DAY 1 – 5: Pangolin Chobe Hotel
Most guests arrive into Kasane International Airport from Johannesburg for the start of this safari where you will be met by a member of the Pangolin Team and driven the short distance to our award-winning 14 room Pangolin Chobe Hotel perched on the plateau overlooking The Chobe River and the Caprivi floodplains below.
Built around a wildlife photography gallery once you have checked in and settled in your room you will meet the Pangolin photo host who will be taking care of you on your land and water based activities while in the Chobe. If you don’t have a camera and telephoto lens then we will be able to lend you one, free of charge, for the duration of your time at the Pangolin Chobe Hotel along with as many memory cards as you can fill.
Please note that if you are a novice photographer without your own gear then perhaps joining our Chobe, Delta and Kalahari Hosted Photo Safari (set departure dates) might be a better option if you are looking to use one of our cameras and receive photo tuition throughout your safari from start to finish. As this safari operates throughout the year The Chobe River offers up different subject matter from month to month. In the (African) Summer months between November and April you will have amazing birdlife everywhere as the “migrants” take up their annual residency.
There will still be large mammals around such as elephant, buffalo and hippo as well as resident crocs and antelope so all in all an excellent time to photograph with lots of bright green backgrounds and baby animals everywhere. The (African) winter months, between May and October, will see larger numbers of elephants as the water becomes more scarce inland and the river becomes more popular. The reason we chose to start Pangolin in the Chobe is there is always something to photograph in The Chobe. No matter when you decide to join this safari, throughout the year, you are sure to start with a bang and plenty of “keepers”. In-between game activities there will be hosted image review and group editing sessions in the editing room. For this to be truly effective you will need to have your own laptop with you with the latest version of an editing programme installed and updated to the latest version.
Our software of choice is Adobe Lightroom and we have a free online course you can start before your arrival so that you are familiar with its functions if you haven’t used it before. On day three of our stay with us there is the option to visit Victoria Falls for the day – one of the seven natural wonders of the world. If you elect to do so you will be collected in the morning from the hotel in an air-conditioned minivan and driven across into Zimbabwe and to the “Falls”. The journey takes around 1.5 hours. You will have time to see The Falls, have some lunch (we have a couple of recommendations), perhaps take a helicopter flight for an aerial view and quickly stop off at one of the many craft stalls before heading back across the border to Botswana. If you don’t want to see the Falls, or perhaps you have visited there already, you will do the same morning and afternoon photo safaris at the hotel as you did on the previous days.
The option is yours to decide upon. Please confirm with your travel planner when you book. Other than that you will be well fed and watered at The Pangolin Chobe Hotel with all the meals and drinks (soft and alcoholic) included in the package – and that goes for the whole itinerary in fact. The rooms are all en-suite and air-conditioned and are configured as double or twin beds.
There is lots of storage and desk space with an abundance of plug points for charging. On day four, after the morning activity and a quick bite to eat, we will transfer you back to Kasane Airport to meet your charter flight into The Okavango Delta. The flights usually depart at around 11 am.
DAY 5 – 8: Bushman Plains
Bushman Plains is a fantastic community-owned camp in some of the most sought after game viewing areas of the Okavango Delta and a relatively quick flight from Kasane straight into an airstrip a few kilometres from the camp. Upon arrival, you will have time to settle into your en suite tent and unpack before a high tea and then your first game drive. We have a policy of no more than four guests per vehicle in the Delta.
Hopefully, after four days of shooting in The Chobe, you will be shooting with confidence and understanding of your camera and its settings. All the vehicles have beanbag mounts rather than gimbals. The two vehicles are in radio contact to help with locating sightings…..and here is the main reason why we love Bushman Plains so much! The camp is a good old fashioned, down to earth, honest bush camp. There are no frills but everything you need for a very comfortable stay.
What is does have, however, is some of the best trackers in the business in one of the best safari destinations in Africa and if you are like us that’s what really counts! The guides AND trackers on each vehicle have called this area home for generations and are some of the most enthusiastic and passionate safari guides we have encountered. They love nothing more than finding great subjects such as lions, leopard, cheetah and especially wild dogs and also encourage our guests to get out of the vehicle (when its appropriate to do so) to look at the tracks and signs to fully understand the tracking process.
It’s safari as it should be without the unnecessary frivolity that is pervasive on so many standard safaris these days. It’s all about the wildlife here! In between drives, there is an opportunity for some downtime to enjoy being in this pristine part of the world or you can pop into the editing tent and get cracking on some post-production.
DAY 8 – 11: Central Kalahari
After one week of early starts and over-excitement, The Kalahari by its very nature tends to be a slightly more relaxed environment and the perfect third destination for this safari. As a desert, the animals tend to congregate more around the waterholes which makes it the perfect location for some hide photography. Dinaka, the camp that we have chosen to partner with, has an excellent waterhole hide with more in the planning phase. Dinaka sits on a private reserve bordering the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Here you will find an environment very different from what you have experienced in The Chobe and Delta before. The bush is slightly thicker and thornier and the animals seem to be a little different too as you would expect based on the ecosystem. Oryx, springbok, brown hyena, black-maned lions, jackals as well as cheetah and wild dogs do well here. The camp is owned and managed by safari legends Ker and Downey and is certainly the most luxurious of the three and by now you will have earned a little pampering.
The communal areas of the camp are fantastic and the rooms spacious with private verandas long towards a popular waterhole. The vehicles all have beanbag camera mounts and again is maximum four per vehicle for the game drives. The waterhole hide at Dinaka is a sunken “bunker type” hide and can seat up to eight photographers at a time. Normally though it’s used by four at a time. You will be photographing out at water level as the animals arrive to slake their thirst right in front of you. It’s a very special place to be and photograph from. As a camp, Dinaka is very flexible with their timings and earlier starts or later finishes to game activities are all accommodated for to make the most of your time there.
One activity not to be missed is a walk through the bush with the resident bushman guides where you will learn about their traditional subsistence way of life from what at first sight appears to be such a stark environment, culminating in a demonstration of traditional fire making techniques and some storytelling as the sunsets. Again during the day, there will be the opportunity to have some downtime by the pool or on a snooze with a good book on the deck…..with your camera close at hand in case something appears at the camp’s waterhole of course! On the last day, you will fly to Maun airport, which is an excellent hub, but that need not be the end of your safari.
There are daily flights between Maun and Cape Town and even Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, from where it’s a short transfer across the border to South Africa and the wonderful Jaci’s Tree Lodge in Madikwe!