Authentic Botswana Photo Safari October 2017

1 October – 9 October 2017 (Sold out)
Grant-Atkinson-webChobe_19A9381_0103-copyIn October 2017 Grant and Helena Atkinson will lead a private group of photographers into two of Botswana’s premier wildlife areas – The Selinda and the Chobe.  This safari includes five days in the Selinda Concession and three days exploring the Chobe River on a luxury houseboat! We have chosen to keep this safari to a maximum of only 6 photographers/travellers, and two photo leaders.  This makes for a relaxed experience and translates into lots of quality time with the leaders.  It also means there will be added opportunity to benefit from the leader’s wealth of experience in this region.  These are some of Botswana’s top destinations when it comes to wildlife safaris and we are running this trip during what is arguably Botswana’s best game-viewing season. The latter half of September and all of October is northern Botswana’s dry season and much of the wildlife, particularly elephants, gather along the permanent waterways.  We focus our safari around these two perennial rivers to take maximum advantage of dry-season wildlife concentrations.

We have carefully chosen two quite different locations that together offer a wide variety of wild subject matter. Our time in the Selinda will be spent mostly doing game drives in search of some of the charismatic animal species that the area is known for including lions, leopards, elephants and African wild dogs. On the Chobe River, we will make use of the extreme flexibility and comfort provided by a luxury houseboat for our base.  Our excursions will be made in special photographic boats.  The Chobe is well-known for offering some of the best photographic opportunities for elephant, hippo, Nile crocodile and a myriad of bird species. The timing of the trip means that a large number of water-dependant species will be close to the permanent water sources, two of which are the Selinda Spillway and the Chobe River.

 

Safari Highlights

  • We will have private Land cruiser game-viewing vehicles at both locations in Selinda concession, with only 1 person per row of seating (the vehicles have 3 rows behind the driver, plus a seat next to the driver if you want to be lower down to the ground).
  • The very-low number of guests permitted in the Selinda Concession means we can drive off-road at any time, enabling us to respectfully follow and photograph the wildlife as they go about their lives.
  • The small size of the group means maximum quality time with the photographic leaders both in the field, and in camp with regard to furthering camera, editing and processing skills.
  • An increased luggage allowance so you can bring all your camera gear – up to 80 pounds per person allowance on the in-country charter flights. Standard weight allowance is typically only 44 pounds by comparison.
  • Exclusive and private use of our camp and boats in both locations, ensuring freedom to make our own schedule and maximize time spent in the field.
  • Knowledgeable and passionate safari guides will drive us in open Land Cruiser game-viewing vehicles to help us get the images we are after.
  • This safari offers superb game viewing and photographic opportunities in the rugged beauty of northern Botswana. Although their presence can never be guaranteed, the Selinda reserve has supported more than one pack of the endangered African wild dogs, and we would hope to spend some time with these spirited and energetic carnivores.
  • Specially designed photographic boats have individual swivel seats, with mounts for our cameras attached to each chair. The photo boats enable us to make quiet approaches from interesting angles. The Chobe River is perhaps the best place to get up close to a wide variety of interesting bird species, including African fish eagles, storks, kingfishers and colorful bee-eaters. The rare African skimmer also breeds on the Chobe River at this time of year, and with some good fortune, we may be able to photograph these striking and graceful birds.
  • The itinerary focuses on a real wildlife experience from the surroundings of comfortable accommodations.
  • The reserves you will visit offer an insight to the fantastic wildlife of Botswana.

Is this Safari for You?

Here are some key points to help you decide:

  1. We welcome photographers of ALL levels. This safari will be conducive to learning from one another and include instruction that will suit everyone’s photographic needs. No question is off limits, no inquiry too basic.
  2. We are BIG on photographing in the field. We spend most our time and effort on safari activity and making images. We do meet daily to review images and discuss technique, but this is not a “classroom-intensive” trip. Our “classroom sessions” are optional (although the review sessions are valuable and there is not a more beautiful classroom).
  3. Non-photographer or videographer spouses / travel companions will love these safaris. We have specialist guides leading all safari activities and optional activities (boating, walks, etc.) are also available subject to camp restrictions.

Itinerary

Guests are to make their own way to Maun, Botswana for the start of this safari. After arriving in Maun and collecting luggage, you will be met by Grant and Helena.  You will then check-in for a light aircraft flight to Selinda ( approx 50 minutes).

01-02 October 2017; (1 night)

SELINDA CAMP

selinda096Selinda Camp, Selinda Concession, Botswana

From Maun, we will take a light aircraft transfer flight (with extra luggage allowance for camera gear inclusive) to Selinda (approx 50 minutes).  On arrival at Selinda airstrip, we will be met and transferred on a short drive (30 minutes) to the camp.

Selinda Camp is a small, wonderful, luxury tented safari camp that is situated on the banks of the eastern Selinda Spillway – a waterway that links Botswana’s Okavango Delta to the Linyanti and Kwando marshes, rivers and floodplains. The shaded camp is raised a meter or so off the ground and offers extraordinary views over the floodplains, waterways and wide open savannas which are only broken by distinctive and attractive palm islands. It is these views that are one of Selinda’s most compelling features. Guests sit on their verandas while enjoying their meals and gaze over the floodplains of Africa enjoying the passing wildlife as it has done for millennia. There is hardly a moment which goes by without animals in front of camp.

Selinda Camp is located in the 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve, one of Botswana’s prime wildlife viewing locations and most beautiful settings.The Selinda Reserve follows the course of the Selinda Spillway as it connects the Okavango to the Linyanti / Kwando river systems. The Selinda Spillway is like no other. It is a river that can flow in two directions, depending on where the water levels are the highest. In most years it flows in both directions with water pushing ‘up’ from the Linyanti waterways and also ‘down’ from the west, fed by the waters of the Okavango Delta.

The Selinda Reserve is one of Botswana’s famous wildlife ‘concessions’ or private reserves that offers all the privacy that Botswana is famous for.  The Selinda Reserve has a network of small tracks that traverse the area, and if there is something special on the go, we can go ‘off-road’ sensitively when there is something exceptionable.

Selinda has nine guest tents under thatch, accommodating a maximum of 18 guests. Each tent has comfortable three-quarter sized beds, and fine linen. Luxurious mosquito nets add to the romantic atmosphere of our tents and ceiling fans and roof vents cool your living space when needed. The interiors have writing desks and lounge furniture collected from around the world for those that want to write or relax between drives and walks.

There are spacious, en-suite bathrooms, with full sized stone baths and antique showers. Dual vanity basins complement the sense of luxury and sliding doors allow for privacy or create an open-air bathroom feel as well. Hot and cold water is in ample supply.

The next day, after our morning activity, we will take a game drive along the Spillway in order to reach our next camp, Selinda Explorers.

02-06 October 2016 (4 nights)

SELINDA EXPLORERS CAMP

Selinda Reserve, northern Botswana

Explorer main area

Our group will have the use of private driver-guides and vehicles throughout our 4-day stay at Selinda Explorers Camp and we will set our own hours and schedule to allow us to take full advantage of photographic opportunities.

We have chosen to stay at Selinda Explorers for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the foremost of these is the wide variety of wildlife for which this region is known. Lions roam this area and have done so for a long time. We might expect to come across them in any of the different habitats that make up this diverse concession. Leopards also occur here and favor the ribbons of riverine forest that line the waterways, but they can be found almost anywhere. Aside from these two charismatic cats, Selinda also provides ideal habitat for African wild dogs and over the last five years or so, the wild dogs have denned with success here. Spotted hyena are also present and add still more to the variety on offer.

GrantAtkinson-Selinda_94A4462The Selinda Channel is a semi-permanent water source that connects the waters of the Okavango River to the northern waterways of the Selinda, Savuti and Linyanti. Our camp is located right on the banks of this important waterway. The Selinda also provides a constant source of replenishment for the herds of elephant and buffalo that frequent its floodplains, woodlands and islands. Other game animals that we might encounter include hippo, giraffe, and a mix of interesting antelope species, like impala, kudu, waterbuck, red lechwe and very rarely, sable antelope. The mix of different habitats also makes for good birding.

In addition to the wide variety of animals that we may encounter, staying at Selinda Explorer camp also means that we will be able to venture off-road in order to improve our vehicle positioning for photography.

Selinda ExplorersCamp details: The camp is located on a remote stretch of the Selinda Spillway, close to the heart of the pristine 320,000-acre private Selinda Reserve. The camp accommodates a maximum of 8 guests sharing in 4 tents plus an additional guide’s tent as required. Under a canopy of towering jackalberry and mangosteen trees, the four custom-designed tents embody the philosophy of exploration, sitting squarely on the earth, connecting guests directly with the pulse of the wild. They’re spacious and stay true to the classic age of safari, when the journey was more important than the destination. Hot water for the bucket shower is brought to your tent on request, and should the hopeless romantic in you prove to hard to resist, brass hipbaths could be portered to a nearby sandbank on the edge of the Selinda Spillway for a bath like no other – it doesn’t get more spectacular than that!

After our last morning game drive, we will catch a light aircraft flight (with extra luggage allowance for camera gear inclusive) to the east, of approximately 45 minutes, to Kasane.

06-09 October 2017; (3 Nights)

PANGOLIN CHOBE VOYAGER LUXURY HOUSEBOAT

Chobe River, Botswana/Namibia border

Upon arrival in Kasane airport we will be met and transferred by road (15 minutes) to the jetty for pick-up by the Zambezi Voyager luxury houseboat – our base for the next 3 days.  We will also exit Botswana and check-into Namibia, via immigration offices beside the river itself.

zambezi-voyager-houseboatThe Chobe River is famous for its wildlife. By choosing the luxurious Zambezi Voyager as our base, we are able to avoid the busiest parts of this popular waterway. The Voyager will moor each night right on the northern bank of the river, allowing us to enjoy the views and solitude of the river long after most other day-visitors have had to depart the park.

For our game viewing, we will make use of two specially-designed photographic boats that have swivel seats and configurable camera and lens mounts that are completely state of the art. Aside from providing superbly stable and responsive mounts, the boats’ shallow draught will also enable us to access shallow water easily and to make near-silent, drifting approaches to our subjects.

zambezi-voyager interiorThe Chobe River during the dry season is one of the most incredible places in Africa to get up close to wildlife. During the months of August-October the Chobe River becomes a vital water source for large numbers of elephant, buffalo, waterbuck, kudu, impala and warthog. The Chobe River is also one of the best places to photograph hippos and crocodiles. Waterbirds abound and add an entirely new chapter to our photographic opportunities, as do some of the raptors that occur in the area. Most bird species are more approachable on the Chobe than anywhere else, making for high-quality photographic opportunities.

Moreover, by basing ourselves right on the river, we are able to be on the water at sunrise and sunset, maximizing our photographic opportunities. The Chobe is well-known as one of ‘the’ places to go when trying to take great photographs of elephants at or in water, as well as up-close hippo and crocodiles.

When it comes to special birds, the Chobe doesn’t disappoint. Our safari is timed to coincide with the breeding cycles of several species, including the rare African skimmer. Each year a handful of these striking birds attempt to raise their chicks on some of the river’s exposed sandbanks. Some of the other birds that abound in the area are African fish-eagle, African marsh harrier, giant, pied and malachite kingfisher, yellow-billed storks and white-fronted and carmine bee-eaters.

zam-voyager bedroomHouseboat details: The lower deck features five en-suite cabins that can be configured as either double or twin berths. The well-appointed cabins are tastefully decorated with solid African rosewood furnishings. Handmade Egyptian cotton linen is used on the custom-made mattress for your comfort. All the cabins have built-in cupboards, a safe, a cooling fan and mosquito repellent, and all the windows are mosquito-proofed. The en-suite bathrooms feature showers, with complimentary biodegradable shower gel, shampoo and hand wash from Maria Garcia. A touch of old-world elegance is evident in the dark rosewood trim, and brass fittings and fixtures. The lounge and dining areas are located on the middle deck. This area can be opened on three sides, affording panoramic views for watching game. The large dining table is the center-point for the four daily meals from our seasonal menus, provided by our on-board chef. The open-air top deck offers sun loungers, chairs and tables, ideal for viewing the river surroundings, relaxing and enjoying sundowners, or for an evening of unforgettable stargazing.

09 October 2017

On our last morning, after a short outing, we will transfer back to the Kasane jetty where we will be met and driven to Kasane airport in time to connect with scheduled flights onward.

 

NOTE:  Air travel and Customized extensions to this safari, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Victoria Falls and other destinations may be arranged through Eyes on Africa as desired.  Ask us for further information.

Costs

The cost of this all-inclusive safari is  $11,790 per person (US Dollars). This fee includes all in-country (Botswana and Namibia) ground and air transportation as well as all accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals.

Due to the limited number of spaces available, if a solo guest is willing to share a room and we can match with another guest of the same gender, we will do so. If this trip fills, then no single rooms/tents will be available as we have taken all rooms at both Selinda and the Zambezi Voyager houseboat.

Please note: We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (political, climatic, environmental, cultural, or wildlife migrations) may necessitate changes in the itinerary. We reserve the right to alter any itinerary at any time, if necessary. We will attempt to notify participants of changes as far in advance as possible. Costs incurred by such changes will be the responsibility of the participant.

NOTES

  • This safari starts in Maun (October 01) and ends in Kasane (October 09).
  • The costs of the commercial flights from Johannesburg to Maun  and the flight from Kasane, Botswana back to Johannesburg  are NOT INCLUDED in the trip price above. Should you wish Eyes On Africa can arrange for these flights for you but the costs are not included in the trip price.
  • Gratuities for guides and camp staff are recommended to be paid in cash.
  • Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Johannesburg and the safari camps for any optional expenditures during the trip as needed.

Inclusions and Exclusions

What is included

  • Accommodation on a shared basis.
  • Private air charters from Kasane to Selinda and Selinda to Maun, Botswana.
  • Additional luggage allowance on the flights / air charters within Botswana (35kg allowance per person). Note that excess luggage fees may be charged on the commercial flights. These costs are the guest’s own responsibility and can be paid using credit card at the airport at check-in.
  • Private vehicles (open 4×4’s) at Selinda Explorers Camp.
  • Private Luxury Houseboat and private game-viewing boats for river safaris on the Chobe River.
  • 2 x Professional photographers and guide leading the trip (Grant Atkinson with Helena Atkinson or another photo leader).
  • All safari activities
  • Services of the lodge and houseboat guides & staff.
  • Relevant park fees.
  • All meals and local (non-premium brand) drinks while in the safari camps.
  • Daily laundry at Selinda camp and Selinda Explorers Camp.
  • The current Tourism Levies and all relevant Value Added Tax or Government Sales Taxes

 

What is not included

  • International airfare and/or other transportation between your home and Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • Premium brand wines and liquors (available at extra cost payable directly).
  • Laundry on the Houseboat (the last 3 days).
  • Visas.
  • Travel Insurance (we are happy to assist with this – please ask us).
  • Personal purchases (including curios, spirits, liquors, telephone calls etc.)
  • Gratuities.
  • Optional extra activities.
  • Pre- and post- safari tours.
  • Meals or accommodation before or after the safari (except as noted in the detailed itinerary).

 

How do I signup?

This group will be very small and exclusive (a maximum of 6 participants), so space is VERY limited. If this exciting safari workshop has your name on it and you’re excited by the thought of joining on this trip, then now is the time to register. Remember, there will be limited space available for this workshop and when the spots are spoken for, that’s it. If you have any questions before registering, send an e-mail to Grant Atkinson.

Gallery

 

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