14-24 September (10 nights) 2018
In September 2018 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 three days exploring the Chobe River on a houseboat and five days in the Selinda Concession. 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 as Grant and Helena lived and worked in this area for many years. 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 the two perennial rivers, the Selinda Spillway and the Chobe, to take maximum advantage of dry-season wildlife concentrations. For the last two days of the trip we will visit the very the successful breeding colony of Southern Carmine bee-eaters that nest there at Kalizo, along the Zambezi River, Namibia. With several thousand birds concentrated in a fairly small area, it makes for an incredible sight, filled with colour and all the energy associated with their busy breeding behaviour. From a photographers perspective, this time spent at the bee-eater colony will offer exciting opportunities for photographing the birds in flight, as well as avoiding predation and going about their daily activities. All images in the gallery are from recent safaris to these destinations.
This trip is run by Eyes On Africa.
How do I signup?
Our group size is a maximum of 6 participants and normally this trip fills up fast. If this exciting safari sounds good and you are thinking of joining this trip, please get in touch with any questions.
Please click on individual tabs below for more detailed information.
Is this Safari for you?
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- We will have private Land cruiser game-viewing vehicles at both locations in the 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 75 pounds per person allowance on the in-country safari scheduled 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.
- On the Chobe river, 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.
The Itinerary: 14-24 September (10 nights) 2018
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 the 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.
Pangolin Chobe Voyager houseboat, Chobe river, Botswana/Namibia border
14, 15, 16 September 2018 (3 nights)
Guests are to make their own way to Kasane, Botswana for the start of this safari. After arriving in Kasane and collecting luggage, you will be met by Grant and Helena.Upon arrival in Kasane airport we will be met and transferred by road (15 minutes) to the jetty for pick-up by the Pangolin Voyager houseboat – our base for the next 3 days. We will also exit Botswana and check-into Namibia, via immigration offices beside the river itself. The Pangolin Voyager is a very comfortable way to explore the The Chobe River, famous for its wildlife. The lower deck features five en-suite cabins, with air-conditioning, that can be configured as either double or twin berths. 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 our daily meals as well as editing sessions. The open-air top deck offers sun loungers, chairs and tables, ideal for viewing the river surroundings.
By choosing the Pangolin 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 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.
The 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 Chobealways delivers. 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.
On our last morning we will do a last boating activity and then make our way to Kasane airport from where we will take a a light aircraft flight to Selinda airstrip (approx 50 minutes). We will have extra luggage allowance for camera gear (35 kgs/75 lbs per person)
Selinda camp, Selinda concession, Botswana
17 September 2018 (1 night)
On arrival at Selinda airstrip, we will be met and transferred on a short drive (45 minutes) to Selinda camp. We will spend one night at Selinda camp and an additional four nights at Selinda Explorers. We will however traverse the same game drive area. Selinda has nine guest tents under thatch, accommodating a maximum of 18 guests.
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. 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.
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.
Selinda Explorers camp, Selinda concession, Botswana
18, 19, 20, 21 October 2018 (4 nights)
Selinda Explorer Camp is a small, wonderful 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 camp accommodates a maximum of 8 people.
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 favour 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 six years or so, the wild dogs have denned with success here. Spotted hyena is also present and adds still more to the variety on offer.
The 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. On the morning of the 22nd, we will do a short game activity and then make our way to the Selinda airstrip from where we will take a scheduled flight to Kasane airport (approximately 50 minutes). We will have extra luggage seats available (35 kgs/75 lbs per person).
Kalizo lodge, Zambezi River, Namibia
22, 23 September 2018
From Kasane we will travel to Kalizo using an enclosed game viewer and we will drive through Chobe National Park for the much of the transfer. The trip to Kalizo (which is in Namibia) takes approximately three hours. We will be based at Kalizo lodge on the banks of the Chobe and we will be utilizing a closed landcruiser to get to the bee eater colony which is just 10 minutes away from the lodge. Carmines are not only richly coloured, with bright red, blue and pink feathers, but also the largest of the bee-eaters that occur here. At this time of year the birds should be busy with their nesting activity. Courtship, competition, feeding and avoiding predation can all be observed. In addition to their flashy colours, carmine bee-eaters are also highly vocal, especially during breeding time, and the air around a nesting colony is filled with the sound of their calls. This is a photo safari where cameras and photographers work hard, with near-endless possibilities on hand to practice capturing the birds in flight, as well as more traditional images. We will access to a boat as well for increasing our chances of seeing and photographing these birds.
24 September 2018
On the 24th, after our last short morning activity, the return transfer will be by road Kasane airport to catch our relevant international flights homewards.
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.
The cost of this all-inclusive safari is US$15 125 and is dependent on the number of guests that travel.
This fee includes all in-country (Botswana and Namibia) ground and air transportation as well as all accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals. There might be a couple of single spots available on the safari so please do enquire if you are interested.
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.
What is included
- Accommodation on a shared basis (single rooms might be available, so please enquire if you are interested in this option).
- Scheduled flights from Kasane to Selinda and Selinda to Kasane, Botswana.
- Additional luggage allowance on the scheduled safari flights within Botswana (75 lbs (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 Houseboat and private game-viewing boats for river safaris on the Chobe River.
- 2 x Professional photographers (Grant and Helena Atkinson) leading the trip.
- 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 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 Kasane, Botswana.
- Premium brand wines and liquors (available at extra cost payable directly).
- Laundry on the Houseboat, as this is not offered here.
- Travel Insurance (we are happy to assist with this – please ask us).
- Personal purchases (including curios, spirits, liquors, telephone calls etc.)
- Discretionary gratuities.
- Optional extra activities.
- Pre- and post- safari tours.
- Meals or accommodation before or after the safari (except as noted in the detailed itinerary).
- Please read our Safari Code of Ethics and Conduct.
- 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.
- This safari starts in Kasane (September 14) and ends in Kasane (September 24).
- Please check the Botswana and Namibian visa requirements as we will be crossing into Namibia on the houseboat.
- Discretionary gratuities for driver guides are recommended at USD $25 to $30 per person per day.
- Discretionary gratuities for camp and hotel staff are recommended at USD $15 to $25 per person per day.
- Any discretionary gratuities for guides, staff and trip leaders should be paid out in cash.
- Rain is not normally expected at this time of year but a light raincoat/windbreaker is a good idea.
- Our group size is a maximum of 6 participants.
- At Selinda Explorer charging of batteries can only be done in the main area.
- Laundry can only be done at Selinda Explorers.
- Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if sent through beforehand.
- The costs of the commercial flights to Kasane and the flight from Kasane, Botswana 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.
- There is no internet access at Selinda Explorers Camp or Selinda Camp.
- There is intermittent mobile coverage on the houseboat so you will be able to use your mobile phone if you have a Namibian or Botswana sim card or if you switch your phone to roaming.
- Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted for any optional expenditures during the trip, except on the houseboat where cash will be necessary.