Here we are again on “My Wild Path”! Another year is coming to the end and a new one is about to start. It’s time for everybody to make an assessment of the year just passed and think about how to make the upcoming year a better one. For me the answer to this question is very simple: nature and wildlife! 😀 There’s nothing that can make me happier than spending time in nature and getting lost into the wild.

Unfortunately I couldn’t carry out my last year’s New Year’s resolutions. No Alaskan wilderness, no Amazon rainforest. No first photo exhibition and no new website (although there are some news about it that I will share later)! Well, that’s way too many “no”! 😀 Let’s say that I was dreaming big, but you know, never stop dreaming! Anyway, there have been some ups and downs during this year. But I want to share what has definitely been the highlight of it. That’s right in the title of this post!

I finally went back to Africa! It’s been 9 years (too much!) since my last trip to Tanzania and I always wanted to go back to the savannah to admire the rich African wildlife and the beautiful African sunsets. There’s something magical about Africa that you can’t just describe; you have to go there to understand it. And once you go, you will just want to come back again and again. This time I didn’t visit Tanzania (I miss the Serengeti so much!) but I went to South Africa. I spent some days in Kruger National Park and in Manyeleti Reserve. After that I went south until Cape of Good Hope, the most south-western point of Africa. It’s been simply amazing!

Zebra with little one

The amount of wildlife I’ve seen during these days is really incredible! I almost lost the count of how many different species I’ve seen. There is wildlife everywhere! I also tried something new because in Kruger National Park you’re allowed to make self-drive safaris. I’ve done safaris before but with guides, this time I was on my own looking for animals. I must say that at the beginning I was a bit skeptical; you know, the guides know the territory and the animals habits, they’re constantly in touch with each others sharing the animals location. I was there by myself instead, with a map of the area, my car, my photography gear and the desire to see as many animals as possible.

But I’ll tell you the truth, this actually adds a lot to the experience. Being on your own, deciding which route to take, trying to find animals tracks, looking in specific areas, driving while constantly looking around in search of any animal sign (don’t forget to look on the trees, anybody said leopard?). In the end I found the whole experience very satisfying. And I will definitely do it again. Waking up before sunrise, having breakfast outside in the bush, all day long searching for wildlife passing through a lot of different environments, doing it until sunset, that was amazing. And as I said, I still can’t believe how many animals I’ve seen.

Two wild dogs looking aggressive

Elephants, impalas, baboons, zebras, warthogs, giraffes, hippos, wildebeests, buffalos, waterbucks, kudus. The highlights? Of course lions (I saw three male lions and around thirty females and younger males!), leopards (one sleeping on a tree and one eating an impala up on a tree), cheetahs (I saw two cheetahs in Manyeleti from a very close distance, one of them unfortunately was injured, and other two in Kruger but very far), and two hyena cubs playing together. I also saw some wild dogs packs, which I really wanted to see as I had never seen this animal before; one of them was on the hunt and jumped right in front of my car following an impala! These are scenes that you can only see in Africa.

These were the highlights but my memories are actually filled with a lot of different moments and scenes that will always remain impressed in my mind. Like the group of elephants taking a bath in a pond at sunset; that’s actually one of the first thing I saw when I first entered in Kruger, as I arrived late in the afternoon. And what a start, I thought. And then, I saw another huge group of elephants, 40 or 50 maybe, taking a bath and crossing a river. I’ve never seen such a big group before, that was really impressive. And there were some little elephants playing around with water, with their typical “smiling faces”, it was so funny.

Elephants taking a bath in a pond

There was a moment in Manyeleti that really touched my heart. The two cheetahs I saw there were sitting in the grass. When I arrived closer I saw that one of them was really badly injured on his chest, the wound was wide open. He could barely walk and after just a few steps he had to rest immediately. He was sitting there licking his wound, then trying to make some other steps. When he got up, his mate got closer to him, looked at him for a while and then started to lick his wound too, trying to releive his pain. And she was doing this in such a delicate and sweet way that I almost started to cry. I was thinking about their future, the male couldn’t hunt anymore in his condition, so his survival now depended only on his partner.

That was hard to watch, but that’s nature! After this I had a very peaceful moment with a group of lions enjoyng the sunset. There are really so many moments and so many episodes that I carry in my mind and in my heart that I could write for months. This is what Africa actually brings you, it fullfills your heart with some unforgettable experiences that will really leave a mark inside you. Everything in the bush is magical, and will make you want to come back again and again. I invite you all to try an experience like this, go on a safari, and why not a self-drive one? Go for the adventure of your life, go to Africa, you definitely won’t regret!

Lions resting in the grass

So what about the upcoming year? Well, this time I will go easy, I don’t want to write all those “no” again next year! Let’s just see in which part of the world 2024 will take me. Anyway my dear 2024, I may have some suggestions for you! 😀 One thing that I would like to do, if not next year then some months later, is an upgrade to my photography gear, in particular my camera body. During these years I’ve made some upgrades on lenses and other accessories, but now I feel it’s time to change my camera. Technology evolves with an impressive rythm and the new sensors on the market could help me to have better results with low light conditions. You know, the woods are always my favorite photography set, and light is tricky there.

At the beginning I mentioned some news about the website. Yes, I finally started to work on it! It’s finally becoming a reality! 😀 It’s still at a very early stage, and I’m taking my time because I don’t want to rush and I want to achieve what I have in my mind. I still need to make some contents for it, for example some videos. And also selecting the photos, well that’s hard! Let’s say it’s completely ready in my mind and as a project on paper, and I started to build it. You will definitely see it in some months and I will be happy to share it as soon as it will be ready. I hope that you will like the new design I came up with. And who knows, maybe I will introduce it during an exhibition? 😉

By the way, in my African Dream gallery you can find my photos taken in Tanzania, but get ready for the new ones during the next months. In the meantime, you can check my Facebook and Instagram profiles for some new photos. I’m now leaving you with a peaceful video that I made for Acquerino Cantagallo with one of my favorite animals! My best wishes for a Happy New Year to you all. I hope next year will be full of health, joy and happiness for all of you. And of course, I wish you a year full of nature and wildlife. Meet you again on My Wild Path in 2024!



Mirko Chianucci Written by:

I'm a nature and wildlife photographer based in Italy. With a great desire to explore the world, I'm deeply in love with nature and wildlife. My goal is to raise awareness on natural environment and wildlife conservation to help preserving the amazing wonders of our planet.

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