Chobe’s Best Birding Houseboat November 2017

11, 12, 13 and 14 November 2017 (4 nights)

In November 2017 Grant and Helena Atkinson will lead a private group of photographers to one of Botswana’s premier wildlife areas, the Chobe River.  For this trip, we operate from the Pangolin Voyager houseboat, and are based on the Chobe River, for the entire 4 nights.  Amongst all the places we go, the Chobe River remains one of our favourite places for wildlife and specifically for bird photography. We are very excited about spending time on the river, at this time of year.  

We have chosen to keep this safari to a maximum of only 8 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.  The Chobe is one of Botswana’s top destinations when it comes to wildlife safaris.  We are running this trip at an especially good time for bird viewing and photography.  We expect to see many of the summer migratory birds like southern carmine and blue-cheeked bee-eaters, woodland kingfishers, yellow-billed kites, lesser kestrels and then all the usual resident birds that have made the Chobe a birders must-do destination. 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 little bee-eaters.  

Making the Pangolin Voyager houseboat our home means we are based the entire time on the Chobe River.  It also enables us to easily be out on the river during optimum times for photography, at sunrise and sunset.  Using the Voyager as our base means more time on the river and the specially-adapted photographic activity boat.  The houseboat is very comfortable making it an ideal location for our small group when it comes to working on our images, and sharing processing and editing workflow. There could not be any better way to make the most of what the Chobe has on offer for photographers. 

All images in the gallery are from recent safaris to the Chobe.  

This trip is run by Pangolin Photo Safaris.

How do I signup?

Our group size is a maximum of 8 participants and we expect this trip to fill fast.  If this birding-focused safari sounds good and you are thinking of joining us, please get in touch with any questions.

Contact us

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 a good amount of our time and effort on safari activity and making images. We also 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, fishing, etc.) are also available subject to reserve/fishing restrictions.
  • We will have our private activity boat to use on this trip. 
  • The small size of the group means maximum quality time with the photographic leaders both in the field, and in on the houseboat with regard to furthering camera, editing and processing skills.
  • Exclusive and private use of the houseboat and the activity boats, ensuring freedom to make our own schedule and maximize time spent in the field.
  • Knowledgeable and passionate safari guides will drive the boats to help us get the images we are after.
  • For our daily outings, we make use of a specially designed photographic boat which has individual swivel seats, with mounts for our cameras attached to each chair. The photo boat enables us to make quiet approaches and get low angles, improving the perspective of our images.  The boat is also designed to go in fairly shallow water, further enabling us to get close to subjects that might be near the edge.  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 itinerary focuses on a real wildlife experience from the surroundings of comfortable accommodations.

The Itinerary: 11, 12, 13 and 14 November (4 nights) 2017

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 a special photographic boat.  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 summer migratory birds will be visiting this part of Botswana and Namibia.

Pangolin Chobe Voyager houseboat, Chobe river, Botswana/Namibia border 

11, 12, 13 and 14 November 2017 (4 nights) 
Guests are to make their own way to Kasane, Botswana for the start of this safari.  Upon arrival in Kasane airport we will be met and transferred by road (15 minutes) to the jetty for pick-up by a tender boat from the Pangolin Voyager houseboat.  After departing Botswana via the river-side Immigration office, we will boat for ten minutes, walk for ten minutes and check-into Namibia, via immigration offices beside the river itself on Impalila island, Namibia.  From there we make our way to the Pangolin Voyager houseboat, our base for the 4 nights.  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 a specially-designed photographic boat 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 is one of the most incredible places in Africa to get up close to wildlife.   Waterbirds abound, both in variety and quantity.  There are also good numbers of raptors, as well as insectivorous birds like bee-eaters and rollers.  Most bird species are more approachable on the Chobe than anywhere else, making for high-quality photographic opportunities.  Although the rainy season ‘officially’ begins in November, the timing of our trip means that heavy or prolonged rains are less likely to fall.  The early rainy season brings with it the potential bonus for photographers of dramatic light and cloud effects.  Whilst elephant tend to be encountered less often close to the river once the rains have really started to fall, resident hippo and crocodiles are sure to provide good viewing and image-making.

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.

View Pangolin Voyager website 


Safari Ends 

15 November 2018

On the 15th, after our last short morning activity, we will make our way to Kasane town and those guests departing by air will be transfered to the Kasane airport for their onward flights. 


Air travel and customized extensions to this safari, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Victoria Falls and other destinations may be arranged through Pangolin as desired.  Ask us for further information.


The cost of this all-inclusive safari is US$ 1350.00 per person sharing.  There is a possibility of a single space available (with an added single supplement) so please chat to us about that if you are interested. 

This fee includes all in-country (Botswana and Namibia) ground and air transportation as well as all accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals.  

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).
  • Private Houseboat and private game-viewing boat for river safaris on the Chobe River.
  • 2 x Professional photographers (Grant and Helena Atkinson) leading the trip.
  • All safari activities.
  • Services houseboat guides & staff.
  • Relevant park fees.
  • All meals and local (non-premium brand) drinks while on the houseboat
  • 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.
  • Laundry on the Houseboat as this is not offered here. 
  • Travel Insurance.
  • Personal purchases.
  • Discretionary gratuities.
  • Optional extra activities.
  • Pre- and post- safari tours.
  • Meals or accommodation before or after the safari.

Special Notes

  • Air travel and Customized extensions to this safari, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Victoria Falls and other destinations may be arranged through Pangolin as desired.  Ask us for further information.
  • This safari starts in Kasane (November 11) and ends in Kasane (November 15).
  • Please check the Botswana and Namibian visa requirements as we will be crossing into Namibia on the houseboat.
  • Discretionary gratuities for boat guides are recommended at USD $25 to $30 per person per day.
  • Discretionary gratuities for boat 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 can occur at this time of year so a light raincoat/windbreaker is a good idea.
  • Our group size is a maximum of 8 participants.
  • Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if sent through beforehand. 
  • The costs of the commercial flights from Johannesburg to Kasane, Botswana and back to Johannesburg  are NOT INCLUDED in the trip price above. Should you wish Pangolin Photo Safaris can arrange for these flights for you but the costs are not included in the trip price.
  • There is 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 in Johannesburg but not on the houseboat. 



  Enquire Now about this Safari