The camps we visited were: Kwetsani, Savuti and Chitabe, all for 3 nights. The optional pre-trip extension was at Chitabe Lediba, and the post-trip extension was at Mombo.
About the Trip
Andy Biggs was the professional photographer on this trip, and all of the ten guests were recruited by him. We used three vehicles for game drives, so everyone had lots of space.
There was an even mix of Canon and Nikon equipment. Canon bodies varied from 40Ds to Mk3Ds, whilst the Nikons ranged from D90s to D3x. Most lenses were in the 100-400mm range whilst two photographers had 500mm lenses.
Who Came on the Trip
Skill levels of the photographers varied from one first time wildlife photographer, several intermediate shooters, and a couple of highly skilled photographers. Andy spent most of every midday assisting with computer and camera skills. Both of us spent lots of time on vehicle helping with technique and settings.
At Chitabe Lediba, new water was creeping into the dry plains. We spent time with some very big and calm bull elephants, and a leopard that was stalking impala. We also tried some creative photography with running wildebeest and zebra. Bull elephants were headbutting those palm trees that were carrying ripe fruit, and we had some fun photographing this interesting behaviour.
Kwetsani was the next camp on the itinerary, and here we met the rest of our party, including Andy. Kwetsani is primarily a water camp at this time of year, and as such was intended to give us a chance to photograph the Okavango Delta’s more aquatic habitats. We had helicopter flights each day and we also went out in aluminium boats in search of up-close kingfishers and jacanas. We made use of mekoro (dugout canoes) to photograph trees, islands and papyrus, and one group had a great elephant sighting from the canoes. On game drives we photographed a very good looking male lion that was on the floodplains at sunrise. We spent twenty minutes with him, and everyone got great shots. The lion really turned it on for us by crossing water right in front of us.
We also managed to photograph a leopard for a few minutes, and banded mongooses on foot (that is us who was on foot!).
At Savuti we had the rare fortune of being able to visit an active wild dog den in the area. These den visits are limited to one vehicle from the camp per activity, which meant that we all got to see the dogs with their 13 pups. Also in the area were the local lion pride, all 9 of them, feeding on a freshly-killed giraffe. Kane, one of our most experienced guides, tracked them to the site of the kill. Another photographic highlight took place when a large herd of elephants took to the water of the Savuti channel right in front of the camp, and we put aside our teatime meal to try capture the action as the elephants swam, drank and played. Two male cheetah provided more great photo opportunities as they patrolled their territory with us following.
At Chitabe we had two big male lions alongside each other in perfect afternoon light, then a group of four lions the next morning playing in the grass and another single male on the move who stopped to drink water. On our last afternoon there we had a fantastic sighting of a young male leopard feeding on a baboon in a tree. There were also some excellent sightings of elephants, zebra and wildebeest.
Mombo was our last camp, and there we found some silhouetted giraffe at sunrise, as well as red lechwe antelope splashing through water. We had several sightings of the well-known female leopard Legadima, which included her resting in a tree with an impala kill. We had fun crossing a deep channel in the Landrovers with Pete (the Mombo guide) driving the other vehicle.Perhaps some of the best photo opportunities came about for us when spending time with one of the local lion prides, which consisted of 4 adult females, and their 8 young cubs. The very cute lion cubs made great subjects. We also had male lions and several hyena sightings at Mombo.
In conclusion it was a fantastic trip with hi-quality sightings, and a wonderful group of photographers who all had the patience to wait for the good things to happen.