Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NGORONGORO CRATER ................the holy grail

If you whisper Ngorongoro softly it conjures up mystical images of secret places hidden in the depths of the Rift Valley in a far off land. A place so remote, that one has to endure hardship and endless months of travel, to see. Almost as remote as Middle Earth. The reality however is completely different. Today if your bank balance can tolerate it then to see the Ngorongoro Crater is within your reach. And it is worth it!
At the entrance to the Park there is the mandatory office and entrance where money changes hands so that you can enter. Luckily, if you have hired a guide like we did, this is not a problem and you can sit back and relax while waiting – and perhaps visit the public convenience that is certainly amongst the cleanest that I have seen in Africa north of the Limpopo. Then the steady climb up the side of the crater amidst the dust, and in the rain, I should imagine, it would be an exciting slippery drive. Finally, at the summit, amidst the many other vehicles, you can stop and view the full extent of the crater. It is a spellbinding vista spoiled only by the fact that you have to jostle your way forward to the viewpoint between all the other tourists doing the same thing you are.
I am posting a photo of the vista with apologies to all those landscape fundis out there. Yes, it was the middle of the day and even the grad filters didn’t want to do it justice but it was the time we arrived and we were to depart again on the same day. So, here it is, for what it’s worth. Hopefully it can reflect just a little bit of the awe inspiring emotion of the moment.

Then the drive down into the crater, done at the same (breakneck) speed of the journey to the gates of the crater. Suddenly we descend along a perilous dirt road (track) into the crater. By this time, unfortunately, the sun is high and the clock is all wrong for photography. However, we will soldier on, this is a rare opportunity to see a rare jewel of Africa and no sun in the sky is going to ruin the experience.
The animals of the crater are completely oblivious to the vehicles moving backwards and forwards criss-crossing the floor of the crater. The soda lake in the bottom of the crater is a mere puddle as the annual rains have not yet come. On our descent there is a traffic jam of vehicles on the road all watching three cheetahs who are hiding out under a bush. All one can view is a couple of spots and nothing else. So, we move the traffic jam forward a little and head off towards the pink spotted soda lake.
Our very first views are of zebra quietly grazing in the blazing sun and hidden in the grass a Rosy Throated Longclaw that manages to fly off before my lens can focus. Next we come across four gorgeous Crested Cranes that very conveniently move towards us until they are almost right next to the vehicle. It is very apparent that these animals are not threatened at all by the vehicles and the years of protection and conservation shows in their behaviour.

Our progression through the crater reveals more and more birds and animals quietly going about the business of filling their bellies. Abdim Storks and egrets abound and the buffalo hardly even lift an eyelid as you drive by. However, this is a National Park and no vehicle may leave the roads which of course places quite a lot of the wildlife beyond the reach of the lens. Far off, I am told, by our keen eyed Godwin, there is a Black Rhino. However, I have to clear things up here with Godwin, and we have a keen discussion about what can be referred to as a sighting and what not. Most definitely, if I need a telescope to see the animal – then this is not a sighting.

As we make our way around the crater to the eastern side (if my compass is working properly) we come across a badger scurrying over the road. He turns tail and heads back for the river the moment we stop. It’s my first encounter with a badger and I am surprised by his speed. Once again, very frustratingly my camera is NOT ready. Damn, another missed opportunity as I catch the back end of something I have been waiting for, for a long time.

As we turn around Godwin spots a serval very busy at searching for its midday snack. Only two shots before it too disappears into the river bed. This is the disadvantage of a National Park. We can’t follow and we have to move on.

Our next sighting is of the lions. I have long been watching documentaries about the super-pride of the Ngorongoro Crater and also listening to the dire warnings of the gene pool being so restrictive due to the human encroachment on the outside of the crater. And, sadly, it has now come to pass. Besides the limited gene pool determining the procreation of a much weaker strain of lions there apparently was a blight of Rinderpest a number of years ago that wiped out the lions. Rinderpest? I thought that Rinderpest had been completely wiped out in Africa!
We have our lunch at a site on the western side of the Park high up on the side of the crater wall. We enjoy the view and can see the huge bull elephants moving amongst the wooded area of the crater. Sadly, they too are way beyond the reach of the lens and we have to take our photographs with our eyes and store these memories in the bank of those never to be forgotten and never to be shared because they reside only in our own memory.
Back down to the floor for another turn around the crater. Buffalo, wildebeest, a golden jackal, more birds than I can remember, zebra and the ever present antelopes of various species abound in the crater. We see a potential lion chase that fizzles into nothing and then, some more excitement. The Honeybadger makes its appearance once again. But so fast! Lightning quick it moves amongst all the vehicles, decides to try to attack one of the vehicles. As he faces off against the vehicle the driver revs the engine and he backs off. I make a mad scramble for a camera but as it runs I find it impossible to lock onto the animal for some kind of focus and next minute – poof – gone again.
Further down the road we spy two cheetahs lying lazily on a slight rise. To the one side a mother warthog with her four offspring are snuffling on the ground looking for something to chew on. Suddenly, without even a crouch to warn us, the one cheetah jumps up and starts chasing the warthog. The mother warthog flies off taking the attention away from her piglets. This time my camera is almost certainly ready. But, once again, the settings are all wrong but I decide to shoot anyway. Then, the unexpected! The warthog comes to a screaming halt in a cloud of dust and turns towards the cheetah. Now the cheetah is being pursued. She chases the cheetah far out of the reach of her young and once she feels the perimeter of danger is big enough she backs off and returns to the piglets prancing in triumph. The day has been filled with sudden unexpected action as I have never witnessed before and my trigger finger was hopelessly inadequate.
This is our last bit of excitement for the day, if you exclude the journey towards Ndutu. As we leave the crater I know that I have to return. I need to get there early in the morning and late in the evening so that the light is right and hopefully my new bit of engineering excellence called the Canon MkIII will be more co-operative. This has certainly been a day of missed opportunities. The more I see of Africa the more I want to see and I can certainly see why someone like Karen Blixen would have fallen so in love with its allure. There is a spirit of Africa that calls to my soul and I feel I have found the holy grail.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rhinos of Africa Need Us.........

to stand up and be counted!  Today I am dedicating my post to the survival and defence of the Rhino of Africa. I had never thought that I would divert the purpose of my blog away from travel to Africa’s beautiful destinations to start ranting about certain subjects but the programme I watched last night on our TV service Carte Blanche has convinced me that I should at least say something.
I watched in horror as we were faced with a visual nightmare that defies description. For those who don’t have the luxury of African DSTV, the footage showed a young rhino whose face was hacked off for the rhino horn and he woke up after the “operation” and was found wandering around a reserve in the Eastern Cape. As a wildlife photographer I have witnessed “kills” and photographed them but I have never felt the same amount of emotion as I felt when I saw that rhino with half his face gone.

When one is faced with such a surreal spectacle a gamut of thoughts crowd the mind and I have to admit that vengeance was my very first emotion. I will not sully my writing with the expletives that erupted from my mouth and the anger that I expressed while watching. Suffice it to say that I immediately decided that putting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboards) would perhaps be a more constructive way to deal with the emotion. To add my voice to the thousands already baying for the destruction of the perpetrators would have a purpose at least.
However, is this enough? Clearly the solutions being touted by the WWF who declare that education is the key is not having the desired effect. The voice must become much louder, in fact, it must become so loud that it drowns out all else in the world. We, who visit and photograph these animals on a daily basis have a responsibility to raise that voice. Even if we aren’t able to be the ones chasing down the poachers we can ensure that the awareness campaign is kept at such a crescendo that governments and world bodies have to react. 

In all of this we must recognise that money is the key. The rhinos are being slaughtered for money – but what if we turned the tables on the poachers and offered substantial rewards to those who turn them in? What if we had a fund that could sustain an anti-poaching army? What if the fund could somehow pay for the tracking of these animals for their protection? Would you be willing to fund a tracking device for one rhino?
Each one of us who feels enough anger would surely feel motivated enough to donate to a fund that will take firm and decisive action and produce results to preserve and defend a rare and beautiful animal. We should all consider it and appeal to the many organisations out there already doing the work that they should change tack and declare war in as many ways as they can. We as photographers can keep the visual awareness going. We can post as many photos as we can about rhinos, we can talk about rhinos and we can help fight the good fight!
This is what we want to see..............beautiful healthy rhinos living in the wilderness of Africa! Please add your voice to the comments below!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tarangire National Park, Tanzania

Looking back through my blogs from last year I see that 2010 started off with a cancelled trip and it seems as if dejavu is following me. 2011 was supposed to be the year that I fulfilled a dream to visit the Mountain Gorillas (it was in fact my Christmas present from my loving husband). But, not to be! Due to a lack of interest the trip was cancelled and I had to look at alternatives. While scouring the internet and looking at all sorts of options my beady eyes fixed on a trip to the Serengeti advertised on the C4 Images Safari website and it looked like a viable replacement for my big disappointment. In a matter of weeks I was packing my bags once again heading for another African adventure.
I had, in the interim, moved up in the world and bought myself a Canon EOS1D Mk III (to replaced my 1 D MK ll N) and was looking forward to putting it to the test. However, in a reversal of fortune, I think the camera put me to the test. This is a serious piece of equipment! Not meant for the fainthearted or the uninformed.
On arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport we were met by an upbeat Greg du Toit who was looking forward to the days ahead. We headed off through Arusha towards Mount Meru Lodge where we were to spend the night. Arusha is a surprising town. In the growing darkness the candlelit windows dotted the passing landscape while the manic traffic zoomed past us in a frenzied flow. The journey was a stream of passing lights. Suddenly we veered off to the left leaving the tarred road behind and we wove our way between some ramshackle houses up towards the Lodge gates. Suddenly we were inside and unpacking our bags from the vehicles.

The next surprise waiting for us was one flight of steps after the other. Up and down we went from reception to the room, back to the dining room and back to the rooms. Good exercise but entirely unexpected. Dinner was served in a diningroom atop the mountain and it was our first introduction to the limited availability of really cold beverages and ice and the challenge of conveying what you would really like. However, the mood of the group was good and the news that there was only one bottle of tonic water in the Lodge was met with some laughter and much changing of minds on what to eat and drink. After a good meal it was off to bed for a good night’s rest with the prospect of a very early start in the morning. 

In the nervous excitement of travelling north I had the usual anxiety around the time. My Blackberry has its own way of setting different time zones and it does not auger well for a good night’s rest. To double check on myself I asked reception for a wake- up call at 5.30am. The first wake-up call came at 4.30am while the illuminated face of my technological wonder said on one clock 4.30am and on another 5.30am. Then after having a quick shower and packing up my bags I got another wake-up call from the Lodge. As a result of this I was at breakfast an hour before anyone else and I still didn’t know what the time really was!
Once we had finished our breakfast and I had foregone the pleasure of what is referred to in Tanzania (and Kenya) as coffee we checked out and headed for the vehicles. But, our early start was to be delayed by an accident down the road and a broken shock absorber on our vehicle. Finally we were on our way speeding towards Tarangire National Park.
Once we left the limits of the city of Arusha behind the countryside opened up and the drive became an enjoyable experience. Soon we could see the wild animals starting to dot the landscape and then we were there. The joy of going on an organised trip is that all the unexciting things such as entrance fees and paperwork are taken care of and all that is left for you to do is sit and enjoy the moment.
Research reveals that Tarangire National Park is 2 850 square kilometres in extent and lies 118km’s from Arusha. It is reputed to be home to herds of up to 300 elephants and a selection of other flora and fauna the most unusual being the gerenuk and the fringe eared oryx while its birdlife is prolific. Game can be seen at any time of the year.
Godwin, our trusty driver/guide from Maasai Wanderings, efficiently removed the roof from the vehicle and we could now enjoy the view from the top too. We had hardly driven 200 metres into the park when we came across our first bit of excitement. A troop of baboons were making themselves heard. The screeching was deafening and it certainly sounded as though someone was certainly being murdered. Tree branches were being broken, smaller baboons were being chased by bigger baboons and there was havoc everywhere. The little baboons of this rather large troop were hiding out under bushes, behind mothers, brothers and sisters and trying to make themselves as small as possible. We watched as there were skirmishes going on in trees, under trees and on the ground. One poor little soul was being mercilessly pursued through the branches by two larger assailants literally to the point where he was hanging by a thread on the flimsiest of branches at the outer extent of the tree. As the din escalated three large males appeared out of the underbrush. This was a serious skirmish. Dust clouds grew under their feet, teeth were bared and the crescendo of screams grew louder as they moved closer to the vehicle.
Cameras at the ready the shutter symphony started and it was a challenge to keep tracking the fast moving baboons. However, a new piece of equipment in my arsenal, a panning plate combined with a substantial beanbag proved equal to the test, and one or two sharp shots emerged from the melee despite the challenges being presented by my new mighty camera.
The reason for the skirmish soon made itself apparent as one male emerged victorious to claim his prize ......a blushing bride standing off to one side watching. The cacophony died away and we could photograph the rest of the members of the troop as they emerged from the bushes. Then, suddenly right in front of us on a termite mound a very young baboon emerged to stare curiously at us. Eye to eye we snapped away.
Our progression through the park was a hot affair. The sun burned down mercilessly and the animals were heading for cover. We found some elephants hosing themselves down at a waterhole and some others resting underneath the welcome shade. We came across some more baboons chewing through the hard outer layers of the sausage tree fruit while some impala grazed lazily inamongst them.
At the lunch stop we were grateful for the clean toilet facilities with running water. However, the lack of ice and cold beverages was becoming a hard-hitting reality. The vervet monkeys made lunchtime an entertaining affair as they raided open vehicles and were even bold enough to grab food from tables where groups of people were not being attentive. To one side three little vervets were putting on a display of acrobatics jumping from branch to branch and while eyes were averted the larger ones made the dash and grab.
On our way out of the park we came across some more elephants wallowing in the mud and another group where there was some mating going on but by that time we had closed the roof up again and we were on our way.
We headed off to Manyara Lake and Maramboi Lodge where we were treated to ice for our drinks. Gin and tonic and ice have seldom tasted so good. The dinner organised on the decks was the epitome of the African experience. There is no other place in the world where eating outdoors under the steady gaze of the Milky Way can bring such undeniable pleasure.
On reflection, our visit to Tarangire was all too fleeting. We needed to stay at least another day or two to experience all that it has to offer and it was with regret that I moved on.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Delta Dawn, what’s that flower you have on?
Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?

This lyric has been playing itself off in my head ever since I started thinking about what to write about my visit to the Okavongo Delta. Perhaps it is my own fault for “anticipating” too much but I have long watched the many programmes aired on the “Animal Channels” and I had visions of huge prides of lions attacking buffalo herds and generally seeing a plethora of predators on the prowl. Therefore, expectations were high! The lyric reflects more of the reality where, it seems, the place has a reputation that outstrips the reality. Having said all that, I have to admit that despite the disappointment of not seeing the many predators I had anticipated, we had a good trip.

I think that I have to thank, firstly, my photobuddy on the vehicle, Rob Lewis who, it must be said, is one of the best photobuddies I have had the privilege to share a vehicle with. He was not demanding in the least and was happy to make use of any opportunity that presented itself – and this is what I hope that I do when on a photo-safari, he also had a good sense of humour. His sharp eyes constantly picked out various hidden gems such as the Pearl Spotted Owl. As a result of this we managed to do a lot of photography with not a lot of opportunities. We were able to explore various angles, move back and forth for best distances and backgrounds, set ourselves up to wait for the action and know that no one was impatient to get going to another sighting. We were able to make use of the sighting we had, even if it was simply a little kingfisher doing its thing on a branch.

The other aspect that made the whole experience more valuable was of course the C4 Images crew. Isak Pretorius and Greg du Toit were on board to ensure that we maximised our opportunities and learnt some more about our cameras. Added to this was our location in the Mombo Concession at the Sanctuary Chief’s Camp. At this point it may be useful to elaborate a little on the value of a comfortable camp. Chief’s Camp is certainly a luxury option and you are definitely not slumming it at this location. The rooms/tents are luxurious and the staff very attentive. The food is a cut or two above any other location I’ve been to while on safari and kudos to the Executive Chef who was particularly obliging to dietary requirements. Our travel arrangements went without a hitch and flying in on small planes was a bonus to cut down on time. The mosquito nets, ceiling fans and very comfortable bathrooms made for some great downtime between drives. Mealtimes were gregarious affairs with much laughing and bantering between all the photographers (pseudo, aspirant and professional).

Then, special mention must be made about our Ranger, Rex (named after the royal family Rex), whose knowledge was exceptional. He knew the terrain well, he handled his vehicle with a deft hand and despite having to rely on a walking stick to get around he ushered us to and from our rooms (as there was a resident hyena under the unit next to ours) and he kept us well entertained and on the move. We also appreciated the fact that we could get out well before the good/golden light arrived and set ourselves up for anticipated possible action.
The vehicles however are the standard safari vehicles and these remain a challenge for a well equipped photographer. Supporting structures such as poles etc prevent one from panning a shot. No ledges prevent the use of beanbags and armrests on seats constantly get in the way of free movement and of course – the Toyota Landcruiser is still a hard ride!! But, I’d rather be on the back of a Landcruiser than in a Datsun bakkie!

Back to the animals. I think that it may auger well if I start off with the Bird List. Notice to all birders!  This is a destination for you. Heaven could not be better. I am not a bird photographer but I took a LOT of bird shots and the list below is what I have in photographs!

NOW HOLD YOUR BREATH! Yes, I have a photo or two (albeit not fantastic photos) of a ROSY THROATED LONGCLAW. Nothing I can win a competition with – but I have the photo!

Here’s the list of the others:
Hamerkop, Red Billed Hornbill, Woodland Kingfisher, Bateleur Juvenile and Adult, Hooded Vulture, Yellow Billed Kites juvenile and adult, Jacana, Carmine Bee-eater, Crimson Breasted Shrike, Fiery Finch, Blacksmith Lapwing, Lilac Breasted Roller, Swallowtail Bee-eater, Pearl Spotted Owl, Painted Snipe, Ruff, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Egret, Copperytailed Coucal, Yellow Billed Oxpecker juvenile, Pied Kingfisher, Goldentailed Woodpecker, Redbilled Spurfowl, Swainsons Spurfowl, Squacco Heron, Saddlebilled Stork, Yellow Billed Stork, Yellow Billed Egret, Ground Hornbill, Fish Eagle, Striped Kingfisher, Verraux Eagle-Owl, Wattled Crane, Maribou Stork, Open-billed Stork, Guinea Fowl, Dwarf Bittern, Slate Grey Egret.
Conclusion.............this must surely be Birders Paradise.

For the rest of us there were some other sightings interspersed with the birds that made for some good photographic material. On day one we witnessed a sparring match between two young bull elephants in a shallow pan and I eventually had to change to my shorter lens because they got so close to the vehicle. We managed some great shots of elephant interaction with water splashing about to add interest to the compositions

We had a special sighting of some vervet monkeys with babies and the sightings of the lions gave us the opportunity to take some good stock shots. A visit to the hyena den one early morning gave us a glimpse of some pups but they soon disappeared into the den before the good light could arrive. A stop at a Hippo Pool allowed us the luxury of getting out of the vehicle, lying flat on the ground and getting some eyelevel shots of the hippos in the water.

Then the rain came, but being intrepid photographers we still wanted to get out there and it was this decision that gave us our best opportunity. We came across two male lions lying in the road, looking what can only be described as, thoroughly miserable. Acting on Rob’s brilliant suggestion, we decided to sit and wait for the rain to abate and for the lions to shake their manes. The biggest decision was around which lion to line our cameras up on. So, decision made, we waited! And we were rewarded! A brilliant shake of the royal mane delivered some very different shots.

Other highlights were some Red Lechwe locking horns, a leopard cub trying to catch a tree squirrel hiding out in a dead tree, a Woodland Kingfisher having a bath and a comical Giraffe chewing the cud. We spent some time at various intervals trying to take good rain shots with drops forming little patterns over our photographs and catching some Buffalo with glistening horns and noses.

Another experiment that I tried was to loosen the ring on my 500mm lens and then take a shot of a Lilac Breasted Roller. Results below! Great experiment! Lots of light leaking into the camera and it also allowed plenty of dust to accumulate on the sensor and mirror!

There was also a helicopter flip that was an optional extra and I decided to take up the opportunity. However, this is a very different kettle of fish......on analysis after the flip we concluded it wasn’t long enough, the pilot needed to be better briefed and perhaps needed to know more about photography. I have a sneaky suspicion that this is a very very specialised field.

All in all though, a very entertaining, rewarding expedition and I left there with a good feeling and with some new friends.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Masai Mara – Africa’s Ultimate Wildlife Destination

The anticipation is building, my bags are packed, stacked next to the door and as I pack them into the boot of the car I can feel the slight tension building – those hesitant little butterflies start flitting and my palms are slightly damp. I hit the road north, its a long journey from Rorke’s Drift to the Masai Mara and has several stops along the way. First stop Pretoria and one more sleep, then to the infamous O R Tambo where a shock awaits! Flight Cancelled is blazoned above the check in counter. However, as all worldly travellers must do, you simply stand in line and wait. Then the news, bumped onto another flight so a long wait ensues in the hallowed halls of O R Tambo. Many cups of cuppacino later and I am sitting on a Kenya Airways flight heading for Nairobi. At Nairobi the hot air hits as I alight from the plane. Of course, none of the modern conveniences are really working and so I have to carry/drag my increasingly heavy camera gear behind me. Through customs and then, thankfully, some familiar faces. Isak Pretorius and Shem Compion of C4 Images are there to meet us. Introductions to the rest of the group and we are all unceremoniously bundled into two taxis to transfer to the very comfortable Serena Hotel for a good night’s sleep. Dinner is arranged at a local restaurant. The next morning early we head for Wilson Airport and the flight to the Mara. Luckily no big problems with luggage weights as C4 Images has thoughtfully organised a dedicated road transfer for our luggage bags. Cameras are safely stowed along with us.

 As we take off and hit the air we can immediately see the lines of wildebeest dotting the landscape. The aerial view affords one a unique perspective of a massive ant colony moving ever forward. I spend almost the whole time on the plane staring transfixed through the window at this awe inspiring spectacle.  The plane dips onto a dusty airstrip, we recover our camera bags and are greeted by our driver/guides resplendent in their Masai traditional dress. A contradiction within itself, tartan like fabrics draped in a Romanesque fashion. The mind boggles. We are whisked away in our game drive vehicles to our camp, Entim, tucked inamongst some bushes on the banks of the Mara River, in time for a quick lunch. Preparations ensue to get camera gear ready for our first foray onto the plains of the Mara.

As we drive out of the Camp no amount of information has prepared me for the spectacle I am about to witness. As we are there to see the greatest migration of animals in the world the first priority is a river crossing. But on the way one stumbles over other animals and the shutters start their furious symphony.

On our first drive we saw more wildebeest than we could count, a tawny eagle perched deliciously close for a shot or two, a lonely elephant on the horizon and while taking this shot the realisation hits that the light and contrasts in colour make a magical combination to produce photographs that you will never get anywhere else in the world. Next in line is a cheetah whose soft creamy colours compliment the golden shades in the grass followed in quick succession by two sub adult lions perched atop a termite mound surveying the land. Then the light starts fading fast and we catch a breathtaking chocolate box sunset that only the Mara can produce. This short drive sets the scene for the next six manic days where we race from pillar to post chasing the next sighting. It all happens in such quick succession so that not a day goes past without the frenzied downloading of flashcards being a constant apr├Ęs safari occupation. In camp the single source of power is overloaded with chargers and laptops and soon the lounge becomes the meeting place where we all compare notes and socialise incessantly. Rest and relaxation is not on the agenda. 

It is an almost surreal situation. Far removed from any form of civilisation you can immerse yourself in the task at hand, lose yourself in the moment and simply be absorbed into the landscape of Africa. Food becomes an insignificant irritant and sleep however interrupted fades into ignonimity as an essential life support. The anticipation each day of something new to see, something exceptional to photograph takes over all thoughts and one becomes obsessive in thought and deed.

There are too many photographs to post so here is a small selection. They need no descriptions to enhance their enjoyment. You are invited to feast your eyes, hopefully enjoy what you see and proactively further the causes to preserve each and every inch of Africa’s wilderness so that your children, your grandchildren and your grandchildren's children will be able to enjoy what is the essence of Africa.

Every day on the Mara proved to be better than the one before. We got to see four river crossings where the manic behaviour of the wildebeest was a thing of beauty to behold. The photographic opportunities just went on and on. Predators were having a field day and they were well fed and fat. The light each day seemed to be better than the previous day. We could stay out in the rain and still get shots. We were never bored.

This is one destination that I can fully understand becomes addictive. It is also a destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list to do before they die. Never mind 1000 things to do before you die. JUST VISIT THE MARA!