Tuesday, June 2, 2009

thedream continues

Nothing is impossible to the Lord. Last December I went to a travel expo to say hello to the people from Churchill, who had a booth there. I wanted to show them some of the polar bear photos that I had gotten there, and give them some of my DVD’s to give out to everyone who helped when I was up there. While at the expo something prompted me to stop at a travel Africa booth, just to tickle my dream.
About ten days later, I received a call from the travel Africa people. They told me that there is a Husband and wife team, (Mike and Silvia Hill), in South Africa who run a safari company, Endeavour Safaris, that specializes in Senior and Disability Safaris.
Check out this amazing website @ www.endeavour-safaris.com.

The moment I received this news, I knew that, God willing, somehow, I had to make the trip.
I have prayed about this trip every day since receiving the news and have asked, “Lord, “if this Africa trip is not something that you want me to do, please take it away from me.” If it is what you want me to do please Lord, I need your help getting there.
Raising the funds, approximately $11,000.00 for my caregiver and I hopefully through the sale of my photography at art shows or through my website, www.naturallyfarberphotos.com
and I need your help with the physical strength to spend at least twenty hours each way on a plane.

After some emailing to Mike and Silvia Hill, it seems that the very best place in all Africa for what I want is in September, in Botswana, in the Northwest area of the Kalahari Desert. The great Okavango River travels 2500 miles down through the Angolan Highlands and just spills into this area of the Kalahari Desert creating a 6000 square mile Delta of fast moving crystal clear waters, mopane forests, vast grasslands, and islands. The waters are teeming with Crocodiles, Hippo’s, and wading birds. The grasslands attract many species of antelope and gazelle, zebras, giraffes, and elephants. These grazing species attract lions, leopards, cheetahs, and many other smaller predators. All this plus some 450 different species of birds..

In 1964 the Northeastern 1000 square miles of the Okavango Delta, was designated the Moremi game Reserve. And this area is where, God willing, I will be spending six days and nights.

The more I pray about this trip, the more I feel that this is what the Lord wants me to do.
As of right now, God willing, the trip is scheduled for 10 days, departing on Sept 04, 2010. This is hopefully the Itinerary for the trip.

Day 01 Saturday, September 04 depart from O’Hare and fly to Dulles international in Washington D.C., depart from there on a 15 hour overnight flight direct to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Day 02 Sunday, September 05: arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa around 3:00pm and stay overnight.

Day 03 Monday, September 06: leave Johannesburg at 10:20 am for Maun, Botswana. Arrive in Maun at 11:50am and when ready leave for the Moremi game reserve campsite near Xakanaxa lagoon, about 150 KM (90 miles through the Eastern edge of the Okavango Delta), picnic lunch on the way

Day 04 Tuesday, September 07: Rise early for first day of game drives, returning to camp @ about 10:30 for brunch. Rest for early afternoon (hottest part of day). Game drive around 4:00 pm until sundown, return to camp for second night in the Moremi.

Day 05 Wednesday, September 08 spend entire 29th anniversary day of my accident on boat on Xakanaxa lagoon.

Day 06 Thursday, September 09 move camp from Xakanaxa area to Kwai River on Northern border of Moremi, game drive all the way.

Day 07 Friday, September 10 Rise early for game drive, rest early afternoon then game drive evening until sundown.

Day 08 Saturday, September 11 rise early for game drive, rest early afternoon then game drive until after sundown.

Day 09 Sunday, September 12 rise early to depart for Maun, flight leaves at 3:00pm for Johannesburg, then depart Johannesburg for Dulles international in Washington.

Day 10 Monday, September 13: arive in Washington and catch plane for Chicago, O’Hare then home to unpack and start downloading photos.

Overnight at Michelangelo Hotel - BB

Upon at your arrival in Johannesburg you will meet your local transfer who will take you to your Hotel in Sandton: Michelangelo Hotel.
Overnight in luxury en-suite safari tents - Full board basis

Air Botswana will carry you safely from Johannesburg International Airport, which departs at 10:10 am every day, and arrives at Maun Airport, on the fringe of the Okavango Delta, at 11:50 am. Upon arrival you will be met by your safari guide, and welcomed into Botswana. We will have short final opportunity to purchase any final things, before departing Maun for our destination - Moremi Game Reserve - situated in the eastern part of the Okavango Delta.
This game reserve is ideally situated for a wildlife sanctuary. It has no fences, hence allowing unobstructed seasonal movement of game which makes this a largely natural area. This is a paradise for birds, game and predators alike.
Completely varied vegetation makes this area very special.
Within an hours’ travelling it is possible to view the first of the wildlife inhabiting this area. We will stop en-route for a simple lunch of sandwiches and fruit, before continuing towards our camp.
Late afternoon arrival at our camp, with enough time to settle in before having our evening meal. Afterwards we will relax around the campfire, where your guide will explain the safety precautions and will answer your various questions in order to calm your understandable apprehension for the coming days.

Overnight in luxury en-suite safari tents - Full board basis

Our first morning in the Wilds - it will be an early rise, with coffee and some biscuits around the fire at first light.
Early morning departure from our camp in search of various predators (such as lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hyaena) antelope (such as impala, lechwe, reedbuck, tsessebe) and other game such as giraffe, zebra, etc and of course also the birds that inhabit this area.
Hippopotamus are abundant, in the streams and lagoons that make up vast areas of the Delta. We return to camp around 10:30 for Brunch.The early part of the afternoon is spent relaxing and reading in, and around the camp. Once it becomes cooler towards the late afternoon we once again depart on a game-drive, returning to camp after sunset for our second night in the wilds.

Overnight in luxury en-suite safari tents - Full board basis

Today we will enjoy a full day boat excursion on the Xakanaxa Lagoon.
Overnight in luxury en-suite safari tents - Full board basis

Today we move our camp to the Kwai River area in the eastern part of Moremi. Our daily schedules remain the same, exploring and observing the animals in their natural state. The large floodplains of this area provide good grasses for various species of antelope, which are followed by the predators.
The Khwai River forms the northern border of Moremi and this is where we will spend the majority of our time game-driving.


DAY 08: Maun - Johannesburg

On this day after breakfast we depart the Kwai River for Maun Airport, from where you will depart for Johannesburg at 15H00.

COST FOR 8 DAY BOTSWANA SAFARI in 2010 (cost in USD for a private safari)

(Price based on today exchange. The price can change if the USD drops against Botswana Pula)

This price includes
- 7 nights at Michelangelo Hotel and camping in mobile campsites in Moremi Game Reserve (in en-suite safari tents) - Full board basis
- All meals, All soft drinks, mineral water, local beer & wine whilst on safari in Botswana
- All transfers and game drives in Botswana
- Full day boat excursion on the Xakanaxa Lagoon
- All park entrance fees from day 1 – day 7
- Air Botswana flight: Jbg – Maun – Jbg (excl. TAXs)
- Vehicles (Toyota Land Cruiser 4 x 4) equipped with an hydraulic lift in Botswana
- Services of a qualified English-speaking safari guide
- Back-up team in Botswana (3/4 stuff members: chief, driver, camp manager + back-up vehicle) - Local taxes
not includes
- International flights
- Transfers not specified in the itinerary
- Single supplement charges
- Comprehensive insurance (luggage, personal liability abroad etc)
- Optional activities
- Laundry
- Gratuities & items of a personal nature
- Tipping and gratuities to Chauffeur & Local guides
- Passport & Visa fees
- Airports TAX

Price for two paying clients is =4,752.00
Price for four paying clients is =3,553.00
Price for six paying clients is =3157.00
Price for eight paying clients is =2,959.00
Price for the caregiver will be 60% of the above prices.
Price for child under12 years is =1,595
Price is based on today’s =xchange.

As of right now we have five adults and probably one 8 year old child.
When it comes to the pricing discount for paying clients there are only four going because a discount is already given for my caregiver (Amy) and because the lady who is the travel agent and is selling us the trip is also going but does not count in the numbers.
I think that we can easily accommodate another two maybe even four people. As of right now we are planning on booking the flights this November because the World Cup Soccer Tournament is going to be held in Johannesburg in mid to late August of 2010.
So to make sure we get the flights we need, we are booking very early. At today’s prices
The airfare will be about 2,000.00 per person round trip from Chicago to Dulles to Johannesburg and back bringing the price to about 5500.00 per person for the ten days.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I guess I’ve always been somewhat of a dreamer. My dreams have never been of great riches or a life of luxury, they have always been about wildlife and the world we live in. At about the age of four or five, after seeing my first Tarzan or Bomba the jungle boy show on TV, I always dream or fantasized about a life like that, roaming the jungles of Africa, living with the animals, that sort of thing. During my years as a teenager and early twenties while I was doing my studies with venomous snakes, I dreamed of traveling to Africa to catch snakes and also to photograph the African wildlife. I can’t help it, I just want to live around and with critters. It doesn’t matter how big or dangerous they are, I just don’t seem to have any fear of them. I have great respect for their speed and power but I have absolutely no fear of any critter or what it can, or may do to me. If it happens it happens. Since I gave my life over to our Lord in 2003, I seem to have even less of a worry about what can happen. I guess I figure if the Lord wants me to get mauled or eaten by a critter of some kind, then that is the way it is going to be, and nothing I can do will change or prevent that from happening. The inverse of that is also true. If the Lord doesn’t want me to be harmed by any critter, no matter how big or small, then no critter will harm me. Life is much simpler when you learn to walk, or in my case roll, with the Lord. Put your trust in the Lord and He will see you through everything.

My greatest thrill and enjoyment was when, in 2004, I finally made it up to the Katmai National Park at the base of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska to be close to and photograph the Great Coastal Alaskan brown bears (Grizzlies) in the wild. I received the same enjoyment when in 2007; I traveled to the edge of the Arctic in Churchill, Canada to photograph polar bears in the wild. Dreams come true. Since my accident in 1981, my Africa dreams were pretty much trashed. In my mind that sort of a trip is impossible. I can’t go to Africa in a wheelchair, it’s impossible.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prologue from As Best I Can...

I consider myself an excellent photographer and have always boasted that if the Lord gives me an opportunity by putting a critter in front of me, I will get the shot. Though I am always humbled by the beauty of the Lord’s creation, I discovered on my most recent trip to Alaska that I’d been a little too cocky about my abilities.
My friend Amy and I arrived in Anchorage on a Wednesday in very gusty winds and drove out to Potters Marsh. No birds there, and we almost got blown off the boardwalk. I was extremely disappointed. We made it down to Seward and found out the tours into the Kenia Fjords had been cancelled that day. This put a sour note in my gut; this was what had happened on my previous trip in ‘04, and it was happening again. I prayed, “Lord, please just give me the chance to photograph the puffins, murres, and other sea birds. Just give me the chance and I will get the shots.”
Thursday morning was not as bad, but we were given a weather warning and the option of canceling and getting a complete refund or going out and, if we had to turn back, getting only a $40 refund, the same exact thing that had happened on my ‘04 trip. Luckily, we were able to complete the tour, though in rough seas.
The captain was aware of my desire to take puffin photos—this was my fourth boat trip to try photographing them. In the calm waters of Resurrection Bay it was easy sailing and within minutes of leaving the dock I was able to get a few nice sea otter photos. Heading towards the Northwestern Fjord, I saw many puffins in the water but was unable to get any shots from the moving boat in somewhat rough waters. The waters were much calmer in the Northwestern Fjord, and I could relax my grip on the railing to try and photograph the puffins we were passing. On our way to the Northwestern Glacier waters, the captain slowed the boat a few times for various bird sightings, mostly eagles, but I still couldn't seem to get any good shots from the moving boat. I was becoming frustrated. I needed more time.
We got to the glacier, a large beautiful glacier with many waterfalls nearby. There were small icebergs in the calm waters but no birds. Harbor seals stuck their heads out of the water, checking us out, and I was able to get those photographs. Our next stop was a beautiful roaring waterfall. After leaving the falls I saw a flock of about thirty or forty puffins in the very calm waters of the fjord. But the boat sped right past!
Why did the captain pass up all those puffins? I found out later that he was in a hurry to get me back to the Chiswell Islands where the puffins nest on rocks out of the water. It was very windy. I could not get any shots in water this rough. It was all I could do to hold on to the railing so my chair would not flip over. I was getting angrier and angrier and venting at Amy. “I can't do it! “I just can't do it! An able-bodied photographer couldn't get photographs under these conditions. Why does the Lord want me to fail like this?” Amy said that the Lord didn’t want me to fail. In my anger I replied that obviously He does want me to fail. Again, all I prayed for was the chance to get the shots, nothing else. By the time we got back to Resurrection Bay, I felt pretty depressed and utterly defeated. I had plenty of opportunities on this trip, but I just couldn't get any shots. That night, my prayer changed. Whereas before I prayed that the Lord just give me the chance, now I prayed, “Lord, I need your help. I just can’t do it by myself. Please Lord, calm the wind, calm the waters, steady the boat, and please, most importantly, steady my hand and my camera.”

When we awoke Friday morning, the air was absolutely still. The tall ornamental grasses near the hotel were not even stirring. We got to the boat, where the captain was greeting passengers as they came aboard. “It’s going to be a beautiful day,” he said, adding that the puffins would probably be up out of the water today because the air was cooler. I knew now that the Lord had heard heard my prayer.
Within minutes of leaving the dock, we pulled up to within 20 feet of a magnificent bald eagle perched majestically on the rock jetty in the harbor. With the Lord guiding my hand, I was able to get some great shots. Almost immediately, there was another sea otter, and my chance to take more great photos.
The Northwestern Glacier was actively calving, causing a pretty good ice flow in the water. The harbor seals were checking us out from the water. As if on cue, dozens of them climbed onto the ice and posed for photographs.
Heading back to the Chiswell Islands, the seas were still rolling, but very gently, and I saw more puffins than I could imagine. I couldn't believe my eyes. The captain made pass afterpass of the cliffs just teeming with seabirds, and with the Lord steadying my camera, I took a total of 120 shots of tufted and horned puffins, as well as murres and a few other species of seabirds.
Elated, I thanked the Lord over and over. I learned a good lesson in humility. I may be talented, but I’m no darn good without the help of the Lord.