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Smartphone Wildlife Photography, 2018 World Airport Awards, Aurora Wilderness Camp

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5 Smartphone Photography Tips from Thanda Safari

tourists encounter an elephant

Christian Sperka Resident Wildlife Photographer and Field Guide at South African safari destination says you can travel light and photograph like a heavyweight.

There’s a wildlife photographer inside of each of us – all it takes is a smartphone and good technique to bring out the talent. Christian Sperka, the Resident Wildlife Photographer and Field Guide at Thanda Safari in the heart of Zululand, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, has 5 tips to share for capturing striking imagery while traveling light on safari.

  • Private Game Reserve vs. National Park?  Stay on a Private Game Reserve – Destinations such as Thanda Safari are great for smartphone photography, as travelers can usually get much closer to wildlife than at a national park. Professional and experienced guides knows exactly how close they can get to animals – safely – for you to snap a good picture. Get as close to eye-level with your picture subject, and you will create some great shots.
  • Smartphones are Excellent for Macro-Shots – Everyone wants to bag an image of a lion, but some of the best shots will come from something smaller scale. Anything from plants to small creatures can be captured very well with a smartphone. Just be sure to check with your guide to be sure it’s safe to get close.
  • Clip-On Tele-Focus Lenses are Available for Very Little Cost – Speaking of lions and the like, having a tele-focus lens for your smartphone will make it possible to get good shots of faraway targets. Binoculars can also serve the same purpose – just be sure there is a small distance between the camera lens and the binoculars’ ocular, and focus first with the binoculars before using your smartphone camera.

“90 percent of the people in a safari vehicle have a camera, and for 70 percent that camera is a smart phone. The smartphone-crowd is a very important part of safari today.” 
                                                                        — Christian Sperka, Resident Wildlife Photographer & Teacher

  • Smartphones are Great in Difficult Light Situtions – Sunsets, sunrises and interesting cloud formations over beautiful scenery are often easier to capture with a smartphone than with a regular camera. Combined with a good ‘enhancement app’ – such as the excellent Camera+ for iPhones – can yield amazing pictures.
  • Smartphones are Very Good for Wide-Angle Pictures – Focus on beautiful scenery with wildlife and you will create great memories. Zooming in on pictures (a.k.a, ‘pinching’) should be avoided as most smartphones only provide digital zoom (equivalent to picture cropping). Better to take the picture ‘un-zoomed’ and crop it later. Some very advanced smartphones – including iPhone 7+, 8+ and X – have a second tele-focus lens, which provides optical zoom capability.

Bearded and fun, Sperka has traveled the world photographing animals in wild game reserves in South Africa, Namibia, Costa Rica and Yellowstone National Park, as well as in zoos across Europe and the United States. His work has been featured in wildlife magazines, zoo publications and books, including Thanda Cats (2014), his tribute to the felines that make the wilds around Thanda Safari their home.

Guided by his motto, “keep it simple,’ Sperka offers a wide range of instructional programs to guests of Thanda Safari including a complimentary 30-minute Smartphone Photography Lesson for those staying two nights or longer (subject to availability). All sessions should be booked well in advance.

For a fee, guests can book private game drives in Sperka’s Green Mamba — outfitted with special photography seats and arms to rest cameras on, plenty of legroom, and even a full martini bar and Nespresso machine — to test their newfound skills in the wild under his watchful eye. Or if you’d rather enjoy the game drives and have someone else document them for you, Sperka can shoot the experience on guests’ behalf — from capturing stunning shots of each animal encounter to snapping beautiful images of the guests taking it all in.

For more information or to reserve travel at Thanda Safari, please contact
T: +27 (0) 27 32 586 0149;  E: reservations@thanda.co.za; or visit www.thanda.com.

Changi Airport Singapore is Voted the World’s Best Airport for the 6th Consecutive Year at the 2018 World Airport Awards

Singapore's Changi Airport

Singapore Changi Airport has been named as the World’s Best Airport by air travelers for the sixth consecutive  year at the 2018 Skytrax World Airport Awards, held at Passenger Terminal EXPO in Stockholm, Sweden.

The World’s Top 10 Airports

1     Singapore Changi
2     Incheon
3     Tokyo Haneda
4     Hong Kong
5     Doha Hamad
6     Munich
7     Centrair Nagoya
8     London Heathrow
9     Zurich
10    Frankfurt

The World’s Most Improved Airports

1    Rome Fiumicino
2    Perth
3    Calgary
4    Taiwan Taoyuan
5    Athens
6    Nadi
7    Montréal
8    Moscow Sheremetyevo
9    Houston Intercontinental
10   Manila

The World’s Best Domestic Airports

1    Tokyo Haneda
2    Shanghai Hongqiao
3    Tianjin
4    Kagoshima
5    Osaka Itami
6    Ordos
7    Changsha
8    Kumamoto
9    Shenyang
10   Hohhot

The World’s Best Airport Staff Service

1    Incheon
2    Tokyo Haneda
3    Taiwan Taoyuan
4    Centrair Nagoya
5    Singapore Changi
6    Hong Kong
7    Kansai
8    Narita
9    Amsterdam
10   Vienna

The World’s Best Regional Airports

1    Centrair Nagoya
2    Hamburg
3    Durban
4    London City
5    Denver
6    Dusseldorf
7    Cologne / Bonn
8    Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
9    Haikou
10   Xi’an

The World’s Best Airport Security Processing

1    Tokyo Narita
2    Centrair Nagoya
3    Copenhagen
4    Taiwan Taoyuan
5    Tokyo Haneda
6    Singapore Changi
7    Zurich
8    Incheon
9    Hong Kong
10   Amsterdam

The World’s Best Airport Immigration

1    Taiwan Taoyuan
2    Centrair Nagoya
3    Hong Kong
4    Copenhagen
5    Helsinki
6    Tokyo Haneda
7    Zurich
8    Singapore Changi
9    Incheon
10   Tokyo Narita

The World’s Best Airport Leisure Amenities

1    Singapore Changi
2    Incheon
3    Doha Hamad
4    Amsterdam
5    Hong Kong
6    Munich
7    Taiwan Taoyuan
8    Zurich
9    Frankfurt
10   Centrair Nagoya

The World’s Cleanest Airports

1    Tokyo Haneda
2    Centrair Nagoya
3    Incheon
4    Taiwan Taoyuan
5    Singapore Changi
6    Tokyo Narita
7    Hong Kong
8    Zurich
9    Doha Hamad
10   Helsinki

The World’s Best Airport Terminals

1    London Heathrow – T2
2    Munich – T2
3    Singapore Changi – T3
4    London Heathrow – T5
5    Tokyo Haneda – Int’l
6    Madrid – T4
7    Dubai – T3
8    Paris CDG – T2-M
9    Mumbai – T2
10   Baku Heydar Aliyev Airport – T1

The World’s Best Airport Hotels

1    Crowne Plaza Changi
2    Pullman Guangzhou Airport
3    Hilton Munich Airport
4    Fairmont Vancouver Airport
5    Sofitel London Heathrow
6    Hong Kong Sky City Marriott
7    Langham Place Beijing
8    Regal Airport Hong Kong
9    Sheraton Amsterdam Airport
10   Hilton Frankfurt Airport

The World’s Best Airports for Dining

1    Hong Kong
2    Singapore Changi
3    Incheon
4    Tokyo Narita
5    Doha Hamad
6    Munich
7    Houston Intercontinental
8    Vienna
9    London Heathrow
10   Rome Fiumicino

The World’s Best Airport Shopping

1    London Heathrow
2    Singapore Changi
3    Hong Kong
4    Doha Hamad
5    Amsterdam
6    Incheon
7    Dubai
8    Rome Fiumicino
9    Paris CDG
10   Frankfurt

The World’s Best Airport Baggage Delivery

1    Kansai
2    Tokyo Haneda
3    Incheon
4    Taiwan Taoyuan
5    Tokyo Narita
6    Zurich
7    Singapore Changi
8    Centrair Nagoya
9    Munich
10   Copenhagen

The World’s Best Transit Airport

1    Hong Kong
2    Singapore Changi
3    Incheon
4    Munich
5    Taiwan Taoyuan
6    Doha Hamad
7    Tokyo Haneda
8    Amsterdam
9    Narita
10   Frankfurt

The World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Terminals

1    Kansai – T2
2    Tokyo Narita – T3
3    Melbourne – T4
4    Kuala Lumpur – KLIA2
5    London Stansted
6    Brussels Charleroi
7    East Midlands
8    Luton
9    Berlin Schönefeld
10   Frankfurt-Hahn

Best Airports by Passenger numbers

Singapore Changi
Best Airport 50 million+ passengers

Hamad Doha
Best Airport 30-40 million passengers

Centrair Nagoya
Best Airport 10-20 million passengers

London City
Best Airport under 5 million passengers

Munich
Best Airport 40-50 million passengers

Zurich
Best Airport 20-30 million passengers

Durban
Best Airport 5-10 million passengers

A-Z of 2018 Award Winners

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Best Airport Staff in Europe

Athens International Airport
Best Airport in Southern Europe

Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport
Best Airport in Russia & CIS

Bangalore International Airport
Best Regional Airport India / Central Asia

Bogota El Dorado Airport
Best Airport in South America

Budapest International Airport
Best Airport in Eastern Europe

Cape Town International Airport
Best Airport in Africa

Centrair Nagoya
World’s Best Regional Airport
Best Regional Airport in Asia

Chengdu International Airport
Best Airport Staff in China

Christchurch International Airport
Best Regional Airport in Australia / Pacific

Crowne Plaza Hotel Changi
World’s Best Airport Hotel
Best Airport Hotel in Asia

Delhi International Airport
Best Airport Staff in India / Central Asia

Denver International Airport
Best Regional Airport ib North America

Hamad International Airport
Best Airport in the Middle East
Best Airport Staff in the Middle East

Durban King Haka Airport
Best Regional Airport in Africa

Fairmont Vancouver Airport
Best Airport Hotel in North America

Haikou Meilan International Airport
Best Regional Airport in China

Hamburg Airport
Best Regional Airport in Europe

Helsinki Airport
Best Airport in Northern Europe

Hilton Munich Airport
Best Airport Hotel in Europe

Hong Kong International Airport
World’s Best Airport Dining
World’s Best Transit Airport

Incheon International Airport
Best Airport Staff in Asia
World’s Best Airport Staff

Kansai International Airport
World’s Best Airport for Baggage Delivery
World’s Best Low Cost Terminal

Kazan International Airport
Best Regional Airport in Russia & CIS

Heathrow Airport
Best Airport in Western Europe
World’s Best Airport Shopping
World’s Best Airport Terminal

Mauritius SSR International Airport
Best Airport Staff in Africa

Movenpick Hotel Bahrain
Best Airport Hotel in the Middle East

Mumbai International Airport
Best Airport in India / Central Asia

Munich Airport
Best Airport in Central Europe
Best Airport in Europe

Panama Tocumen Airport
Best Airport in Central America / Caribbean
Best Airport Staff in Central America / Caribbean

Perth Airport
Best Airport Staff in Australia/Pacific

Pullman Hotel Guangzhou
Best Airport Hotel in China

Quito International Airport
Best Regional Airport in South America
Best Airport Staff in South America

Rome Fiumicino Airport
World’s Most Improved Airport

San Francisco International Airport
Best Airport Staff in North America

Shanghai Hongqiao Airport
Best Airport in China

Singapore Changi Airport
World’s Best Airport
Best Airport in Asia
Best Airport Leisure Amenities

Stamford Plaza Hotel Sydney
Best Airport Hotel in Australia / Pacific

Sydney Airport
Best Airport in Australia / Pacific

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
World’s Best Airport Immigration Service

Tokyo Haneda International Airport
World’s Best Domestic Airport
World’s Cleanest Airport

Tokyo Narita International Airport
World’s Best Airport Security Processing

Vancouver International Airport
Best Airport in North America

A New Hotel on Skis Is Launched in Finland, Perfect for Watching the Northern Lights in Bed

Aurora Wilderness camp, Kilpisjärvi, Finland
Photo credit: Kilpissafarit

Northern Finland is the site of a new hotel experience where a well-appointed glamping cabin is towed into a remote wilderness location, deep in the Arctic Circle. The cabin is one of three rooms that are then moved to an optimal spot for lying back to experience the Northern lights from the comfort of your bed.

mobile rooms set on skis with a clear Aurora viewing roof
Photo credit: Kilpissafarit

The new mobile rooms set on skis include a clear Aurora viewing roof and are located six kilometers east of Kilpisjärvi, Finland. Creating the Aurora Wilderness camp, the three rooms are available to book through Off the Map Travel until mid-April 2018. After the end of the season, the Aurora Wilderness Camp will reopen in January 2019.

Those staying in the new wilderness rooms will enjoy a cozy cabin which measures 2.5m wide, 4.5m long and 2m tall, and includes a comfortable, wide bed to lie back and take in the night sky; a table; dry toilet; a gas heater with thermostat; and gas stove to ensure a warm and peaceful night.

Guests will also have exclusive use of the cabin’s snowshoes and kicksleds, offering the chance to explore the local area during the stay.

“The wilderness surrounding Kilpisjärvi is known for its remote and uninterrupted Arctic tundra,” notes Jonny Cooper, founder of Off the Map Travel and Arctic travel expert. “Away from any manmade light pollution, it is here that that the wilderness camp is placed for the winter, giving guests the best possible opportunity to experience the Northern Lights and simply enjoy the silence of the Arctic plains.” The camp is located 6km east of Kilpisjärvi.

The new cabins provide a combination of adventure and comfort. They allow those looking to completely escape from the modern world to be with nature as they hunt for the Northern Lights from their bed. With three mobile rooms available to book, each comfortably sleeping two people, the new cabins combine to create the Aurora Wilderness Camp situated optimally for Northern Lights hunting. Once the winter ice has thawed, the rooms (on skis) will then be relocated to a new home for the following season.

Northern lights over Aurora Wilderness Camp
Photo credit: Kilpissafarit

The experience starts at 6pm where an experienced guide transports guests by snowmobile to their room before teaching them how to make a campfire and grill some local sausages. After the wilderness grill, guests will have the camp to themselves to hunt for the Northern Lights and enjoy the peace of the Arctic wilderness. To fuel guests’ Northern Lights hunting, local snacks and hot drinks are provided, with a warming breakfast also included in the overnight experience.

Statistically, the Kilpisjärvi area has more clear night skies and records more Northern Lights activity than any other place in Finland. Experts have estimated that if the sky is clear, visitors have more than a 70 percent chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

As with any itinerary from Off the Map Travel, every itinerary can be tailor-made to fit the wishes and requirements of any guest. As an example, a 3-night, 4-day itinerary costs from £1599 per person based on two adults sharing on a full board basis. This includes private transfers to and from the Airport in Tromso, accommodation for two nights in a cozy log chalet and for one night in the new Aurora Wilderness Camp including all meals. Other activities are available on request. Flights are additional.

For more information on tailor-made travel itineraries visit Off the Map Travel; call +44 (0) 800 566 8901; email info@offthemap.travel.

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