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Travel with Canadian artist David Kitler to the remote jungles of Panama's Darien Province to learn about the magnificent but endangered Harpy Eagle - the world's most powerful bird.
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Kitlers Spend Two Months Exploring Southern Africa and Madagascar
After a little sightseeing and a night in London, England, the Kitlers arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they picked up a fully equipped 4x4 safari camper from Bushtrackers (www.bushtrackers.co.za), which was to be their home for the first part of the trip.

Soon after they were on their way to Kruger National Park's Malelane Gate, about 500km away (driving on the "wrong" side of the road after a really long flight...), in the southern region of the park. The Kitlers explored the park and observed its wildlife, while moving towards the northern-most gate, Pafuri. From there, they traveled to Mapungubwe National Park, before crossing the border to Botswana.

However, before they started their exploration of Botswana, the Kitlers spent a day visiting the impressive Victoria Falls, along with the surrounding National Park on the Zimbabwe side. The Falls, one of the largest in the world, are situated on the Zambezi River, between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The "Smoke that Thunders" did not disappoint, especially after a helicopter flight provided more unparalleled views of the falls.

Back to Botswana and incredible sights and experiences. While the rest camps in Kruger are gated to keep larger animals at bay, the whole country of Botswana is a game reserve. Campsites are little more than clearings where one can park or set up a tent, but there is nothing to separate you from the animals. Exactly what the Kitlers were looking for! Nothing like being woken up in the middle of the night by a lion's roar that sounded so close that the whole tent seemed to shake, or waking up to the crashing sounds of an elephant "dining" on the trees in your campsite, and then staying awake the rest of the night while the same elephant snored his way until sunrise...

In Botswana, the Kitlers started by exploring the Chobe Riverfront area of Chobe National Park, then traveled on to dry and sandy Savuti. Finally, they spent time at the wild Moremi Game Reserve with its prowling hyenas peering at you from the dark, before starting the return trip to South Africa, skirting the Kalahari Desert and via the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

After returning their safari camper, the Kitlers flew to Antananarivo ("Tana"), the capital of Madagascar to start their exploration of this country's unique biodiversity. The world's fourth largest island, Madagascar is home to plants and animals found nowhere else on earth, the most famous of which are the near 70 species of lemurs and a host of bizarre-looking chameleons.

Unlike Southern Africa, where driving was the best and safest way to explore, in Madagascar the Kitlers dusted off their hiking boots in order to visit several of the country's National Parks. In the east, they visited Parc National d'Andasibe-Mantadia, encompassing two distinct areas and home to the rare indri, Madagascar's largest lemur. From there, they flew northwest as part of David's quest to observe the Madagascar Fish Eagle, which he successfully accomplished at Park National d'Ankarafantsika. The last stop took David to two national parks in northern Madagascar that are still so wild that four new species of lemur were discovered as recently as 2006: Parc National de Montagne d'Ambre and Réserve Spéciale de l'Ankŕrana.

Another noticeable change in Madagascar was that David traded his long lens, which was standard equipment for wildlife observation in southern Africa, for a micro lens, which allowed him to capture close-ups of some of the smallest and most amazing creatures he had ever seen while exploring the many canyons and underground caves.

David is still in the process of sorting through the 8,000+ photos he gathered, but has already started to prepare the panels for the first few paintings that will be created as a result of this unforgettable experience. So stay tuned!

 


 
 
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