BEST of BOTSWANA photo safari TRIP REPORT - May 2017
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 2nd Jun 2017
Our second "Best of Botswana" photo safari for 2017 started only 3 days after the first trip and already there were changes in the water level, both in the Delta and at the Chobe River.
The tour however stared with the optional extension to see the famous Victoria Falls on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
From a personal perspective, the falls is one of my favourite places in all of Africa, the sheer size and magnitude is amazing. We visited the falls at sunrise, in the afternoon, took a helicopter flight (the best way to see the whole falls) and for the first time, we visited the falls to try and photograph the Lunar Rainbow - a phenomenon that only occurs at full moon.
We enjoyed our stay at the falls, but the high water level created an above normal amount of mist and spray, so most of the eastern view points were not photographable. We instead concentrated on the western view points and the helicopter ride was great.
We did achieve a shot of the Lunar Rainbow, but logistically it is a bit tricky to organise. The eastern view piints would offer better photos, but there was just too much mist and spray this time round.
From Victoria Falls we travelled to Moremi via Kasane, this time were were able to fly into Xakanaxa airstrip in Moremi, but were left with a long drive to our camp in Xini.
Our three nights in Moremi offered up some good opportunities of African Wilddog, Spotted Hyaena, Giraffe, Red Lechwe, a beautiful female Boomslang and a number of great birds such as the Black Crowned Tchagra, Meyer's Parrot, Grey Headed Kingfisher and a Shikra.
The 4 nights in the Khwai concession were next, this time around the water level had dropped enough for us to reach the islands where we found two male Lions and a Lioness. On our way back one night we watched one of the Male Lions swim across the Khwai River which was great !
Some other highlights were Impala, Elephants, another pack of African Wilddogs, Common Waterbuck, Verreaux's Eagle Owl, a Hammerkop catching fish, Tree Squirrels, African Hoopoe and a wonderful Pearl Spotted Owlet.
Our final 3 nights were in the Savuti area of the Chobe National Park. Savuti proved to be very successful once again. Highlights were a female Leopard that drank from a pan, great Elephants, African Buffalo, Black Backed Jackal, Burchell's Zebra, Tsessebe and Giraffe. Birds were great with a lot of photo opportunities which included, Kori, Bustard, Capped Wheatear, Dickinson's Kestrel, Marico Flycatcher, Crimson Breasted Shrike, Little Bee eaters and Brown Snake Eagle. The best was left for the last morning as it so often is in Savuti, we caught up with the Marsh pride at Wilddog Vlei, after they had finished off the remains of their Cape Buffalo kill. The pride of 11 with the two pride males drank from the pan and played around for over an hour before it was time for us to head to the Savuti International Airport and our flight to Kasane.
The water level in the Chobe River had dropped by another meter or so from our previous trip. This meant that some channels were now too shallow to navigate, but it exposed some other areas we had not been able to visit before. We once again completed 4 boat rides on the special Pangolin Photo Boat with its custom designed swivel chairs and gimbal mounts, and some of the highlights were, African Darter, Elephants swimming and feeding in the river, Crocodile, Hippo, Baboons, Impala, a rarely seen herd of Sable Antelope, White Fronted Bee eaters, Malachite Kingfisher, White Crowned Lapwings, African Spoonbill, Brown Hooded Kingfisher and our final session was spent photographing the Yellow Billed Stork nesting colony who had only just arrived !
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 Pula for the amazing food !!, and to Ghoms and Philemon 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 another huge thanks goes to our master guides, Shadreck and Lucas, thanks so much for all your patience with positioning, and re-positioning the vehicle, experieinced guides like you are a must for any photo safari to be successful !!
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 feeding Elephants and Yellow Billed Storks.
And a final huge thanks goes to Bernice, Sharon, Georges, Ray, Mark and Marc for joining us on this Botswana adventure, it was a pleasure to have spent this special time with you all in one of the least remaining wildlife edens !
Enjoy some photos from the trip !
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This was my third photographic trip to Africa, and I have to say the best! Stu has great knowledge & passion for wildlife and photography that he is willing to share: I certainly learnt a lot. The setup for photography in the vehicles is extremely well thought out. There was an amazing variety of great photographic opportunities and I really enjoyed time spent with the animals, but the unexpected bonus for me was the day spent at the reptile centre (part of the extension). I am very pleased with the results! After coming away with the renewed enthusiasm for photography, I am planning to do another trip with them soon."
Helen Clarke, AUSTRALIA
Our 14 days with Wild4 Safaris will always be remembered as the best learning experience we have ever embarked on. Not only for the improvement in photographic skills and knowledge, but also the animal behavioural knowledge that we gained. We were totally immersed in the world of wildlife photography in the best place in the world with one of the best pro photographers around. Stu genuinely enjoys sharing his knowledge and passion for wildlife and photography. More than a holiday, it was an unbelievably rewarding learning experience and has taken our skill level up significantly. Stu and his team were able to help us learn about our equipment and coach us to apply these new skills quickly. Their sharing of knowledge, expertise in photography, and being able to read wildlife behaviour along with the excellent booklet (which became Marie's bible) are world class. This ensured we got to places that others didn't and that we were always in the best position to shoot. We also booked the extension and were most impressed with the "behind the scenes" access we gained at each Reserve. Stu didn't disappoint and was able to put together some memorable opportunities for us to get many excellent shots. The whole package was first class, from the pick up at Nelspruit, accommodation, food and day trips, to the people (now friends) who we met on the trip. This is one of those bucket list adventures that we will be doing again with WILD4.
John and Marie, AUSTRALIA