Wild Botswana – December (Mashatu and Chobe)

14 – 22 December 2020 (8 nights)  

In December 2020 Grant and Helena Atkinson will lead a private group of photographers to two of Botswana’s prime wildlife locations.  The safari includes five nights in the Mashatu private game reserve and three nights on the Chobe River based on a houseboat.  This trip is limited to 6 photographers only, and will have two photographic trip leaders, Grant and Helena.  We will have two vehicles for our group game drive activities and one dedicated photographic activity boat on the Chobe river.  For the first five nights we focus on the Tuli Game Reserve, located in the east of Botswana.  We will base ourselves out of Mashatu Main camp.  Game viewing around Mashatu is excellent with a high density of elephants being just one of the highlights.  The terrain, which is a mixture of dry riverbeds, rocky outcrops and plains, provide superb habitat for leopards.  Other predators present here include lion, cheetah and spotted hyaena.  Mashatu is a private game reserve, which means we can go off-road to get closer, where the environment permits.  The Chobe River is in the far north of Botswana and is home to many hippo, crocodiles and a great variety of colourful and interesting bird species.  We make use of a specially designed photographic boat for our excursions, that puts us at a low angle for a strong perspective, and can also go in shallow water, allowing us to make some close approaches to our subjects.  All images in the gallery are from recent safaris to these destinations.  

 Trip summary

  • Cost: US$13 475 per person sharing with a single supplement of US$1830. (Final price to confirm at time of booking). ((ZAR prices are an estimation linked to the exchange rate and exact price will be confirmed via invoice.)  
  • 6 participants
  • 2 vehicles
  • 2 trip leaders
  • Private concession area
  • Each participant will have their own row in vehicle
  • Additional luggage seats 

How do I signup?

We have partnered with Eyes On Africa on this safari.  Our group size is a minimum of 3 participants and a maximum of 6 participants and this is one of our most popular trips. If this exciting safari sounds good and you are thinking of joining this trip, please get in touch with any questions you may have.   

  Enquire now about this safari

Please click on individual tabs below for more detailed information. 

Highlights

  • Eight days on safari in some of our favourite areas in Botswana.
  • We welcome photographers with all levels of experience. 
  • We focus on photographing in the field.  We spend most of our time and effort on photographic activities and getting images.
  • Non-photographer or videographer spouses / travel companions  will also have fun on this safari.  The wildlife places we visit will appeal to anyone with a love for animals and nature. 
  •  The photo leaders are experienced naturalists with rich backgrounds in conservation and field guiding and the region’s natural history and wildlife.   
  • A maximum of 3 photographers per vehicle, means that there will be plenty of space to have your gear at the ready, and the opportunity to access both sides of the vehicle.
  • We have modified Toyota Landcruiser safari vehicles, with three rows of seats within, and completely open on the sides to minimize obstructions to photography.
  • Two photographic leaders, Grant and Helena Atkinson will lead the group.
  • The group size is limited to 6 participants and we will make use of 2 vehicles.  The photographic leaders will switch between the vehicles.
  • With 2 photo leaders and only 6 participants we focus on individual attention. 
  • Extra luggage allowances to accommodate the special needs of our photographic equipment for our charter flights once in Botswana 
  • Classic style safari accommodation at Mashatu with comfortable accomodation on the houseboat
  • Camp locations are specifically chosen to maximize photographic opportunities by being as close as possible to the prime wildlife areas.  
  • This itinerary focuses on up-close and real wildlife experiences from the surroundings of our comfortable accommodations.

The Itinerary: 14 – 22 December 2020 (8 nights)

This safari represents a fantastic combination of superb wildlife photography experiences, comfortable accommodation and expert guiding.  As always, we will spend lots of time out in the field, and you will be with like-minded photographers who are happy to put in the time to get the images.  We will be staying in comfortable lodges, with spacious, air-conditioned rooms.  For big parts of the safari, we will have the ability to go off-road (not in environmentally sensitive areas) in order to get the best photographic angles of our subjects.  This safari includes five days based out of Mashatu Main Camp and three days exploring the Chobe River on a houseboat. All images in the gallery are from recent safaris to these destinations.  

 

Mashatu Main Camp, Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana 

14,15,16,17 and 18 December 2020 (5 nights)

 

We fly from one of the Johannesburg airports (OR Tambo or Lanseria) directly to Mashatu airfield, from where it is a 30 minute drive to camp. We will spend the next five nights at Mashatu Main camp. The main camp has 14 rooms. Here we will have our own guides and vehicles for the duration of our stay. We will have 3 guests per vehicle.

Mashatu Game Reserve is a place rich in natural and cultural history, and offers some of the most exciting game viewing in Africa. It is a place of exceptional beauty where one can explore the rugged, unspoiled African landscapes in open 4-wheel drive vehicles driven by the expert camp guides and experienced trackers.

 Mashatu is home to large herds of elephant,  giraffe, eland and wildebeest.  There are leopard, prides of lion, packs of spotted hyaena and sometimes cheetah.  Along the river courses, huge Mashatu trees dominate the ribbon of forest and provide shade and shelter for wildlife.

Mashatu provides a refuge for the largest single population of elephant on privately-owned land.  Known as the relic herds of Shashe, these elephants are the last living testament to the great herds that once populated the meandering Limpopo valley. Today, the population on Mashatu Game Reserve alone, is estimated to number in excess of 700.

On this trip we will not be making use of Mashatu’s photographic hide, as the hide is not visited by much wildlife at this time of year, unlike the dry season.  

View Mashatu website

Guests are to make their own way to Johannesburg, South Africa for the start of this safari.  After arriving in Johannesburg and collecting luggage, you will be met by an Eyes On Africa Representative who will assist you if needed.

 

 

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

19,20 and 21 December (3 nights)

 

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 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 always delivers. Some of the birds that occur in the area are African fish-eagle, African marsh harrier, giant, pied and malachite kingfisher, yellow-billed storks and white-fronted, blue-cheeked and carmine bee-eaters.

View Pangolin Voyager website

 

Safari Ends 

22 December 2020

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.

Detailed costs

This trip will run with a minimum of 3 participants and a maximum of 6 participants.

US$13 475 per person sharing (approximate – final pricing at time of booking)

Single supplement US$1830 

This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as all accommodation and all meals (except as noted above and in exclusions below).

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, however should you want single accommodation on the safari, please get in touch and enquire if this is possible 
  • 2 x Trip leader (Grant and Helena Atkinson)
  • Private safari vehicles throughout trip
  • Luggage allowance for charter flights in Botswana (from Maun to Selinda and from Selinda to Kasane)
  • All safari activities and transfers to/from the airports and the hotels

What is NOT included

  • International airfare and / or other transportation between your home and Maun, Botswana
  • Extra luggage allowance for commercial flights
  • Accommodation / Dinner / drinks in South Africa (Johannesburg)
  • Discretionary gratuities for hotel staff and safari camps
  • Discretionary gratuities for driver guides (who will be with us throughout our trip)
  • Visas, travel insurance, personal purchases (including curios, special spirit liquors, telephone calls, etc).
  • Optional pre- / post safari tours and meals or accommodation before or after the safari

General information 

  • Please read our Safari Code of Ethics and Conduct.
  • During the safari we will share our workflow and processing techniques on the computer. To make the most of this opportunity you are advised to bring a laptop and card reader as well as enough external storage for these sessions as well as the editing software you are most comfortable with. Grant and Helena both use Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Our group size is a maximum of 6 participants.
  • Note also that some of the safari camps will only accept cash for private purchases.
  • There is not likely to be wi-fi or internet on the Chobe houseboat.  There is cellular phone network along the Chobe River from local Namibian networks.  
  • Tropical rain showers can occur this time of year and you should bring rain gear both for yourself and your camera equipment.
  • Laundry services are offered but no underwear will be done, although you can do this in your room with laundry soap provided. 
  • On the Chobe houseboat, we are able to charge in every room as well as the main area.  
  • Special dietary requirements can be accommodated if sent through beforehand. 

Gallery

  Enquire now about this safari