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This very popular photo centric safari is based on the northern highlights designed to suit keen photographers who would like to go on a safari with like minded people, sharing the experience and knowledge. You will have ample space and great photographic opportunities. Your guide is not a professional photographer but he is still extremely experienced in finding wildlife, predicting wildlife behavior, and getting you into the perfect position for that award winning shot.
During this photography safari you will stay at Letaka Tented Camps, a spacious and comfortable tented accommodation. Beds and bed linen are included, while the tents have a private bathroom en-suite.
This is a friendly informal safari which will aim to get you in front of as much wildlife as possible, spending all the time you need to make the most of your photography.
Often, this will mean staying at a sighting longer than on a normal safari, particularly if a change of light or an imminent bout of subject activity will provide a better image.
There will be plenty of opportunities to practice landscape shots during the expedition, especially at sunset, not to mention a myriad of potential bird photographs.
After your arrival at Maun International Airport (MUB), you will be met by a representative Mack Air for your charter flight to the Xakanaxa airstrip in Moremi Game Reserve where you will be met by your guide. Your first three nights are spent in the Xakanaxa region where you will explore the surrounding wilderness on morning and afternoon game drive excursions.
From the air, only the larger animals are easily seen. These include large breeding herds of African elephant that live in the mopane scrub. On the open plains, large herds of buffalo and lechwe can be seen, and in the waterways, pods of hippopotamus are a common sight. Once you land in Xakanaxa and board your land cruiser, the smaller game animals can be found.
This is a good day for raptors with African hawk-eagle, gabar goshawk, shikra, little sparrowhawk, dark chanting goshawk, tawny eagle, lesser spotted eagle, and steppe eagle all inhabiting the mopane and adjacent woodlands. Other birds common along this route includes most of Botswana’s hornbills including red-billed, southern yellow-billed, African grey, bradfield’s, and the southern ground hornbills.
A large number of brood-parasites may also be seen such as diederick cuckoo, levaillant’s cuckoo, jacobin cuckoo, great-spotted cuckoo, African cuckoo, common cuckoo, shaft-tailed whydah, pin-tailed whydah, eastern paradise whydah, greater honeyguide, and lesser honeyguide. Your accommodation for today is at Letaka Tented Camp.
Moremi lies on the eastern extremity of the Okavango Delta. Habitats here range from wide-open floodplains, marshes, lagoons, papyrus fringed channels, vast stands of Miscanthus and Phragmites, woodland, and savannah. As a result of the extremely variable habitat, the diversity of both wildlife and birdlife is excellent.
Moremi is amongst the best game reserves in Africa for viewing the endangered African wild dog. Xakanaxa is home to a resident herd of several hundred buffalo whose range covers the territories of at least four prides of lion which may often be seen flanking the ever moving herd. Breeding herds of elephant move between their browsing areas in the mopane forests and the fresh water of the Okavango.
Red lechwe are one of the more unusual antelope species and commonly found here, while the rare sitatunga antelope may be spotted from the motor boat along the waterways of the Xakanaxa lagoon.
The swampy areas of Xakanaxa are home to African rail, coppery-tailed coucal, black coucal, red-chested flufftail, African crake, black crake, chirping cisticola, luapula cisticola, purple swamphen, and Allen’s gallinule to name but a few. The open waters attract African skimmers, saddle-billed storks, yellow-billed storks, intermediate egrets, goliath herons, and African fish eagle as well as the globally threatened slaty egret and wattled crane.
Your accommodation for these days are at Letaka Tented Camp.
Following an early morning breakfast, you will take a slow drive through Moremi Game Reserve north-east towards the Khwai community area.
The Manuchira Channel is known as the Khwai River at its eastern most extremity. The day’s journey follows this water course with the track weaving from the riverside and floodplains into the mopane veld and the woodlands that make Khwai one of the most scenic areas of the Okavango. You will pass the magnificent dombo hippo pools in the morning, stopping to enjoy the scenery and the antics of the resident hippo.
The western mopane veld is home to mostly breeding herds of elephant whilst the eastern reaches of Khwai is home to some impressive old bulls. The mature bulls revel in the cool waters of the Khwai and are far more approachable while drinking and bathing than the breeding herds. The river has an unusually high density of hippo as well as some huge crocodile.
Leopard, cheetah, serval, and lion are common predators along this route and both Xakanaxa as well as Khwai are included in the home ranges of two different packs of wild dog. General game includes southern giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, tessebe, and red lechwe with roan and sable antelope being less common residents.
In the mopane woodlands, African hawk-eagle, tawny eagle, gabar goshawk, little sparrow-hawk, African harrier hawk, and shikra are common raptors. Mixed bird parties move through the canopy and include red-headed weaver, Stierling’s wren-warbler, scarlet-chested sunbird, neddicky, yellow-breasted apalis, chin-spot batis, and diederik cuckoo to name but a few.
The verges of the swamp form breeding grounds for the rosy-longclaw, black coucal, long-legged bustard, and the African crake. Your accommodation for today is at Letaka Tented Camp.
The Khwai River forms a boundary between the reserve and the community area. You will spend the following two nights camping at an exclusive campsite in the community area, exploring the Khwai floodplains on game drives both during the day and at night. Exploring after dark with spotlights offers you an opportunity to experience some of the nocturnal animals that are rarely encountered during the day.
You will also have the opportunity to explore the surrounding wilderness on foot and enjoy an up close and personal encounter with Botswana’s flora and fauna. It is important to note that night drives and guided walks are not permitted within the national parks and reserves. These activities are conducted outside the boundaries of the Moremi Game Reserve in the Khwai community area.
You will spend your time between the dry-land habitats of the lead-wood and camel-thorn woodlands and savannahs and the riverside and marshy back-waters of the Khwai. Time permitting, you may visit the lagoons and waterways of Xakanaxa where the largest heronry in southern Africa exists.
The Khwai region boasts excellent populations of both bull elephant as well as breeding herds. Lion, leopard, serval ,and African wildcat are common predators of the region with wild dog and cheetah being less common. Buffaloes use this area seasonally with large herds moving in during the summer rains. The swampy areas in the west are home to red lechwe. Other ungulates include tsesebe, blue wildebeest, giraffe, kudu, sable antelope, roan antelope, and impala.
The western reaches are prime habitat for the uncommon rosy-throated longclaw. The entire length of the river is a hunting domain for the bat-hawk. Other interesting raptors here are cuckoo hawk (rare), long-crested eagle, and black sparrowhawk. More commonly tawny eagle, steppe eagle, lesser-spotted eagle, martial eagle, bateleur and African hawk-eagle.
The waterways host Africa rail, African crake, greater painted snipe, Allen’s gallinule, lesser jacana, and lesser moorhen. Your accommodation for today is at Letaka Tented Camp.
You will head further north en-route to Chobe National Park, where you will spend the following three nights camping in an exclusive wilderness campsite in the Savuti region, exploring the desert-like landscape of game drives.
You will have a fascinating day's drive looking at some of the evidence of the Paleo-Lake Makgadikgadi that dried up some ten thousand years ago. The most challenging part of the trip is crossing the Magwikwe Sand-ridge that formed the shoreline for this massive inland sea. The winding track through this deep sand makes for interesting travel in the early summer.
The old lake bed is now the Mababe Depression. The dense clay floor of the depression result in high protein feed for wildlife and the area teams with game after the rains. During the rain season, the depression is impassable due to the cotton soil and alternative routes must be used.
The range of habitat that is covered encompasses most of the habitat types of northern Botswana. You will pass through excellent lion country and some of the best cheetah country that this safari will cover. Elephant occur throughout the drive but are more common at the start and end of the drive where permanent surface water can be found.
The Mababe depression is a birder’s paradise. The nutritious grasses that grow on the rich soils provide excellent seed for an impressive array of estrillids and viduids. Among these are the magnificently colored violet-eared waxbill, black-cheeked waxbill, village indigo bird, shaft-tailed whydah, and paradise whydah. These in turn provide a good food source for small raptors such as the little sparrow-hawk, shikra, gabar goshawk, red-necked falcon, and lanner falcon.
It is not only the small birds that feed on the grass seeds, but rodents too. There are annual outbreaks of huge numbers of rats and mice. As a result, huge numbers of secretary bird, tawny eagle, black-shouldered kite, steppe eagle, lesser-spotted eagle, Wahlberg’s eagle, and steppe buzzard can be found. Your accommodation for today is at Letaka Tented Camp.
Unlike the vast majority of the country, Savuti is not a totally flat landscape. Large outcrops of volcanic rock reach up out of the Kalahari sands, towering over the endless savannah. These hills provide habitat for a completely different array of small wildlife, birds, and plants.
The Savuti Marsh has been the stage for many of the most dramatic wildlife documentaries in Africa. The wide open country, good ungulate populations and particularly strong prides of lion and hyaena clans make for dramatic wildlife interaction and excellent viewing opportunities. The now dry Savuti channel runs through this landscape linking the dry sand-veld, the waterholes, the hills, and the grassland that was the Savuti Marsh.
Undoubtedly, it is the interaction between lions and elephants that is the most interesting aspect of Savuti. The area is inhabited by a huge pride of lions with numbers fluctuating from 20 to 30 members. These remarkable lions have learned over the years how to hunt these massive pachyderms that are supposedly above predation. Launching their attack under darkness and using their numbers, they manage to kill adolescent and even young adult elephant.
The marsh is prime cheetah country and in the wet season, it is not unusual to have wild dogs hunting here in Savuti. The surface water that is pumped by the government here provides a major attraction for birdlife. In the dry season, thousands of dove and sandgrouse come down to drink in the mornings and are under constant surveillance by yellow-billed kite, tawny eagle, and African hawk-eagle.
Red-crested korhaan are common in the Kalahari Apple-leaf (Lonchocarpus nelsii) veld. The marsh is the summer home for good numbers of caspian plover and Montague’s harrier as well as chestnut-backed sparrow-lark, grey-backed sparrow-lark, northern black korhaan, rufous-naped lark, African pipit, and desert cisticola. Dickenson’s kestrel, amur falcon, and red-necked falcon are found along the perimeter of the marsh. Your accommodation for today is at Letaka Tented Camp.
On your final day on safari, you will leave Savuti to travel along the Chobe River, arriving at Chobe Safari Lodge where you will stop for lunch before taking a leisurely afternoon boat cruise to end the safari. Busanga Safari recommends either spending a night or two in Kasane or Livingstone. Alternatively, you will be transferred to Livingstone to catch your homeward flight.
The habitat on today’s drive takes you through the stunted mopane scrub of the Goha clay basin, across the sand-ridge, and through the wonderful Zambezi teak woodlands of the Chobe Forest Reserve and along the Chobe River itself. The Chobe floodplain is tens of kilometers wide and in years of exceptional rains, the water stretches as far as the eye can see.
While there are community areas that you will pass through that are settled by local tribes, for the vast majority of the day’s drive, you will pass through wild country where wildlife moves un-inhibited by fences or man. Roan and sable antelope thrive in the teak woodlands where the low density of predators and lack of competition for food by other ungulates makes this prime habitat for these large ungulates.
Leopards occur in these woodlands in low numbers but they are highly secretive and seldom seen. The Goha region has natural waterholes that hold water well into the dry season and herds of buffalo, Burchell’s zebra, greater kudu, and elephant come down to drink.
Doug Macdonald is a qualified professional safari guide who lives in Zimbabwe with his wife and two sons and has been in the safari industry since 1994. Doug did his first canoe trip down the Zambezi River at the age of 12. After getting a college degree in hotel and catering management, he achieved his professional guide's license in 1998.
Drew is a professional wildlife photographer with a wealth of photographic and natural history knowledge, gathered from his experiences travelling the world and photographing wildlife. He entered the photographic world in his early teens and won the CAPS young photographer of the year at the tender age of fifteen.
Linda has been a regular visitor to East and South Africa for many years. Initially, she visited the Masai Mara where she was immediately bitten by the safari bug. Since then Linda has safaried in depth in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Uganda, and South Africa.
Zambian born and brought up in Lusaka, Phil has a wonderfully engaging personality and his encyclopedic knowledge was started by his wildlife researcher and pro pilot father. From a very young age, Phil has limitless passion for the bush and has been a professional guide and has been responsible for guide training for wilderness safaris in the Zambia since graduating with Tyrone (which is where they first met) at the Durrell Institute.
Tom is a professional wildlife photographer who has a huge passion for the natural world. Having traveled extensively and being on location has gained him priceless experience in working in different conditions, light, and environments with wildlife.
Tony is always available to answer any questions relating to your safari and he is especially happy to talk endlessly about the wildlife you are likely to see or may wish to encounter. Tony leads several set date safaris each year which he enjoys enormously and is available to escort you on your safari to help you get the most from your safari.
Tyrone gives talks about his life and experiences living on safari at all the major travel shows. He is also a guest speaker at Eton College's Shackleton Society and a contributor to the Zambia tourism website and many internet wildlife magazines and forums. Tyrone has safaried in Kenya, Malawi, Botswana, South America, and the far east.
This safari tour will take place in Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park. Botswana is sometimes called the "jewel of Africa" and not without some justification. The sheer diversity of habitats ranging from desert to flooded delta and with it a vast amount of wildlife, make Botswana a simply wonderful safari destination.
Botswana has a policy of allowing only small camps with limited visitors which can mean that costs are higher proportionately than some of it's neighboring countries. The result is that there are very few other visitors and so the wilderness is often just yours to enjoy.
You will be provided daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your meals are included in the price as well as drinks such as mineral water, soft drinks, beer, wine, and gin and tonic, whilst in Letaka Tented Camps.
Please book your flight to arrive at Maun International Airport (MUB). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request.
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