha National Park & Kigelia camp: Four nights is not enough! We had a wonderful time in Ruaha and the Kigelia camp in particular. Four nights were much too short. Molel the camp manager and our guide was brilliant. The kids adored him. He taught them the bao game. We have been to various safari destinations in Africa but Ruaha NP is definitely high in our top 3.


It is a beautiful national park with very few vehicles around so I don't think you can get much closer to a true authentic safari experience, far away from the crowds. Within minutes of arriving at the air strip we saw our first animals. A group of lions. What a great start!




We spent most of our afternoon with four fighting giraffes which was an interesting spectacle to watch.





It is hard to get a good giraffe photograph but in Ruaha I was successful a few times.



After a wonderful night of sleep and a great bush shower and breakfast we headed with Mollel for our morning drive.  We came across this elegant but wounded cheetah. It seems that the large wound is not infected and is healing very well .



Lots of elephants too.




The lions of Ruaha are so beautiful.


RuahaRuaha RuahaRuaha



Ruaha is just so fantastic both from the scenery and the wildlife. I hope to return at some point.


Thank you Mollel and the rest of the team for such an amazing experience!



[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Tanzania Sun, 04 Aug 2013 13:00:00 GMT
July 2013: Wild dogs and lions in Selous, Southern Tanzania So far on our previous trips with Ethiopian airlines we had no reason to complain but the initial hard landing in Paris to pick up some additional passengers was not a good start. The fact that the in-flight entertainment system did not work was not a problem but that this system was still working with VHS videocasettes made us wonder about the age of the plane. After a turbulent night flight we finally landed in Addis Ababa but it took two attempts to get there. It gives a weird feeling when the plane is just about to touch the ground the pilot aborts the landing. The second landing attempt about 15 minutes later turned out to be more successful.


Our flight from Addis Dar-Es-Salaam was less turbulent. As we had bought our visa upfront in Brussels immigration was very quick. Luggage pick-up went quick (four bags on a row---too good to be true). Zaituni of Afrika Afrika was waiting for us at the arrivals hall with the taxi driver to take us to the national airport about 10 minutes away for onward flight to Selous. At the national airport we noticed that one bag was not ours..... With the help of a friendly employee of Coastal aviation my husband got back to the international airport. The woman whose bag he had taken was luckily still there as was our bag. We had enough connection time so no harm done as we noticed the error in time. The tv was on at the airport as Tanzania was playing against Uganda.


Our plane to Selous was a small Cesna plane with room for 12 passengers.  When we landed, Peter and the Amara team were welcoming us  at the airstrip with snacks and a cold drink.


My eldest daughter- knowing how desperate I was about seeing wild dogs – joked that she saw wild dogs from the plane. It turned out that the guides had that day for the first time in three weeks time seen wild dogs and they were only five minutes drive from the airstrip. I would have never imagined that the first animal  I see on this trip to be a wild dog. What a great start especially after we had missed them on all previous safari trips !




The hospitality at Amara during our four nights stay was fantastic. Peter and Anita were great hosts. The food was fabulous...and the bush barbecue we will never forget.


Our guide Joseph was great. He had eagle eyes and found us some beautiful lions. It was just us and the lions and no other vehicles around.


SelousSelous SelousSelous


In general wildlife in Selous is very skittish compared to other African safari destinations. Even the giraffes and buffalo's were afraid of cars which may be due to the hunting concessions on the other side of the reserve and poaching being a still a big problem in Selous.  Following the vultures we found a dead elephant with his tusks removed. So sad! Especially as this was the only elephant we had seen during our trip to Selous.


There are many beautiful birds in Selous like this colourful lillac breasted roller.





The water bucks were not scared.either (they are not on the menu of the lions because of their smell)






...and after all we had seen the wild dogs  for the first time ever!













[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Tanzania Wed, 31 Jul 2013 12:00:00 GMT
Runner-Up in the 2012 Travel Photographer of the year contest (-14 years) My eldest daughter Rebecca was named as  Runner-up of the Travel Photographer of the Year 2012 award in the age group of 14 years and under.  I am very happy for her that her images were selected in such a prestigious photo contest especially as this is the first time she ever participated in a  photo competition.

Below are Rebecca's selected images from our joint trip to Ethiopia in april 2012. The awarded images in all categories will be exhibited in July at  the Royal Geographic Society in London.

LalibelaLalibela LalibelaLalibela LalibelaLalibela LalibelaLalibela

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) travel photographer of the year Tue, 09 Jul 2013 19:00:00 GMT
Beavers in Belgium For a couple of weeks in June 2013 a beaver family was housing in the Dijle river . Each evening they would show up in the center of the town of Leuven. Unfortunately the beavers were scared away last week by some drunk students. I was lucky to spot and photograph the beavers on two occassions. For more images see my gallery



[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Belgium Thu, 27 Jun 2013 06:00:00 GMT
June 2, 2013 Back to the Belle Epoque The authentic Ostend, that is the title that the website gives to the Belle Epoque Quarter at the Belgian seaside town of Ostend where we are spending most of our weekends. 



[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Belgium Sun, 02 Jun 2013 20:40:00 GMT
May 26, 2013: Oostende voor Anker  

Annually and always during the last weekend of May the boat festival "Oostende voor Anker" takes place at the Belgian coastal town Ostend.  

The image below was taken with an infrared converted Nikon D-50 camera. Red and Blue channel swapped in photoshop and further processed with Nik software plugins.



Infrared photography is my new toy.  I am surprised about the sharpness of the converted D50. It was a camera that has been collecting dust for the last three years.

As usual I also carried a professional nikon camera body which I used for street photography.


Old Lady

Image "The Old Lady" taken with Nikon D4 and a 180mm Sigma 2.8 macro at 1/800, Iso 100, F4 -1/3 ev

For more of my b&w images of the festival, have a look at my  gallery




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Belgium Mon, 27 May 2013 19:45:00 GMT
May 19th, 2013: Ostend Rescue operation We were standing in line to take the next ferry to cross to the other side of the harbour in Ostend. As usual I had my camera around my neck and was taking some pictures, when I heard a splash right behind me. A car had driven into the sea.  Luckily it was a sunny day and lots of people were near the place where it happened and two boys jumped immediately into the sea trying to rescue the female driver.



My kids were shocked when she closed the windows of her car and showed no signs of wanting to leave the sinking car.  My images were published in some Belgian newspapers and on national television and may give the impression that I was very near but they were taken on 400 mm ( I happened to have a 2x converter on my 70-200 zoom lens).  We were on the other side with the bikes and could not get out of the queue or do anything to help as the person next to me had already called the emergency number.


As my originals show the face of the driver and the license plate of the car out of privacy concerns I only publish a copy of the newspaper featuring six of my images where they made the face and license plate invisible.



The boat of the harbour police was there within a few minutes but they did not go into the water. 




The car continued to sink and finally the woman opened the door of the car and one of the boys managed to get her onto the shore where the fire brigade and ambulance were waiting.



Luckily everybody survived unharmed and a few minutes later only the antenna of the car was still visible.






For those in doubt, I did not sell the images to the newspapers as I thought it would be inappropriate to make a financial gain out of this dramatic situation.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) ostend Mon, 20 May 2013 19:30:00 GMT
May 7th 2013: intelligent eye photo contest Today I won a photo contest called the "Intelligent Eye" organized by the photographic magazine Stark ( Some of my images have been published and were awarded but it is the first time I win a contest.  I would love to hear the judge's reasoning why he picked my image as until a few hours before the deadline I was not even planning on uploading. One of the reasons for my hesitation was the wonderful image  "Meeting" of Radosveta Georgieva which was used to announce the contest ( which I find such a brilliant photo and definitely "intelligent eye" that I did not think any of my images would have a chance of being selected.

The judge was Michael Freeman a photographer I much admire. I own three of Michael's books (the photographer's eye, the photographer's mind and perfect exposure). They were among the first books on photography I purchased. I have not looked at them for some time but with the long weekend coming up and the weather forecast for Belgium not looking so promising I may do so shortly.



In need of a pair of new glasses?


My image  "In need of a pair of new glasses" was taken in Botswana. We had just seen his elephant crossing the Chobe river onto a small island, when this boat arrived. That group was looking at some elephants at the other side of the river and I thought it was funny with the man pointing his camera in that direction while this huge elephant was standing right behind them. 



The image became  the cover of a special edition of Stark-magazine 



[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) intelligent eye photo contest stark-magazine Tue, 07 May 2013 21:00:00 GMT
Kenya Day 11: The last day April 10, 2013


Today will be our last day in Kenya. We are taking a two hour boat trip on lake Naivasha and walk on Crescent island where the movie "Out of Africa" was filmed.  Animals were transported from the Masai Mara for the movie and left there.  Crescent Island is a peninsula and while beautiful in my opinion not really worth a detour. We have been staying two nights around Naivasha but one night for visiting Hell's gate and doing a short boat tour is in my opinion sufficient. 


lake Navaisha, Kenya


After lunch we continue our road towards Nairobi.  At a stop on the rift valley view point we stumple upon the Chinese delegation leaded by the vice chairman of the people's congress. They were in Kenya for the inauguration of the new Kenyan president Kenyatta which took place on April 9th, 2013


We have plenty of time as our flight back to Brussels only leaves around midnight. We thought of visiting the Karen Blixen museum but it is closed for renovation. We therefore go to the Nairobi giraffe center instead. This is not really worth a visit as there is only one endangered Rothschild giraffe around, the others are near the hotel "giraffe manor" . There may be people (definitely not us) willing to pay a fortune to stay at the giraffe manor to have a giraffe appearing at your window while having breakfast. Probably we should have gone to Nairobi National Park instead.


giraffe center Nairobi


Mombasa road in Nairobi is crowded. Water levels are high and it is difficult to pass through.

For the first time we really notice that it is rain season in Kenya. We have read in the newspaper that tourists were stranded in masai mara because of floods so it was the right decision to focus on Samburu.


Just before a roundabout our car gets stopped by several police officers. A few minutes later, the car with president Kenyatta is passing just in front of us and he waves in our direction. Jackson does not let me take photographs (my camera is too big too hide for a discrete photo anyhow)....but a few streets further street vendors are selling portraits of president Kenyatta so not entirely the real photo but the best I could do.




We go for diner at Pampa, a Brazilian restaurant where we meet up with Jackson's wife and his youngest daughter.  The food is excellent here (definitely the best meal in Kenya). It is nice to get to know his family and to spend a wonderful last evening together in Nairobi. Too sad that  the gold chain of Jackson's wife was snatched off her neck on the way to the restaurant.


Jackson and his family drop us off at the airport, unfortunately time to say goodbye. We hope it will not be too long until we are back in Kenya and see Jackson and his family again.


We are not flying Swiss on the way back but SN Brussels direct so that makes the flight time shorter and we have an excellent flight back home.  As April is low season in Kenya you can find cheap flights that time of the year.


We had a wonderful trip and can highly recommend Jackson as a guide. If you think about visiting Kenya, have a look at  Jackson Mbithi's company's website is




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Wed, 10 Apr 2013 11:45:00 GMT
Kenya Day 10: Hell's gate April 9th, 2013


Time for some more action as we are visiting Hell's Gate national park today. Hell's gate has been the scenery for the movie "Tomb Raider". You can cycle through Hell's gate which is a nice change from safari.


My husband and daughters rented bikes from the park. The condition of the bikes was not too great but the breaks worked so that was the most important part. Bikes can also be rented outside the park (2km from the entrance) and they may be in a better condition.


114 EdoPhotographer


There are no big cats nor elephants in the park but it is beautiful to bike through it surrounded by giraffes and antilopes. 


Hell's gate


There is a beautiful canyon ("Hell's gate")  inside the park and you can walk through it (approximately 90 minutes).



The walk/climb was not always easy (at least not in the wet season) as there was some mud and the water was high at some places but our local guide was excellent. 


hell's gate


My shoes were soaking wet but luckily I still had a pair of clean trousers in my bag (unfortunately no spare pair of shoes).


Initially we were planning to do this on our last day on the way to the airport. It was good that we did not do so as I am not sure the airline would have let us board the plane the way we looked after having visited Hell's gate .


[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Tue, 09 Apr 2013 10:00:00 GMT
Kenya day 9 : From Nakuru to Navaisha April 8th, 2013


We leave around 8.30 as Jackson had to get another car from Nairobi as his car is not yet repaired.  He got a friend bringing him a new car overnight. What a service! My youngest daughter is feeling a little better so we first go on a three hour game drive around the Nakuru lake. We have to be out of the gate by 11.30. Kenyan national parks use an electronic registration system and a permit is valid for exactly 24 hours.



Naivasha is about an hour drive from Nakuru. We have a relaxing afternoon as no activity is planned today. There is a heavy storm coming so Jackson was right to plan the boat trip on the lake for the morning and not for the afternoon.

The rain season has not had a major impact on our trip. We had some showers but they never lasted too long and tend to generally occur in the afternoon.

From the terrace of our room at Naivasha Simba lodge we can see waterbucks and giraffes wandering around the property.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Mon, 08 Apr 2013 09:15:00 GMT
Kenya day 8: experiencing a Kenyan hospital and being rescued by 7 armed rangers April 7th, 2013

My youngest daughter still has has stomach problems and fever and as it is the fourth day already and we fear dehydration so we decide not to take any risks and get her checked by a doctor.  The medical center in Nakuru town is closed as it is Sunday. There are two street kids sniffing glue and hanging around the car. The kids are apparently high and are climbing on the driving car. Jackson stops and scares them away.


He recalls having seen a sign to a hospital along the main road on the outskirts of Nakuru. The service we get from the Mediheal hospital staff is excellent. Everyone is very friendly and we get to see the doctor immediately. As there is a risk for appendicitis, they put her through an additional ultrasound check . Luckily it is not appendicitis and a couple of hours later after a few laboratory tests, infusions and injections we can leave the hospital with all the necessary antibiotics and medicine from their pharmacy. The hospital was opened in 2011 and if I could give a rating I would give it definitely five stars for service.


As she is still too weak, my husband stays with her and the middle daughter in the lodge and my eldest daughter and I go on a game drive with Jackson. As always his guiding is excellent and he spots two female lions. Again there are no other cars around.


We take a short break at the view point at Baboon hill and when leaving the motor collapses.  Jackson tries everything but it does not start again. After a while another car arrives and we make signs to stop them. It turns out to be a car from the  park rangers of Kenya wildlife services and while we had seen the driver in the front, when he stops there are six other rangers in the back of the car with AK 47 machine guns. Two rangers  remain on the outlook for dangerous animals with their AK 47 while the other five try to fix the car and try to push it off the hill but it would not start again. After about an hour the rangers offer to drive us back to our lodge at the other side of the park. I go in the front and my daughter goes sitting in the back with the rangers and their machine guns. Jackson stays behind to wait for someone that will tow his car back to town. The rangers were really nice and very friendly. On route we see a white rhino crossing the road and they even stop so that I can take a photograph. We also find a sleeping male lion on a tree (I took a photo  but it was not the right angle and  I could hardly take more of their time so that I can get a good photo as it was getting dark already ). Lake Nakuru has tree climbing lions because the area is very forested and the grounds are wet especially in the rain season so the lions prefer to rest on trees.



The rangers drop us off at the lodge. So friendly guys!  I unfortunately have no pictures of this event as I did not dare to ask if I could take their photographs. 

My youngest daughter joins us for diner for the first time in three days. She only eats some soup but at least it is a start. While we are finishing diner the lights are dimmed and staff is coming into the dining room with drums and a cake.  My husband makes the remark to the children that luckily they don't have their birthdays during the holidays as otherwise they would get all the attention and cake.


To our surprise they stop in front of our table. I tell the waitress that they must be wrong as none of us has a birthday but she smiles and tells me that this is a courtesy of the management of the lion hill lodge as they know my youngest daughter has been ill and they want to sweeten our stay.  My youngest daughter loves cakes and even eats a piece. We are very surpised about this friendly gesture from the lodge.  


Jackson send a message that he is safe in Nakuru town and will pick us up tomorrow either with a repaired car or with another car that he will get from Nairobi town.

Today has been a very eventfull day but we have experienced Kenyan hospitality at its best. From the service at the Mediheal hospital over the help of the seven armed rangers to the friendly staff off the Nakuru lion hill lodge. An unforgettable experience!









[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Kenya wildlife services Mediheal hospital lion hill lodge nakuru Sun, 07 Apr 2013 18:45:00 GMT
Kenya day 7: lake Nakuru April 6th, 2013


We are happy to be back with our friend Jackson.  We arrive at around noon in Nakuru Lion hill lodge for lunch. We get some nice connecting rooms which is good so that we can check on my youngest daughter as she still has stomach problems and fever and the immodium does not work.  At 2.30 pm we leave for an early game drive as at 3.00 pm local time I should take a picture for the photo project "one minute on earth" of my friend Kujaja.  Weather is unfortunately bad and it rains heavily. Lake Nakuru is famous for its millions of flamingo's but due to the high water levels there are only a handfull around. My planned image of a pink lake is not going to work out. Half an hour time to find a location. We see some buffalo's, a group of impala's using a large tree as umbrella, a few zebra's. Time has come to take the picture for one minute on earth so I go for a group of endangered white rhino grazing at a distance. Not the image I had in mind and I have taken much better images than that one. Rhino's need protection against poaching so the message may outweigh the quality of the image.




We continue our game drive and find a rare aardwolf. It looks like a mixture between a hyena and a wild dog. My daughters' running joke is "are there  here any wild dogs ?"...there are supposed to be two in who knows......but we have seen today a  perhaps even more rare aardwolf, an animal only eating termites and other insects.





[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) aardwolf kenya nakuru one minute on earth Sat, 06 Apr 2013 17:00:00 GMT
Kenya Day 6: Aberdares mountains April 5th, 2013

After breakfast we  unfortunately have to leave the Mount Kenya safari club. On route we receive a call from G4S security and our bag is indeed at their Nyeri office and we pick it up on our way. I have to say I am impressed as I did not think we would see the bag back anytime during our holidays.  We can finally give our Arsenal shirts and caps to our friend Jackson. The chocolates have not melted and we enjoy some delayed Easter chocolates.


We arrive in the Outspan hotel just before lunch where we have to do the check-in for the Treetops mountain lodge. It appears that we have to leave in group on a bus at 2.30pm. It is the place where Baden Powell, the founder of the scouts has died and there is a small museum in the hotel.


The lunch is the worse meal we had and I really do not like the bureaucracy of this place.  My youngest daughter is feeling sick and has clearly fever and I ask if there is any way that we can go separate with our own car and guide the 17km so that I can put her too bed they indicate that it is not possible and we have to wait to leave with the bus at 2.30 pm. They open a lounge area where she can sit until the bus leaves.


Aberdares, Kenya


There are 10 people in the bus to the Aberdares mountains national park. The staff keeps on saying that my youngest daughter has malaria and I keep on repeating that this is impossible as the incubation time is at least seven days and we are not yet seven days in Kenay.  In the lodge we have to push to get the key before listening to the full introduction so that we can finally put her to bed. It seems their programme is written in stone and allows no derogation whatsoever.


In Treetops Queen Elizabeth II of England was staying the night her father died and she became queen. While the location is nice overlooking an artificial water hole this place clearly has seen its best days and the staff is completely unflexible.

In the afternoon at 4.30 there is a possibility for a game drive. It is 55 USD for an adult and half price for children under 12 years old.  I keep on telling the guy at the bar three times that my daughter is 14 years and that it should be 110USD and he continues to  indicate that the total price is 87,50 USD. I give him 100 USD and he will return the balance in shillings at diner time.


My husband and my middle daughter stay with my sick youngest daughter in the lodge.

The other guests stay behind in the lodge and it is just me and my eldest daughter in the safari vehicle. Smoke is appearing each time when the guide hits the breaks . On a positive note, the safari guide is defintely the best of Treetops staff we met.


Aberdares, Kenya


The Aberdares mountains are beautiful and we have a very nice view of Mount Kenya so it is worthwhile for the scenery.


Aberdares, Kenya


At the waterhole, there is buffalo and elephants.


Aberdares, Kenya


During diner I even spot a leopard.


The next morning another member of staff tells me in an unpolite way that I underpaid the game drive and that I have to pay the balance acting as if I had done something wrong while I had indicated the age of my daughter three times the day before. He gives me a receipt indicating "short paying of safari" . He told me they thought that I was going with the youngest one ( ....remember....the daughter that was with high fever in bed....)


At 8.00 sharp the bus will be leaving. In the bus they ask us where the room key is and we tell them on the room door. The guy tells me that it is not there and that people sometimes put it accidently in their pockets and that I should check.  We tell him that a door has two sides and that they should check again. He comes back and confirms that it is indeed at the door and tells me that they had checked in the morning when we were at breakfast and then the key was not there (how logical.... we still had to take out our belongings after breakfast).


I am lost with so much stupidity and inflexibility and I am happy when the bus finally arrives at the Outspan and we see our friend Jackson again. I refuse to give any tips for the worst service I received on all our African trips.  I seldom give that negative criticism on places but the way we were treated here is totally unacceptable. 


There is another lodge (the "Ark") in the Aberdares mountains so if you plan on going, check out the other lodge. It has to be better.






[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Aberdares Kenya Treetops Fri, 05 Apr 2013 21:15:00 GMT
Kenya day 5: From Samburu to Mount Kenya April 4, 2013


We enjoyed our stay in the Samburu game lodge very much but today it is unfortunately time to move on.

As my family does not feel like visiting another tribal village we stop some Turkana women along the road and ask if they allow me to take their picture.


Turkana, Kenya


Turkana, Kenya


We will be staying one night in the famous Mount Kenya Safari Club. An advantage of travelling in the wet season is that prices are significantly lower than in the dry season and in the high season this place would have been far above our budget. As there are only a handfull guests, they upgrade us to a garden suite, a separate unit in the garden with two rooms and a living room in the middle with an open fire place and a view of Mount Kenya. Fabulous!


I visit the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy with my youngest daughter. She loves it that she is allowed to feed some of the animals. The guide at the conservancy is  just superb.


Mount Kenya wildlife Conservancy


Mount Kenya wildlife Conservancy

Mount Kenya wildlife Conservancy


We are the only tourists around. At the conservancy they have a mountain bongo rehabilitation programme. The Bongo is a highly endangered species with less than 100 animals remaining of which 70 are in the conservancy and the plan is to reintroduce them to the wild in the Mount Kenya national park or the Aberdares mountains. 


Mount Kenya wildlife Conservancy


Mount Kenya wildlife conservancy


In addition they have a breeding programme for the endangered cheetah. The Kenyan cheetah is weak due to inbreeding and at the Conservancy they try to breed East African cheetah with Southern African species to strenghten their genes.


Mount Kenya wildlife conservancy


 What makes the Mount Kenya safaric club so wonderfull is their staff. From the reception, the bar, the restaurant , the chuca dancers, everyone we met was so friendly. The bar tender from near lake Victoria was especially fantastic with the children.





[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya bongo cheetah mount Kenya mountain bongo Thu, 04 Apr 2013 19:45:00 GMT
Kenya day 4: Samburu Game Reserve April 3, 2013


No big cats this morning. It is nevertheless a fantastic game drive as we get very nice views of species endemic to the region above the equator ( reticulated giraffe, grevy zebra and generuk).





There are also many oryxes, one of my favorite antilopes.



A family of elephants heading towards the river. We follow them quietly and park the car at the river front until a second family of elephants arrives and we are trapped. Luckily the elephants pay little attention to us and continue to walk towards the water.




On our afternoon game drive there is a martial eagle (Africa's largest eagle) that has killed a dikdik (small antilope) and is guarding its prey.



Jackson spots a cheetah family  in the high grass.  We are the only car for a while but the young ones are not used to cars and the mother gets nervous and they move a little further inland.  We are so lucky with Jackson as our guide as spotting them in the high grass was not easy.


Samburu, Kenya

Samburu, Kenya

Back in the lodge we call again Nairobi airport to enquire about our lost bag and it appears that our bag is scheduled to arrive in Nairobi tonight and should be shipped by G4S for arrival on Friday. We plan to pick it up in Nyeri town on our way to Aberdares National Park.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Samburu cheetah Wed, 03 Apr 2013 19:15:00 GMT
Kenya day 3: Samburu Game Reserve and the Samburu Tribe April 2, 2013.


We get up early and leave around 06.15. There is nobody else in the park.  Jackson wants to check if the leopards we saw last night are still around. We are very lucky and find them on a fallen tree close to the place we left them yesterday evening.


There is a dik dik family in the area. 


Samburu, Kenya

For over an hour we have the chance to follow the leopards with no other people around.


samburu, Kenya

Samburu, Kenya


The mother is teaching her hunting skills to her cub.  


Samburu, Kenya


Samburu, Kenya

The cub is not very successful and the dik dik's disappear. 



Samburu, Kenya


At around 7.30 some other cars arrive and the leopards do not like the additional attention and they disappear further into the bushes. We were lucky as we had the best time with them. It pays off to get up early and with Jackson we definitely have the best guide. 


We spot a family of elephants. The elephants in Samburu are red because of the colour of the mud.

Samburu, Kenya


Around 9.00 we return to the Samburu game lodge for breakfast and a relaxing morning. The children enjoy the pool and I watch the vervet monkeys. 



After lunch we plan on visiting some of the tribal villages. The idea is to visit the Turkana and the Borana as well as the Samburu tribes. It is very hot, approximately 35°C and my youngest daughter suffers from the heat so we end up visiting only the Samburu tribe. After giving her some water she feels better but we fear that she may be getting ill.


Samburu, Kenya

Samburu, Kenya


As we are close to the neighboring Buffalo Springs entrance we enter the reserve here. Buffalo Springs is the other side of the river. 


As Samburu is above the equator, there are species that are not found in the reserves further south. In Buffalo Springs we see our first reticulated giraffe. 



As the bridge over the river has been destroyed by the rains and we have to drive back to Samburu over the main road we cannot stay too long in Buffalo Springs as we are not allowed to drive in the park after 06.30 pm .

It has been another fantastic day in Kenya. 

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Samburu leopard Tue, 02 Apr 2013 17:15:00 GMT
Kenya day 2: From Ol Pejeta Conservancy to Samburu Game Reserve April 1, 2013.


After a good night sleep, we skip the morning tea and go for an early game drive at 06.15.  The weather has cleared after yesterday's rain and we have a good sight of mount Kenya from the Equator mark.  We see a few white rhino's at a distance and then we find the same lioness that we saw yesterday. We recognize her as she had a scratch wound on her back.


Ol Pejeta, Kenya in the wet season

This time she is not alone but walking with three other lions. We follow them for a while until they disappear in the bushes. 

Ol Pejeta, Kenya in the wet season


We are very lucky to see also some more endangered black rhino's. In our 2011 trip to Kenya in Masai Mara we only saw one black rhino and from a distance.

Ol Pejeta, Kenya in the wet season


For the first time on any of our African trips I  also manage to get some nice jackal portraits.

Ol Pejeta, Kenya in the wet season

Around 8.30 after an excellent morning drive we return to camp for breakfast. It is still Easter weekend so the camp offers a complimentary "champagne breakfast".  After breakfast we pack our bags and continue towards Samburu game reserve.


Jackson buys two newspapers and we are trying to find the April's fools joke but do not spot it at first glance.  It turns out to be an article that the Chinese have decided that the Kenyans would  have drive from now onwards on the right hand side of the road.


The more north we get the more dry the landscape becomes. In Isiolo (approximately 285 km north of Nairobi) we have to register with the police and give our "whereabouts" as we leave the secure zone and entering into the tribal areas. The Turkana and Samburu tribes have regular fights about cattle. Isiolo is mainly a muslim town with a large muslim population originating from Somalia.


Our initial plan was to enter Kenya in August overland from Ethiopia through the Moyale border but Jackson advised against it for security reasons. We will still be going to Southern Ethiopia (tribal Omo region) in August but what was planned to be one trip has now been split into two separate trips.


For security reasons this trip will not take us up further north than the Samburu game reserve. Along the road we see many colourful Samburu and Turkana along the road herding their cattle.

We arrive at Samburu Game Lodge ( for lunch. It is very calm here compared to Sweetwaters. There are only a handfull other guests. We have two very nice cottages overlooking the Uaso Nyiro river filled with crocodiles. As we are now in the lowlands (about 857 meters above sea level) the temperature is higher (around 30°C).


As there are not many people we get a set lunch. The food is excellent and it is a nice change from the buffet food to have your food served at table. Eva, our waiter is very friendly.


In the afternoon the children enjoy the swimming pool and  at around 4pm  we leave for our afternoon game drive.  We are searching for leopards and are lucky to find a young leopard with its mother hidden in a tree. It is difficult to see it as the tree has a lot of leaves.


We are patient and after about an hour the young leopard leaves the tree to climb a neighbouring tree which gives me the opportunity to take a good photograph. 

leopard in the rain at Samburu, Kenya


The leopard has no intention of leaving the tree again and it is getting dark.

Samburu, Kenya

After some more waiting the mother also appears and takes a rest at a distance on the river bank.  It is after sunset and the lightning conditions are getting bad. Luckily my camera allows for high ISO settings.


The mother leopard is calling her cub.

The light is too bad for a short shutterspeed even at the highest ISO so I try my best at panning to have the shot not too blurred. I kind of like the result.

Samburu, Kenya


The leopards disappear in the bushes and it is time to return to camp for diner. What a fantastic day today. We joke with Jackson and tell him that he is becoming old as it took him two days to find the big five while in 2011 he managed to get them all on the same day (smile).


At the lodge we phone the airport to enquire for the delivery of our missing bag. It turns out that they found our bag but not in Tanzania as expected. Our suitcase happens to be in New Delhi, India. It will take a while longer than anticipated for it to be rerouted to Kenya.



[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Samburu leopard lion ol pejeta sweetwaters Mon, 01 Apr 2013 19:45:00 GMT
Kenya Day 1: visiting Mt Carmel girls secondary school and Ol Pejeta Conservancy Sunday March 31, 2013.


After a very quiet night and an early breakfast we leave Nairobi. Things have stayed very calm after the Supreme Court elections results announcement. Those that questioned our decision to go to Kenya that time of the year were proven wrong.  It is Easter Sunday so there is not much traffic on the roads.


Kenya looks so green in the wet season.  We buy some sweets in a local supermarket in order not to arrive completely empty handed at the school.  We arrive at Mt Carmel's catholic girls secondary school around 11am and the kids are still in Easter Sunday Mass. The Sister Headmaster gives us a very warm welcome and invites us to join Mass. A Kenyan Mass is so much different from Mass in Belgium. The approximately 300 kids are singing and dancing.  As visitors we are requested to step forward and introduce ourselves. Jackson explains about the missing bag with the Belgian chocolates. After Mass we get invited for a piece of cake by the headmaster and meet Jackson's eldest daughter. She loves the school and the headmaster tries to convince my daughters to stay in Kenya and join the boarding school but she is not successful. We have a very nice morning. The school has beautiful gardens and is very well maintained. 

We say goodbye and continue to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy (and cross the Equator a few times) where we have lunch at our tented camp Sweetwaters.  Ol Pejeta is a private conservancy and it is the only place in Kenya where chimpanzees can be seen. It hosts a Chimpanzee Sanctuary for orphaned and abused chimpanzees mainly from Burundi. We leave the chimpanzee sanctuary with some mixed feelings as a number of the chimpanzees look depressed but it may be due to the heavy rain. 

Ol pejeta, Kenya


They also have a blind black rhino named "Baraka" that can be fed with grass by the children.

black rhino at Ol Pejeta, Kenya

That part of the  Ol Pejeta Conservancy has a bit of a zoo like feeling but we enjoy the rest of the park where I spot the first lion. We also see buffalo, elephants and black rhino. Four out of the big five in Ol Pejeta.  Not bad for our first afternoon in Kenya!

buffalo at Ol Pejeta, Kenya Ol Pejeta, Kenya in the wet season

Ol pejeta, Kenya Ol Pejeta, Kenya in the wet season


The Sweetwaters tented camp is a beautiful camp. As it is Easter weekend it is full.  Our tents have a view over a pond where animals come to drink.

We have a great first day in Kenya.


[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Mt Carmel secondary school Ol Pejeta Conservancy chimpanzee sanctuary sweetwaters Sun, 31 Mar 2013 21:15:00 GMT
Flying to Nairobi on the date the Supreme Court rules on the presidential elections It is Saturday March 30th, 2013 and we have an early morning flight from Brussels over Zurich to Nairobi with Swiss airlines. The service on board of Swiss is excellent and the kids are happy with their personal tv screen and time passes quickly as they can watch movies and play games. My youngest daughter is asking why we cannot not always fly with Swiss. 


Today is also the day that the Kenyan Surpeme court passes its ruling on the validity of the election results announcing Uhuru Kenyatta , son of the first Kenyan president as the winner, the result which has been challenged by his rival Raila Odinga. We hope things will remain calm as after the elections of 2008 more than a 1000 people were killed. When we land in Nairobi we learn that that the Supreme Court has upheld the election results.


Immigration goes smoothly as we have already our visa. At the luggage pick-up only three of our four bags arrive. The missing bag is the one with all our gifts for our friend Jackson and his family, the Easter egg chocolates as well as the footballs to give to the local schools. We fill out the missing bag claim form and as our plane had continued to Dar-Es-Salaam in Tanzania we expect our bag to arrive the next day. At the arrival gate our friend Jackson is waiting for us and we are very happy to see him again. Nairobi is very calm this evening. 


We stay overnight in the Nairobi Sarova Panafric hotel where Jackson joins us for dinner. We tell him that all his Arsenal presents are in the lost bag. It is very quiet on Kenyatta Avenue and there  is a lot of security in the hotel, one guard on every floor so we feel very secure.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya presidential elections Sat, 30 Mar 2013 19:45:00 GMT
Camera equipment for African trip It is a difficult exercise in preparing a trip about which camera equipment to bring or rather which camera equipment to leave behind. It may also mean that I just have too much stuff. If I just owned only one camera and lens it would be an easy exercise.


I sold my Nikon D3S last weekend (or rather exchanged it against a two month old Nikon D800 and some cash). I know there are many reviews  out on the internet that question the suitability of the D800 for wildlife photography.  As I own already a Nikon D4 my thought was that the D800 would give me more options in combination with the D4 compared to a combination of a D3S and a D4.


My first steps with the D800 were however not trouble fee. In the past I used the D3S in combination with the Sigma 50-500 but that combination failed on the D800. The images are soft and it seems that the autofocus is not spot on.

Before I blame the D800 I want to do some more testing as my Sigma 50-500 has been repaired already three times because of an autofocus problem. Perhaps it is because on a 36mp sensor when you crop at 100% any softness becomes more obvious than on a 12mp or on a 18mp sensor but on my old D300S and on the D4 the Sigma 50-500 seems to focus correctly.


As I do not want to come home with a series of unsharp images I purchased a licence of the Reical Focal camera  calibration software so that may hopefully resolve any front or backfocusing problems. I will test out the various body +lens combinations and see how much autofocus finetuning the software recommends and if finetuning really makes a big difference.


Before determining what to take on this upcoming trip I thought I list what I took on previous African trips and if there were any lessons learned.


Zambia and Botswana 2012

Nikon D4
Nikon D3S

nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8

Nikkor 200-400mm f/4 VR

Nikon 1.4 and 2.0 (III) teleconverters

Tripod + Gorillapod

Lessons learned: While it is possible to autofocus up to an F8 lens with the D4 and thus a 2.0 (III) teleconverter in combination with an F4 lens can be used, the quality of images is not good enough. The Nikon 200-400mm seems to only work correctly with the 1.4 teleconverter . All other converters result in too much loss of image quality. 

white rhino, Kalahari, Botswana

The Nikkor 14-24 was ideal for the Victoria falls but of limited use for the remainder of the trip. The tripod was only of use for the lunar rainbow at the Victoria falls.

Full circle rainbow over the Victoria falls


The Sigma 50-500 is a great lens because of its flexibility but the autofocus broke down during the trip (already the third time the autofocus collapsed on that lens). In the camera store they told me that that lens was not made for the speed of the Nikon D3S. As I had to get it repaired already three times, I do not want to rely solely on this lens on any future trip


Ethiopia 2012

Nikon D3S

Nikkor 16-35mm F4

Sigma 50-500mm f 4.5-6.3 apo dg hsm nikon

Leica M 9

Voigtländer 50mm F 1.1

Leica 90 mm F.2

Voigtländer 12mm 5.6

Leica 28mm F 2.8

Joby Gorillapod

Lessons Learned:

I used the Sigma 50-500 for 90% of the time until the autofocus broke down two days before the end of the trip. It is a great lens  for taking pictures out of a driving car. 

Going to the market- Series "Ethiopian street photography"

I did not use the Leica 90mm much because it not suited  for sharp images while driving and it is too long to take portraits out of  a car window when the car is parked.  The voigtländer 12mm was of limited use too. The 28 mm and the 50 mm 1.1 were my favorite lenses for use on the Leica M when visiting the churches.  

Rock hewn churches, Lalibela, UNESCO world heritage site

Kenya and Tanzania 2011

Nikon D300S

Nikon 80-400

Tamron 18-270

Nikon 12-24

Joby Gorillapod

Leica M9

Voigtländer 50mm 1.1

Leica 28mm F 2.8

Leica 90 mm F.2

Lessons learned:

The images of that trip (combination Nikon D300S and 80-400 lens) were much softer than those taken with the Sigma 50-500 lens on a Nikon D3S.


The Sigma 50-500 is definitely a sharper lens than the Nikon 80-400.

The Nikon 12-24 was seldom used as the 28 mm Leica was more than sufficient for landscapes as can be seen with the image of mount Kilimanjaro below.

What are my initial thoughts on lenses for the upcoming Kenyan trip

Kenya 2013:

Nikon 24-70 f2.8 ( instead of 14-24 mm/16-35mm)

Sigma 50-500 if I can get it calibrated for the D800 (instead of Nikon 80-400).

Nikon 200-400 + 1.4 converter

Nikon 70-200 F2.8 + 2x converter (in case the Sigma 50-500 were to fail again)

Joby gorillapod (instead of tripod)




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) camera calibration camera equipment focal calibration safari safari lenses wildlife camera wildlife lens Tue, 19 Mar 2013 07:45:00 GMT
Kenya: Applying for the visa This image below was taken on our first evening in Masai Mara in 2011. We were only a few minutes in the park when our friend Jackon spotted this family of lions. Jackson could smell the lions. So often we were the first car to arrive at a lion sighting. Jackson's ability to sense and spot the animals was truly impressive.   @ Masai Mara, Kenya


Time is shortening and we are completing the final logistics for our upcoming Kenya trip . We got our malaria medication and luckily we ordered it in time as there appears to be still a shortage of malarone but our friend pharmacist managed to get us sufficient supplies. When I see the bill I am surprised how expensive Malarone is (4EUR/day/pp) and as we are a family of five it adds up fast.


On Friday we applied for our Kenyan visa at the embassy in Brussels. Prices have doubled from 20 EUR to 40 EUR since 2011.  I know we could easily get the visa upon arrival at Nairobi airport but I feel more comfortable getting them upfront especially as we live in Brussels and have easy access to the embassies. As we are travelling with children, being stuck at Nairobi airport after a long flight does not really appeal to me. 


We already had the experience in 2011 when flying home from Tanzania over Nairobi arriving at 9pm at Nairobi airport while our return flight only left at 4am and it was not possible to check the luggage through so we had to first exit the transit zone, pick up our luggage and then be stuck at the departure hall until 2am when the counter opened to check in for the next flight.


On Monday we picked up the visa from the Kenyan embassy in Brussels. Generally when you apply in the morning the visum is ready in the afternoon the same day. The visa process went very smoothly and it was very calm at the embassy. It seems as if we are the only Belgians going to Kenya this time of the year.  


Is it because it is the rainy season or is it still the aftermath of the recent elections?  Odinga has filed an appeal against the results before the Supreme Court. The timing of the Supreme Court's decision is not ideal as it is due to be rendered on our arrival day in Nairobi. Both Odinga and Kenyatta have indicated that they will accept the Supreme Court's decision so we hope that the situation will continue to remain calm.


After a shortage of Malarone it now appears that insect repellants containing DEET are difficult to get hold off. They were banned in Belgium last September. My local store tried to convince me that the natural version is as good as the one containing DEET. Luckily I still have some stock of DEET repellants from last year's trip to Zambia so I will be able to do the comparative test.


My friend Jackson is a big Arsenal fan and the postman just delivered a small package to take with me to Kenya. At least I got the club right, let's hope that I got the size right too.


I have also ten footballs to distribute to the village kids if I can get them somehow packed.


A few more days to go until we meet our friend Jackson again and hopefully see some more beautiful lions on this upcoming trip






[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Deet Kenya malaria malarone visa visum Thu, 14 Mar 2013 19:30:00 GMT
My standard camera settings for my Ethiopian images out of a moving vehicle  


On more than one occasion of my African portrait photography I violated the standard rule about being (not) close enough to my subjects. Yes, I have been too often dependent on my long lens in my case a Sigma 50-500 zoom.  In Ethiopia  we spent on average several hours a day on the road to get to our destination and I hardly could ask our guide every five minutes to stop whenever I saw an opportunity to take a picture.  As Ethiopia is such an amazingly beautiful country, there were so many photo opportunities.  It is a photographer’s heaven. I had my Nikon D3S camera in my hands in on-mode with a standard manual pre-setting of a fast shutter speed (generally 1/1600 and F 6.3 and auto ISO to compensate for the exposure) .  Yes, you may rightfully criticize that some of those images lack intimacy but I am surprised about many that came out quite good. There was no other option as my kids would have revolted if we had stopped more frequently so my choice was between not getting the shot at all or learning how to take shots out of  a moving vehicle at a speed between 50-100km/hour. Going to the market- Series "Ethiopian street photography" Waiting

Going to the market Series "Ethiopian Street Photography"




[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Ethiopia Sigma 50-500 camera settings lens techniques travel photography Sun, 03 Mar 2013 15:40:32 GMT
Kenya: The planning for days 3 and 4: Samburu Game Reserve As we will be staying three nights at Samburu Game lodge, we should have enough time to explore the 390km of the Reserve and hopefully spot many animals.  I still have not seen any wild dogs on any of our African trips so that would be the nr 1 on my wish list but the chances are slim that we get to see them during our Kenyan trip. Our friend and guide Jackon only saw them twice in the last ten years but who knows perhaps we are lucky. I have not set my mind on anything specific so we go with the flow but I hope to come back with some great memories and perhaps some decent pictures.

Perhaps there is also a chance to visit a samburu or turkana tribe village while the kids enjoy some free time at the pool.

The climate at Samburu is normally hot and dry with temperatures in excess of 30°C. April is however the start of the season of the long rains but as we arrive at the beginning of the rain season we may (or may not) be lucky.

I would have loved to go up further north on this trip to lake Turkana but for safety reasons it is not advisable to do so. Samburu will be the most northern region we will visit during this trip.



[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Samburu Fri, 01 Mar 2013 07:50:00 GMT
Kenya-The Planning for Day 2 from Ol Pejeta Conservancy to Samburu Game reserve Next to the Ol Pejeta conservancy, one kilometre outside the Serat Gate, the Ereri multi-cultural Manyatta is located.  It is home to three groups of pastoralic tribes, the Maasai, Pokot and Turkana, groups that regularly have been at war but who have moved from the drought of North Kenya to the region.  I will see if we can arrange a visit. 

We have bought some footballs which we plan on bringing for the village kids. They only take a lot of space in the luggage so unfortunately we won't be able to carry too many.

I will also bring a small polaroid portable printer and paper so that I can also hand out some (small) prints of the images to the villagers as a souvenir.

After leaving Ol Pejeta conservancy we will cross the Equator on our way to Samburu National Reserve (320km from Nairobi). Samburu is home to species only found north of the equator such as the reticulated giraffe ,Grevy's zebra, gerenuk, Somali austrich and Beisa oryx.

We will be staying for the next three nights at the Samburu game lodge which is located on the western bank of the Uaso Nyiro River at an altitude of 857 meters next to the slopes of mount Ol Olokwe.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya ol pejeta samburu Fri, 01 Mar 2013 07:46:00 GMT
Kenya :The Planning for Day 1: From Nairobi to Ol Pejeta Conservancy  

On our first dray we will be driving approximately 220 km north from Nairobi towards the Ol Pejeta Conservency.  We should be able to do this trip in about three hours. We will be only 14 km away from the Equator.

Ol Pejeta conservancy hosts since December 2009 four of the worldwide only seven remaining northern white rhinos.  They are constantly protected by armed guards as can be seen in the link of my previous post. 

Only two cars a day are allowed into the rhino sanctuary.  Ol Pejeta is also the only place in Kenya where chimpanzees can be seen. Many of the 42 chimpanzees  in the  sanctuary were rescued from traumatic situations and are nursed back to health.  

In Ol Pejeta there is also a chance to spot the very rare wild dog or Africa painted wolf. A group of 14 wild dogs is living in the conservancy. So far we failed to spot them in Zambia and Botswana so we do not have very high hopes of actually seeing them in Kenya.  The wild dog would be nr 1 on my tick list if I were to have one but as I indicated in my previous post this is not the case.  

We plan on staying overnight in a tented camp in the centre of the conservancy. 

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) Kenya Ol Pejeta Sun, 20 Jan 2013 19:00:00 GMT
Kenya in the wet season Why would we want to go to Kenya during April in middle of the long rains season? We can expect heavy downpours of rain that time of the year and the grass is high so it is not going to be that easy to spot animals. 

It may well be because I am not a very social person and a lion in the Masai Mara in July or August with twenty+ cars surrounding it may not fit my definition of a true wildlife wilderness experience. Masai Mara is not even included into our itinerary for this upcoming trip. Do not get me wrong the Masai Mara is a great national park and during our first Kenya trip in 2011 we saw the big five in a single day. We were also very lucky to be there on the first day when the wildebeest actually started crossing the Mara river.

On our third day ever in sub-Saharan Africa the highlights on any safari tick list (big five, cheetahs, the big migration) had been completed.  Not that we had such a list in the first place but after having crossed off the obligatory “must see” we were ready to move to the next stage of “want do’s” to explore Africa in more depth and at its own pace.

Ethiopia is such a beautiful country and as we are going back to Ethiopia in August 2013 to visit the tribes of the Omo valley I would have loved to cross the Ethiopia-Kenya border and travel through northern-Kenya but we skipped that idea as we felt that the area on the Kenyan side around lake Turkana was not safe enough especially as we travel with children.

With having been only five days in Kenya so far there is so much more to explore. We will still travel up north and cross the Equator but only as far north as Samburu game reserve which will be the main focus of this trip. Perhaps we get the opportunity to visit some villages in the area to get a glimpse of the culture of the Samburu and Turkana tribes. 

So why Kenya in the wet season? I do have a passion for photography and while a sleeping lion under a clear blue sky remains nice to see, photographing animals in the rain or under clouds may add an additional element of drama.

Even some clouds may be sufficient as evidenced by the world press photo in the link . Not that I have any such far reaching ambitions and if the sun shines during the entire trip we won’t be unhappy either. Nothing is predictible on any African trip and that is just the beauty of it.

[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) April Kenya rain season rainy season wet season Thu, 17 Jan 2013 18:23:00 GMT
On a photographical safari with children
Guidance for preparing a photographic trip with the children

As a photography enthousiast, going on an African trip with the family is always a compromise. However, if you are well prepared it will be a win/win. You may perhaps not get all the great shots you would get if you were to go by yourself or join a professional photo safari. However, if you have limited free time and you want to spend your time off with the family you need to take a different approach.

Here are some tips.

1. Each child should have his/her own digital camera. A 4 year old can already take pictures and kids are not so good in sharing so if you want to avoid arguments, provide them with a separate camera. Buy a point and shoot camera and not one of these toy camera’s. Protect the camera against falling or other accidents or buy a camera that is resistant against rough treatment. My youngest child has the best camera , a Pentax Optio (waterproof, shock resistant) and bought specifically for this reason and it works very well. No broken camera’s and it is great fun in a swimming pool.

2. Bring a spare battery for each camera. Buy camera’s with a rechargeable battery. They may be slightly more expensive but otherwise you end up spending a fortune in one way batteries that quickly erase any savings you thought you made when buying the camera.

3. Take sufficient memory cards (they need more than you do). For every picture you take, they may be taking ten and their memory cards fill up very rapidly.

4. Beware of the “delete all” button. Clearly explain to the kids how they can delete a single photo and protect the photo’s they absolutely want to keep from deletion. If not sure, do it for them.

5. Their photo’s are as important as yours. If they have a problem and something is not working properly stay calm and help them out even if it means that you are missing a great shot. They are too!

6. Check out the number of charging sockets in your hotels and bring sufficient adapters. 

7. Print out some of their pictures or include them into your photo books.  Some may be better than yours or bring a different perspective to the scene. If you have the time, help them to make their own small album.

8. They decide which photo’s they want to delete.  Do not do it without their involvement. Their views on what is a good shot may not match yours and you could end up deleting their favorite picture of the trip. 

9. There are always sufficient moments when you can take photo’s on your own. You can get up before sunrise or stay out after sunset or when they are doing different things. 

10. Do not stress. You are on vacation!!!!


[email protected] (by Nicole Cambré) photographical safari photography travel with children Mon, 13 Feb 2012 11:45:00 GMT