Early morning at Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia
My wife and I visited East Africa in late 2009 and found the trip absolutely amazing. On our return home I was convinced that I needed to go back, but this time I wanted to go on a photography safari where I would be with like minded people and learn more about nature photography and in particular wildlife photography. I began doing my home work, but found that most photo safaris were very expensive. I needed to find an alternative. I continued searching the internet and various publications. After a few months of research I settled on a company out of New Zealand called Wildlight Safaris. They offered a Botswana photography package lasting 10 days touring through the Okavanga Delta. There would be a maximum of three people per vehicle with each person getting a complete row of seats. The trip would be camping where each person would get their own tent with an attached canvas area offering a drop toilet and a bucket shower. Each vehicle would have a driver-guide, with the guide being a professional wildlife photographer. I checked the company out and was impressed with what I saw and I was also very impressed with the communications between myself and them. I booked a September t trip but added a twist. I also wanted to visit Namibia, but their package was for Botswana only. Not to worry though as they went to work and booked a fantastic package that got me to Namibia and its wonderful places.
Female Elephant, Moremi Game Reserve, Okavaga Delta, Botswana
September arrived and after a very long flight I arrived in Maun, Botswana, the gateway to the Okavanga Delta. I was met the next morning and we flew into a gravel airstrip called Xakanaka where we met Dean Fitzpatrick, owner of Wildlight and Grant Reed owner of Letaka Safaris, our ground operator and another pro photographer, Des Pretorious. There would be two vehicles with three tourists per vehicle and a driver guide. The third guide was always Dean and he floated from one vehicle to the next on a daily basis.
Female Elephant, Savuti, Chobe Nationaal Park, Okavanga Delta, Botswana
We would camp for three nights in three different locations within the Okavanga. Three nights at Xakanaka (Moremi Park) and then three nights at the community run Khwai Concession, with the final three nights at Savuti before flying to Kasane Botswana for an overnight stay on the Chobe River and a river cruise. The following morning it was off to the Botswana-Zimbabwe border where we met up with a guide who took us to Victoria Falls for a visit and then later that day to the Vic Falls airport for the flight to Windhoex Namibia.
Early morning, Deadvlei, Sossusvlei, Namibia
Wild Dog at a kill, Khwai Concession, Okavanga Delta, Botswana
It was not uncommon to be heading back to camp well after dark with a few stops to photograph lions as they became more active in the evening, and also to enjoy what they called a “Sundowner”. The evening dinner was tremendous with a well prepared meal of several courses with beer and wine also available. After dinner we took time to review the day’s events and the photography accomplished. The guides/photographers were fantastic with loads of help during the day as well as when the day was over. They continue to offer help by email, months after.
Cub peering over it's Mother, Moremi, Okavaga Delta, Botswana
In Botswana we saw all of the animals one needed to see and experienced some amazing sights. Five male lions playing along the Savuti River. Wild Dogs crossing the Khwai River and then a Wild Dog Impala hunt with remarkable shots. There were Elephants by the hundreds, many different birds, and even the smaller animals such as Honey Badgers and Mongoose were seen. A Leopard with a kill that we visited a couple of times over a few days, only to have her bring out her two little Cubs for us to see.
Cape Buffalo, Moremi, Okavanga Delta, Botswana
We crossed many water courses with the water flowing well into the vehicles and travelled many tracks and non tracks in order to get the photos the guides were determined to put us on to, and they did. In Namibia it was more landscape photography in the desert and then back to the animals when we got to Etosha. In the desert temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius during the day and 6 degrees at night. Blowing sand and intense heat, but fantastic scenery. The seal colony with its odors and sounds, and then Etosha and its Rhinos, Elephants, and mating Lions, to name just a few.
Wild Dogs, Moremi, Okavanga delta, Botswana
I managed to take close to 5400 shots, all in RAW and continue to this day to wade through them for the few jewels that define the entire trip. I have included a few here and hope that you enjoy them. I’m already planning another return trip for hopefully the very near future.
Hippo with Oxpeckers, Moremi, Okavanga Delta, Botswana
Gear used was all Canon. A 7D, an XSi, 24-55 F2.8, a 55-250 F4-5.6 Zoom, a 100-400 F4.5-5.6 Zoom, and a 500mm F4. I packed a Manfrotto monopod but did not use it as they supplied a fantastic Molar Bean Bag with the V2 plate for my Wimberley gimbal head. Lots of SD and Compac Flash cards, and a lap top to review the day’s photos. Normal day began with the 500 on the 7D and the 100-400 on the XSi.
Malachite Kingfisher, Savuti, Chobe National Park, Okavanga Delta, Botswana
Bio: I am an amateur photographer recently retired and enjoying spending as much time as possible in the great outdoors. I have been fortunate to have travelled to many places and continue to explore. If interested in my photos or places visited, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I am currently working on a web site and will post the address once completed.
E-mail address: email@example.com
Credits: The Canadian Nature Photographer