In February 2017, I travelled to Kenya and planned a three days Safari + Photography trip to one of the greatest game drive reserve of our planet. “Maasai Mara” is globally famous for its exceptional population of lions, leopards and cheetahs, and the annual migration of zebra, gazelle and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October, known as the GREAT MIGRATION.
February is not a migration time however it’s a mating season for most of species and most interesting are lion cubs. In this blog I will be sharing the king’s family activities which is a real fun and an exceptional experience specially with cubs
Lion family system is very interesting and they have strong bond with in pride. Cubs enjoy whole day playing and roaming around along with their mom and Dad ensure the security for all of them.
In my observation, wild lion is a superb specie and one can only realise when you experience them in their habitat. Adult male lion has no fear in true spirt.
Lion is the only wild animal in jungle who sleeps without any fear in open.
*** HAKUNA MATATA ***
Amazingly the love and affection among couple is very impressive. Below are few moments before and after mating.
Meeting with wold renowned zoologist “Johanthan Scott” was a lucky attempt. Gentlemen was staying in same safari camp. His contributions for big cats is amazing and commendable.
Last year in July 2016, I travelled to explore and experiencethe immense beauty hidden in Pakistan’s Northern area “Gilgit Baltistan”. Our journey started on 14th July, 2016 from Islamabad and it took only few hours to land safely at Skardu airport. We travelled Skardu, Shigar, Khaplu, Hushe & Deosai plainsand related areas in the region.
Nanga parbat is the peak that grabs your very first attention before landing to Skardu airport, its mesmerising and triggers the unlimited questions about Almighty and his creations.
Himaliyan Mountain Range aerial view
Shigar fort in the background, was built in the 17th century by the Raja of Amacha Dynasty of Shigar. Located on the legendary route to the world’s second highest mountain K-2, and known as Fong-Khar, which in the local language means the “Palace on the Rock” (source: Wikipedia)
Currently “Serena Shigar Fort” restored and converted in to heritage hotel by Aga Khan Trust for Culture and operated and managed by Serena Hotels
DEOSAI – The Land of Giants
The main target was to camp at Deosai plains, beauty of this place can’t be briefed, however with some pictures you will definitely get an idea.
‘Deosai’ (Urdu: دیوسای٘) means ‘the land of Giants’ in Urdu. Balti people call this place ‘Ghbiarsa’ (Balti: غبیارسہ) referring to ‘Summer’s Place’ because it is only accessible in summer. The Deosai National Park is located between kharmang, Astore and Skardu in Gilgit Baltistan. It has an average elevation of 4,114 metres (13,497 ft) above sea level, making the Deosai Plains one of the highest plateaus in the world. The park protects an area of 3,000 square kilometres (1,200 sq mi) (source: wikipedia).
Vast range of wild life can be witnessed in Deosai National Park. Golden Marmot and different species of birds can be seen easily however for Brown Bear one has to be prepared for long hiking and lucky enough.
Spending almost 2 hours at lake in evening was worth and memorable
Camping at Deosai is a wonderful experience however, you must be ready for all surprises of weather.
Star trails photography is very interesting and demands lot of patience and luck. We tried one at Shigar to capture the same however due to windy weather we could not make it perfect one!
Lower Kachura Lake is located in Kachura village 20 minutes from Skardu city (nearly 2,500 m or 8,200 feet) town. The lake is known as Shangrila Lake after a resort built on its bank in 1983. (source: wikipedia)
It is a popular tourist destination, and has a unique restaurant that is built on the fuselage of an aircraft that had crashed nearby.
Upper Kachura Lake is of clear water and has a depth of 70 metres (230 ft). In summer it has a temperature of 15 °C (59 °F). In winter the surface is frozen solid. The upper Indus River flows nearby at a lower elevation.
The beauty of the Upper Kachura Lake is almost untampered and mostly unexplored by travellers, due to lack of infrastructure owing to its rough terrain The area has a rich flora of the Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forestsecoregion, and also known for its wild apricot – Prunus armeniaca orchards. Recreation activities at Upper Kachura Lake include hiking, trout fishing, and Himalaya mountaineering. (source: Wikipedia)
Khaplu Palace (Urdu: خپلو محل; Balti: تھوقسی کھر), locally known as Yabgo Khar (meaning “The fort on the roof“), is an old fort and palace located in Khaplu, in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. The palace, considered an architectural heritage and a tourist attraction, was built in the mid-19th century, replacing an earlier fort located nearby. It served as a royal residence for the Raja of Khaplu. (source: wikipedia).
Like Shigar Fort, Serena Khaplu Palace is also restored and converted in to heritage hotel by Aga Khan Trust for Culture and operated and managed by Serena Hotels
Time-lapse clip of Serena Khaplu Palace
The HUSHE Valley
The Hushe Valley it self and villages on way are very beautiful and attractive. As of today these are untouched by urban values. We travelled to Hushe on a day trip, to reach there one have to opt for 4×4, from Khaplu.
The Hushe Valley (Urdu: وادی ہوشے)is a valley in Ghanche district Gilgit Baltistan Pakistan. Hushe valley is famous for its highest mountains. There are many sub valleys which are Gondogor, Charkusa, Nagma, Nanbroq and Mashabrum. This valley surrounds several peaks above six thousands meters including Laila peak, K6, K7. Murtaza peak is 5100m just behind K6 Base camp and is considered epicentre of trackers and beginners.
The Hushe Valley runs from Masherbrum Mountain (at 7,821 meters, 24th highest in the world) south to the Shyok River, opposite Khaplu. Hushe valley is one of the beautiful valley of Ghangche district (source: wikipedia).
This is an ultimate place for hikers, mountaineers and nature lovers. Every year, mountaineers from around the world travel here to explore the beautiful peaks like Mashabarum, K6, K7, Laila etc.
People of Hushe and its nearby villages are very ingenuous
Women work as hard as men, instead I observed they work more than men in this part of world
Apricot is the main crop and their food contains a lot of apricots in different shapes in daily life.
My first trip to Magnificent Land of Giants, Deosai, Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan. This place is amazing not only because of scenic views but has some unusual feeling. I visited in September 2015 when fall started, however beauty of the place can be imagined during summers.
At last, last week I got chance to witness and capture a long awaited traditional bull race in outskirts of Islamabad, village called “Mohra Meera” near Rawat. My first impression was just WOW, a huge crowd was attending the sport event and I applause to local administration for wonderful arrangements for keeping alive the traditional healthy activity.
Bull racing is popular in the country’s (Pakistan) rural area due to its thrilling and aggressive nature. This is one of the region’s longest standing sports that can be compared with western horse racing.
Landlords and farmers from nearby villages and towns bring their strongest and fastest ones to compete in the races. The one winners gets valuable gifts such as Tractor or farming related equipment. Additionally there is cash prices in some cases.
A local villager who was serving as a management committee shown his excitement and passion just like as one you find in urban areas of our cities for Cricket :).
Held for over many years I witness that this sport demands amazing control, concentration, courage and jockey skills. They stand on a wooden platform and are dragged along a dusty road by a pair of bulls. The riders use sticks and shout continuously to try and keep the cattle running for the finishing line of around 350 meters race track.
The bulls must be steered between the poles which are spaced ten meters apart. If the bulls fail to finish between the poles or unseat the jockey then they are disqualified.
I feel really proud and excited to witness such rich traditional event of country and during the day all the negative aspects of this country were not at all present in my mind.
Lastly, I strongly recommend all readers to do try to attend such events either as a photographer or just a sport/action lover and be part of traditions and roots of this country.