07 January 2012 by Chris Marais

2012: The road ahead

Plotting my course for 2012 – which will take in the Eastern Cape and the Kruger National Park.

As a travel journalist who concentrates most of his working energy on the byways and back roads of South Africa, the first week in every January is all about planning the year ahead.

Hmm. A brand new long lens has been purchased. A thing of beauty, they say. This year, wildlife photography becomes a priority in the Marais household. Where shall we go?

Well, come let me tell you, as we like to say in SA. In terms of bush trips, we’ll be concentrating on the vast array of Eastern Cape national parks, private reserves and bush camps. It’s all about promoting the Eastern Cape outdoors and we’ll start with the Mountain Zebra National Park outside our home town of Cradock.

There’s a 2-hour meander up on the plateau called the Rooiplaat Drive. Because of the gobsmacking 360-degree all-around view of mountains, mountains and yes, more mountains, one usually shoots images of the animal as part of the bigger landscape. The mountains, say. It’s perfect for my normal photographic needs.

It’s all about promoting the Eastern Cape outdoors and we’ll start with the Mountain Zebra National Park outside our home town of Cradock.

That’s all about to change. From this month, I’ll be concentrating on catching that special sun-glint up close and personal with, f’rinstance, a young mountain zebra in the distance. It will all be about texture and detail.

In March, we’ll drive north to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, for 4 days of looking for that mythical Kalahari lion standing alone in the sands, harsh winds blowing through his magnificent mane. And if we don’t hit the lion jackpot, I’ll be happy with an oryx or 2, or even a couple of those camp squirrels. If the damn things would deign to sit still for a second or 2, so I can focus.

In the spring (August/September), we’re driving north to the Mother Lodge of wildlife options: the Kruger National Park. I’m currently in negotiations with my brother, who practically lives in the park, to drive us around in his campervan. I’ll soon be talking to him about cutting a hole in the roof and installing a photographer’s crow’s nest up there. Think he’ll go for it? The wife has her doubts…

Category: Culture & History

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