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Monthly Archives: October 2013


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I had very high expectations. I had seen the pictures and read about what the natives called Mosi-oa-Tunya: “Smoke that thunders”. The more and day-dreamt about it the higher my expectations became, and with them my anxiety. How would I photograph a natural wonder that had been photographed in every possible way. I really spent lots of time thinking about it, but nothing seemed to calm my tremendous anxiety episode.



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At 5:45am Jonathan, the manager of Elephant Camp drove me to the main entrance and I had to wait 10 minutes for the guards to arrive and open. I walked in and immediately could hear the thunder of water and see the mist flying like cool smoke. I kept walking towards the sound and suddenly found my self right at the edge: I was breathless, speechless. I felt a need of more eyes.. it was too much for me to look at.. my eyes alone were not enough to see so much at the same time. I set up my tripod and started looking trough the lens. Images started to appear like magic… visions. In retrospective I have to admit I was all over the place, running up and down, trying to decide where to look at. But it worked out. I got some images that I am proud of.

Next morning it was much easier. Same ritual, same time but now I knew where I was going and what to expect. I had a strategy and I stuck to it. At the end I could have used a few more sunrises since two definitely were not enough, but it was all I was going to get. I got to tell you, it does not matter how many photographs have taken of this place. It does not matter that millions of images are taken every year and uploaded to the web; the water falling over the rocks was a different water and the mist was a different mist.. many things were different that morning, specially the fact that it was my turn to photograph the gigantic Victoria Falls.

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I’ve seen it before on TV. Thousands of Wildebeest jumping into the river, lots of them to certain death. It’s one of those things you know exists but somehow you think they do in a parallel world. Definitely not in the same world you do exist. It’s like those rare birds you see illustrated in field guides but never actually seen. But that september morning, I was there, just a few hundred meters away from the river while more and more Wildebeest kept arriving and joining the growing crowd. It was a crisp and fresh morning at the Serengeti and we had left camp around 6:00am.

We waited. None of the Wildebeest had yet touched water but by 10am they already looked anxious and determined. From behind the pressure was mounting. As more animals arrived they kept pushing the others towards the water and I could sense something was about to happen. A few zebras strolled the shores trying to use the numbers as a shield from predators. But crocodiles did not look hungry, as dozens of corpse still layed on the water from previous crossings. There was plenty of food on the Serengeti and predators were calmly saving energy and avoiding an active hunt.

Then suddenly one brave individual jumped into the water and all hell broke loose. It was pure mayhem. Animals raced desperately into the water and we, from our side did was well. We drove as fast as we could to the shore to witness on of the worlds greatest spectacles. It was all I dreamt and more. I was there, inside a TV show… watching through my lens as the Great Migration unfolded. It lasted almost 2 hours and it was pure magnificence.

Photos don’t do justice to the dimension of this event, but until you get there (and trust me, you should) please have a look.

(for more photos please visit www.mariodavalo.org )

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