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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From the moment we contacted Wild 4 we were impressed with the prompt, friendly, enthusiastic way our queries were answered. Stu is a passionate wildlife photographer eager to pass on skills, ideas, techniques and information. The wildlife sightings leopards, lions with cubs, rhinos, elephant herds the list goes on - Awesome, Amazing, Exciting are just a few words that come to mind. Not forgetting the support of John, Ann (excellent food) and of course Justyna nothing was to much trouble for them. We have had many safaris in various countries but this surpassed them all. The only decision now is not if, but when we return
Maureen & Trevor Lovegrove, UK
I was fortunate to be on Wild4's “Best of Botswana” trip in May 2014. It could well be the Best of Africa. This trip featured two expert guides (Stu Porter himself and Nkosi from Letaka Safaris) and the abundant wildlife of four different Botswanan hot spots, with relatively few other vehicles around. Those features alone are worth the price of admission, particularly since they include Stu's vehicle modifications that ensure the best possible photographic experience. But if that isn't enough, we spent the first ten nights in expedition style mobile camps, roughing it with bucket showers and drop toilets, and listening to the leopards, elephants and hyenas wandering in and around the camps at night. But don't worry about the “roughing it” part. The expert staff prepares perfect meals, including fresh baked breads and cakes, and ensures that the camp is safe and clean. We finished the 12-night trip in a luxury lodge on the Chobe River, where we photographed from a boat customised to accommodate serious photographers (i.e. people with lenses bigger than their legs) and a waterway full of hippos and elephants and lined with Africa's most iconic birds. If you can only go once to Africa, go to Botswana with Wild4 Photographic Safaris. They will take care of every detail of your safari to ensure that everything is just right. If you are an old Africa veteran, ditto. You just can't go wrong with Wild4.
George Cathcart, USA