BEST of BOTSWANA photo safari - May 2016
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 2nd Jun 2016
The "Best of Botswana" 2016 photo safari has just ended and it was interesting to see how dry the Okavango Delta was but also to see how full the Chobe River was, quite contrasting locations and very different to the 2015 trips.
Moremi Game Reserve was our first stop for 3 nights. Highlights in Moremi included two big male Lions, a Lion kill, great birdlife, a large herd of Cape Buffalo, Wattled Cranes and a very atmospheric visit to "Dead Tree Island".
Next stop on the tour was a 4 night stay in the Khwai community area where we were treated to a number of great Leopard sightings including one of a young female Leopard that used a dead tree as her vantage point to spy on some nearby Zebra. Hippo activity was excellent in the early morning and we caught them just before they re-entered the safety of the water. One night at 2am we heard a pack of Cape Hunting Dogs right behind our camp in what seemed to be an altercation with some Spotted hyaena's over a kill that we suspected the dogs had made. In the morning we were able to catch up with the Dogs and followed them around for nearly 3 hours as they looked like they wanted to hunt again. They soon settled down to avoid the heat of the day and we again picked them up in the late afternoon. Birdlife in Khwai was also very good.
Our third stop on the trip was the special area in the Chobe Game reserve known as Savuti. Here we were treated to a number of excellent sightings of both the Marsh and Harvey's Pan Lion prides. The marsh pride had pulled down a Cape Buffalo in a small waterhole and we watched the interesting dynamics between and behaviours of the males, females and two small cubs as they all tried to get their share of the carcass.
The Harvey's Pan pride consisted of two adult females, 7 cubs and two males. On our final morning we were treated to a fantastic photo opportunity as the pride drank from a small pan, beautiful light and reflections too.
Life in camp is always a special experieince on the Botswana trips, it was getting cool at night but then the campfire was even more enjoyable.
Our flight from Savuti to Kasane and the Chobe River was a quick 35 mins and after lunch we headed out on our first afternoon boat ride on the Chobe in the special Pangolin Photo Boat.
There was a lot more water in the river this year compared with last year, but the Chobe still offered great photo opportunites with Elephants, Hippos, Crocodile, Puku Antelope and of course the multitude of water birds found here.
Our final morning was spent at the Yellow Billed Stork nesting colony which has just started to become active.
Thank you so much again to a great safari with Letaka Safaris and our excellent guides, Nkosi and Lucas as well as the amazing camp team - T-Man, Mula and Banda.
Many thanks also to Pangolin Photo Safaris and our boat captain Shuur !! thanks for yet another great stay at the river.
Finally thanks to all the participants for joining us on the "Best of Botswana" Photo Safari, CK, Pok Zin, Rita, John, Rob & Sue.. it was a pleasure to have travelled with you and shared some amazing sightings together.
Here are some photos from the trip - enjoy
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My wife Joanie and I joined Wild4 for the Best of Kruger and Big Cats in August of 2014. It was our very first trip on an African safari. I’m a serious amateur photographer and my wife’s a non-photographer but both of us enjoyed the trip thoroughly ! To this day, we still regularly recall the highlights of sightings and events fondly. True to Wild4’s brand promise, Stu Porter delivers maximum photographic times spent chasing photo opportunities out in the field - out 6am as soon as the camp gate opens and back only 6pm when the gate closes. Having no more than three photographers on each of two jeeps allows every photographer immediate access to both sides of the vehicle. Stu always knows where to position the vehicle for the best vantage points. Every day has its highs – big cat chases and kills, grazers sparring, herds of elephants and buffaloes appearing from nowhere at water holes... Thanks to Stu and the enthusiasm and knowledge of experienced senior guide Mike Lentz. Camps in Kruger are basic (by first world standards) but hey this is a safari ! There’s the important benefit of being only a short drive away from dams, good spots to catch the first light when the sun rises. This is important as the gates do not open till 6am so there’s little margin for being late. I had the opportunity to experience first-hand, the Wild4 team’s dedication and commitment to a successful photo trip for guests, beyond the call of duty. The Wild4 team helped solved a major photographic equipment problem. Early afternoon on Day 5, the lens AF motor on my 400mm telephoto lens failed. This was really a disaster on a trip like this, as (like everyone else) I had a spare camera body but not a spare super telephoto lens ! The other lens I had was a medium telephoto zoom, hardly a lens to use with tele-converters. Murphy’s Law indeed ! This happened with seven more days to go ! I enquired with Stu about hiring a lens from the nearby towns. Stu sprang into action immediately whilst still on the afternoon game drive - got his back-office team to make enquiries back in Nelspruit town. This was something new to the Wild4 team as they never had to hire a lens but they found a lens on the same day, a 200-400mm that’s also ideal for safari. The lens had to be dispatched from almost 200 km away and Mr John Porter helped to drive south to collect the lens sooner. I had the use of this lens by the morning of Day 7, with one-and-half day “downtime” in a remote location. Service excellence lived by as a core value indeed. After eight nights I left Kruger National Park with the feeling that I was just warming up and was leaving too soon. I would have gladly extended a few more days if that was possible. But we were bound for the next destination. I notice Wild4 has not been static. More new trips were added. I see the enterprise is growing fast ! Joanie and I are now looking forward to a trip to Kenya, again with Stu and the Wild4 team.
Steve Seow, Singapore
This was our first out of country photography trip. We were very excited and nervous. We did our research. Could this be for real? Was it too good to be true? Where was the catch? Let us give you a clue…there was no catch! We were treated in a warm and friendly manner from our first inquiry to our final wave goodbye at the airport. Everything was handled totally professionally! It was like a dream come true….days spent on wildlife photography…and being tutored by someone who really knows how to do it. Obviously Stu, Justyna, Ann and John love what they do. The only downside is sorting out several thousand photos in Lightroom ! . There are just some tasks you don't mind doing. It will be a labor of love. Will we go on photo safari again? Only with Wild 4 folks!!!
Michael & Toni Anderson, USA