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 !
Leave a Comment
My wife and I have been on three photo safaris with Stu. The first trip was the result of a recommendation from a friend. The second and third trips were because Stu did such a good job on the first. He is a thoroughly professional guide and offers such a terrific experience wherever he takes us. Stu shares his extensive knowledge of photography and has made it possible for us to get better photos and expand our understanding of what it takes to capture more of each photographic opportunity. It takes a special person to guide photographers around Africa, keep them comfortable, provide them with the best photo locations at the best time of the day, manage the schedules, vehicles, drivers, flights and food and still remain calmly in control. I think it would be appropriate to call Stu and ultimate professional. He is supported well by Justyna in the office and we anticipate traveling more with Wild4 in the future. You should book a trip with him as soon as you can!
Larry Jackson, USA
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