New Year – new you? I doubt it. I’ve never quite understood the need to think that 1st of January (other than numerically psychologically) is the time to kick things off. It’s the middle of winter (or summer), so not at the start or end of a season for starters, and essentially other than seeing the year number tick up, it makes little difference. For me, the year starts on your birthday..after all, that’s the time you’ve genuinely completed another year of your life and can start to look forward to the next chapter(s)! I say this as because with the beginning of ’21 little different to the latter stages (and indeed much of!) 2020, we need to look further down the line for when things start improving! All I can say is, that despite the negativity and gloom, there is hope on the horizon. In fact, it’s even closer than that!
Most of the talks I had in the diary for 2020 have now been re-booked and re-scheduled for 2021, and as such, unfortunately, the limited amount of time that I have each year to meet and speak is getting chewed up pretty quickly. If you’ve yet to re-book your talk, or indeed get a new one on the timetable for this year, then do get in touch. I”m really looking at Q4 now as the last few dates that I’ll have available.
As you can imagine, last year was – shall we say – challenging! However, I still managed to get some work done in Tanzania in September and October. Doubtless you’ve seen the short video I put together of the migration already (check out the presentations section of the website for the “Lamai” feature), but I’ve now (finally!) got around to putting a short piece on Ruaha and the Selous too – just to give you a flavour of these far-less visited parts of the country. Again, check out the presentations section of the website for the “New Beginnings” page; go full-screen, kick-back, turn up the volume and transport yourself out of lockdown for a bit!
I will be back in Tanzania for a few weeks in late Feb (fortunately I am allowed to travel on work, and filming wild dogs is not really possible in the UK…) to track the dogs and cheetahs of the Kusini and far south of the Serengeti region. Fingers crossed they play ball for that, but our excellent guides down there – courtesy of Alex Walker’s Serian – are already reporting good activity so this augurs well for next month and i’m looking forward to getting out there to work with my good friends again. Whilst in the region, I will also drop into the eastern Serengeti for a week too, catching up with what’s been happening at Namiri Plains. This is an area of the national park that was off limits for years as the cheetah population was allowed to recover, but now is accessible again. As a guest of Asilia Africa and staying at their fantastic camp – isolated from much of the hubbub that can be experienced elsewhere in the Park – I shall be seeking some new cheetah gallery images for a commission and am really looking forward to it.
April will see me in Namibia, partly working on a project that will be syndicated around the world for the Giraffe Conservation Fund and the plight of this gentle giant across its continental range. This will be the main focus of my trip, but I’ll be aiming to drop into a couple of old haunts too on the coast and the Ugab river valleys to see if I can coax out some images of the lions that roam the region (and hunt the giraffe!) and the desert elephants that I’ve been lucky enough to work with on many occasions in the past.
From July to late September, it’s bears and wolves all the way. I’ll be kicking off by leading a couple of groups at the Nakina grizzly location we access by helicopter on the Yukon/British Columbia border and am looking forward to sharing this most special of places with a whole bunch of excited bear-photographers. If you’ve never been on this trip, you really should put it up your agenda! We have the entire camp – run by our good friend and legendary film cameraman Phil Timpany – to ourselves, and it’s bear immersion at it’s very best. For years this was a closely guarded secret…but for the last couple of summers (well, apart from 2020!) I’ve enjoyed sharing this gem with others by leading groups into this remote wilderness. I’ll be there for about 16 days in total, before heading further north to work an arctic wolf den for a couple of weeks (long days, camped in a hide, watching a hole in the ground….) before swinging down to Alaska to lead a small group on our specially-chartered boat along the Katmai coast, accessing some of the most distant and difficult to reach bays as we seek out the grizzlies that will now be in abundance on the shoreline and in the river mouths. Our boat will give us the base to move with, and then with our daily shore landings we’ll be in a great position to get some incredible bear images. Straight after that, it’s back to Kodiak Island and leading a different group to Karluk Lake on the island itself. Here we’ll take over the camp again (based on an island in the lake), and spend time photographing the largest grizzlies on the planet as they catch salmon in the rivers that feed this huge body of water. We’ll be on site for 8 days and after that, and I’ve bade farewell to my guests, I’ll be flying north again – far north in fact – to Kaktovik to spend some time with the polar bears of Barter Island. With a pressing book deadline large on the horizon (although, thankfully, it got put back by 12 months!) on bears, this final visit to this remote Inuit community should give me the last few images I need to complete that project…well…in theory! It’ll now be late September, and I’ll be heading for home after that for a few weeks before heading back to Canada in November to take two groups to the polar bear cabins just south of Arviat in the hope of getting more on-foot options for a couple of small groups, before rounding off the year in Ethiopia in late November for a few weeks. Well, that’s all the theory anyway….vaccines and border controls permitting!
Whatever you’re up to this year, make the most of it and keep aiming high! Last year is, well, last year now…look forward and start thinking about all the exciting things you can get on the agenda! Take care out there, stay safe, and hang in there for a little while longer…that light at the end of the tunnel is looming larger and larger!!!