Monthly Archives: March 2019

Packing For a Polar Cruise How To Pack For a Cold Weather Expedition Cruise

Setting off on an expedition cruise to the Polar regions is the adventure of a lifetime. Once you have booked, you will need to start thinking about what to take with you on your voyage.
Before you start throwing things in your suitcase, take a moment to listen to Wildfoot Travel’s Dave Cheetham as he explains what gear you really need to take with you and why.

 

If you’d like a copy of our Polar Cruise Packing List, just drop us an email at [email protected] and we’ll send a copy straight to you.

Craghoppers Kiwi Trousers Craghoppers Kiwi Trousers

The Craghoppers Kiwi trouser is a great piece of kit for any discerning traveller. And Craghoppers has now made it even easier to find your perfect pair. By answering a few simple questions online https://www.craghoppers.com/kiwi-configurator/ you can choose the style that best suits your type of adventure.

craghoppers kiwi dark mossSo if you prefer a relaxed style then expect a cargo pocket, double seat and knee and NosiDefence and SolarShield technologies from the Classic Kiwi trouser amongst the features. For a more active fit, the Kiwi Pro Stretch trouser offers a sleeker look, SolarShield sun protection and the ingenious sunglasses wipe – which is always a welcome surprise to find.

And you are not alone. Craghoppers has been making the Kiwi style for over 20 years and over this time they have been worn by some amazing adventurers across the globe, including Michael Palin and Levison Wood. In fact, Levison once claimed to have walked over 7,000 miles in his Kiwis!

These days we see our Ambassadors wearing their Kiwis in all conditions. Alice Morrison, who is currently walking the length of the Draa River in Morocco wears her Kiwi Pros during the heat of the desert in the day and for the colder evenings. Darron Speck of “Race Across the World BBC2” fame has been wearing his Kiwi Convertibles during his voyage of discovery with his son on their London to Singapore race!

So it is not hard to believe that over 7 million pairs of Kiwi trousers have been sold already.

Prices range from RRP £45-75.

These trousers are the ideal choice for our trips to Namibia, Uganda, ZambiaBotswana, Costa Rica or any other hot weather adventure.

Cheetah Cheetah at Okonjima

 

An update on the AfriCat’s Cheetah Rehabilitation programme – the story so far….

The AfriCat Foundation developed on a cattle farm in Namibia called Okonjima in the early 1990’s, which is now a tourist lodge that you can visit www.okonjima.com . The area 100+ years ago was home to the usual array of African wildlife. Once cattle farming arrived, many of the large carnivores notably the lion and spotted hyena were shot out by the famers as they killed their cattle. Cheetahs are the lightest, smallest by body weight and fastest of the big cats. Any injury means they cannot hunt.  To thrive they need to be very wary of the other carnivores. Anyone who has been privileged enough to see a cheetah in the wild will have noticed how alert they are; ready to flee when they sense danger. They eat very fast and will give up their ‘kill’ if another predator comes along. Cheetah cubs stay with Mum until about 14-18 months old. They learn/refine their hunting skills through observation.

Cheetah with kill

Namibia holds over 35% of the world’s population of wild cheetah most of which live on cattle farms. AfriCat researched and developed approaches that helped farmers to reduce their livestock losses from the Big Cats.   As a result of their work AfriCat were asked to provide homes to injured or orphaned cheetahs, often as result of the mother being killed. The government asked AfriCat to look after confiscated cheetah that had been maltreated. Looking after a 100+ cheetah was expensive and ran counter to AfriCat’s desire to see the cats in their natural habitat. A decision was taken to see if any of the cheetahs could learn to hunt successfully – nothing like this had been tried at the time.

All images Copyright
Simon Palmer

A small area 2,000ha of Okonjima, with prey, was securely fenced and the first group of cheetah given their freedom. The collard cheetahs were closely monitored. Some cheetah took to the idea of hunting; others did not. With research that indicated cheetah could learn to hunt successfully. The next step was to introduce groups of cheetah into the then fenced 20,000ha Okonjima Nature Reserve. This had naturally occurring leopard and brown hyena populations plus three collared spotted hyena.  There were casualties as cheetah took on inappropriate prey, became injured or tried to defend their kills from the leopard or hyenas but there were successes too.  It was found for example that cheetah working together in coalitions tended to be more successful. The ‘siblings’ a trio did well for a few years. Being used to humans and vehicles the ex captive cheetah, now living wild, could be tracked through their collars providing guests a rare opportunity to get up close and on occasions walking to get closer.

The siblings

A pattern emerged that worried the team. Unlike wild cheetahs those released from captivity did have a tendency to try and defend their kills and were paying the price with injures and death.  Given the difference in preferred habitat of leopard and cheetah it was hoped that by opening up the bush it could be possible to give greater separation. A grassland management programme had been started to try to restore the land to what it would have been prior to cattle ranching. This project has increased the diversity of plant, bird and animal species.  With some cheetah successfully rehabilitated a decision was taken to allow breeding in the reserve, could a rehabilitated cheetah successfully rear young? The answer was yes in favourable conditions.  Dizzy was able to raise her cub called Spirit to maturity, she lived and independent natural life in the bush before she died.  AfriCat found that the mortality rate of cubs born to rehabilitated cheetah was higher than for wild cheetah. Nature in the raw is never easy. The chance to spend time on foot in the close proximity of cheetah in the wild has been a very rare and special privilege.

Cheetah

The research work on leopards indicated that that there was a very high density of leopards in the Nature Reserve. Research data has shown that big cats have a homing instinct which makes relocating them a bit problematic. The latest leopard study shows a very high density of collared and non collared leopards at Okonjima. While brown hyenas were known to be on Okonjima there has been a steady increase in sightings.  Undertaking research into Brown Hyena is now easier to do with collars and camera traps and revealing fascinating information about this little known species.

A detailed analysis of data showed that over 87% of ex captive cheetah being released into the Okonjima Nature Reserve were dying within a year and after some particularly difficult losses and incidents a decision was taken to stop the rehabilitation programme. It’s clear from the work undertaken by the AfriCat Foundation that captive cheetah can successful learn to hunt and raise cubs but they need space and low densities of other predators to succeed. Space sadly is becoming a rare commodity. Cheetahs growing up in the wild it would appear develop ‘better’ survival skills. The AfriCat Foundation does occasional get requests to ‘home’ a wild cheetah that would otherwise be shot. In such circumstances they would be offered a new home in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.

Guests at Okonjima will be able to visit the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre and see cheetah who will be  living in large ‘camps’ and helping to support AfriCat’s education programme and research work. Activities for guests staying at Okonjima Lodge will include the opportunity to undertaken wildlife trails in the Nature Reserve looking for a wide range of species including the opportunity to track leopard, and possibly see the white rhino and brown hyena. Bushman walks provide a wonderful way to learn more about nature and how local people like the bushman made use of the things in their environment.  A visit to the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre will give scope for photographers to learn about the challenges the Big Cats face in their survival.

For more information on Africat check out https://africat.org/cheetah-research

For more information on our wildlife trips to Nambia click here

Gorillas in Uganda In Search Of Primates

Edward Moores joined us on a trip to Uganda recently. Here he tells the tale of his adventures in this natural wildlife-wonderland.

In January this year we travelled to Uganda primarily to see the Kibale chimpanzees and Bwindi mountain gorillas.

The main photographic challenges in Uganda are moisture and light and shadows under the dense jungle canopy.  Having previously travelled in Asia during monsoon season I knew bin liners protected against rain and minimum lens changes would reduce risks from moisture and fogging.  A full-frame camera with high ISO settings and quality light sensors together with wide aperture lenses addressed the variable light conditions.  I used a 70–200mm f2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter on a full-frame Nikon D800E.  A member of our group rented a similar kit set-up; a great way to road test a possible future purchase!  Tackling the camera weight on long treks was solved using a cross body strap; an inexpensive but very effective piece of kit that will help you avoid neck ache!

During your travels a good habit is to always make sure you “reset” each morning; select aperture priority mode, use a wide aperture setting and double check you have an SD card with plenty of space.  You never know when you will come across something exciting, like monkeys in the trees or gorillas on the track, so be prepared!. During our gorilla trek we stumbled across a wonderful busy troupe of monkeys just 30m from our start point. Having done my standard morning checks I was ready to go and able to immediately capture these charming moments.

Monkey in Uganda

Our trip was built around three key events, chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Forest, gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and bird spotting on the Entebbe “swamp”.  Three different environments, but the choice of camera set-up worked really well.  Shooting in raw and using Lightroom to develop and edit helped me to create some great images.  Be sure to look out for the gigantic prehistoric looking shoebill stork in the Entebbe swamp, silverbacks in Bwindi and chimps and monkeys in Kibale.  If you’re really lucky then you’ll get to see the tree-climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park.Shoebill Stork In Uganda

Keep the amount of kit in your daypack to a minimum.  During a very energetic and fast moving chimpanzee trek in Kibale, I had a large camera-kit duffle bag with me which was too big for scrabbling through the undergrowth: I got my photos but also a strenuous workout!

Gorilla In Uganda

It’s a very thrilling experience being so close to the gorillas.  Your guides will do a great job of getting you up close with these majestic creatures in their natural surroundings.  A silverback passed me with just centimetres to spare; a heart stopping but thrilling experience.  Your photos will create fabulous memories so its important to plan ahead and make sure you are confident with your set-up a few weeks before you head out.

Check out more of Edward’s photos from the trip in this gallery

Check out our trips to Uganda here

Lomo 30L Drybag Lomo 30 Litre Waterproof Dry Bag

 

Dave Cheetham Wildfoot TravelEach month Wildfoot Travel’s Dave Cheetham puts a piece of travel related equipment to the test. From balaclavas to bags and gloves to gilets, the gear may change, but the truthful reflection does not. Here Dave reviews a Lomo waterproof rucsac.

This waterproof dry bag will set you back around £35. I picked mine up on Amazon, although they are available in a wide range of other high street and online retailers.

Having used the bag in the field for some time now, I genuinely think that the thirty-pound price tag represents quite remarkable value.

Don’t expect too many surprises. This is a non-nonsense product. It ‘holds stuff’ and keeps it dry. To coin a phrase, “it does exactly what it says on the tin” and nothing more. But that lack of unnecessary features makes this daysac stand out as a truly dependable work-horse of a bag.

The fabric is reassuringly thick and durable. I expected the white finish to scuff and mark but after several months of use, mine is still a very respectable shade of white.

The 30-litre capacity swallows up a lot of gear but when carrying less the compression straps, which secure at the sides to the roll-top-dry-seal, can easily be cranked down to ensure any size of load is stable and secure.

When on your back, the straps are comfortable and there is enough padding to allow a snug fit without becoming too bulky. The shoulder straps also have a series of webbing loops which can be used to ‘clip on’ any additional bits and pieces. The chest strap and simple waist strap come into their own when moving, reducing ‘load-swing’ to improve stability, without adding weight or clutter.

At the top, the bag features a handy and very robust haul loop with a rubberised grip, which allows a quick grab point when passing the load to others or moving the bag short distances.

Aside from the main water-tight compartment, there is one simple front pocket with a weatherproof zip, which, although it has yet to let me down in heavy rain, I wouldn’t trust to be 100% waterproof if submerged.

All that said, during my trial period, I’ve taken this bag out in long periods of very, very heavy rain and never once has a single drop of water found its way inside the main compartment or the front pocket.

I have grown to love and trust this rucsac and its wonderfully straightforward construction. Following a thorough testing, I highly recommend one of these bags. After all, it really does do what it says on the tin – and it is a very tough tin indeed.

This product is the ideal choice for one our Polar cruises