BEST of BOTSWANA photo safari TRIP REPORT - April / May 2017
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 7th May 2017
An unusually heavy rainy season has resulted in a lot of the Okavangao Delta being underwater. Moremi Game Reserve and the Khwai concession were very wet indeed and this meant that a lot of the the regular roads were unpassable which restricted our game drives to certain areas. However regardless of how wet the delta was, we still managed to find an abundance of photo opportunties with birds featuring high on the list. Water bird activity was of course very busy and we spent a lot fo time with Fish Eagles, Saddle Billed storks, Squacco herons, Cormoroants and King fishers. Our first three nights were spent in the Xini area of Moremi which has a real sense of wilderness, we hardly bumped into a single car during our 3 days here.
Next up was our 4 night stay in the Khwai Concession area. By far the highlight from Khwai was spending a number of hours on our own with a beautiful young male Leopard. The ability to follow animals off road in Khwai offers a great opportunitiy to get a bit closer to the wildlife. Apart from the Leopard, we were entertained by a troop of Baboons near our camp, a great sighting of the big Verreaux's Eagle Owl, the stunning Crimson Breasted Shrike, Greater Kudu, Cape Hunting dogs, Little Bee eaters and a Great Spotted Cuckoo being fed by its host mother, a Burchell's Starling.
Our third land based stop was three nights in the Savuti area of the Chobe National Park. Savuti was teeming with birds of prey and I have never seen so many Tawny Eages before. HIghlights here were two juvenile Secretary Birds still at their nest (although seemingly independant). We watched as an adult arrived and fed one of the large "chicks" with 3 or 4 baby birds, most likely, Francolin chicks. We also spent time with Dwarf and Yellow Mongoose, watched a Hornbill chick being fed by the adult at the nest, which was a dead tree lying on the ground !, saw a second pack of Cape Hunting Dogs, a Barn Owl in a tree cavity, Elephants at Harvey's pan, a Greater Painted Snipe !, Cape Buffalo, Giraffe and two Lionesses.
From Savuti we set off for the magnificent Chobe River for our final 2 nights. The river was the fullest I have ever seen it at this time of year and it did allow us to get closer to the edge of the river and photograph some of the animals coming down to drink. It also opened up some new channels which we were happy to explore. Birdlife is alway excellent at the Chobe River and we completed 4 boat rides on the special Pangolin Photo Boat with its custom designed swivel chairs and gimbal mounts, this is the best and only way to enjoy photography on the Chobe River !!
We had sightings of and photo opportunties with, Pied Kingfishers, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, Black Crake, Malachite Kingfishers, Giant Kingfisher, African Jacana, Allen's Gallinule (a first for me), Long toed Lapwing, Elephants, Hippo and African Fish Eagle building a nest.
But the highlight of the stay at the river and perhaps of the whole trip was spending time photographing a pride of lions (3 females and 2 males) who walked along the river front and were at times no more than 10m from us in the boat. One female then charged in on a Nile Monitor Lizard that had been warming up in the sun on the river bank. She chased and caught the lizard just before it reached the safety of the river. A really rare and very specdial sighting indeed !
So even though the conditions in the Delta were quite different to usual, it just goes to show that one never really knows what mother nature has in store for you.
A HUGE thanks goes to the Letaka Camp Staff team who looked after us so well for the first 10 nights of our trip, it is still a mystery as to how these guys manage to do all that they do and still have the energy to look after us with so much care and attention to detail. Thank you Musa for the amazing food !!, and to KP and KG for making sure every aspect of our camp life experieince was taken care of so that we could enjoy our experience to the fullest.
Of course without a master guide, we would not have achieved the photos that we did, and on this occasion our master was Nkosi !!, thanks so much for all your patience with positioning, and re-positioning the vehicle and finding that Leopard for us was an incredible piece of intuition, only achieved after decades of time guiding in the African wilderness, thanks Nkosi !!
Mr Shuur, our boat captiain on the Chobe, thank you so much for getting us in and out of sightings on the river and for those magical moments with the Lion pride.
And a final huge thanks to Guy, Cat and Richard for joining us on this Botswana adventure, it was a pleasure to meet you Richard and to travel once again with Guy & Cat, until the next time and another box of Jammy Dodgers !
Enjoy some photos from the trip !
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We recently travelled to South Africa for a safari led by Wild 4 African Photographic Safaris. To put things simply, we were completely blown away. I had been on safari before, and had expectations that I thought were reasonable, but Wild 4 completely exceeded those expectations in so many ways. First of all, Justyna handled all of our travel and trip details with exceptional professionalism and always responded to even our most basic questions quickly and in a very detailed manner. Once we had arrived in South Africa, we were met by our guide Stu Porter, who I cannot say enough good things about. He is so organised and cordial. Stu was spotting things that we couldn’t believe that he was spotting, which almost always led to an amazing wildlife experience that we never saw coming. His knowledge and understanding of the wildlife and ecosystem was outstanding, and he went to great lengths to insure that we had the best chance of capturing a great photo, without compromising the rules of the park or the integrity of the animals and ecology within it. His understanding and respect for the wildlife and surroundings made the trip so much more than just a “drive around and look at whatever we see” kind of experience. I know that you can never predict what kind of experience you will have when you go out into the wild, and often it’s up to nature to decide what events you will be a part of, but in all honesty, I can’t imagine a better guide than Stu Porter. We will be doing our future trips to Africa with Wild 4, and cannot recommend them highly enough. Thank you so much for what a lot of people call “the trip of a lifetime”, although we feel that this is only the beginning of many trips of a lifetime. Thank you, Wild 4!!
James Smith, USA
This was the second trip I have booked through Wild4 and one of the most memorable and pleasurable trips I have ever been on in my life. We were blessed with incredible sightings from a frenzy of feeding wild dog to mating black mambas. The list is endless and the memories will linger for ever in the form of some great images shot from the customised vehicles driven by expert drivers. The camps chosen were great and there was a real and genuine feeling of being a part of your surroundings. A truly African experience. Botswana certainly came up trumps when delivering us such great sightings. From the bush to the Chobe river and the specially adapted photographic boats, you could not have asked for more. I must extend an enormous thank you to you Stu, for your endless patience and professionalism in everything you did for us. Thank you. Also a big thank you to Justyna who’s meticulous planning ensured a seamless trip to and in between each of our camps and destinations. Good job!
Stephen Tattersall, UK