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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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
It has always been a dream of mine to travel to Africa and take a photo safari. Although I am not a professional photographer, it has been a hobby of mine and I had been wanting to make the trip for many years. Last year, I went on a safari through a different agency, and was disappointed. It was too generic and commercialized. It left me unsatisfied and wanting more. After a year, I still had an urge to go back to Africa and get the experience that I felt I had missed out on. After doing some research I came upon Wild 4 African Photographic Safaris. I was excited that this time I would really get the experience I was hoping for, and it did not fail. Upon arrival at the park, I met Stu. He was extremely helpful, even months before the trip. Justyna helped me prepare and made sure I was well equipped for the safari. Before arriving, I could already tell that this would be an adventure of a lifetime. During the safari, Stu’s knowledge continued to surprise me. Not only does he know about photography, but his familiarity of the animals and their environment is unbelievable. He could spot a rhino from miles away that we would only see once he drove 5 minutes towards it. He understands the environment and how to get great shots. He never let us miss an opportunity. Stu was patient and didn’t rush us. His tips were useful and will help with all of my future photography endeavours. The Wild 4 Safari at went above and beyond all of my expectations. It really was a dream come true.
Ulhas Mayekar, USA