Africa 2019 Sketches

Here is a sampling of my sketches from both of our safaris in South Africa and from Zimbabwe and Botswana. Most of these sketches were done in less than a minute, as very few of the animals would stand still for long, if at all. Some are composite sketches of various animals seen in one location at one time, and some are stop and start sketches done of a given animal as it would move and then return briefly to a previous posture, so I could add a bit more to a sketch I had started. I LOVED all the time sketching and am missing the opportunity to view and sketch so much amazing and intriguing wildlife. The sketches with watercolor were started in pencil or pen while on the game drive, with watercolor added later.

Stanley, our tracker, sitting in his seat on the front of the Safari vehicle
Vic Falls
Victoria Falls watercolor sketch
Rhino field sketch, watercolor added
Elephant field sketches -Kambaku Safari Lodge
Buffalo field sketches
Lioness eating warthog head field sketch
Lioness carrying warthog head field sketch
I sketched this Burchell’s Starling as it hopped around near me in camp
Elephant field sketch in water-soluble ink
Lounging lion pride field sketch
Impala field sketch
Young male lion sketch, watercolor & ink
Mopane tree field sketch
Cheetah, Waterbuck, & Saddle-billed Stork field sketch
Sleepy lion cubs field sketch
Timbavati Nature Reserve field sketches
Chobe National Park field sketches
Chobe National Park field sketches
Warthog field sketches
Bird ID field sketches- Magpie Shrike & Southern Black Flycatcher


Africa 2019– Part 2: Zimbabwe & Botswana

After our two safaris, we went to Zimbabwe, where we went on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, a canoe trip on the Zambezi River, and a day trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana. Oh, and of course we saw Victoria Falls!!! That was a decades-long dream of mine that I never expected would become reality. Actually the whole trip was a life-long dream that I never thought would become reality.

Both the sunset cruise and the canoe trip afforded us many glimpses of wildlife, including our first crocodile sightings, as well as many new bird species. Our guides were wonderful at identifying birds for us, which was good, since I was completely overwhelmed by how new they all were and how many there were.

The canoe trip was really fun and a bit intense. At the outset our guide, Innocent, warned us about the dangers of hippos (they sometimes charge and capsize canoes) and crocodiles (they occasionally bite the inflatable canoes). Thankfully the canoes have five sections, so if a croc bites them, they can still stay afloat. Innocent told us that if a hippo capsized the canoe, we should swim for shore as fast as possible, since the hippo would most likely attack the canoe, since it is larger than a person. Then someone asked about if a crocodile would grab us on the way to shore. Innocent replied that, “If a hippo capsizes the canoe, and then a crocodile grabs you on your way to shore… you’re having a very bad day!” As it happened, we saw five pods of hippos, and at one point there was a pod on our right and another on our left, and right then a large male started charging us from the left. Innocent paddled the canoe he and I were in very fast (he had told me I didn’t need to paddle, so I could sketch), and the other canoes followed. Right after than a large crocodile jumped off the shore toward us, and Innocent started whacking his paddle on the water very hard to scare it away!

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When I got my first glimpse of Victoria Falls I was awe-struck. Even though it was the dry season and the water level was much lower than it apparently is during the rainy season, it was amazing to see the volume of water, the height of the falls, and the magnificent rainbow arcing across the gorge. I could have stood and stared at it for hours.

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The day after we saw Victoria Falls we went to Chobe National Park in Botswana, where the abundance of wildlife and the open terrain meant that we had constant wildlife sightings, which meant that I was sketching almost constantly all day long. The huge herds of elephants and buffalo were amazing, but what really caught my attention were the numbers and varieties of birds, including many new bird species for Stephen and me.

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Africa 2019– Part 1: South Africa Safaris

We got home a week ago from an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING trip to South Africa, with a side trip to Zimbabwe and Botswana. I’ll write about Zimbabwe and Botswana in another post. In South Africa we spent time at two safari camps in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park, first at Shindzela Tented Camp, where we stayed in very nice safari tents (big tents on platforms). We really loved the relaxed atmosphere of Sindzela and the proximity of all sorts of wildlife. There is no fence around the camp, so all kinds of wildlife can wander right through camp, between the tents. It was fun looking for tracks in the morning to read the news of who had been by during the night. When we’d return from our afternoon game drive it would be dark, and because of the possibility of large animals in camp, our guide would escort us to our tent, then come back to get us for dinner, then escort us back for the night. After that we’d stay in our tent (or on our porch marveling at the awesome spread of stars overhead). I’d go back there in a flash!

After four days at Shindzela we transfered to Kambaku Safari Lodge, where we had such a wonderful time with Africa Geographic’s Art Safari with Alison Nicholls, sketching (me) and photographing (Stephen) almost all day from before dawn till after dark. I LOVED that and could have spent many more days doing that! Kambaku is not as rustic as Shindzela (not that Shindzela is really what I’d call “rustic”), and while I think we prefer the simpler, more rustic style of the tented camp, we certainly enjoyed the four days of luxurious living. We also had amazing and delicious meals at both places, most often eating outside, sometimes in a boma (a sort of corral with a bonfire in the center), where we could look up and see the amazing stars. I was excited to see the Southern Cross for the first time!

At both places we had fabulous guides and trackers taking us out in safari vehicles for three hour long morning and evening drives. The vehicles were open Land Cruisers with no doors, windows, or roofs, so fabulous for enjoying the great outdoors, but also a bit chilly early in the morning and late in the evening. Our morning drives would start before the sun was up, when it was chilly enough that I wore pretty much all the clothes I could, including my pajamas for extra warmth, and wrapped a warm blanket around me in the vehicle. After the sun rose I would gradually peel off layers. In the evening it was the reverse, starting out warm and becoming cooler after sunset. We saw some pretty cool animals after dark, including watching a pride of lions hunting one night, and other nights seeing bushbabies, spotted genets, and once, an African Wild Cat (soooo cute!). Halfway through the morning drive we’d have a break for tea, and on the evening drive we’d stop around sunset for “sundowners” (drinks). On the last evening of the Art Safari we had to suddenly jump into the vehicle, with our drinks still in our hands, because a pride of lions was approaching!

Here are some photos from our our time at Shindzela and from the Art Safari at Kambaku. Stephen took almost all the photos; I took a few with my cell phone, but mostly I sketched everywhere we were on our whole trip. I’ll be posting my sketches in a separate post.

Stephen and me in front of the safari vehicle
Midday workshop with Alison Nicolls during Africa Geographics Art Safari
Female Kudu
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
African Wild Dogs
Southern White Rhinocerous
Grey-headed Bushshrike
Crested Barbet
Red-billed Oxpecker on Hippo
Spotted Hyena
Lilac-breasted Roller

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