Expedition: Africa 2018

Since the last time I wrote you, a LOT has changed…

I’ve JUST Announced My First Tours to Africa for 2018!

2018 Migration Tour II

After spending 2 of the last 3 years travelling across the wilder areas of Africa (the remaining time spent doing the same in Australia & North America), I’ve developed a handful of awesome expedition-style trips to showcase the real magic of Africa…

The first of those will be to Serengeti National Park, in Tanzania (East Africa), on 7-16 & 21-30 August. Each trip will go for 10 days (9 nights) catering for a maximum of 5 guests per trip… Will YOU be one of the lucky ones?


If you wanted to come on Safari to Africa, why would you choose me?
Because I’ve been everywhere, man. Jokes! But I have travelled to 11 countries over East & Southern Africa – where the majority of animals in Africa are – and covered each country extensively, zig-zagging like a madman to canvas every park possible before each of my visas ran out…

In more relatable terms – I covered 78,000km by road alone (in Little Red); my average days went from 4am to 11pm; & I’ve now amassed a +100,000-strong photo & video portfolio, which I regularly share on my Facebook Page “Shane Ross Photography“.

In addition to gaining qualifications in African guiding & animal tracking, over those 2 years I also observed other guides / companies conduct their tours – learning from the best & avoiding the worst, to come up with something that will fit any personality – personalised tours for a maximum of 5 people, operating from one well-equipped 4WD, where I can discuss with you any questions or comments you think of – from species identification to tracking & reading behaviour, photography tutorials to 4X4 driving techniques.

“I drove ‘Little Red’ twice from South Africa up to Kenya, everywhere in-between & back again, learning as much about every corner of all 11 countries so that I when it was time to launch my own expeditions I would have a great friends networks, knowledge of individual areas & animals, & be the best equipped I possibly could be to host a small group of guests.”

What will I see if I come to the Great Migration Expedition?
We cram our days with as much time in the field as possible, ensuring maximum opportunity to find the animals YOU want to see – though I also make sure you have time to relax during the heat of the day. We’re there to find what you, & the group, want to see – it is your trip after all. If you want to see wildebeest migrations, we target migrations. If you want to see everything else the Serengeti is known for – the big cats, hyenas, elephants, rhino, vultures, other pretty African birds – we do that too. The species in this area is super-diverse so (almost) whatever you’d like to see, we can go looking for…

Is it safe to travel to/around Africa? Will animals come into camp? Can I go to the toilet at night?
These are my favourite questions!!! Why? Because I love debunking myths about how dangerous Africa is (it’s quite the opposite) & helping people step out of their comfort zones into an area rich with gorgeous birdsong from stunning sunrise to sunset, incredible wildlife spectacles & scenes closer to the Jurassic Park era than what we’d expect of modern-day Earth:

  1. From the moment you arrive in Arusha I will be guiding you – to our initial accommodation, on to Lake Natron & Serengeti, then back again. I’ll always be around & showing you how to get the most out of your time in Africa, & making sure you’re comfortable doing so.
  2. In the lead-up to this trip, I’ll prepare you for what you’ll be seeing in Africa, & how to react in every situation you might encounter. We might get animals in camp at night, but, again, from the minute you arrive I’ll teach you what to look/listen/smell for, & how to live effortlessly in camp for the length of your stay. If I did it on my own for 2 years, I promise you that you can do it!
  3. Same deal with toilets. We’ll have separate male/female toilets, & I’ll show you in daylight on the first day how to use them safely when it’s dark. It’s a piece of cake, really.

What’s included, what isn’t & what do I need to do next if I want to join?
I’ve included a “what do I need to know” info sheet below; hopefully this answers most of those questions… if not, just ask! (shaneross21@gmail.com)

Expedition Africa 2018 - What Do I Need to Know II

Are you convinced yet??

What could be more amazing, refreshing, relaxing than, after spending a day exploring the spectacular Serengeti & watching 1000’s of wildebeest, zebra & other antelope cross the winding Mara River – home to huuuuge crocodile, pods of hippos & various waterbirds – driving back to camp past leopards, lion, buffalo, elephants & rhino (the Big 5), cheetahs, hyena & vultures on the plains, whilst the sun sets amid a smoke-and-dust orange-and-red pastel sunset, drink in hand, heading back to camp for a sundowner, hearty meal, chat around the fire & well-earned sleep in your own comfortable bed… I can’t think of anything!!!

Just try & say no to the photo, below…


Other News for Shane Ross Photography…

In the last 2 months, I’ve been lucky to:

  • Attend several Young Entrepreneur Project (YEP) events, amongst loads of other awesome community functions as hosted by radio stations, professional speakers & health industry leaders – all of which are helping build a great peer network around me, & guide me towards developing unique, life-changing world expedition packages; build confidence in my eventually presenting at public speaking forums; &, most importantly, being proud of my current work & aspirations.


  • I’ve sold several beautiful canvas prints into happy homes – I’m particularly loving the floating frame style canvases, where a solid wooden frame runs around the outside of the canvas, & which I think I will advertise exclusively in the near future (to replace standard canvas prints).


  • With the help of peers we’ve developed a bunch of other super-awesome photo products including calendars, mousepads, jigsaw puzzles, greeting/postcards – & are now also looking at phone cases, drink coasters & printed team shirts! If you’ve got any ideas here I’d LOVE to know! (geckoed21@hotmail.com)


  • I’m so grateful for this one – thanks to the most amazing offer by a local Cairns art gallery, several of my photographs will be displayed in large print on the walls of this gallery (to be named soon), who are also hosting an Opening Night to announce showing of my work – so stoked!! TBA time & location of this event soon! 😀


  • And, in addition to our Expedition: Great Migration 2018 tours, I will also be advertising the following in the very near future:
    • Australia – Expedition: Cape York (2018), Blue-Mtns-to-Bamaga (2019)
    • North America – Expedition: Yellowstone (2019) Montana/Wyoming
    • Africa – Expedition: Wild Botswana (2019)
    • Future destinations: South & Central America, north-west Asia…

Anyway, that’s all for now folks!

If you haven’t already done so, please go jump on Facebook & Like my page “Shane Ross Photography“… if you like any photos I’d be happy to discuss printing with you, or if you’d like to join me on tour, either DM me on Facey, email me: shaneross21@gmail.com or phone: 0475 564 636. Awesome!

Later gators, Shane ‘Danger’ Ross.

Screenshot (44)a



“Of Lions & Elephants: Part I”

“Of Lions & Elephants: Part I”

* This article is intended as a multi-part series, focusing on what drives nature photographers to take their style of photographs; and why they target certain animals / subjects.

(At this stage there are at least 3 parts…)


It would seem, from my various posts on social media, that I take more photos of elephants and lions than anything… right!?

It appears even to me, as I spend another week sorting and processing, that I capture more images of ellies and lions, and zebra and giraffe, than all others combined. There is reason for this, however.

LR Ellies Lions
My Lightroom Catalogue tells no lies…

Is it because I love them more than others, thus biasing my photography in their favour? Nope, not entirely.

Perhaps then because there are more of them than other animals? Most certainly not – especially not of lions and elephant, at least.




The reasons are many; and I’m only just beginning to appreciate them now. You see, when you enter a National Park in Africa for the first time you’re hardly able to contain yourself with the wonderment of seeing her marvellous beasts, in anticipating the potential danger of confronting such large animals in puny game-drive vehicles. Elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, buffalo, lion, leopard… they’re all BIG, and with each comes a fearsome and respected reputation.

As with all things, after even a short while one can “get accustomed to seeing” such impressive animals. You develop a hunger instead for the unseen and hard-to-get; the hunter’s element arising of our most basic instincts. Instead of appreciating all animals, big and small, the impetus shifts instead to ticking off the bucket list… and that’s a sure-fire way to becoming impatient, jaded, even high of expectations when you should be just grateful for being in these magical places. Driving past various species of gazelle you scarce knew a fortnight earlier, looking for the rarer animals, seems like a real crime. But if you anticipate this, you can account for it and still keep the romance of perceived “normality” and “routine”. And that’s what makes a great visitor to natural areas; and is the key ingredient to producing a genuine nature photographer.

We come here to seek out these mythical creatures, and should never be disappointed. There is much more to the wilds of Africa than her “Big 5” and their ilk, however; and, sadly, those animals are often missed on safari (I see it everyday, as I self-drive-safari myself about) – that is, unless your guide is switched on and has foundations built not only on tips, but on instilling the enchantment of Africa in each and every of their Clients.

These lesser-known-but-not-unworthy creatures are often also fit into categories of their own, like the “Small 5”, “Little / Desert 5” (below) and so on, as is the human way. However, your guide should be showing you all creatures – cute and not-so-pretty, obvious and cryptic; and their complex interrelationships.


The ecosystem as a whole is entirely reliant on each member within it – some more than others eg. “Keystone species” – nevertheless each plays a part, at every moment in their lifetime; birth til’ dust. For every day longer I spend in the veld, in the forests or on the pan, my understanding and appreciation for the way things work here deepens; in turn my photography parallels where it can, and is reflected in what I share over social media.

Yet, I still haven’t answered my own question… why more elephants and lions than others? The answer is complex, but resides in their individual character and majesty, my fascination in their doings in the wild; the extra effort one has to exert to find them, and the risk in encountering them should they be of bad mood. There’s also a little coincidence, or perhaps my tending to want to spend more time photographing them because of their revered characters, that I record more of these particular animals; or even subconsciously do so because they attract more likes and comments on social media… but they work, they’re amazing to photograph and work with, and they always perform.

Regardless, I take each opportunity as it comes, while trying to also collect certain “desired” images on my own hit list – one defined by my photographic wants, and not biased to taking more of some animals than others.

I’m trying to keep my posts short I’m going to leave it there (unfinished, I know) but will revisit thi issue in the next installment of this series…
Thanks for reading!! Big love, Shane “Danger” Ross xo



*Keep watching for more articles to come in this series, soon!


And We’re Baaaack… after Six LONG Days in a City Campground

Jambo! Habari!”  (Common greeting in Swahili, used in Tanzania and Kenya)

Jambo Jambo! Guys, if I turn my car off it won’t start again unless I push-start it… Reckon you could give me a hand?

Sure boss, we’ll push!” the three of them said, grinning ear to ear.

So I turn off Little Red’s engine, unlock the fuel cap and the fuel attendant rattles the nozzle into the tank, filling it with petrol.

Moments later the four of us brace behind the vehicle and begin pushing into a 2nd gear roll. I leap into the driver’s seat and drop the clutch. With a bubbling roar from what sounds more like a Harley Davidson motorcycle than a small Suzuki Samurai 4X4, Red roars into action – I lean out the window to yell thanks and pull out onto the highway for my final leg to Lusaka… It’s time to get the starter motor replaced. I can’t keep up this push-start-20-times-a-day thing.

Six days later and my sanity on the brink, I eagerly sit by the phone like a heart-broken lover… The closest thing to being my love, I’m waiting on the call to say Red has been repaired. Late that afternoon I finally get the call and immediately jump in a taxi to go collect him and get packing. The starter has been repaired, wheels balanced and aligned, oils and filters changed. It’s time to flee the city to the serenity of the bush. South Luangwa, here I come again!

Where I should be all the time… in the bush. The longer I spend in campgrounds (that aren’t in Parks), the more my sanity creeps away… South Luangwa NP is one of the better African parks, thus why I’m so happy to finally be heading back there again!

The upside of being stuck in one place for days without wheels?? I had time to catch up on “office work” – something that easily falls by the wayside when you’re driving across Africa and spending hours on end every day within metres of her monstrous wildlife… In these circumstances I still make myself start working at 6am every day, finishing anywhere from mosquito-hour (6pm, sunset) to mosquito’s-second-wind (10-11pm). In those six days I, somehow, managed to shortlist the better images of this trip from 30,000 photo and video files; imported the images to Adobe Lightroom to process at a later date; sent obligatory emails and other messages; spent time on social media reaching out to new potential partnerships; and, while I’m at it, started writing a handful of articles again…


According to my blog www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com, I haven’t written anything for about nine months. I know I know, poor form! Apologies to those who have been following, though you likely know I’ve been working on other priorities in the meantime… including:

  • I’ve shortlisted, imported and started processing > 120,000 images from 2 ½ years of travel across Australia, North America and Africa;
My Lightroom Catalogue is getting busy…
  • Stitched several thousand of those images into panoramic sequences (mostly landscapes);


  • Shortlisted and labelled ~ 1,000 video files, ready for processing and compiling into several video compilations, also finding tunes to suit;


  • Built social media accounts and new partnerships where I could:
    • Instagram, in particular, where I reached 10,000 followers earlier this year!
    • Also Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr and LinkedIn.


  • Entered several photo competitions, notably GuruShots where one of my photos was shown in Paris at the MIA Photo Fair, in March this year (1/20 shown);




  • Written one (published) article & several drafts for online & hard-copy magazines / forums;


  • Drafted a partial business plan, capturing my future business interests – from environmental training to nature guiding, writing to photo- and videography;


  • Engaged with the local Cairns business / entrepreneur community, including attending events with the Young Entrepreneur’s Project (YEP) and The Space; submitted an application to KickArts to (hopefully) show my photographic work during one of their events; and held a stall at the Cairns Esplanade Markets showcasing my then portfolio; and
Attending a ‘Courage to Succeed’ Workshop with YEP & Kirsty Spraggon in May 2017.
  • Kicked off plans that shall, for now, remain on the down-low, though that will hopefully show some cool results in 2018…



As for what’s happened in Africa this trip, I’m now 21,000km and three months into my second journey across the continent. The first 14,700km of that was clocked with four great mates from home (plus an extra hire car). In the two months they were here, we managed to achieve everything we set out to when we first conceived the trip six months ago:

  • We all actually flew to Africa, and reunited in Namibia as planned (I feel like this was a huge feat in itself);


  • Travelled through Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya;


  • Survived elephants while self-driving in Parks; repaired most mechanical problems on the spot (though made some worse); dodged cattle, goats, dogs, people and all manner of obstacles on roads, corrugations, washouts, flooded streams, boggy landscapes, speed humps, police road-blocks and tyre spike strips; and even safely completed a bunch of unintended night drives…


  • Wild-camped everywhere we went (no fences), most nights having hippos, elephant or hyena outside our tents;


  • Saw the diverse cultures, landscapes & many rare and unique animals of southern and east Africa;


  • Spent quality time hanging out with all 3 big cats, wild dogs, the Big 5 – almost everything we’d hoped to, and a bunch of new species for me, too; and, most importantly


  • Made it to the Great Migration, and ACTUALLY saw multiple wildebeest crossings.



The crew left for home (or onward travel) on 31st August, so I’ve been back on my own again for over a month now… it took a few days in the Masai Mara to adjust to not having the group around to chat to and rely on – I’d lost my fire-starters, coffee brewers and campfire chefs, mechanical experience safety net, daily prepared lunches, belly laughs and frustrations in one hit – but by the time I crossed the border back into Tanzania several days later, I was back on top.

Since, I spent a couple of recovery days at another of my second homes, Arusha’s Meserani Snake Park; visited southern Tanzania’s Katavi Plains NP (which I did a week-long feature on SM last week) and Lake Tanganyika; crossed back into Zambia, stopping at Chishimba Falls, then Kasanka NP; arrived back in Lusaka to fix my starter motor over those six days, thereafter travelling onwards to South Luangwa NP for another 5 days; and, now, this 3rd of October 2017, find myself back in Lusaka, AGAIN, this time with an already-dead starter motor, bent prop shaft and damaged bearings, crown and pinion in my rear diff… I’m already at five days of waiting, and will be very surprised if I get away earlier than seven… but fingers’ crossed. It’s been an absolute shocker of a trip for mechanical problems, though I’ll get into that in another blog.

From broken springs and shock-absorbers to an engine overheating, holes in the exhaust, my prop shaft flying off, starter-motor dying and diff blowing up, it’s been an expensive trip – money AND time-wise. But that’s travel!

This time, I’ve been working on things other than just my photographs while stuck at the same campground. I joined my mechanics on Saturday to try find a second-hand diff, prop shaft & starter, which, thank goodness, we did! I’m also hoping to get to an art lesson at a café down the road tomorrow, and meet some local Zambian artists who I hope to make connections with and have recreate my photos onto canvas; finish this blog, and draft a bunch more; and source a sketch artist or three (my illustrators) for future writing plans. Let’s hope I’m away from here by the 5th, at which point I’ll spend another week in Zambia, three weeks in Botswana, another week in Namibia and my final 1-2 weeks in South Africa. Sadly, I’ve less than two months to go. Nothing like a deadline to get you cracking, though!!

That’s me caught up, for now. Will write again soon 🙂

Later Gators,

Regards, Shane “Danger” Ross xo


* Blogs coming soon:

  1. Photo updates from my last blog on >>> til’ now, including travels to Australia, North America and this trip to Africa;
  2. ‘Self-driving Ain’t Always So Peachy’ – a summary of this trip compared to my last African overland journey, focusing particularly on mechanical expenses and heartaches of this trip to date, and how to avoid some of those;
  3. ‘Tips for Self-Driving Africa’;
  4. ‘The ”Wild-Camping In Africa” Experience’ – the sights, sounds, smells & sixth-sense moments you experience when you camp without fences;
  5. Apps & other handy tools for overland self-propelled travel…

Aim Small Miss Small Freelance Photography Launch

Aim Small Miss Small Freelance Photography Launch


Hi folks,

Last week, I made the announcement via my Aim Small Miss Small Freelance Facebook page that I had finally processed enough of my photographic portfolio to confidently make photos available, & for sale.

Aim Small, Miss Small Freelance Facebook Page Launch
Aim Small Miss Small Freelance Facebook home page c/ January 2016.


Yes, I’m an “amateur.” In fact, I’ll likely always call myself this due to the fickle community that is nature photographers. However, photography is all about opportunity – of which I gave myself plenty in Africa in 2015/16 & which allowed me to learn quickly & thoroughly in the field, building my skills to a standard I’m happy to share my photos with the world.

Returning to Australia in August this year with over 44,000 images & video files under my belt, I set to Culling > Shortlisting > Uploading to Lightroom > Processing > Exporting > and, finally, Sharing with you all via my various social media networks. The most relevant of those is my portfolio, which is currently in the form of my FB page https://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/photos/ though photos will in coming months also be added to a more professional photographer’s website of sorts. Watch this space for more…

For now, I offer a unique opportunity. One to say thanks to each of you for supporting me since I began this journey at the start of last year. The offer – contact me before the end of 2016 via any of my social media accounts, let me know which image/s you like & I’ll give them to you for a very small amount – just to get things rolling. After that, I will be consulting pricing models re: valuing photographs & adapting mine to suit.

I hope this reaches you in time (if not, contact me & I’ll consider any offers) – regardless, I wish a very Merry Christmas to you & your loved ones!! Here’s to your best year yet in 2017, let’s all kick some serious butt!

Kindest regards, Shane.




Shane Ross

Survivalist, World Traveler, Nature Guide, Photographer, Writer

Instagram: aimsmall.misssmall

Portfolio: facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Blog: itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Email: geckoed21@hotmail.com

LinkedIn: shaneross21@gmail.com

Twitter: Dange Ross



My original Aim Small Miss Small Launch FB notification:

This one is to YOU, my wicked-awesome fan club!!

Thanks to each & every one of you for the likes, comments & support you’ve given me over the past 18 months! If it wasn’t for you, I’d have no reason to share pics / vid, no stories to tell…

To say thank-you, I’m offering the one-off opportunity for you to buy any of my images – whether in high-res digital form or hard-copy print – @ close to cost price, if you order by Christmas. I can’t promise you having them by then, but I’ll do my best.

If you haven’t seen pics of an animal / landscape you’d rather, to date, (eg. kudu, ground squirrel or varieties of animals I’ve already shown), just ask! I’ve got over 10,000 pics in Lightroom now to choose from…

I do have a couple of conditions that come with basically giving my stuff away for free, but I’ll explain them further later – they’re a piece of cake anyway.

All you have to do for now is let me know if you want an image/s (I’ve got a list of you who’ve asked already), in this post AND via message, & we can discuss specifics there.

Thanks a million for the love, friends – you make this FUN!!!


ASMS Highlights: Baby Africa Week in Photos

ASMS Highlights: Baby Africa Week, in Photos 🙂


1. Bat-eared Fox pups resting outside the den – Etosha National Park, Namibia, Jan 2016.




2. Northern Black Korhaan chick saved from certain squashing in Kalahari tire tracks – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana, March 2016.




3. Chacma Baboon infant goes back-rider – Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana, July 2016.




4. White Rhinoceros calf mimicking Mum’s every move – Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa, May 2016.




5. Lion father & cub getting to know each other – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Botswana/South Africa, March 2016.




6. Wild Dog pups in their den, days after emerging for the first time – Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana, July 2016.




7. African Elephant calf getting to know his trunk – Etosha National Park, Namibia, July 2016.




While I’ve had the last week & a bit off due to an escape into the Aussie outback, I’m back on board this week & will keep you all posted from now on!!! Keep an eyes on my various pages below for a daily dose of smiles 🙂

Thanks to those of you following my page, I really appreciate it. It you’re not, get to http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/ today & give it a LIKE!

For more information on my travels, & to sign up to other social media, check out the below:


Shane Ross

World Adventurer  |  Nature Guide  |  Photographer  |  Writer

Blog: www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Instagram: Follow me @aimsmall.misssmall

YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_IVxGsO3yyjiLkDA

Email: geckoed21@hotmail.com

Ph: 0475 564 636

Photo Highlights @ Week 3: Aim Small Miss Small Freelance

Friends!! Have YOU Liked my page Aim Small Miss Small Freelance (https://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/) yet?? I know you must get a lot of these Like requests these days – but please know your support will help me develop my photographic portfolio, get word out there about my progress & hopefully become the launch pad for my next career path. Help a brother out!

Why would you Like my ASMS page?? Because we’re 3 weeks into daily sharing of pics & video from recent travels, particularly Africa, where you can get a taste for how easy it is to travel there, the beauty of her landscapes & wildlife, culture, travel routes etc.

For Week 4, I’m changing things up – starting today, Monday 3rd October 2016, I’ll be posting a whole week of BABY AFRICA – shots I captured mostly at the start of this year, when birthing for many species is synchronised with new Wet Season growth & the year’s period of abundance.

IN summary of the last 3 weeks’ photo / video posts, however, see below (by daily theme):

1. Monochrome Mondays:



2. Travel Timeline Tuesdays:


3. Wildlife in HD Wednesdays (film clips):


4. Thriller Thursdays (action shots):


5. Full Frontal Fridays (animal profiles):


6.Pic of the Week Saturdays:


7. Sunday Spread (panoramics):





8. Extra Stuff:

World Rhino Day, 22 September 2016.


Thanks to those of you following my page, I really appreciate it. It you’re not, get to https://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/ today & give it a Like!

For more information on my travels, & to sign up to other social media, check out the below:


Shane Ross

World Adventurer, Nature Guide, Photographer, Writer

Blog: www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Instagram: Follow me @aimsmall.misssmall

Email: geckoed21@hotmail.com

Ph: 0475 564 636

Aim Small Miss Small Daily Posts Start TODAY!!

Happy Monochrome Monday Folks!!

Aim Small Miss Small Freelance Daily Post-sharing starts TODAY!!

First pic off the rank, of one of my favourite species to shoot & interact with, the 
African Elephant (Loxodonta africana)
. This fellow was photographed at the very start of my learning how to shoot with a “real camera”, as I was also commencing my FGASA Nature Guiding course with Ulovane Environmental Training on Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa, July 2015. I can say I’ve improved significantly behind the lens since then, though I still managed some clean shots at that stage – which I’ll be sharing over the next couple of weeks 🙂

Starting today & posting daily @ 1230 AEST:

1. Monochrome Mondays
2. Travel Timeline Tuesdays
3. Wildlife in HD Wednesdays (Vid Clips)
4. Thriller Thursdays (Action Shots)
5. Full Frontal Fridays (Animal Profiles)
6. Photo of the Week Saturdays
7. Landscape Sundays

To see more of these photos / video daily, Like my Facebook Portfolio page today @ http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Above Photograph: Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus M.75-300mm f4.8-6.7 II
1/640, f6.0, ISO 640


Shane Ross

World Adventurer, Nature Guide, Photographer, Writer

Blog: itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Instagram: Follow me @dange_21

Email: geckoed21@hotmail.com

The Ultimate Africa Blog+ Trip Stats: DIY Safari Experience by Shane Dange Ross / ItStartedInBamaga, June 2015 > August 2016

HOW, after returning home from your dream trip of a lifetime, can you possibly summarise the journey in your head… let alone trying to convey it, with the same meaning it has to you, to your friends & family!? Truth is, you can’t.

Returning to Australia after spending +1 year away from “home” for the second time in under 10 years, I find myself coping better than first time around. I haven’t had many moments to myself since returning 3 weeks ago, though those I have had I’ve used to reflect on my time in Africa – with intention of understanding its significance to me, & evaluating whether my original plans for my return home would stay the path. I’m still not too sure how I feel about being home, though I can say I’ve had an absolute ball since – all due to returning to stag parties, weddings, stolen moments with family & friends, & even a reef trip earlier this week… Life is good, as always!

I have, however, managed to gather some trip stats… While flying back over the Indian, I maxed-out on in-flight movies so compiled a list of figures, highlights & interesting facts that would add some perspective to my journey – & which gives me a starting point for coming to terms with my return home, & plans for the future.

Fluff aside, here it is – my trip stats, borne in completion of my first trip to Southern & East Africa from June last year ‘til 3 weeks ago.

Feel free to share 🙂



14 months / 410 days in Africa

10 new countries – South Africa > Mozambique > Malawi > Tanzania > Namibia > Botswana > Zimbabwe > Zambia > Lesotho > Swaziland – remember though, travel should never be about how many countries you’ve visited but the quality of experiences you had along the way… especially the diverse cultures & environments thriving in each of those places 🙂

21 border posts

121 Protected Areas incl. National Parks, Wildlife Reserves etc. – my FAVOURITE stat 🙂

97,000km TOTAL distance travelled approx.

22 modes of transport incl. light aircraft, jam-packed local minibuses, horses & canoe

34,404km by AIR – 12 flights x 52hrs total flight time

51,168km by LAND between public transport, hitch-hiking & self-driving:

1) Public transport / hitch-hiking: 8895km x 92 days, Sep-Nov 2015:

  • Average 98km/day or 4 hours/day


2) Self-drive Safari in Little Red: 42,273km x 204 days, Jan-Jul 2016:

  • ~1632 hours self-driven in < 7 months
  • Average 207km/day or 8 hours driving/day
  • Biggest day957km, majority on rough dirt roads, from 0600-2130
  • 4,500L petrol used x approx. 210 refills into my tiny 40L tank (most by jerry can)
  • ~61,200 gear shifts
  • 23 tyre-changes
  • 8 mechanical workshop repair visits
  • 4 traffic fines – speeding, plastic fuel drums, tyre on bullbar, speeding; NO bribes paid


25% of Africa travelled – I know, 50,000km by road & ONLY ¼ of the continent covered!

279 days/nights camping in Tent

30 languages, at least basics learnt for each:

  • English > Afrikaans > isiXhosa, isiZulu, Tswana, Tshivenda (South Africa) > Portuguese, Tsonga, Sena (Mozambique) > Nyanja (Chichewa & Chewa) (Malawi) > Swahili, Makonde, Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi (Tanzania) > Oshivambo, Herero, Nama (Namibia) > Setswana (Botswana) > Shona, Ndebele, Sotho, Shangani, Venda (Zimbabwe) > Bemba, Lozi, Tonga (Zambia) > siSwati (Swaziland) > Sesotho (Lesotho).


~$32,000 AUD approx. total cost of trip, incl. car purchase!

$2,500 AUD/month self-driving budget incl. food, fuel, camping / park fees & repair costs

44,384 photos & video x 4 cameras (Ollie OM-D E-M1, GoPro, iPhone 5S & Moultrie trailcam)

731GB data saved to my SurfacePro 3, 2 x 1TB & 2TB hard drives & several memory cards in constant circulation

57 blog posts written @ www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com x 17 webpages

12 x chameleons

12 x leopards – bloody hard work!

5 x wild dog packs, incl. pups!

1 x big cat kill, live! (Only the one, yep!)…

1 x Nature Guiding (FGASA) qualification (96%)

1 x Track & Sign qualification (Level 3 / 97%)

1 x Open Water PADI Scuba cert incl. deep dives

1 x shark cage dive, 4 x great whites spotted

1 x successful male giraffe relocation

1 x successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (5,895 MASL)

1 x exotic disease (Bilharziasis) contracted (treatable!)

1 x tiger fish caught (by handline & lure, Bamaga-style)

1 x giant African bullfrog attack

1 x solo static-line skydive, landed

1x African music festival



Other Milestones:

Longest time away from Parks: 5 days (stuck in Maun waiting for brake pads)

> 500 new species of animals encountered, identified & photographed (equivalent plant spp.):

  • Close encounters with: lion, spotted hyena, hippo, elephant, rhino, Mozambique spitting cobra, leopard, cheetah, honey badger, giant African bullfrog & parabuthid scorpion (whilst in car or camp) & various other spp.
  • Cryptic species seen: Chameleons, leopard, wild dogs, bush pig, African civet, caracal, both genet species, honey badger
  • Missed cryptics: sitatunga, aardvark, aardwolf, bongo, black mamba, serval
  • Longest “cat drought”: 9 days between seeing big cats (due to wet season, carnivores scattered when visiting Central Kalahari GR then Kgalagadi TP in Botswana)


Mastered use of DSLR camera, progressing from using Auto > P > A/S modes to full Manual mode in March 2016, to a level at which I’m now comfortable in most situations; also confidently using Lightroom (Adobe) to process photos.

Witnessed bombed / ambushed vehicles (burnt & sprayed with bullets), had close calls with dangerous wildlife, walked down spooky side streets – however, found Africa to be one of the safest places I’ve travelled to date. Don’t hold back folks, she’s a beauty!

Shared public transport with goats, chickens, pigs & every type of African staple produce imaginable, crammed up against every body part of local travellers, packed into an array of vehicle types like sardines – incl. holding other people’s kids for several hours when their seats were too crammed…


Things I’m looking forward to about being home:

  • Being close to family & friends from here
  • Having my Landcruiser back (though it’s like driving a train compared to Little Red!)
  • Freedom / safety of travel here, including more fishing & camping
  • Progressing my business plans, photography, blog & website/s
  • Buying a motorbike to explore Australia
  • Fast, functioning internet…


Things I’ll miss the most about Africa (for now):

  • Sounds of the African night – lions roaring, leopards “sawing”, elephants trumpeting, hippos grunting, hyena cackling, zebra laughing & jackals wailing
  • Going on daily game drive, to see & photograph impressive African wildlife
  • The great people I met throughout my travels
  • Affordable living
  • Little Red 😥


Things I won’t miss:

  • Being constantly on the move…
  • Poor behaviour of some folk in Parks / public
  • My travel towel!


There we have it. Not easy to summarise an adventure like this in one post & to statistical terms, but it was an interesting exercise… There’s so much more to the experience than I can possibly share here, though I’m happy to share those with you in person!


And am I going back??? HELLLLL YEAH.


For more information on my travels & to sign up to my blog, please check out my portfolio (FB), blog & Instagram accounts. I will be writing MANY more posts about the above in future, as well as sharing photos & video clips daily, published across the below social media accounts!

Please follow 🙂 the journey doesn’t end here!


* Author’s Note: I decided not to include photos in this post to ensure stats were most-easily viewed. I will, however, make up for missing photos in future blogs, which will aim to cover the majority of above topics in much more detail. Watch this space!


Shane Ross

World Adventurer, Nature Guide, Photographer, Writer

Blog: itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Instagram: Follow me @dange_21

Email: geckoed21@hotmail.com

My African Nature Photos & Videos To Be Shared Daily on Aim Small Miss Small Freelance (FB)!

Hi all,

Now I’m “home”, I will finally have time to sort through the enormity of photos & video I collected over 14 months on the ground in Africa. It’s been bugging me I didn’t have time to do so on the road, though I’m reeeeeally looking forward to going through them now 🙂 it go so hectic in the end, I haven’t even looked at the stuff I’ve taken in the last 2 months on a computer screen yet!!

I thought I’d tally everything up to see what the end result was -> 44,384 files (both photos AND video clips) soaking up 731 GB of data… enough to take up all available space on the 1 & 2TB hard drives I took on this trip. Which means I’d best look into more efficient storage options next trip…

So, I’ve got a mammoth task ahead of me to sort these in a fashion worthy of sharing with you all… I plan to share 1 x photo per day, every week, including videos on at least one of those days. Categories will be something like this:

  • Monochrome Mondays (Black & White)
  • Landscape Tuesdays
  • Close-up Wednesdays
  • Thriller Thursdays (action shots)
  • Full Frontal Fridays (animal portraits)
  • Film Clip Saturdays
  • Trip Highlight Sundays


If you’ve got any suggestions, encouragements, sharing themes eg. elephants one week, giraffes the next, PLEEEEASE say so! I want to know what you like, so I can tailor these posts for those of you who are also into this stuff.

Whether you’ve been to Africa before or not yet, my whole purpose in sharing is to brighten everyone’s world’s with the enchantment of Africa’s majestic natural environment… to educate about the various risks facing our world & potential solutions to those; to inspire others to leave their comfort zones, take leaps of faith into the unknown & encourage others around you to do the same; to promote conservation themes such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) & proactive steps toward climate change prevention; share my story of change, growth, challenge & successes on this path; &, of course, to share images & video I’ve collected that would be a waste if not shared with those of you I hope to trade tales with about travels, adventure & shattering comfort zones.

For now though, see my latest film clip shared on ASMS @ https://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/videos/vb.852028681516167/1196134043772294/?type=2&theater&notif_t=like&notif_id=1471324458460408 – the courageous dung beetle 🙂

Please, keep an eye on my portfolio page @ facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/ over the coming weeks, months, years… It’s only going to get bigger from here. The more input I get from you, the more I can improve it. Comment, share, enjoy. What’s mine is yours.

Kind regards, Shane Ross.


World Adventurer, Nature Guide, Photographer, Writer

Blog: itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance

Instagram: @dange_21

Email: geckoed21@hotmail.com

Mob: 0475 564 636

… & I Still Call Australia “Home”

G’day Australia!!! I’m home 😀

I’ve been back 2 weeks today, though haven’t had a minute spare with return to a monster stags party followed by a quaint beach wedding, at the extremities of North Queensland…

I’m back in NQ for at least the short term & I have a new Oz mobile number – please inbox me for it, & delete the old one – it expired months ago 😛 I’m seriously looking forward to catch ups!!

The plan now I’m home is to sort through the +700GB of photos & video I took whilst on my 14-months in Africa, posting the better pics/vid on a daily basis; to foster networks made during that time; potentially take up some local contract/volunteer work (though I don’t really have time/want); presentations to schools; get in some bush trips etc. While I don’t intend on recommencing full-time work, days will be full with the above – all heading towards establishment of my business plan(s) over the next 18 months…

Check out my portfolio, blog, Instagram etc. for more info:


Shane Ross

World Adventurer, Photographer, Writer

Blog: itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Instagram: @dange_21

ItStartedInBamaga on Highlights Tour


Howdy folks!


I’ve fallen off the bike of blog-writing of late… sorry, followers. My African adventure is coming to a close in less than two months, which means cramming – not that I wasn’t already – & so I now have even less time to blog, share pics etc.


Here’s where I’ve travelled in the last month, anyhow:

  • From Zambia (fast!) to South Africa, via Botswana, to have much-needed mechanical work done on my truck in Pretoria;
Two workshops (mechanical & suspension) repairing my truck at the same time…
  • Marakele NP / Marataba to complete a Track & Sign assessment with the world-renowned Colin Patrick Training & NJ More Field Guide College;
On tracking assessment…
  • Returned to Pretoria to have leaf springs reverse-boomeranged & roof rack installed;
Hanging out with the Pretoria Cote greats 🙂 (my mechanic)


  • Mpumalanga region to check out the incredible ranges & valleys, around Hazyview / Graskop;
Enjoying having a roof rack alongside the speccy Olifants River.
  • The incredible Kruger NP for 5 nights, where I saw the Big-5-in-a-day & broke my “leopard drought” in spectacular fashion (saw 4 in as many days…);
My first leopard (photographable) in over 6 months!! Despite LOTS of searching…
  • Hlane Royal NP, Swaziland, the only lion stronghold left in the Kindgom;
  • Ndumo Game Reserve, best bird-spotting in KZN;
  • Tembe Elephant Park, known for their “big tuskers” (no elephants, however!);
  • Hluhluwe-iMfolozi GR for some great multi-species encounters over lush rolling hills;
Face profile of the gigantic white rhino.
  • St Lucia / Cape Vidal (iSimangalismo Wetland Park) for my first ocean in 6 months;
  • Sodwana Bay @ Coral Divers, where I managed a couple of peaceful scuba dives;
  • eMkuzi GR, where I tracked & eventually found a coalition of 3 male cheetah 🙂
One of a coalition of 3 male cheetahs spotted in eMkuzi GR, hours after diving @ Sodwana Bay, iSimangalismo WP.
  • Back to Swaziland & House on Fire @ Malkerns for the 10th Annual Bushfire Festival (FREAKING AMAZING!!!!!);
Kingdom of Swaziland’s Bushfire Festival… African BRILLIANCE! #bringyourfire
  • Big day of (hungover) driving to Ampitheatre Backpackers, for festival recovery & to check out the breath-taking Drakensberg Ranges;
At least the road looks cool with
  • The incredible peaks & mountain passes of Lesotho – photos to come will tell that story;
Cathedral Peak, part of the Drakensberg Ranges.
  • Durban to catch up with some new friends I met in Kruger, & to chow a tasty Durban-curry; &
  • Yesterday / today, at Port St. Johns, Coffee Bay & Hole-in-the-Wall


That’s spending on average 1-2 nights per place… exhausting. Over 7,000km racked up in that time!!


Next on the now-jam-packed itinerary:

  1. Returning to Port Alfred / Ulovane / Amakhala GR to catch up with trainers, ex-students & new-students alike, & perhaps take a cheeky game drive or two;
  2. Port Elizabeth for more catch-ups;
  3. Graaff-Reinet / Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area;
  4. Karoo National Park;
  5. Tsitsikama, Jeffrey’s Bay for some shark-punching & Mossel Bay etc.
  6. De Hoop Nature Reserve & Cape Agulhas (Africa’s southernmost point);
  7. Cape Town & surrounds for a LOT of chill time w cool cats, incl. Stellenbosch for wiiiiiine;
  8. West Cape National Park & coast;
  9. Cederberg Wilderness Area;
  10. Namaqua NP;
  11. Augrabies Falls NP, en route to KTP / Botswana;
  12. One of my favourites, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the best place to hang w Kalahari black-maned lions;
  13. Central Kalahari Game Reserve’s super-special Piper Pan;
  14. Makgadikgadi Pan NP’s Kubu Island;
  15. Nxai Pan NP, known for cheetah & ellies;
  16. Maun’s Bridge Backpackers, chill / recovery;
  17. Khwai Community Concession, targeting wild dog & leopard;
  18. Okavango Delta’s Panhandle (the western side of OD) & hopefully a Pel’s Fishing Owl;
  19. Ngepi, bordering the Caprivi Strip (Bwabwata NP), back in Namibia;
  20. My all-time favourite reserve, Etosha NP;
  21. Waterberg NP;
  22. Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) / Africat visits;
  23. Windhoek;
  24. Swakopmund (my other home), Spitzkoppe, Moon Landscape etc.;
  25. Then, as all great things come to an end (& new wonderful things begin) – I fly back to the land I love most, Australia!!


I’ll do my best to keep up with blogging, posting etc. over the next two months, but no promises. I’ll pump them out most when I get home.


Thanks as always for following! I hope this finds you doing fantastically!!!


Later, Shane ox


FB: facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/ OR “Dange Ross”

Blog: itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Insta: Dange_21

Email: geckoed21@hotmail.com


The Wonderful (New) People in My Life

I’ve been privileged to meet A LOT of beautiful people over the last 11 months whilst travelling Southern / East Africa & am honoured to admit these two were the first to make me blush in a very long time…

Thanks to referral by a champion fellow @ Suzuki Montana in Pretoria North, who was initially referred by Suzuki Auto Namibia staff, I met Chris & Helena two weeks back, chewed out prop shaft in hand… This, after a monster 3000km-in-3-days mission from Zambia to South Africa via Bots, which left me & Oom Piet in tatters. These two saviours, however, had the seemingly-destroyed universal repaired within the hour, while in the meantime arranging my reverse-boomeranging springs to be re-tensioned right next door! (yep, sometimes Africa just works!!!)

After completing my track & sign assessment north of Thabazimbi, I returned to Chris & Helena @ Pretoria Cote to have a full service completed, which also included carburettor overhaul / tuning, brake repairs, bearing work, fuel tubing & filter replaced, radiator / engine cleaning & roof rack installed – again, all within an incredibly short amount of time!

The blushing came at their kindness though, which ranged from hands-on servicing instruction to regular coffees & naartjies, entertaining conversation, mates rates deals & a couple of cheeky freebies 😀

So, I leave Pretoria early this morning en route to Kruger NP, feeling super refreshed & confident in being able to complete my Highlights Tour in Little Red over the next three months…

Thanks again to all of you @ Pretoria Cote, you’ve made a friend for life. Love always, Shane.


Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance

Instagram: Dange_21

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_IVxGsO3yyjiLkDA



Latest Shares on Social Media for ItStartedinBamaga, ASMS, @dange_21 & YouTube

Aim Small Miss Small Freelance (Photographic Portfolio)

(See http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/)

ASMS Video Clips:


ASMS Photo Albums:



Instagram @dange_21:




It Started in Bamaga – Blog Posts:







My YouTube Channel:





Thanks for following!!

Click on the above links for high res / full story versions of recent adventures during my self-drive travels across Southern / East Africa 🙂

Big love, safe travels & keep smiling 🙂

Shane ox

Unlucky in Leopard…

BLOG: Unlucky in Leopard

In an earlier post about milestones coming thick & fast (posted 28/03/2016), I suggested that African painted dogs were more elusive than leopards… Three major National Parks later – namely Hwange & Mana Pools NPs in Zimbabwe, & South Luangwa NP in Zambia – I’ve seen wild dogs within the first 24 hours of arriving on-Park. It’s seriously crazy to go from not seeing ANY for 9 months, to consecutive sightings days apart. You know – when it rains, it pours.

The ever-playful painted dog – play-behaviour is one of the key ingredients to maintaining a well-organised social structure that typifies wild dog life.

I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve seen dogs on each occasion & have been lucky enough to spend anywhere from 1-5 hours with each pack. In a lucky streak of goal-kicking, I’ve also recently caught my first fish in Africa (a 2ft barbell), which was quickly trumped the following day by a thumper tigerfish – both on a handline with barramundi-like lure & retrieve style; added new species sightings to the list including giant eagle owls & spotted owlets, grey-crowned cranes, pygmy kingfishers, African rock python (tailed), spitting cobra (NOT tailed), hand-caught tilapia, puku (a tan-coloured antelope); added a bunch of new shots to my portfolio; met loads of lovely folk; reached the 50-blog count on itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com; baked my first bush bread, etc. etc. It’s impossible not to add new / momentous experiences to the list when Africa is at your fingertips!

Another monster milestone – my first tigerfish, Africa’s premier sportsfish! Happy days!!

HOWEVER. Returning to my earlier statement re: leopard vs. wild dog elusiveness… I hereby reinstate Africa’s cryptic leopard as main contender. Apart from a brief glimpse of a young adult leopard at night in camp along the banks of the Zambezi River in Mana Pools (which hardly counts as I didn’t get photos of it nor any quality time like I have with the wild dogs), I haven’t seen a leopard since our chance encounter in Etosha NP in January thanks to fellow-drivers; &, before that, the three (3) we saw in Ruaha NP, Tanzania, in November last year. It’s becoming a leopard drought of frustrating proportions – to be expected, as is their nature, of course.

While the beautiful Zambezi & Luangwa Rivers hold incredible potential for leopard sightings, luck hasn’t been on my side of late… Never mind though, the search continues!

The funny thing is, I came to South Luangwa NP on expectation (stupidly) that I would see a leopard. Expectation being the root of all heartache set me up for disappointment; not to mention you can never guarantee animal sightings – that’d be like expecting to catch a fish on every outing!

Countless people recommended the park, most relating stories of “a leopard a day”, including a particular story of “one guy stayed for 8 days & saw 23 leopard”. Self-drivers in camps beside me saw 3 in as many days; an over-lander that arrived in camp 20 minutes after me busted one stalking impala in the campground (50m from my camp & dead silent of course!); after 7 days, all I could find were fresh tracks, poo, scratch marks, trees with incredible potential (minus the leopard) & shaded riverbeds lacking that one key ingredient… my leopard.

There mightn’t have been any leopard sightings, but the company of late (when I can find it) has been exceptional! And helped preserve my sanity – for now.

You might ask why didn’t I see any leopard? I’m learning very fast that they choose when you will be lucky enough to see them – one doesn’t go looking for leopard. That is, unless you have permission to drive parks after dark, when they’re most active (which self-drivers unfortunately do not).

Regardless of the outcome of late, my search continues unabated & ever-enthusiastic – it’s only a matter of time before my luck changes, right!? Fingers crossed that’s sooner rather than later, I’m hungry now.

Thanks again for reading!! Safe travels, Shane ox


Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com

Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance

Instagram: Dange_21

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_IVxGsO3yyjiLkDA


Latest Pics on facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance

All nature, landscape, cultural pics taken during my time in Africa, including those shared via this blog / Instagram / personal Facebook page etc., will be shared @ http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/ as well as in occasional blogs here.

Please check the below out on Facebook for more detail!

Big love, Shane ox

101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #5 of 101 – Padloper (Tortoise) Relocation

101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #5 of 101 – Padloper (Tortoise) Relocation.

In anticipation of coming rains, the best weather predictors out there – tortoises & padlopers – suddenly appear out of nowhere, mobbing the roads… a sign of rain falling within the next 24 hours. Sadly, that places these little gems in mortal danger of careless game-drivers.

In defense of all things great & small, out again comes the trusty Akubra… in this case used 1) to wave at on-coming trucks to indicate the crossing of one of these little weather warriors; & 2) to coax OR carry them off the road (in the direction they’re headed, of course!). The only thing to be mindful of here, should you choose to adopt a similar herding method, is that threatened tortoises & terrapins tend to vacate their bursa sac – their equivalent of a carry-on jerry can of water 🙂 for that reason, you should only do this if absolutely necessary & preferably during wet season or when they’re nearby a decent water source so their store can be replenished. To neglect this would likely result in their demise, which was what you were trying to avoid in the first place!

Don’t forget to give your Akubra a wash!

There we have it, use #5 of 101 for the all-Aussie Akubra: Padloper / Tortoise Relocation!


Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com
Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance
Instagram: Dange_21
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_


NB. For those of you not in the know, an Akubra is an Australian make of hat – worn across the Land Downunder, & internationally, by your rugged, bush-bound, genuine Aussie bloke / sheila. Those in the know, know well how damn versatile these buggers are. They shield you from the sun, help start fires, calm pissed-off taipans… You might as well be carrying a Swiss Army Knife on your head.

In appreciation of the Akubra, this blog (& those preceeding & following this one) are part of a series to highlight the +101 uses of these superb hats. If any of you feel you can contribute – Akubra owners only need here apply – please chip in!

I’ll be sharing all appropriate posts via my Blog, Facebook, Instagram, my YouTube channel etc. Please also feel free to share yourselves!


4. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #4 of 101 – Rain (Mist) Cover for the Smoke that Thunders, Mosi al Tunya.

3. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #3 of 101 – Masai-like Shield for Defence Against Ungrateful Assaults of Freshly-Emerged Giant Bullfrogs (& other rude beasties).

2. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #2 of 101 – Foot Salvation in the Namib Desert.

1. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #1 of 101 – Sun Protection.

Unforeseen Highlights of Game Driving in Africa – Part I: Friends for Life

Unforeseen Highlights of Game Driving in Africa – Part I: Friends for Life

Before first light of day appears in camp, my alarm sounds & I tiredly peel myself from bed for another day of game-driving Africa. It was my choice to pursue photography as a passion / potential career whilst on this “working holiday” skills investment trip of a lifetime, after all… I should’ve known it would be such a time-demanding commitment. Yet, I find myself returning for more – early – day after day. I’m on holiday, though it hardly feels like it some days.

As I round the first bend, I touch the brakes & pull Little Red to a steady stop. Somewhere nearby, I hear a lion roaring. I could hear him from the cosy confines of my tent all night; now, I know he’s nearby. I wait another 5 minutes for a follow-up call – booming, it almost deafens me in the driver’s seat. He’s no more than 500m away. I aim my Suzuki back up the road & continue into the mist. Not 200m further, my 8 X 45 Leopold Acadia binoculars confirm he’s bunked up under a mopane tree, gemsbok (oryx) kill already disemboweled beside him. He’s had a busy night. I click off a dozen shots on my trusty Olympus OM-D E-M1, ISO cranked right up to catch him through the haze, though make a plan to return to him in an hour’s time when the line of sight is clearer.

Returning after the mist had cleared, I snapped this panoramic of a gorgeous Kalahari black-maned male lion in Kgalagadi TP, March 2016.

As I pull away from his hiding spot, I meet a guide with four guests on their morning game drive. They’re on the prowl for the same lion, so I direct them enthusiastically. They beam back, thrilled to hear their quarry is close. Another 2km up the road, I run into a couple I was invited to share dinner with the night before… We trade stories through the car window about what we’ve seen this morning – myself the lion & a trio of honey badgers; they a cheetah, cape cobra & curious clan of meerkats. We part momentarily to chase our respective vehicle’s findings, again stoked with the exchange. Thus is the life of your average folk self-driving southern Africa’s Protected Areas.

I’d love to list every encounter I’ve had with friendly folk here in minute detail, but that’d be a monstrous undertaking – not to mention would fill several pages & lose you, the reader. Instead, I’ll trade the better stories in brief; you can always ask me more in person.

I’m regularly asked – by folk at service stations, police officers on roadsides, fellow travellers, locals – why I’m travelling alone. I guess it just kinda happened this way… it’s part of my career plan, suits me for photography (I can shoot out both sides of the car) etc. And, while it can get lonely, for the most part I’m not on my own. Yes, driving from place to place I’m solo – but that time, aka my “helmet time”, I’m planning my next steps, mulling over business plans, pumping tunes or playing self-help audio clips or podcasts to improve my skill set eg. photography. At service stations, attendants always love a chat – especially about my car & the story written on his windows. At camp grounds, there are reception & grounds staff, & fellow campers (not so many in low season ~Jan-Mar) to talk to. Most surprising, though, is the conversation I’ve had while game-driving.

Without directions from a carload of co-game-drivers, I wouldn’t have found these elusive elephants during wet season in Etosha – part of a larger 50-strong breeding herd!

Talking to fellow game-drivers serves several purposes – it’s nice just to say hello, but it pays to exchange sighting details first & foremost, as well as road conditions, camp site information & so on. Sharing sighting details, especially, can turn someone’s 9-day cat drought into a 3-cat-species buffet!

One such morning, after a great night hanging out with co-campers, I located cheetah, a breeding herd of elephant & a coalition of 3 male lions, all before 0800. I’d had an incredible morning, & all of those sightings to myself. I shared details with every vehicle I came across on my drive back to camp, one being a Land Rover packed with guests – about 8 all up – & on mentioning the lion to their guide, who asked specifically about lion (their target species that morning), he bellowed a hoot of excitement, high-fived me, then EVERY PERSON in the back of the game-drive vehicle leant out of the car as he pulled away, each also giving me a high five!

On another occasion, I chatted for over an hour through car windows with a lovely couple whilst sharing a cheetah sighting… the pair were enjoying wine with cheese & crackers, faces aglow, & shared stories of their African travels with me while we watched the mother & cubs slowly stalk springbok on Etosha Pan. We talked at length about their entrepreneurial careers, travel tips & of a zebra mare I found earlier with an almost entirely black coat (shared earlier via Facebook); next thing we’re trading business cards & have since become mutual followers on Instagram.

I watched this female cheetah (& her two large cubs) stalking springbok on Etosha Pan whilst having some great conversation via car windows!

The stories are endless… I’ve had great moments with everyone who has taken the time to stop whilst on game-drive, in a campground, at local shops etc. I’ve (thankfully) been invited for numerous braais (barbeques), coffee, beers, brandy, to share campsites, given food to cook with. I’ve had help with mechanical issues, given directions all over the place (I rarely use a road map!), discounts as if I were a local, free tours; you name it. The generosity of people on the road never ceases to amaze me.

To each of you I’ve met since my time in Africa – whether in a hostel, on the road or mid-tour – thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with me & trade contact details. I’m grateful for your company & generosity & won’t forget to return the favour if you ask it in future. In most of you I’m sure I’ve made friends for life & look forward to sharing time & experiences with you again down the track.

Travel rocks!

One meets some incredible folk on the road… I shared a black rhino sighting with this bunch of vehicles in Etosha, Feb 2016.

Also, if (when) you track me down via my card / photo of contact details on my Suzuki, whatever – please leave a comment to let me know who you are & how we met, so I can connect the dots with how you found me!

Thank-you & safe travels, Shane.


Author’s note: I don’t know why I neglected to think of writing this post earlier. Several sensational encounters with co-travellers of late are inspiration though; and the sole reason I keep my sanity while travelling solo across Africa… Thanks again to each and every one of you – whether it was 30 seconds or several days, you made a difference to my experience in Africa; to life herein. I am eternally grateful.


Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com
Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance
Instagram: Dange_21
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_IVxGsO3yyjiLkDA

The Milestones Are Coming, Thick & Fast!

The Milestones Are Coming, Thick & Fast!

In what is becoming a whirlwind tour of southern Africa – I’ve travelled 18,000km in Little Red in the last two months – I’m having trouble finding time to post updates while also driving the continent, self-guiding protected areas & taking photographs of Africa’s amazing wildlife, landscapes & cultures. I actually started writing this post in November last year – surprised to say I’m only just getting back to it now, almost 6 months later!

Little Red with a healthy coating of mud from 3 countries running – we’ve travelled over 18,000km together since January this year!

The reason for this post – I’m seeing SOOOO many incredible sights, on a daily basis, though don’t seem able to give them the press they deserve! The list of recent highlights includes completing the Big 5, bulk chameleon encounters, seeing large & small bush-babies, cheetah chases, lions on kills, cape cobras, meerkats… you name it, I’m seeing it!

That said, I have quiet days too. Today, for example, I’ve only seen a pair of bushbuck, 2 pair of klipspringer & a handful of hippo – looking at it glass-half-full, however, I have to pinch myself that I’m here, seeing African wildlife, large or small, common or rare, every day – going where I want, when I want, to see what / who / why I want… no pressure. As for the small things, they’re still thoroughly enjoyable! Whether its recording clips of dung beetles rolling poo to various songs, learning bird calls, species ID while tracking, refining my photographic portfolio with new angles on already-captured species, having a conversation through car windows – every moment is precious, time is of the essence & one needs to appreciate where they are, regardless of what they’re doing. We’re just lucky to be here, alive. But, I digress…

Getting soaked @ Victoria Falls – one of many trip highlights & best experiences of my life!!!

One of my target species, & one that’s been entirely elusive to date, is the African painted or wild dog, Lycaon pictus. I’ve been to every nearby protected area in the last 9 months, from South Africa, Mozambique & Malawi to Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana & now Zimbabwe. I wake @ around 0500 every day with a hope of catching them on the roads; I’ve missed them by minutes in many cases. Fresh spoor on the roads, reports of fellow-campers seeing them run through my camp while I was out looking for them, regular sightings on notice boards in Parks offices… I can’t bloody find them, they’re even more elusive than leopards!

Next to wild dogs, leopards are proving to be incredibly elusive (*personal experience) – I haven’t seen one for over two months now, despite being in some of the best country for them in the world. That said, I’ve been lucky enough to see four (4) to date – while other folk I’ve met, who’ve been here for equivalent amounts of time, haven’t seen one yet. So, I’m grateful. This one was chilling in an impressive Baobab tree in Ruaha NP, Tanzania, November 2015.

On Monday 21st March I woke to a spectacular sunrise over the Sinnamatella Valley, Hwange National Park, with a good feeling about the day ahead… I even said to myself, “Today is the day.” I didn’t believe it, but it felt right. I was on a good run, however… I’d seen Victoria Falls for the first time the day before (another huge milestone); & avoided any further fines or car problems on the drive to Hwange. Many fellow travellers recommended Hwange for wild dogs, though given my track record my expectations were low. Even local Rangers suggested it would be near impossible to chance a sighting with bush so thick at this time of year.

Regardless, I packed my tent into my car – jumped in, steaming coffee in my lap – & drove to the office to check-out on my way to Main Camp (further into Hwange). On arrival I shared morning greetings with the Ranger on duty, George, who casually mentioned he’d seen wild dogs just moments earlier… I couldn’t believe it! I almost shook the information out of him, then raced down the road in hot pursuit. I returned within 5 minutes, empty-handed. Seeing the disappointment on my face, George beamed – “They ran onto the road as soon as you went past, they’re just in there!” “WHAAAAAAAT!! WHERE???” “Drive down that road, not even 100 metres”, he says…

I bundle back in the Suzuki, though take off at a more sedate pace; peering into the bush like I’ve got x-ray vision… after another 10 minutes I turn the car around, dejected, unable to locate them. They’d beaten me, again. As I reach the zenith of my turn, I shoot one more glancing look up the road – somehow, out of the corner of my eye, I catch the flicking of a white tail tip – waaaay down the road from where George said to look. I threw Little Red violently in reverse, surged back up the road toward the tail then calmed my approach so as to not scare my quarry away… though the tail had disappeared. Pfft.

I had nothing to lose, so continued another 500m around the bend… to be greeted by a 13-strong pack of African painted dogs!!!!!!!! My wild dog sabbatical was finally over!!! I hit JACKPOT!

After nine months, my search for African wild dogs has finally come to fruition – I stayed with this pack for several hours, an incredible experience. Thanks George & Hwange NP.

Best part is – not only did I catch a glimpse of these wild dogs – I observed the sh*t out of them, for FIVE incredible hours. Don’t ask me how that much time elapsed while watching the pack, or how I managed to take over 600 photos in that time – but I did it, & was the only person in the sighting for the whole time. The emotion involved in this search far exceeds any rich verbose I can conjure here – just know, it’s been a journey. Deciding to eventually leave the dogs in peace, I returned to the Office, where George – knowing how much time had passed since I left, & probably thinking I’d just left – again asked me if I’d seen them… to which I was able to beam back a roaring “YESSSSSSS“, giving him a high five, African handshake & hug to show my thanks… Now I’ve seen them, I can only hope to be as lucky & find them again in future. Fingers crossed!

At times, the dogs came within 2m of my vehicle… an absolute treat.

Now that wild dogs have made the list, you might ask what’s next!? Seriously, so much more amazing stuff is coming… I’m still chasing a close-up shot of a leopard (s) in a tree, of cheetahs mid-chase, lions roaring. I haven’t yet seen aardvark, aardwolf, pangolin, civets, large-spotted genet, servals, many duiker species / suni / grysbok, sitatunga, nyala & many other insect, amphibian, reptile, bird & mammal species. I can’t expect to do so in one trip, either – some people go their whole lives chasing the above & get rare, if any, glimpses of their target… so I will continue to be grateful, enthusiastic in my ventures & share them with you all. After all, what are precious moments if not shared with the World!

I’ve since left Hwange NP, pearly whites gleaming from ear to ear. From my current camp @ Antelope Park near Gweru, I head to the Great Zimbabwe monument (Shona ruins), then the glorious Mana Pools NP… from there I head into Zambia & her world-renowned South Luangwa NP; back into Botswana en route to South Africa to complete a Tracking assessment / course in Limpopo; then I’ll start a highlights tour (my favourite places in southern Africa) to see out my final five months in Africa… for the now. I plan to be back on Australian shores in August, for weddings, to consolidate my gear & plan my next trips, & have a little downtime in one place – my home of North Queensland.

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Latest travels @ itstartedinbamaga.

Watch this space for a blog on Trip Highlights (by location), coming soon!

Happy travels, Shane.

Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com
Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance
Instagram: Dange_21
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_IVxGsO3yyjiLkDA

101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #4 – Rain (Mist) Cover for the Smoke that Thunders (aka Victoria Falls).

101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #4 of 101 – Rain (Mist) Cover for the Smoke that Thunders (aka Victoria Falls).

Just under a week ago, I bashfully crossed the Pandamatenga Border from Botswana into Zimbabwe; my hesitation seeded in a new-found love for Botswana (I wasn’t ready to leave) & countless horror stories about fines dealt by police officers manning numerous roadblocks throughout Zimbabwe. Sure enough, not even an hour in the country & I copped my first ticket – for carrying fuel in approved plastic jerry cans, apparently an offense here. No amount of flattery (initially), followed by gruff / argumentative behaviour was able to get me out of my $40 USD fine – though I did manage to have it reduced to $20 on refusing to sign their Admission of Guilt paperwork (what a load of bollocks!). I finally make it to Victoria Falls & find out there, from co-travellers AND locals, that nobody gets away unscathed – & I was indeed lucky to get away with a fine reduction in any case.

Still frustrated, I had a quick conversation with Brian (my brother) re: his recent travels & wins at Muay Thai fights in Thailand of late (cheered me up a little) then jumped back in my Suzuki & headed down to the Falls parking lot; thankful I made it the 3 minutes without another fine. I was so consumed in concern about how I would deal with future encounters that when leaving my car I forgot one item of my must-have kit – my Akubra hat. Oblivious, I proceeded through the entrance gate down the walkway to Vic Falls & was greeted, full in the face, with a torrential downpour!

On closer approach to the first of many Victoria Falls lookouts, I discovered that those rain drops were not rain but instead mist – heavy, thunderstorm-worthy drops – being thrown upwards from the base of the falls over visitors & nearby forest alike. In the space of 2 minutes I was soaked, to the skin, under this mist. I wish I’d had my Akubra handy, to have kept my upper body & perhaps the lens of my camera dry (don’t worry, it’s water-resistant)… though the hat would’ve then suffered the same fate & taken a day or more to dry. So, while I wish I had my Akubra handy for use #4 of 101 – to keep my upper half dry beneath the mist of the Smoke that Thunders – I’m happy to report it doesn’t require re-shaping after the drenching it would have received.

Regardless, it’s another use for the all-Aussie Akubra – #4 of 101: Victoria Falls mist shield!


Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com
Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance
Instagram: Dange_21
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_


NB. For those of you not in the know, an Akubra is an Australian make of hat – worn across the Land Downunder, & internationally, by your rugged, bush-bound, genuine Aussie bloke / sheila. Those in the know, know well how damn versatile these buggers are. They shield you from the sun, help start fires, calm pissed-off taipans… You might as well be carrying a Swiss Army Knife on your head.

In appreciation of the Akubra, this blog (& those preceeding & following this one) are part of a series to highlight the +101 uses of these superb hats. If any of you feel you can contribute – Akubra owners only need here apply – please chip in!

I’ll be sharing all appropriate posts via my Blog, Facebook, Instagram, my YouTube channel etc. Please also feel free to share yourselves!

3. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #3 of 101 – Masai-like Shield for Defence Against Ungrateful Assaults of Freshly-Emerged Giant Bullfrogs (& other rude beasties).

2. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #2 of 101 – Foot Salvation in the Namib Desert.

1. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #1 of 101 – Sun Protection.

EPIC Black Rhino Battle: Etosha NP, Namibia

Across two (2) consecutive trips in January & February this year, I was lucky enough to be able to visit Etosha National Park in northern Namibia. I’ve heard amazing things about this place, from friends & strangers alike – suffice to say it’s known for incredible animal diversity & exceptional viewing opportunities across its >22,000 square kilometres.


Highlights of both trips centred on rhino encounters – I had excellent sightings of both black (hook-lipped) & white (square-lipped) rhinoceros, on the brink of extinction from the wild in their native Africa. The absolute highlight of these was witnessing a full-blown battle between two male hook-lipped rhinos… Estimated at only ~5,000 left in the wild.


To see one of these tanks in the first place is a rarity, though this by all means blew my hopes out of the water! I was first car on the sighting & had the fight to myself for a good five minutes before two other vehicles arrived on the scene. In that time, though, I heard vocalisations (squeals) by the challenger, in response to being chased out of the territory of the larger defender, & winner, on the edge of the 5,000km2 Etosha Pan; witnessed many heavy hits by the winner on the loser, with his front horn around the neck & belly region (none serious / penetrating though); then watched the winner chase the loser – there’s no runner-up in nature – back across the Pan, after which the victor treated himself to a mud bath a mere 100m from my position! Elapsed time, approx. 10 minutes; closest distance ~15m (mid-battle, I was well-placed in Little Red though thankfully not of the slightest interest).


While the photos, & the video I shared a couple of weeks back, are impressive – see within – they still don’t do justice to the magnitude of this sighting.


As with all sightings to date in Africa, I count myself incredibly lucky… to be here, free to travel where I like & when, & with the fortune of amazing sightings on a daily basis. I hope you don’t mind me sharing these by the way – I feel like I should be when I’m being treated on a daily basis.


For high resolution photos & video, check out my Facebook page @ http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance/

Happy travels 🙂

Cheers, Shane.


Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com
Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance
Instagram: Dange_21
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_


101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #3 of 101 – A Masai-like Shield for Defence Against Ungrateful Assaults of Freshly-Emerged Giant Bullfrogs

101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #3 of 101 – Use Your Akubra as a Masai-like Shield for Defence Against Ungrateful Assaults of Freshly-Emerged Giant Bullfrogs (& other rude beasties).

When the Kalahari Desert  receives its annual quota of rainfall overnight (irony, right!?), it’s not surprising to witness significant changes in animal behaviour along with it. On a recent trip through the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), Botswana, I encountered eight (8) monstrous Giant Bullfrogs (Pyxicephalus adspersus) that had emerged from their long-term burrows after a night of heavy rains – all of which had set up residence in every ditch in the road capable of holding more than 2 inches of water!

Giant bullfrogs (Pyxicephalus adspersus) appeared almost instantaneously in every track puddle after rains in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana.

One such female had been dragged from her watery haven when I came across her, being harassed by a small group of marauding Marabou Cranes. While I don’t like to disturb nature doing its thing, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her… After all, these mammoth amphibians spend most of their lives in a state of dormancy underground – up to 7 or 8 years straight if rain doesn’t come in sufficient quantities – so they deserve to see sunlight for more than an hour before becoming someone’s dinner.

I jumped from the Suzuki &, naturally, grabbed my trusty Akubra – approached the gentle-looking soul – & was attacked at a flying leap from over 1/2 metre away, along with deep/loud grunts, growls & hissing! I couldn’t believe it. I’d heard that males were aggressive when defending territories / during lek, though had no idea they would attack something much larger at distance!!! Then again, it’s not surprising given she was on the marabou menu moments earlier.

Bullfrog IV
If I’m going to leap from the Suzuki, anywhere, it’ll always be with my Akubra in one hand, my Ollie camera in the other! That’s Defense & Attack, covered.

On re-approach I was much more careful, this time using my Akubra as a full Masai-like shield while the frog bruised then latched onto my hat brim, from which it swung with all its weight, legs flicking, like a police dog would with its crim. victims.

Using a stick I managed to flick her into my hat, whereupon I returned her – thankless of course – to her puddle.

Bullfrog II
I only dared take my eye away from her for a second – & only because my Akubra shielded me – for giant bullfrogs are an intimidating creature to deal with. Give me lions any day!

Lesson learnt – if in doubt, get it out. Giant bullfrogs, as the name should suggest, are big, mean-lookin’ & aggressive. Keep your Akubra handy. I’d have lost a finger – more like my whole arm – if I hadn’t thought ahead to the potential consequences if this unknown frog were unfriendly. * Also useful for relocating the ungrateful buggers to safer waters, if you can forgive them their nasty demeanor @ first impression.


Blog: http://www.itstartedinbamaga.wordpress.com
Portfolio: http://www.facebook.com/aimsmallmisssmallfreelance
Instagram: Dange_21
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHxMEhy_


NB. For those of you not in the know, an Akubra is an Australian make of hat – worn across the Land Downunder, & internationally, by your rugged, bush-bound, genuine Aussie bloke / sheila. Those in the know, know well how damn versatile these buggers are. They shield you from the sun, help start fires, calm pissed-off taipans… You might as well be carrying a Swiss Army Knife on your head.

In appreciation of the Akubra, this blog (& those preceeding & following this one) are part of a series to highlight the +101 uses of these superb hats. If any of you feel you can contribute – Akubra owners only need here apply – please chip in!

I’ll be sharing all appropriate posts via my Blog, Facebook, Instagram, my YouTube channel etc. Please also feel free to share yourselves!


2. 101 Uses for the All-Aussie Akubra: #2 of 101 – Foot Salvation in the Namib Desert. For when you leave your thongs (pluggers / slops / flip-flops / jandals) behind at the car & walk to Sossusvlei’s Deadvlei Pan in cool overcast conditions… but clouds clear & you find yourself legging it back over scorching midday Namib Desert dunes. Your only salvation – that magnificent felt beast on your head – known as the all-Aussie Akubra – whose brim on which you can stand to give yourself respite from the baking sands. You know, in-between your 20m hot-footing sprints. Tricky when you’ve got >1km to travel…——————————————-
1. Akubra Use #1 of 101 – Sun Protection. Whether you’re in Australia, Africa or the dreary Great Britain – this baby will protect you from the sun’s direct rays, overcast conditions or glare off the water with only one application! Get yours today @ http://www.akubra.com.au