Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 6th Jun 2018
Our first "Best of Botswana" photo safari for 2018 has just ended and it was very interesting to see how the water level in the delta was much lower than last year at the same time, but the water in the Chobe River was the highest I have ever seen it. This is a very interesting water system and never fails to offer something new.
We flew into the Okavango Delta from Maun and headed off to our campsite near third bridge. Moremi Game Reserve is a very big area and it always surprises us with some unusual sightings. One of the highlights from Moremi was watching the mating behaviour of the Impala. Although a very commonly seen antelope, mating behavior is seldom observed, but we were very lucky to watch this rarely seen behaviour a number of times. We also had great sightings of Tsessebe, Zebra, Wildebeest, Waterbuck and the Red Lechwe. Birds were great as usual, especially watching the African Darter with its Catfish which unfortunately it eventually lost !
We saw the single Lioness and her cub on Dead Tree Island and were treated to a wonderful sighting of a Leopard and her cub. Nkosi, managed to scratch out another male Leopard by listening to the alarm calls of Tree Squirrels and Spurfowl and mixing this with a lot of patience and persistence.
Next up was the Khwai concession and this was perhaps one of the best visits to Khwai I have ever experienced. We saw the Cape Hunting Dogs every day, the large Lion pride feeding on a Zebra, but perhaps the most special of all was getting to watch a young female Leopard go about "Leopard life" and we amazingly got to see her everyday doing something different. This included her stalking some Impala that she did not know were being chased by Cape Hunting Dogs, when she saw the dogs she bolted up the nearest tree. She then stalked right past our car trying to catch a young Impala, but was unsuccessful. She also provided us with the sighting of the trip when she met up with her mother and they both proceeded to climb up a tree and fish out a total of 8 Barn Owl Chicks from their nest in a tree cavity. Master spotter Lucas also found her one morning lying out on a fallen log which produced one of the best photos of the trip - thanks Lucas !!
There was also a great interaction between a big Bull Elephant and the pack of Cape Hunting dogs. The Elephant tried to pass by but the dogs chased him, in return the big Bull Elephant was having none of it and chased and trumpeted at the Dogs.
Our journey to Savute through the Mababe depression yielded a small group of rarely seen Roan Antelope and the largest Bull Roan I have seen.
Savute provided some great birds, Lions with small cubs, lots of Hyaena cubs at the den and on our final morning we had an amazing sighting of a Leopard in a large Rain tree with the remains of an Impala kill. This sighting ramped up a notch when two Lionesses noticed the Leopard and climbed up the tree to try and steal the Leopards kill. The Leopard must have sensed that the Lions would climb up after it and took its kill right to the top of the tree and remained safely out of reach of the Lions who found it quite difficult to climb down the tree. We were all quite amazed that both Lions managed to climb such a difficult tree - so to answer the age old question of "can Lions climb trees?" - yes they can and not just the easy ones !!
As mentioned, the Chobe River was the fullest I have ever seen it, it was spectacular to see from the air on our approach into Kasane.
Having more water means you can get closer to the river bank in more locations when on the boat rides. This certainly led to a lot of great mammal and bird sightings. The usual spectacluar opportunities with Kingfishers, Hippos, Elephants swimming, African Fish Eagles, Spur Winged Geese, Crocodiles and antelope drinking were enjoyed on all the boat rides. The highlight came on our final morning boat ride when we spotted a young Leopard displaying some unusual behaviour when she stalked up to a big Bull African Buffalo, and climbed up into the tree under which it was feeding. The Leopard looked down on the Buffalo for a while but managed to get out of the tree before the Buffalo even knew it was there. The Leopard then drank from the edge of the river. Next she honed in on a group of Impala that had just finished drinking and followed them away from the river, forcing us to return for breakfast with some very special memories, sightings and photographs from a fantastic trip.
The two day Victoria Falls extension followed and due to the very high water level of the river, the volume of water going over the falls was tremendous and caused large volumes of spray making it tricky to photograph the falls from most of the view points. We still enjoyed the sunrise shoot and the beautiful rainbows that are synonymous with the Victoria Falls.
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 SMS and Parker 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 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 beautiful female Leopard.
A final huge thank you goes to a fantastic group of clients, Rita, Murray, Diane, Bob and Jeanie - it was fantastic to see you all again and many thanks for joining us on this Best of Botswana adventure.
Enjoy some photos from the trip !
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Bastian and I enjoyed the Migration photo safari very much. We realize that we have been very fortunate to see so many crossings and animals in such a short period of time. The safari was well organized, all accomondations were first class and the food certainly a nice surprise. One could not have expected such good food in the wilderness! James and Julius took good care of us and were one reason that we saw so much different and exciting wildlife. You picked a great support team for this safari! Bastian and I learned a lot of new photo techniques from you, which we will use in the future to improve our photographic results. Bastian for sure got hooked on time lapse, I'm sure he will be back in touch with you, sharing some of the work I expect he will create soon. Thanks to you and all your preparation, your guidance and support, this was a once in a life time experience. We will never forget these fantastic sights and animals and our photographs will always remind us of you and the great time we spent together. Now we have the difficult task to sort through thousands of images. One day it will be done and I hope my DVD will do justice reflecting the beauty of Masai Mara. Not an easy task but a welcomed challenge.
Bastian & Matthias Freund, 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