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2017 a year of my favourite images and stories

2017 was an incredible year of travel for me. I was, quite literally, on the road nearly every month of the year!

Flights taken - 49

Countries visited - France, Belgium, Senegal, Czech Republic, Mauritania (twice), Morocco, Namibia (twice), Botswana (twice), South Africa (twice), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Qatar (four times), Sri Lanka, India, French Polynesia, New Zealand, the remote British territories of Pitcairn, Oeno and Henderson islands, Netherlands, Chad

Mountains visited - The remote massif of Daraman Laglat in Western Sahara, the foothills of the Himalayas in Ladakh, the incredible Kiliguen Massif of eastern Chad and finally the breathtaking Ennedi Plateau in northern Chad

Oceans visited - Indian, Atlantic, Pacific

Deserts visited - Kalahari (twice), Sahara (three times), Namib (twice)

2017 was a year filled with footsteps

FEBRUARY - Senegal

A nomadic Fulani man takes shelter from a violent sand storm to drink tea.

During February we travelled to Senegal and Mauritania to reconnaissance the Birdquest trip to Senegal. While we were there we travelled through horrific sandstorms as we headed to Rosso, the ferocity of which had driven many nomadic Fulani people out of the trackless Ferlow in northern Senegal out to the coast to find water for their animals. I also got to finally meet my stepdaughter Bineta, who lives at her school in central Senegal

The salt harvest boats at Lake Retba. A flamingo takes off in the incredible Djoudj Wetlands. Beachside St Louis. A normally shy Marsh Mongoose in the magnficent Saloum Delta, spanning the border of Senegal and The Gambia

FEBRUARY - Prague

Although an editorial deadline forced me to seek shelter when it rained, I enjoyed a long weekend in Prague, one of Europe's most beautiful cities

And I was staying just a few blocks from the wonderful "Fred and Ginger" dancing building designed by one of my favourite architects - Frank O'Gehry

MARCH - Western Sahara

A line up of fishing boats in the fishing settlement of Lassarga, near Dakhla, in Western Sahara. Sadly this settlement has been earmarked for destruction by an investor group who wants to build a resort on the peninsula it is located.

In March I co-led a strenuous Western Sahara expedition to search for Fennec Foxes, Sand Cats and other nocturnal creatures. While the night photography was very difficult I found some unexpected photographic joy in a charismatic fishing settlement just south of Western Sahara's 'capital', Dakhla. Lassarga was home to a colourful community of Saharawi fishermen who not only welcomed me with smiles into their world, they gave me breakfast of arabic tea and freshly caught fish, grilled on an open fire on the sand

Haj, Ahmed and the fishermen of Lassarga.

APRIL - India

Kathputli

Early morning in Kathputli

I was principally in India to run my Ladakh Women's Project and while that remained the focus of my trip, I was blessed to visit the iconic artist colony of Kathputli in Delhi while I was there. This slum, made famous by Salman Rushdie in his novel "Midnight's Children" was home to over 700 people, a community of street performers and artists that had entertained the glitterati of Delhi for over 70 years. Hailing mainly from the regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat, Kathputli's residents had formed a close-knit, vibrant community over the time they lived there. Indeed some had lived there for three generations. Sadly in November, Kathputli was destroyed in the name of corporate greed. My images here eventually helped campaigners to secure accommodation for the displaced residents of Kathputli and I believe 90% of them have now been given accommodation to help them get through the ravages of this winter in Delhi. While their future is still uncertain, I am happy that my work helped, at least in a small way, to provide them with shelter. The destruction of Kathputli was the destruction of an icon but above everything it was the destruction of people, their homes and their livelihoods. I think of these people every day. I hope my images serve as a small testimony to the vibrance of this community that is no longer with us

Scenes from Kathputli. Of all of these images, one of my favourites is the little child standing at the fore of a pile of rubble. Although this image was taken before the colony was demolished, to me it remains a poignant reminder of what was lost in the city of Delhi in November

APRIL - India

Ladakh Women's Project

The incredible Brokpa women of the Indus Valley

In April I led the Ladakh Women's Project - a project for women by women. It was a project I conceived to assist women living in rural and isolated communities across the former Kingdom of Ladakh in northern India. It ended up being a wondrous journey of friendship between myself, the women who came with me and the women of this magnificent corner of the Himalayas. The funds from the project were donated mainly to the nomadic Changpa women of Ladakh who remain one of the most economically disadvantage, gazetted ethnic groups of people in India

The beauty of Ladakhi women

APRIL - India

Ladakh

The monastery of Lamayuru at sunset

Although the Ladakh Women's Project was principally about women, we enjoyed meeting many Ladakhi men, monks and herders on our trip

Some of the images of Ladakhi men, children and scenery we shot on the Ladakh Women's Project

MAY / JUNE - South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe

My parents' 50th wedding anniversary in Africa

Zebra portrait - Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

After a love affair that was sparked one year earlier, I returned with my parents to their beloved Africa to celebrate their 50th Anniversary this year. While their trip was mainly centred around Namibia and Zimbabwe, we also skipped through Botswana, Zambia and South Africa on their trip. They enjoyed helicopter flights over Victoria Falls and Sossusvlei. They also had some incredible encounters with lions including the pride of iconic (and now deceased) lion Xanda in Hwange. Together they walked with the San bush people in Namibia and they also did the trek into Deadvlei - no mean feat for a pair of people who are both nearly 80. Finally we all enjoyed sundowners in the African bush to celebrate their golden anniversary at the wonderful lodge The Hide in Hwange. It was certainly a trip to remember!

What an incredible way to celebrate your golden wedding anniversary - in Africa!

JULY - Sri Lanka

A leopard greets us in the late afternoon in Yala

In July I hosted the Wild Images trip to Sri Lanka with my wonderful clients (friends) Ulrich, Kuni and Bruni

Sri Lanka is home to some spectacular wildlife

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER - Namibia and the Kalahari

A pair of Burchell's Zebras fight it out in the dust of Etosha

Every two years I lead one of my favourite expeditions of my career - a combined expedition to Namibia and the Kalahari. This year's one was no exception with an incredible group of guests who joined in the most stupendous expedition to some of the most remote and beautiful corners of southern Africa

The wildlife and people of Namibia and the Kalahari have always been very special to me

October / November - French Polynesia

A Black-tipped Reef Shark cruises the shallows of the lagoon in South Fakarava, French Polynesia

Back to back expeditions to Fatu Hiva and the remote Tuamotu archipelago and the British offshore territories of Pitcairn, Henderson and Oeno Islands

A pair of Upes preening each other; detail of a Mahi Mahi skin; Marquesas tattoos; White Terns in flight; remote atolls; breeding seabirds and the extremely tame Tuamotu Sandpiper were all highlights of our expedition to remote French Polynesia

DECEMBER - Chad

The breathtaking oasis of Guelta D'Archei in the Ennedi Plateau of northern Chad was an amazing place to be on Christmas Day!

Of all the trips I was to co-lead this year, my most anticipated was the Birdquest expedition to Chad, a country so far off the radar of tourism in Africa, yet a country I'd been dying to see. We travelled to nearly every corner of Chad apart from the far northern areas around Tibesti. Chad is an undiscovered jewel of Africa - home to friendly people, wonderful wildlife and some of the most mindblowing scenery on the African continent. Travel there is very rough as there is literally no tourism in Chad, but if you are prepared to do what it takes, the rewards make it all so worthwhile. Now one of my new favourite countries of Africa, I am already planning to go back in the future

Scenes from all corners of Chad including Ennedi, Zakouma, Southern Chad, nomadic people and the incredible grasslands of central Chad which are home to the release site of the Scimitar-horned Oryx.

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