BEST of BOTSWANA photo safari TRIP REPORT - June 2018
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 7th Jul 2018
Our June "Best of Botswana" photo safari for 2018 has just ended and the sightings and photography was fantastic. It was quite a bit colder than the May safari and the warmth of the campfire at night was much appreciated and enjoyed !
After flying into the delta from Maun, we were met by our guides, Nkosi and Lucas, at the Xakanaxa airstrip. Our camp in Moremi was in a great location, but our first night was spent together with a resident troop of Baboons who decided to shelter in the large Jackalberry trees above our tents - needless to say it was not easy to fall asleep !!. Some highlights in Moremi were sightings of Tsessebe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Waterbuck and the Red Lechwe, Jackal, Yellow Billed Storks, Lilac Breasted Rollers and two beautiful Male Lions.
We then headed off to the Khwai Concession, hoping to see the Owl eating Leopards that we had seen on our May safari. We camped at the same beautiful Sable Alley campsite and on our very first morning drive we did indeed bump into the same young Leopard, this time she was 50m outside our camp with a fresh male Steenbok Kill ! we could not have asked for a better start to our 4 days in Khwai. Over the next few days the young Leopard managed to keep her kill safe from scavengers and we saw her every morning. She even managed to escape from a pack of Wilddogs who actually came through our camp and chased her up into the safety of a Camel Thorn Tree. We also caught up with the young Leopards mother who had made an Impala kill.
The Cape Hunting dogs had set up a den site and although we did not see the puppies, one female had definietly given birth. A second female was also seen in the pack, heavily pregnant hersefl, so it will be interesteing to see how the pack and the two sets of uppies get on in the next few months. Other highlights in Khwai were a great sighting of the African Golden Oriole, Hammerkop, Baboon, Saddle Billed Stork, Reedbuck, Little Bee Eaters and a very rare sighting of a pair of Bathawks who are usually only seen at dusk and dawn. We also saw a young Elephant with half its trunk missing and part of its ear. We assumed it might have been attacked by a Crocodile when it was very young.
Our final stop on the mobile camping section was the semi arid region of the Chobe National Park called Savute. Our campsite was conveniently located close to the Hyaena den and we managed to see the clan one morning. We also enjoyed a fantastic Elephant sighting at Harvey's Pans, it was the most Elephant I have ever seen at the pans, we estimated that in all there might have been over 250 elephants lining up to drink. It was here that we saw yet another young elephant with a trunk injury, this time however the youngster had no trunk at all and was quite an odd sight.
One of the cutest sightings was of 3 baby Yellow Mongooses who came out of their burrow to suckle from their mother.
On our final full day we set out in search of the Marsh pride who were still located at the southern end of the Marsh near Jackal Island. Lucas spotted a Lioness from far off and we noticed that she had some cubs with her, 5 in total. We managed to follow them to a beautiful termite mound that the female climbed. This was perhaps the sighting of the trip. Whilst we were photographing them at a small pan we heard the rest of the pride roaring near Jackal Island. We headed there and found the rest of the pride including one of the big males, who decided to lie in the shade of our vehicle.
Savute offered some great bird photography too including Kori Bustard, Tawny Eagle, Southern White Crowned Shrikes and the Capped Wheatear.
Next stop was the Chobe River where the water level had dropped about 2 meters since our last trip. Getting through the channels was a bit tricky and we only got stuck once ! The river always offers up some great sightings and we enjoyed the usual Pied Kingfisher sigtings, Egyptian and Spur Winged Goose, African Darters, Hippos, African Fish Eagles, Elephants, Squacco Heron and Reed Cormorants. We did however have four special sightings, a Beautiful Giant Kingfisher, a very rare sighting of a Lesser Jacana, African Skimmers and the beautiful Carmine Bee Eaters whom I had expected to have migrated further north by this time.
The two day Victoria Falls extension followed and the lower water level did allow a slightly better view of the falls but the main falls was still very wet with heavy spray. We did manage to take the Lunar Rainbow photo from the Zambian side which is a much better place to do this compared with the Zimbabwean side as you are allowed to walk around on your own and not as part of a group.
A HUGE thank you 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 KK for the amazing food !!, and to Names and July for making sure every aspect of our camp life was taken care of so that we could enjoy our experience to the fullest.
Of course another huge thanks goes to our expert guides, Nkosi and Lucas, thanks so much once again for all your patience with positioning and your expert spotting & tracking skills. Guides like you are a what make a photo safari in Botswana a success !!
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 Elephants and the stunning Carmine Bee eaters.
A final huge thank you goes to a great group of clients, Larry, Debbie, Ross, Robert and Robert and Angela - it was fantastic to spend this safari with you - many thanks for joining us on this Best of Botswana adventure.
Enjoy some photos from the trip !
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If you are serious about nature photography, you can't do better than booking with Wild 4. Wild 4's itinerary provides sun-up to sundown quality photo-ops, and you feel you are traveling with good friends who are showing you their favorite spots. This was our fourth African photo safari (three others in East Africa) and we could not believe what a difference it makes, when a professional photographer, who understands light and animal behavior, just happens to be your driver, in a photo vehicle he designed himself. There was super spotting work from Ann from a separate radio equipped vehicle. We were the first on a leopard / impala kill thanks to one of Ann's incredible sightings, resulting in a sensational series of images shot over 45 minutes of the leopard dragging her prey to her den. After an exciting, productive day in the field, we were treated to friendly conversation, sitting around a campfire, and wonderful feasts magically prepared by Ann. Wild 4 is a totally professional and very special company. Thanks Stu, Justyna and Ann for a sensational safari.
Lee & Doris Wiese, USA
I did a photo safari in and around Kruger National Park with Wild4. At the end of the trip I could not think of one significant thing that I would have changed to make the experience better. I have travelled to various parts of East and Southern Africa many times to photograph wildlife and I have to say that this was THE most photographically productive trip of them all. Not simply the volume of pictures, but the quality and variety of images that I returned home with was simply awesome. Key to this was Stu’s knowledge, enthusiasm and patience. Most days we were photographing from first light until sunset, and beyond on some occasions. I quickly learned not to worry about getting the vehicle into the best position for background, light, etc. We would see an animal and I'd start to assess where I would like to be for a shot, no sooner would I have done this I would realise that Stu was already getting us into that very position. The man is a first class guide AND an excellent photographer. Perfect. The whole trip, from start to finish, ran like clockwork. The camps were comfortable, the food was great and the company delightful. Going on Safari with Stu and Justyna was like being with friends, I had a truly unforgettable time. Photographic safaris do not come any better than this.
Mike Needham, UK