I visited Zambia during the first two weeks of November in 2008.  I captured just over 5,000 photographs during the course of the trip … about a third of the number I’d expect to take during a visit of the same duration to Kenya or Tanzania.  There were several reasons for the relatively low photo count.  First of all, the itinerary covered a lot of ground, geographically speaking. We (my son and I) were on the road or in the air for at least four full days of the expedition … and it’s generally not possible to accumulate animal photos while you’re in transit from point A to point B.  Another reason for the reduced number of photos is the Zambian landscape … unlike the open plains of east Africa, the game reserves in this part of the continent afford the animals much more cover.  It is a gorgeous combination of bush and trees, both dead and living … including a heavy population of the thoroughly outsized and egregiously implausible baobab.   The point is … you can’t photograph what you can’t see.  But all this is okay … because any visit to a completely new destination must generally be considered a scouting mission anyway.  The idea is to see as many locations as possible, and take careful note of those areas that merit a second, more focused visit.  We traveled to Kafue, South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi areas.  Each of these locations is unique and beautiful in its way … and all rate a return visit.

As it turns out, it didn’t much matter if I’d taken 5,000 or 50,000 photographs.  That’s because my portable hard drive — and all my images — disappeared somewhere between Johannesburg, South Africa, and Atlanta.  I don’t think it was deliberately and maliciously taken … after reflecting back on the hours in the airports I came to the conclusion that I was likely too careless and failed to properly secure it in my carry on.  That just means I’ll have to return to Zambia very soon and give it another try.  My notes and memories did survive the trip, however … and I’ll be turning those into narrative and posting them here in the coming weeks.  And there will be a few photos … but they will be my son Joe’s and not mine.  Based on what I saw during the trip, his shots turned out better than mine anyway.

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