Tanzania

This is the land of the Serengeti plains, the “real” Africa and big televisions documentaries. All extraordinary reasons to repeatedly visit Tanzania, but Gary also seeks out more intimate experiences with wild animals.  In Tanzania he has been able to spend hours amongst a herd of elephants “knowing that I haven’t adversely affected the animals” - a vital ingredient of the experience.

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GARY IN LAKE MANYARA N.P. WITH ELEPHANT  PHOTO: DAVE CURREY

Travelling with his partner, Gary has driven across the Serengeti from its northern border with Kenya and felt the vastness of the migrations across the plains. But it is in smaller places such as Tarangire National Park he has the fondest memories. Such as spending the day watching hundreds of elephants make their way into a swamp, all of them frolicking and some sinking under the water. The privilege of no other people, that wild moment with the knowledge that you can stay all day until the elephants also decide they’ve had enough and march up the hill in family groups.

On a recent visit they stopped to watch a young jackal in the distance, focusing long lenses on the perfect little creature, fascinated as it got closer and closer, until their lenses could barely focus so close.  “I keep looking for new inspiration for my drawings” says Gary, “but I also love taking photographs and just absorbing the wildness of nature.”

There are so many memories of Tanzania that it is hard to pull out just a few. There’s the time their vehicle was stationary in the Ngorongoro Crater and they were watching a lioness through the open window. She just got closer and closer and slowly sauntered past the vehicle, her tail swishing through the window and brushing Gary’s face. She carried on unconcerned.

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GARY WATCHING LION, NGORONGORO CRATER  PHOTO: DAVE CURREY

It was in the Crater that Gary gathered references for his drawing Baby Love. But it wasn’t a particularly calm moment. “I wanted the feel of this drawing to be intimate, serene and to be set in the soft morning light. In actual fact, I wasn’t feeling at all serene as my camera had just stopped working, it had just started raining and it was around midday!” Gary remembers. “But this baby hippo was moving alongside its mother, bobbing in and out of the water and between us we excitedly shot dozens of pictures for reference.”

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HIPPOS – INSPIRATION FOR “BABY LOVE”

In Lake Manyara National Park the sound of thousands of ibis, pelicans and storks come to mind as they take off from the Lake – not particularly good reference, but an experience that adds to the whole creative process. In Ruaha National Park it’s the secretive Kudu standing proud on the hillside or the mother elephant and calf, only days old, moving slowly past the vehicle just feet away. And in Arusha National Park, the giraffes that stand so close to the entrance as if they’re keen to be the first wild animals you will see. Or the leopard that runs across the road after warthogs.

Tanzania has been one of Gary’s favourite destinations and is bound to be on future itineraries.

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BABY LOVE, 2008, PENCIL DRAWING

Next: Venezuela
 


                                                    All images on this website © Gary Hodges 2013 unless otherwise stated.
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