2020 Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Chobe River and Namibia’s Zambezi River

Date: Nov 2 – 12, 2020 (12 days/11 nights)

Group Size: 8

(NOTE: This trip requires a minimum of 6 participants)

Cost: $6,950 per person based on double occupancy

Safari Origination Point and Conclusion Point: This safari begins in Johannesburg, South Africa and concludes in Kasane, Botswana

Leopards are often seen on our evening game drives

We think we have put together something special with this trip. November is the height of the dry season. The region will not have had any rain since March, so all of the wildlife will have to congregate at the few remaining waterholes and rivers. That is exactly where we will be. We expect excellent sightings of both antelope and predator animals in the Okavango and along the Chobe River. In addition, during this time of year, many bird species begin migrating to the region. Notable among these are the beautiful carmine bee-eaters. That’s why we have added 3 nights on the Zambezi River. The bee eaters will have nested in the hills along the river and will be extremely active catching insects to feed the young.

The Okavango Delta is known as having the some of the richest wildlife densities in the world. This combined with the Botswana concept of low density/low impact tourism normally make the cost of a trip to the region cost prohibitive. By going in the shoulder season before the rains, we will be able to take advantage of the best game viewing time of the year at a reasonable price.

The Carmine Bee-eater migration is a short-term annual event that is a highly desirable sighting. The birds arrive in September, mate in October and by early November, there are chicks that need feeding. This corresponds with what is known as the ‘termite hatch’, when the termite mounds erupt with winged insects leaving to form new mounds. The bee-eaters have a feeding frenzy during the event and our goal will be to photograph the birds as they snatch the insects for feeding the young Carmine chicks.

Of course, sandwiched in the middle of all of this is a stay on the amazing Pangolin Voyager houseboat. With amazing sightings, awesome food and total control of when we shoot, this is one of our favorite safari destinations.

 

Bushman Plains

The trip actually begins with your arrival in Johannesburg. Upon arrival, you will be met by your Magnum Excursions leader, Buddy Eleazer and transferred to your nearby overnight lodging. ON November 3, with a good night’s sleep and time now adjusted, we will fly to Maun, Botswana and connect to our charter flight into the Okavango Delta from Maun. We will have 4 nights at Bushman Plains in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Each morning and afternoon, we will have game drives with true San Bushmen. On game drives, we will have only 4 people per vehicle. In addition to the game drives, the Bushmen are also available for walking safaris where they will demonstrate some of the age-old hunting and foraging techniques.

A tender moment with baby hippo and mother – photo take from Photo Boat

Pangolin Voyager Houseboat, Chobe River

On the sixth day at (November 7), we will have a short charter flight to the Chobe River where we will board our houseboat home for the next 3 nights, the Pangolin Chobe Voyager. The 5-bedroom houseboat has an upstairs salon and bar as well as a top-level viewing deck. Each morning and afternoon, we will go out onto the Chobe River in our custom photo boat. Each seat on the boat rotates 360° and has a gimbal mount for our cameras. During our mid-day break, the boat will change mooring locations. As we have our lunch, we will be able to see our boat ease past elephant, hippos and Cape buffalo.

Photo by Brendon Cremer

Zambezi Mubala Lodge, Zambezi River

On November 10th, we will transfer via land across the Namibia’s Caprivi Strip to the Zambezi River and the Zambezi Mubala Lodge.  From this excellent location on the river, we will have excellent access to the carmine bee-eater colonies. This event is truly a wonder to witness and is an excellent challenge for photographers to shoot birds in flight. On November 13, after our time on the Zambezi, we will have a mid-morning ground and boat transfer to Kasane, Botswana, where our safari will end.

MORE ON OUR LODGING

Sunrock Guest House, Johannesburg – 1-night

We want your safari to be a true immersion into Africa. That’s why we chosen to stay at the Sunrock Guest House. The lodging is run by an Afrikaans family. You will have true ‘home-cooked Afrikaan meals’ and perhaps a few drinks in their classic on-site pub. From the moment you arrive, you will know this trip is different. We also love the Sunrock because of the proximity to the JNB airport, good WiFi and clean, spacious rooms.

Bushman Plains, Okavango Delta – 4-nights

Botswana has given over a huge proportion of its land mass to nature conservation and the beating heart has to be the Okavango Delta. This UNESCO world heritage site is fed by flood waters from the Angolan highlands and is some of the most pristine and unspoiled bushveld in the world.

The network of islands and channels is ever changing depending on the season and the water levels and is home to every photographic subject you could hope to capture. The Okavango Delta is a truly iconic photo destination and a fantastic combination when added to the Chobe River and Carmine bee-eater migration on the Zambezi

A trip into the Okavango can be extremely expensive, with some rooms going for over $2,000 per night per person. We have hand-picked Okavango destinations to offer our guests the best wildlife photography experience possible. If you go to the right place for the right reasons at the right time of year The Okavango can be a good value.

Bushman Plains Camp is a return to our origins. DNA studies have found the Bushmen are the first people—the source of all humanity.  In the beginning, Bushmen tracked lions and stole meat from their kills; they were united with nature.

Botswana’s First Bushman-owned Safari Camp in the Heart of the Okavango Delta. The Bushmen ancestors have maintained this connection through the millennia, and now, through Bushman Plains Camp, they have a home for our hunter-gatherer heritage. Join masters of the natural world on a safari within the wilderness of the famed Okavango Delta to connect to our shared origins.

Our small, 5 room camp is located in the magical Okavango Delta, teeming with wildlife year-round, and is blessed by permanent water channels so our guests enjoy a wide mix of land and water-based safari activities. These high-quality wildlife experiences are made richer by the best opportunity for cultural engagement within the Okavango. Our guides, trackers, and staff are keen to share their traditions with you on activities and in camp. Whether you are helping to track lions on a game drive, learning about medicinal plans on a bush walk, or enjoying songs around the campfire, you’ll learn the way of the Bushman–and come away with one-of-a-kind safari memories.

Chobe Pangolin Voyager – 3-night stay

Arguably the best wildlife destinations in Southern Africa where we spend the  3 days on the Chobe river. For this leg of the tour, we use a professionally dedicated photo boat. It is fitted with custom designed swivel chairs, support arms and gimbal heads to offer you the best possible platform to photograph both animals and birds.

The Chobe area is home to the highest concentration of elephants in the world, and seeing these majestic animals from a low level on the private photo boat platform as they come down to the water to drink, bath and play, is something that will you will be able to enjoy memories of for a very long time. Species that could be photographed include those of Buffalo, Lechwe, Sable, Crocodile, Hippo, Puku and more. Predators include sightings of lion and leopard but timing to find these majestic cats is everything.

The birdlife is amazing with regular sightings of African Fish Eagles, African Skimmers, Kingfishers, Bee-Eaters, Herons, Storks just to mention a few. I will pass on much information and techniques to you that I have built up over the many visits to these areas.

The luxury houseboat has five well-appointed en-suite cabins with double or twin beds available. The cabins have built-in cupboards, an air conditioner and the windows are fitted with a mosquito net to allow the gentle breeze from the river and the nighttime sounds of the Chobe River to serenade you to sleep in the rooms.

The middle level is occupied by the lounge and dining area along the comfortable lounge area is stocked with reference books and binoculars which are yours to use as we drift between our private mooring points. Meals are served at the large dining table and the menu varies depending on what ingredients can be locally sourced throughout. There is a large selection of alcoholic and soft drinks for you to enjoy when and if you need.

The upper level hosts a viewing deck equipped with chairs, sun loungers and a table perfect for witnessing the majestic surrounding along the river or to enjoy the African sunrises and sunsets that grace us every day.

 

Zambezi Mubala Lodge – 3-night stay

From late August every year, the banks of the Zambezi River on Namibia’s Caprivi strip is transformed into a hive of activity, with vivid, vibrant crimson, scarlet, and blue colors flashing through the sky, creating some of the most beautiful visual imaginable in nature, the Carmine Bee-eaters.

The cause of this breathtaking color explosion is the arrival of the beautiful Carmine Bee-Eaters from central Africa. They make this long journey south through Africa to the breeding grounds along the Zambezi River. This spectacle is truly incredible when more than 8,000 birds inhabit a single colony. The best time to view this amazing spectacle is during the early morning and late afternoon.

Your photographic opportunities are endless and will include birds in flight, landing, feeding, territorial displays to name a few. Also, various raptors such as Yellow-Billed Kites feed on the Carmines in high angled attacks. Much of the bee-eater photography is done from land. However, we will have access to a boat at Mubala Lodge and adds a new dimension to our birding and photo opportunities with some outings on the Zambezi River. A wide variety of bird species and we could encounter and photograph African skimmers, fish eagles, kingfishers, storks and Ibis to name a few.

Along the edge of the mighty Zambezi River, lies the secluded Zambezi Mubala Lodge. A bird and nature photographers dream. The biggest feature of this lodge is that it is situated only a 5-minute boat cruise to the home of one of the largest colonies of Carmine Bee-eaters along the banks of the majestic Zambezi.

Each room overlooks the majestic Zambezi River. These spacious rooms, each has twin or double beds and en-suite bathrooms (showers). Rooms are equipped with mosquito nets and tea and coffee facilities. A small bar fridge allows you to keep any medicines and bottled water cool at all times.

 

Included in this Safari:

  • Lodging in Johannesburg, Okavango Delta at Bushmain Plains, on the Chobe River aboard the Pangolin Voyager and at Zambezi Mabala Lodge on the Zambezi River
  • Meals at Bushman Plains, Pangolin Voyager and Zambezi Mabala Lodge
  • Air and Ground Transfers as noted above
  • Charter flights and ground transfers as needed for the itinerary.
  • for up to 50 Pounds of luggage per person..
  • All required park fees and conservation fees
  • All game drive activities and boat activities included

Not included:

  • Visas (not required for U.S. citizens)
  • Telephone calls,
  • Gratuities,
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Purchases of a personal nature.
  • International flights to Johannesburg (JNB) and back home again from Kasane Airport (BBK) 

The Cost

  • The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $6,950 per person based on double occupancy. If you are a single and interested in this safari, you have a choice of a $1,200 single supplement, or if you are willing, we will try and pair you with another single traveler. The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography or not.