PHOTO TRIP REPORT | Best of Botswana | May 2019
Posted by Wild4 Photo Safaris on 4th Jan 2020
View the VIDEO TRIP REPORT for this photo safari
The 2019 May "Best of Botswana" photo safari proved to be a great success, the weather was perfect and as usual, the light in Botswana at this time of year was just amazing.
After flying into the delta from Maun, we were met by our Letaka Safari guides, Gee and Bate, at the Xakanaxa airstrip. Our camp in Moremi was in a great location and as we arrived at the camp, we were greeted by a herd of Elephants. Some of the many highlights we had in Moremi included Tsessebe Antelope, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, and large herds of Elephants and Red Lechwe.
Our next destination was the Khwai Concession, and our private campsite right on one of the river channels. Khwai is always a very productive place and this trip was no different. We had amazing photo opportunities with the local birdlife, including a wonderful pair of endangered Wattled Cranes. We saw Leopards and Lions on a number of occasions, one of which was a fascinating scenario where Lions had caught and injured a small baby hippo, just out of the safety of the watercourse. The mother Hippo was trying to keep the Lions away from her baby and charged at the Lions on a number of occasions.
Our final stop on the mobile camping section was the drier Savuti area of the Chobe National Park. The sunrises and sunsets in Botswana are gorgeous, particularly in Savuti, and we enjoyed photographing these on most days. Savuti also provided us with a great sighting of two male Cheetahs which are not commonly seen in Botswana, but we found these two brothers leaving the open area of the Savute Marsh and heading into the Mopani Thickets that border the marsh. Marabou Pan was dominated by Lions and Elephants and as the dry season encroaches, this water hole is certain to become very busy indeed. Other highlights in Savuti were Ostriches, Giraffe, Greater Kudu and small Lion cubs.
Next stop was the Chobe River where we stayed at the newly finished Pangolin Chobe Hotel, which exceeded all our expectations and we had a wonderful stay. Of course, the Hotel is backed up by an amazing experience out on the specially modified Pangolin Photo Boat. We had the private use of a boat and explored different areas of the river right up to Elephant Bay. Photographing birds from the boat is really productive as one can approach to within a few meters of many different species. The mornings tend to be great for birds, and we scored a bonus by photographing a Carmine Bee-eater - one of the last to migrate north. The afternoon boat rides provide a lot of opportunities to photograph the many different species of mammals that come down to the river to quench their thirst. Elephant herds were abundant, but we also photographed Cape Buffalo, Chacma Baboons, Greater Kudu, Impala, Hippos and a serious fight between two fully grown male Giraffe.
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.
Without the master tracking, spotting and driving skills of both of our guides, Gee and Bate, we would never have been able to get into the best positions to photograph all the animals we encountered, these guys are amazing and it was a great pleasure to work with both of them.
Smart, our boat captain on the Chobe, thank you so much, trying to position a vehicle on land for a good photo angle is tricky, but to do this on the water in a boat is an incredible skill, I don't know how you do it Smart! - thank you!
Many thanks to all the amazing staff at the new Pangolin Chobe Hotel, you made our stay so welcoming and enjoyable, the location is awesome and the food is out of this world!
Last, but not least, a huge thank you to a wonderful group of clients who made this trip possible, Robert, Kate, Al L., Kathy, Al P. and Sharon - what a great trip it was, filled with many memories, both in picture form and in the mind, it was a pleasure to travel with you all.
Enjoy some photos from the trip !
View the VIDEO TRIP REPORT for this photo safari
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We have a particular affinity for bird photography, but also enjoy the African game animals. I'm pleased to say we are all thrilled with the entire trip. Stu met us at the airport on day 1, and what was to have been a quick couple hour drive to camp, took all afternoon until sunset, we found so many things to shoot. Then we wanted to do something slightly off the itinerary on day 2, and Stu again accommodated us. It was like that throughout the entire trip, the Porter family was very accommodating. Even though we were in a big national park using public facilities, the Porter family made us feel like we were in our own private game reserve, and the animals were there just for us. Stu's local knowledge of the birds and game is just great, he's a walking guide book. And because he's in Kruger so often, he knows where the best spots are. Also he knows all the other guides, and they share information. And most importantly if you are considering a photo safari, Stu is an accomplished nature photographer himself. He knows the light and how to position and approach for the best shot. He knows what photographers want and how to get it. The experience might be quite different if just any guide were to drive you around. And having a spotting vehicle out searching for game really helped us see some extra animals we wouldn't have seen. The results were outstanding. We saw and photographed all the of the big five, and several seldom seen animals totaling 33 mammal species and 164 bird species. All in all, the trip was great!! highly recommended!
Con Foley, USA
The Wild 4 team made my trip to South Africa a truly memorable experience. Photographing some of the orphaned captive animals at the private game reserve on the extension was a great way to start the holiday, and Stu's tuition on techniques, composition and familiarity with your gear was the foundation for the rest of the trip. In Kruger we had some wonderful sightings - including the 'Big 5' all in one day on two consecutive days! The highlights were spending 20 minutes with a leopard cub in a tree no more than 30 metres away, and on the last day watching a pride of 14 lions stalking a herd of zebra for more than an hour - just wonderful experiences! I'm sure the quality of the shots I took was infinitely better than if I'd gone on a regular safari, as the whole focus of the experience is expertly designed to maximise photographic opportunities - including only 3 photographers in the specially designed vehicle. Stu's knowledge, enthusiasm and patience were boundless, and Ann's spotting and catering skills were also priceless! I hope to visit Africa again soon, and without doubt Wild 4 will be my first option.
Greg Morgan, UK