The Last Place On Earth

Looking back and moving forward

Image of a cheetah in Tanzania

As I start to make plans for future travels, I’m thinking about the last place on Earth I visited strictly for photography opportunities. At the same time that I’m optimistically looking ahead to new adventures, memories dance in my head. Because of the countless escapades I’ve experienced, I’m inspired to pursue the next episode of my story. The more I travel, the longer my bucket list becomes.

That last destination that I visited was one of my all-time favorites, Tanzania. While I began my travel photography journey in Europe and North America over a decade ago, the places that have truly touched my heart have been Africa and Asia. Tanzania, in particular, opened up a whole new world to me. The abundant wildlife in the Tanzanian national parks is unrivaled in the number of species you’ll encounter while on safari. Just naming the number of animals and birds that abound in Tanzania would take up more space than I’m allotted for a whole column.

As a photographer, I’ll have immeasurable numbers of photo ops regardless of how many times I visit this remarkable country. Choosing just one photo to represent the last trip I took pre-COVID is not an easy task, but there usually is a darling of the bunch, and this time it was an image of the world’s fastest land animal, the fleet-footed cheetah. Clocked at a blistering 68 miles per hour, the cheetah is unrivaled in sheer speed for short bursts.

The cheetah is most commonly seen in the Serengeti plains, where its coat blends in perfectly with the golden Serengeti Volcanic Grasslands. During the rainy season, the color of the Serengeti Volcanic Grasslands turns from a golden hue to lush green in places, as seen in this image of our feline friend. The vibrant green provides a perfect contrast to showcase the beauty of this gorgeous cat’s coat.

While visiting Tanzania in February 2020, we encountered severe rainstorms that had not hit the country in over a quarter-century. As disappointing as it was to have so much precipitation, the wet conditions allowed my group and me to experience something truly unique. Several of the trails became rivers and were impassable, even with our rugged 4×4 vehicles. Animal sightings were scarce compared to other years.

However, I loved the rainy experience for other reasons. Rare sightings of African wild dogs and serval cats were among the highlights of the safari. Seeing how strangers banded together to help each other when safari vehicles became stuck in the insane mud was a testament to the kindness of our local guides, the travelers in my group and the other groups we encountered along the journey. As icing on the cake, the verdant foliage that the rains provided us with offered us the chance to get uncommonly alluring photos. In the end, it is always about how you react to a situation that will define the experience for you.

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Into each life, some rain must fall.”

Ken Kaminesky is the co-founder and owner of Discovery Photo Tours as well as a commercial travel photographer and the travel photography columnist for Outdoor Photographer. His work has been featured worldwide in numerous commercial and editorial publications, including the New York Times and on the cover of National Geographic. His passion for travel and the incredible landscapes and people he encounters along the way are the inspiration for his popular blog, and the other publications he writes for.

Throughout his travels, Ken seeks to capture images and stories that will inspire and motivate people to step out their front door and embrace adventure. As one of the founders and tour leaders at Discovery Photo Tours he gets the chance to share his love for travel and photography with avid photo enthusiasts from all over the world. Savouring art, food, history, and culture with tour groups in places like Jordan, Tanzania, and Japan is one of the most rewarding aspects of his work.

His favorite place in the world is always his next destination. He believes that each place has a unique story that will inspire others, which he aims to capture in his images.

He doesn’t usually talk about himself in the third-person.