Category Archives: Photo Safaris

Posts about our safaris, preparing for your safari, African wildlife, and safari guide reports.

2019 Year in Review

2019 was a busy year packed full of wonderful wildlife encounters shared with my guests on many wildlife photography tours.

Each of my locations is special and rich in wildlife, so to rank the trips and encounters is difficult. Given that they were all exceptional trips year after year, I present them in order of what was special it me this year.

Many of these trips will be featured on my 2020 Calendar of Trips but some will have to wait until future years before I can share them again: there is just not enough time to do it all! Please enjoy this review.

Striped Marlin at Magdalena Bay

Magdalena Bay in Baja Mexico has a sardine run each November which attracts Striped Marlin, seal ions, sharks, and even whales to the area. We jumped in this frenzy of action and photographed the action. This was a special experience because of the shear numbers of marlin, easy to find bait balls, the comical sea lions, and the whole spectacle. We also combined this with diving at some of the other wonderful natural spaces in Baja for an underwater safari.

Nov 2020 Baja Safari

Sardine Run at Magdalena Bay Baja
Seals and striped marlin manage and prey on a bait ball of sardines

Polar Bears in Churchill, Canada

The polar bears in Churchill are always abundant and a pleasure to photograph, but this year there seemed to be even more than usual. This year there was snow cover and several pairs of mothers and cubs to delight us. We also had a little bit of Northern Lights .

2020 Polar Bears

Polar Bear photo Tour Churchill
A male polar bear scratches and stretches to the amusement of the photographers

African Autumn in South Africa

There is so much wildlife seen on our safaris: we have had increasing frequency of wild dog encounters, rhinos, very good elephant herds, lion prides with cubs, and so many more exceptional sightings. Each year I think it is the best and then the next year tops it! I picked this leopard to represent a year of many beautiful predators displaying behavior in front of our lenses. This was a quiet moment where we could imagine ourselves as the leopard and live out part of his day.

2020 & 2021 South African Safaris

South African photo safari
A male leopard takes a high vantage point for a morning break

Tiger Sharks & Hammerheads in Bahamas

I visited Tiger Beach twice in 2019: March and October. We are always happy to see the same individuals back each year plus a few new ones. New this year was as 2nd resident Great Hammerhead. I was a great day to be able to capture both species in photo – we see it underwater, but to get them all in one frame is not easy.

2020 Tiger Sharks & Hammerheads

Tiger Beach dive trip Bahamas
Multiple female tiger sharks and a great hammerhead circle our group then pass right over my head

Whale Sharks & Giant Mantas in Mexico

It is not fair to rank the Whale Shark Aggregation low on my favorites list because year after year it consistently gives us many many whale sharks, mantas in clear warm water. I am privileged to a part of this for 10 years now. My favorite is when a whale shark goes into “bottle feed” position. I have even had 360 videos as I swim around the shark who is in vertical position.

2020 Whale Sharks & Mantas

whale shark trips Isla Mujeres
When there is a concentrated food patch, a whale shark will feed in a vertical position to suck in the most food.

African Spring in South Africa

The seasons in South Africa give a different color scheme to the photos. In spring the colors are soft yellows and browns as the grass has not yet come alive. Every plant and animal is waiting for the first rains of season. This time of year can give us more predator action as they prey on animals weakened by lack of grass to eat. We had so many great encounters – I chose this hippo because his grunt always makes we laugh. 2020 & 2021 Safaris

African photo safari
A male hippo strikes an impressive territorial display for our photographers

Sailfish in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

For many years I have visited and photographed the sardine run on the eastern side of Mexico at Isla Mujeres. The clear warm water makes for some great video and photography action. Now that I have experienced the billfish on both the east (Isla / Cancun) and west (Magdalena Bay) I can compare the two. The sailfish are very graceful and their flashing colors and sails waving up and down is very dramatic. In 2020 I will only be visiting Baja for billfish

Sailfish sardine run Mexico
Sailfish work together to keep the bait ball tight and at the surface before one by one attacking the bait ball.

Grizzle Bears in BC, Canada

In summer 2019 I was able to go on a scouting trip to photograph grizzles from a boat. We had great encounters with mothers & cubs, a territorial male, a huge male bear, and serene moments with bears feeding on grass. This was a very special trip and staying on a boat in this remote area.

I am working on offering this special experience as a future trip.

Grizzle bear photo tour Canada
A mother bear and a cub are anxious about the presence of a male bear nearby.

Namibia Road Trip, Southern Africa

I completed an overland tour of Namibia after my September Safaris. This country is very different to where I hold my safaris: less wildlife but unique and awe inspiring views everywhere. It was a chance to work on my wide angle and landscape photography.

Namibia desert
Sand patterns on a dune

American Crocodiles of Chinchorro, Mexico

For the 3rd year I traveled to the remote Chinchorro Atoll and stayed in a rustic fishing hut in order to have close encounters with American Crocodiles. Thanks to the expert crew we were all able to do this safely. We spent our “down time” diving on the pristine reefs and eliminating the invasive lion fish.

crocodile photography mexico
A crocodile in shallow water approaches us at the remote Chinchorro Atoll Nature Preserve

Thank you to all the great people who made 2019 special for my guests and myself. I look forward to a great and exciting 2020

About Gregory Sweeney

About my South Africa Safaris

2019 Polar Bear Expedition

Trip Report

Every October and November, polar bears congregate in the Churchill area to await the return of the sea ice and access to their preferred prey: the ringed seal.  This year our trip to Churchill was in late October.  The weather was starting to get snowy, but the ice had not yet formed. Numerous bears were known to be in the area.

Join my next Polar Bear Expedition to Churchill

This year there was more snow on the ground, but the weather was nice enough to get out each day.   Our last day the weather conditions were worse, but the polar bears loved it and they were still easy to find. The ice has started to form, but is not solid enough yet for the bears to move out.  The bears were gathered and very much anticipating the next few weeks when the ice will be fully formed for their trip out to seal hunting territory.

In my Camera Bag:

I keep my photography kit streamlined for easy travel and utility in the field

Canon 5D MK IV

Canon 5D MK III

Canon 100 – 400 F4.5 – 5.6L IS II

Canon 400mm F4 +1.4x teleconverter

24 – 105mm lens for murals etc around town.

Tripod for when we get out of the vehicle

We traveled by way of Winnipeg and a flight up to Churchill.  Our group stayed inside the Churchill Wildlife Management Area at the Northern Studies Centre, a research facility that houses the scientists and their research. Each year the Centre welcomes a few visitors such as our group.  While at the Centre we were introduced to the ecofriendly facility, learned of the current research, and had a thorough orientation to polar bears in this region. It is a comfortable facility with meeting rooms, media rooms, a workout room, and we enjoyed the observation deck and night observatory dome. At times we had wildlife sightings from the windows of the Centre: a fox visited daily, a hare, birds, and a bear came close.

Our first two days out were in a private van with a local guide which takes us around the town area and bordering wildlife area. When out with our wildlife guide we are able to get out of the vehicle (when safe) and use our tripods to photograph the bears or arctic wildlife.

We had several opportunities to see bears up close and were able to place the van in such a way to get great images from outside the vehicle.

Our last day was spent on a specialized bear tundra vehicle in the Wildlife Management Area – a nature preserve.  The vehicle was comfortable and had window we could photograph through as well has the big open back deck for unobstructed photographs.

After a full day in the Wildlife Management Area we returned to the Centre for a final dinner then headed to the airport for our return to Winnipeg.

These vehicles are the only way to get into the Park area as the terrain is too rough for standard vehicles.

It was a great trip full of great chances to photograph polar bears and wildlife.  We are grateful for the opportunity to stay at the Northern Studies Centre for a quality yet affordable trip packed with wildlife and photography.

Get information about our next Polar Bears in Churchill Trip

Safari Stories: Ground Hornbills

It takes cooperation to raise young and keep them safe in the bush

Members of a Southern Ground Hornbill family group take on different roles in order to raise chicks. Family members also must cooperate to defend territory or risk young members being kidnapped by rival hornbill groups.

We often see Southern Ground Hornbills when we traverse their territory in Kruger National Park. We also hear their distinct calls during mating season in May.

Ground Hornbills are Cooperative Breeders with all members taking on responsibilities

Ground Hornbill groups typically consist of a single adult female, several adult males, and immature birds.  Each group also has an alpha male who is usually considered the one who mates with the female. Once the eggs are laid, the female has the sole responsibility of incubating them in the nest for around 40 days, during which time the rest of the group will bring her food from the outside world.  Once the incubation period is over, she leaves the nest to join the rest of the groups and begins to play her part in feeding the chick. 

Studies have shown that the ages, sex, and rank determine the roles of each individual in the group.  The contributions of the parent birds will depend on the number of helpers they have. Typically, there are two variations: additive care and compensative care.  Additive describes each bird in the group doing an equal part in feeding the chick.

Ground Hornbills foraging and finding some nice insects to eat

With compensation care, some adult birds, usually the parents, neglect their feeding duties and rely on other members of the group to feed the chicks.  This happens in cases of larger groups where there are more birds to do the feeding.

Ground Hornbills in Kruger
A juvenile is getting lessons on how to forage for insects

Juveniles are do not participate in territory patrols for fear they will be kidnapped by rival hornbill clans.

Territory defense is vital to the survival of ground hornbills. Each group is dependent on its nesting site and food source and the birds must be ready to fend off any intruders.  Their deep booming calls which travel a great distance and are a signature sound of the bush, broadcast who they are and where they territory lies. 

Patrolling and defending these territories ( up to 100 sq.KM) requires an immense amount of effort and energy.  You would assume an important job such as this would be performed by all members, but it has been observed that younger individuals within groups do not take part in territorial defense.  It is the responsibility of just the adult birds.   The reason why is not understood, however the recent observation of kidnapping of juveniles by opposing groups has suggested that there is a risk of losing young members of the group in a territorial altercation.

Ground hornbills
Hopefully this group is foraging close to home base and not on patrol on the edge of their territory: the juvenile in the group could be at risk of kidnapping by rivals.

Breeding is difficult (and getting harder) for ground hornbills and kidnapping a healthy juvenile is a cheap way to grow the clan and perhaps replace chicks lost to failed breeding or rearing.

Favorite Moments from my September 2019 Safaris

Guided safaris to South Africa
Hyenas can hunt and catch their own food, but they also steal as a means to an easy meal

My favorite part about leading safaris in South Africa is the pleasure, awe, and delight in the eyes and faces of my guests when they they have wildlife encounters the exceed all expectations. Some guests are not expecting how close we can get to the animals and the behaviors we get to experience first hand.

My favorite moments while on safari are not the perfect photos, but the times when we get to be special observers into the lives of wildlife or see something completely unexpected.

Leopards Being Awesome & Humorous

photographing leopards in Sabi Sands
A male leopard on patrol after dark in Sabi Sands

We spend 3 nights in the wildlife rich Sabi Sands Reserve. The rivers and trees make this a favorite habitat for leopards. The rangers and guides have some to know many of the resident and itinerate leopards in the area and can recognize and tell histories of many of the cats.

Photograph leopards on safari in Sabi Sands
Leopards are very comfortable climbing and sleeping in trees , as this female demonstrates
Leopards in Sabi Sands
A leopard naps in the comfort and safety of it favorite tree

While on an evening game drive we see leopards traveling within their territory on patrol to mark or defend it or moving into good hunting areas. Watching the big males walk with strength in the steps and alert eyes is very exciting: will they run across an other male trespassing or stalk vulnerable prey animals in the dark?

Leopard safari in Sabi Sands
A leopard naps but stays alert to any unusual sounds

Leopards have favorite trees they use to eat in peace from those who would steal their kill or to secret it away for later when they have eaten their fill. As with all cats, they are experts at getting comfortable for long naps. Looking directly into the eyes of these top predators is something you do not forget and it challenges us to capture this feeling in our photographs.

A Busy Watering Hole at Kruger National Park

elephants in Kruger Park
Juvenile elephants play while the adults drink and bathe

Kruger is a huge park and has a high degree of biodiversity . September is still dry season so watering holes are popular spots for all wildlife. Mid morning we stopped at a spot overlooking a large watering hole. Zebra, waterbuck, and impala were at the shores or drinking as we scanned the water for hippos. We spotted saddle billed storks, vultures drinking, and watched a large kudu male and his harem visit for a drink. Then at the far left a family of elephants approached with the matriarch marching in the lead with ears flared in a display of determination and domination. Behind her were juveniles, other females, and a few very young ones. They lined up at the water’s edge to drink and we could observe that the littlest ones were so young they could not yet drink using their trunk but rather had to kneel down to drink by mouth. The adults soon ventured into the water to bathe and apply mud while the young ones broke out into wrestling and tumbling in the water. As they were leaving, just to show who is in charge, the elephants mock charged some zebra to scare them away.

photography safari workshop in Kruger
elephants chase zebras away from the watering hole

This was a prime example of the magic of Kruger Park where sometimes you just sit at a nice spot and see the wildlife come to you and play out their daily dramas.

photo safari in Kruger
A female waterbuck comes down to the water to drink

Lions, Hyenas, and Cheetahs

Photo safari in South Africa
Young hyenas at the den

Seeing predators in action or at rest is always exciting and shows us how predators and prey both play their role in the environment. We can learn so much by watching them in action and at rest. Everything we note about them informs our photographs and makes the memories of these encounters more vivid.

photograph cheetahs on safari
Two cheetah brothers survey their hunting grounds in the morning light
Big cat photo safari
Our vehicles can get really close to lions without disturbing them
photograph lions on safari
Lions approach a watering hole following the dominant female
Big cats on South Africa safari
As with any cat, lions know how to get comfortable for their frequent naps; this time on an old termite mound

Being Surprised by what we didn’t expect to see

Kori Bustard and bird photography in Africa
Kori Bustard: one of the largest birds in the savanna

With nature, anything is possible and you never know what you will see. This seems to have become more a rule since many of the fences between Kruger Park and the private reserves have been taking away.

Hippo with mouth open
A male hippo making a territorial display
vulture at carcas
A white backed vulture joins storks and other vultures at a carass
white rhino with ox pecker
An oxpecker sits on the head of a white rhino picking off parasites

We are always excited to see white and black rhinos still in the wild and not confined to small, guarded properties as in so many places.

see rhinos on south africa safari
White Rhinos in an alert stance

There are also common species that present to us in such a way as to make us see them differently and make a nice image.

photo safari in South Africa
Usually calm zebra suddenly break into a gallop and bring a sense of excitement to a wide angle image.

After so many years I am still amazed, thrilled, and humbled by the wildlife we encounter in our area of South Africa. It is so exciting to see my guests be surprised by their first safari adventure.

Join one of my small group guided safaris make your own wildlife memories and images.

See a list of my next safaris

Our Photo Safari Dates for 2020 & 2021

Leopard mother

9 Day Photo Safaris in 2020  – Best of Limpopo & Sabi

May 15 – 23 – Sold Out Sept 15 – 23
May 28 – June 5 Sept 29 – Oct 7
May Safaris: $5,200 pp  (USD)
September: $5,300 pp (USD)
Inclusive of Accommodations, Transfers, Activities, Food. See more detail on our website
Safaris in 2021
April 30 – May 8 Aug 20 – 28 – Sold Out
May 12 – 20 Sept 1 – 9
May 26 – June 3 – Sold Out Sept 14 – 22
May Safaris: $5,400 pp  (USD)
September: $5,500 pp (USD)
Inclusive of Accommodations, Transfers, Activities, Food. See more detail on our website
Gregory Sweeney hosts affordable 9 day photographic safaris on private reserves in the game rich area of Limpopo, South Africa.  During the safari we stay at our own tree house lodge as well as in the famous Sabi Sands reserve. We visit Kruger National Park and many private reserves seeking all of the great wildlife. Small groups of 6 -8make this an exclusive and personal experience.
For more information  and price  visit my safari website http://www.AfricaWildSafaris.net
Other safari posts

The Story of Africa Wild Safaris

There is a story behind every great endeavor

Here is Our Story

We built a safari lodge in order to offer personal, authentic, wildlife filled safaris for those who love being around wildlife either with or without a camera

Lion on a termite mound
Resting like a typical cat, this lion surveys her surroundings from a mound

The story of Africa Wild Safaris started in 2005 when we took our first  safari in the Kruger area of South Africa.  It was not an ordinary safari: the host and guide was a friend who owned a small safari lodge.  From the first day of safari, as a photographers , we were hooked and passionate about the conservation of this area. We were already hosting specialty travel adventures for underwater photographs. It was easy to see that  a safari was a good match to what our underwater photographers liked: a wildlife filled experience that was an authentic and unique travel experience. Adding safaris seemed a natural fit. 

When we added the safaris, the goal was to replicate the feeling of that first safari; the surprise, wonder, learning, and most importantly the feeling of being hosted by friends.  The proximity to Kruger National Park and numerous private reserves ensured that quality of wildlife encounters and number of activities would never be a problem.

After just two years, in order to make a unique safari trip for our guests, we went all in and built our own lodge so we could give our guests the ultimate personal safari experience. 

Now we have our own small safari lodge right next door to those friends who first introduced us to the magic.

A safari lodge was the perfect match for us: I am a photographer, wildlife biologist with ranger experience and an accomplished builder. Karen is our business manager  and adds advanced photo and video processing skills.  In the beginning the lodge was just a beautiful piece of property but it has continued to grow each year into a mature lodge with 4 tree houses. 

The lodge and safaris have grown up together over the years. We have selected the best educational, conservation minded, and wildlife filled activities in the area.  Seeing big cats is important to guests so the safaris evolved to  also include a stay in the famous Sabi Sands Wildlife Reserve; the best location to see leopards. 

elephant and game drive vehicle
getting close to elephants

We have remained committed to the same area and work with the same guides, owners, and national parks since we  started. Together with our private nature reserve neighbors, we work to restore the habitat surrounding the lodge according to national standards. The goal is to drop fences and become part of the Greater Kruger Area: private lands which expand the park area for wildlife migration.

tree house bathroom
The ensuite bathroom with tub and outside shower with a view

We  split our time between living the USA and South Africa and still offer a full schedule of underwater photography, bear,  and safari trips.  We continue our commitment to showing guests what we feel is the best places in South Africa and the Kruger area.

Favorite Safari Images from September 2018

Images from my September 2018 Safaris

Animal Portraits & Action Captures

Each safari brings a wealth of wildlife encounters for my guests.  I feel like I have come to know some of these animals through multiple sightings from year to year.

Safari images taken in South Africa can be very intimate since we are often able to get very close to the wildlife.  Between our proximity and our medium range lenses, it is possible to get eye to eye portraits of our subjects displaying all the details of their faces and sometimes even reading their story in their eyes.

In contrast we are often witness to fast moving moments in the animals life played out right in front of our cameras and safari vehicle.

Find out about my next Photo Safari

I thought it would be nice to precent couplets of images contrasting these two common image styles. Each was taken while in the Greater Kruger Park private reserves, Kruger Park, and the Sabi Sands Reserve.

The lenses used were my

Canon EF 24 – 105 F 4 IS  and my EF 100 – 400mm F4.5 – 5.6L IS II

Lions

Lion on a termite mound

Resting like a typical cat, this lion surveys her surroundings from a mound

young lions spar with each other

Elephant

new born elephant
The family moves away from the newborn elephant giving us a clear shot

elephants at wateringhole
One of the funniest elephant incidents I have ever seen: an older elephant refuses to let the young one drink the fresh water.

Leopard

Male Leopard
Grumpy leopard sits guard below the tree holding his kill

leopard with kill
A young female leopard brings a rabbit kill to her cubs

Cheetah

Cheetah
The watchful glance of a cheetah mother (with a damaged eye)

Cheetahs
Cheetah cubs and their mother wrestle

Jackal

(ok, not an action shot exactly, but a neat contrast between adult and cub)

Adult Jackal

jackal cub
A black backed jackal cub calls to an adult

Rhino

White Rhino
A white rhino stares us down at close range – luckily they are more calm than black rhino

Black Rhino Aggression
A black rhino gives us a warning display giving us the clear message that he is tired of our vehicle in his view.

Wild Dog

Wild Dog
A Wild Dog stops moving long enough to get a detailed frontal shot

Wild Dogs
Wild Dogs play both for fun and to establish rank in the pack

Love the feeling I get on safari as if I am part of these animals’ daily life. A precious few hours spent in their world indeed!

I hope you enjoyed my selections and pairings and found inspiration in them.

Polar Bears Photo Expedition to Churchill

Trip Report:  Polar Bears in Churchill , Canada 2018

Polar Bear

Every October and November, polar bears congregate in the Churchill area to await the return of the sea ice and access to their preferred prey: the ringed seal.  This year our trip to Churchill was in late October.  The weather was starting to get snowy, but the ice had not yet formed. Numerous bears were known to be in the area.

Churchill, Manitoba

Join my 2019 Polar Bear Expedition to Churchill

This year’s trip featured very nice weather under partly cloudy skies and snow.  The ice has started to form, but is not solid enough yet for the bears to move out.  The bears were gathered and very much anticipating the next few weeks when the ice will be fully formed for their trip out to seal hunting territory.

Rock formations Churchill

 

In my Camera Bag:

I keep my photography kit streamlined for easy travel and utility in the field

Canon 5D MK IV

Canon 5D MK III

Canon 100 – 400 F4.5 – 5.6L IS II

Canon 400mm F4 +1.4x teleconverter

24 – 105mm lens for murals etc around town.

 

We traveled by way of Winnipeg and a flight up to Churchill.  Our group stayed inside the Churchill Wildlife Management Area at the Northern Studies Centre, a research facility that houses the scientists and their research. Each year the Centre welcomes a few visitors such as our group.  While at the Centre we were introduced to the ecofriendly facility, learned of the current research, and had a thorough orientation to polar bears in this region. It is a comfortable facility with meeting rooms, media rooms, a workout room, and we enjoyed the observation deck and night observatory dome. At times we had wildlife sightings from the windows of the Centre: a fox visited daily, a hare, birds, and a bear came close.

Tundra Buggy for polar Bears Polar Bear looks at the Tundra Buggy

Our first day was spent on a specialized bear tundra vehicle in the Wildlife Management Area – a nature preserve.  The vehicle was comfortable and had window we could photograph through as well has the big open back deck for unobstructed photographs.

 

Polar Bear in Churchill These vehicles are the only way to get into the Park area as the terrain is too rough for standard vehicles.

We had many bear sightings  from the bear vehicle.

Our 2nd day out was in a private van which takes us around the town area and bordering wildlife area. When out with our wildlife guide we are able to get out of the vehicle (when safe) and use our tripods to photograph the bears or arctic wildlife.

Churchill mural Photographing polar bears Cross Fox Polar Bear

We had several opportunities to see bears up close and were able to place the van in such a way to get great images from outside the vehicle.

bear traps
Bear Traps to remove nuisance bears away from town

Eskimo museum Churchill mural

Learning about conservation in this Arctic Region is a primary goal of these visits. We learned about the impact of humans on the polar bears and the steps they take to keep bears from becoming a nuisance around human areas like the dump and in town. We were enlightened about the bear jail and how they trap and release the bears.

Polar Bear Female Polar Bear Polar Bear

On our last day we were back with our private van and guide.

We had a chance to see a polar bear trying some hunting on a ice covered pond.

Wildlife such as  snowy owls, ptarmigans, and a fox were harder to find on this trip perhaps due to weather changing on our last day.

Our day ended in town at a restaurant and then straight onto the airport and our flight back to Winnipeg.

It was a great trip full of great chances to photograph polar bears and wildlife.  We are grateful for the opportunity to stay at the Northern Studies Centre for a quality yet affordable trip packed with wildlife and photography.

 

Get information about our next Polar Bears in Churchill Trip

 

 

Polar Bears in Churchill 2017

Every October and November, polar bears congregate in the Churchill area to await the return of the sea ice and access to their preferred prey: the ringed seal.  This year our trip to Churchill was in late October.  The weather was starting to get snowy, but the ice had not yet formed. Numerous bears were known to be in the area.

Join my 2018 Polar Bear Expedition to Churchill – my last time offering this trip!

Northern Studies Centre
Drone image of the Northern Studies Centre

polar bear photo workshop

We traveled by way of Winnipeg and a flight up to Churchill.  Our group stayed inside the Churchill Wildlife Management Area at the Northern Studies Centre, a research facility that houses the scientists and their research. Each year the Centre welcomes a few visitors such as our group.  While at the Centre we were introduced to the ecofriendly facility, learned of the current research, and had a thorough orientation to polar bears in this region. It is a comfortable facility with meeting rooms, media rooms, a workout room, and we enjoyed the observation deck and night observatory dome. At times we had wildlife sightings from the windows of the Centre: a fox visited daily, a hare, birds, and a bear came close.

Ptarigan
Ptarigan

polar bear mother and cubs
mother and cubs cross a frozen pond

Our first day out was in a private van which takes us around the town area and bordering wildlife area. We learned about the impact of humans on the polar bears and the steps they take to keep bears from becoming a nuisance around human areas like the dump and in town. We were enlightened about the bear jail and how they trap and release the bears.

bear jail churchill
The building which houses the “bear jail” for nuisance bears around town

bear traps churchill
Bear traps

photographing polar bears

environmental theme mural
Photographing mural art around town

Our next day was spent on a specialized bear tundra vehicle in the Wildlife Management Area.  The vehicle was comfortable and had window we could photograph through as well has the big open back deck for unobstructed photographs.  They move slowly, but there is no other vehicle which can cover this territory without damage to the environment.

male polar bear

bear buggy polar bears
Guests photograph from the windows of the bear vehicle

A vehicle for traveling into the Wildlife Management Area

We had many bear sightings  in the bear vehicle.  We tracked a mother and two cubs for a long time as they advanced to a half frozen creek. Our best encounter was a male bear who took a nap right near our vehicle.  He gave us a great display while he rolled and rubbed.  He changed places and went back to sleep.

arctic hare
An arctic hare

Funny polar bear
A male polar bear strikes some funny poses while scratching and stretching

An arctic hare whose size was surprising gave a good photo opportunity before bounding off. We also found several snowy owls.  Many of the sightings were due to the expert spotting skills of our driver and guide – they knew where to look and positioned the vehicle for great views.

northern lights
We were lucky enough to have Northern Lights for a few hours on a clear evening

Our 2nd night was clear and we were treated to Northern Lights early in the evening.  It was cold but worth the bundling to set up our tripods and cameras to try to capture the magic of the lights.

photographing polar bears
The group gets out and sets up using tripods and the bear comes closer

polar bear photo tour

On our last day we were back with our private van and guide.  We had a great encounter with a male bear who was walking toward our van then crossed the road right in front of us then kept going into the rough. We are able to get out of the van and use tripods.  When the bear went out of range, we changed course to intercept it down the road.

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

We had several more snowy owls, ptarmigans, and a fox this afternoon.  Our last encounter of the day happened as the weather turned to blowing snow. A young bear was lying down near at the quarry.  He looked sad as if his mother would not let him follow her anymore.

polar bear photography workshop
A young bear sits high up at the quarry

Our day ended in town at a restaurant and then straight onto the airport and our flight back to Winnipeg.

 

plane crash

Mounty Moose
Local mascot welcomes guests to Churchill

It was a great trip full of great chances to photograph polar bears and wildlife.  We are grateful for the opportunity to stay at the Northern Studies Centre for a quality yet affordable trip packed with wildlife and photography.

 

Get information about our next Polar Bears in Churchill Trip

 

2017 A Year of Wildlife Photography all over the World

This year my photo tours took me all over the world.

Each location yielded great photo opportunities for my guests and many had achieved the fulfillment of a travel dream.

To commemorate the end of 2017, I have chosen these images.

Next year will also be filled with travel, photo tours , wonderful wildlife encounters.

January/February

Swim with Sailfish Mexico
Sailfish, Isla Mujeres Mexico

March / April

TIger Shark
Tiger Shark, Bahamas

Great Hammerhead
Great Hammerhead, Bimini Bahamas

Dive with Tiger Sharks
Photographing Tiger Sharks, Bahamas

April

May

photograph safari with lions
Lion Cubs at play, Botswana

Photo Safari to South Africa
Elephants, Botswana

June

Giant Manta Ray
Giant Manta Ray, Isla Mujeres Mexico

Swim with Whale Sharks
Swimming with Whale Sharks, Mexico

Whale Shark
Whale Shark, Mexico

July

American Crocodile
American Crocodile, Chinchorro, Mexico

September

Photographing giraffes
Mother and Baby Giraffe, South Africa

photograph Leopards
Leopard, Sabi Sands in South Africa

Photograph Lions in South Africa
Lions hunting buffalo, South Africa

October

Great White Shark
Great White Shark, Guadalupe

Sea Otter
Sea Otters, Northern California

Mako Shark
Mako Shark, Southern California

Polar Bears in Churchill
Polar Bears, Churchill Canada

November

Dugong
Dugong, Philippines

December

Pygmy Seahorse
Pygmy Seahorse, Anilao Philippines

Underwater Adventures 2018 Newsletter

Underwater Trips Website

My Safaris  Detail