Destination: Chobe National Park, Botswana

Date: May 16 – May 23, 2022

Group Size: 8 – Note: The private houseboat has 4 guest rooms and one guide room

Cost: $5095 sharing, $7,495 Single Room

PLEASE NOTE: Price is subject to adjustment in the included airfares to/from Kasane from Johannesburg. 2021 airfares to Chobe have not been published at this time. The cost of the trip may be adjusted once those airfares are published.

Initial Deposit: $1,000

Instructors: Geff Bourke

Safari Origination Point and Conclusion Point: This safari begins and ends in Johannesburg, South Africa

This is an excellent all-inclusive trip. You need to fly into Johannesburgs, OR Tambo International Airport by 16 May 2022. From there, we handle details and life is easy. On you arrival day, we will cover lodging and breakfast at a hotel adjacent to the airport. Mid-morning on the 17th of May, we will fly you into Kasane, Botswana where you will be transfered to our private houseboat. For the next three nights, this 5 bedroom ship will be your home base. Each morning and afternoon, we will board our dedicated photo boat to travel the riverbanks photographing. You can expect large elephant herds, hippos will almost always be in sight, and there are plenty of antelope species including red lechwe, impala and kudu as well as baboons and Cape buffalo. Many species of storks and herons also frequent the river and, of course, we always are looking for the moments when big cats (lions or leapards) come to the water to drink.

Pangolin Voyager Houseboat

 

On the 20th of May, we will transfer from the houseboat to our lodge, the Pangolin Chobe Hotel. From our new location, each day during our time at Chobe National Park, we will have morning and evening game drives.  During your stay, There will be a mix of shooting from specially designed photo boats and land based game drives. While shooting from the water is amazing, going inland provides increase chances of getting close to other species including giraffe, Zebra and larger Cape buffalo herds, In addition, sightings of lion are often more common on the land routes. This is why we like to mix the land and water options during your stay.

We have selected a lodge designed for photographers. This lodge just won the prestigious “Africa’s Leading New Hotel 2019”. The heart of the Pangolin Chobe Lodge is the dining room, editing area, bar and pool terrace. The aim of the Pangolins Chobe Lodge is to have an inclusive elegant and relaxed atmosphere where you immediately feel like you are a part of a club.  The walls are adorned with amazing wildlife images to inspire you, and there are plenty of places to relax and spend time with your fellow travelers. The lodge also has projection equipment to allow presentations and image sharing, and maybe most importantly, game-drive vehicles specifically designed for optimizing your photography.

The Months of May on the Chobe River

We have been to this region of Africa many times. For this special workshop, we have selected May for several reasons:

  • First and foremost, we want to be on the Chobe River during the dry season because this drives all wildlife to the river’s edge to find life sustaining water. This provides a higher density of wildlife which leads to great wildlife viewing and photography for you!
  • Despite being the dry season, the Chobe River is still at high flow. Chobe receives a lot of water from the Angola Highlands and these high-water levels create submerged islands of hippo grass. The elephants love to swim out to these submerged islands to graze and we love to photograph swimming elephants!
  • Optimizing the Victoria Falls Day Trip. The Chobe feeds the Zambezi River which in turn feeds Victoria Falls. In May the high flow at the Falls will show the true power of the river. Be prepared to be awe-struck!
  • Keeping the price low! – We’ve tracked flight costs to southern Africa for many years, and from this experience we know that airfares rise from mid-June until August. By picking May, we hope everyone can get good competitive airfares.

© Buddy Eleazer

The Game-Drive Experience

  • What we expect to see – Chobe National Park is home to the largest population of elephants in the world. During the dry season, the waterfront supports over 50,000 elephants. There is more to Chobe than just these pachyderms, with more than 75 mammal species and 450 bird types, you will also encounter buffalos, impala, giraffe, zebras, impala, sable, waterbuck, puku, warthog and predators such as lions and leopards.
  • From the water, we will shoot from a specially designed photo boat. We have one eight-seater custom-built photo boat with fully rotating chairs and fitted with state-of-the-art camera mounts. Generally, we take this boat out at first light and again in the late afternoon for up to three hours each time. The Chobe river offers excellent photographic and game viewing opportunities from the famous Chobe elephants to smaller inhabitants like tiny Malachite Kingfishers that flit along the banks.
  • On land, the Unimog is a beast of a machine. Designed by the German military, it will go through any type of terrain without problems come rain or shine. We chose the Unimog as our photo platform because you’ll be able to photograph from either side of the vehicle at any particular sighting. You’ll have your own designated seat with its own bean bag and an additional bean bag to use on the opposite side of the vehicle which you simply move across to. With this arrangement, you’ll avoid the frustration of a fellow photographer blocking your shot at that crucial moment as in traditional game viewers.

We love shooting from both the land and the water. From the past, some clients prefer land and some prefer the boats; however, slightly more like shooting from the water so we will schedule for 2/3 of our outing to be from the photo boats and 1/3 of our game drives will be on land.

© Buddy Eleazer

The Instruction

There is no better way to improve your wildlife photography than in the best classroom in the world – The African Bush. This package will appeal to photographers of all levels of experience and ability who want a more immersive safari experience at some of the best photo locations in Botswana. No matter how much you think you know there’s always something more to learn when it comes to wildlife photography. And our experienced photo group leaders will be on hand throughout this safari to help you do just that!

The photo lead on this trip is Geff Bourke. Photography has been a passion of Geff’s for nearly 3+ decade. In college, he studied and obtained a degree in graphic arts. These studies aided him in developing perspective and have definitely impacted how he composes and processes his images.Geff definitely caught the photography bug at an early age and his interests branched out from family vacations to nature photography, such as landscapes, birds, and flowers; travel photography with the goal of capturing the culture of his destinations; and urban landscapes… street, people, and decay. Since Geff started with film, he was compelled to learn every aspect of development and at one point had built his own darkroom so that he could process his images. Geff has, like many, converted to the digital format. For his nature photography, he is a purist… and uses post-processing software at a minimum.   His work is a true expression of how he sees the world.

The Lodge

The Pangolin Chobe Lodge is situated on the hill above the town of Kasane, the gateway to the Chobe National Park. We are a three-minute drive from the newly rebuilt Kasane International Airport.

At the Pangolin Chobe Lodge, there are a total of 14 bedrooms and we have reserved 4 of them. If we have single supplement clients, we will work to secure additional rooms. The bedrooms are configured as either double beds or two singles and all en-suite with the toilet and shower. Each of the rooms has a private balcony with spectacular views across the Chobe floodplains. The rooms are all air-conditioned with plenty of plug points and places to store camera gear and luggage.

We have already mentioned the dining room, editing area, bar and pool terrace. But there is more! On the upper floor is the bar with a table dedicated to editing and workshops. On certain evenings, we like to have a braai (a South African barbecue).

My spouse/friend doesn’t shoot. What about non-photographers?

We openly admit that we’ve designed this Africa trip for photography. However, for the non-photographer, this trip will also be extremely entertaining and enjoyable. The wildlife is there for everyone and we will give you a front-row seat. In addition, our guides are expert at identifying the various species and also at answering any questions you might have related to the wildlife. We’ve taken many non-photographers to this destination and all have enjoyed the trip. By the way, if a non-photographer wants to try their hand at shooting, we will provide a camera and lens for you to give it a try!

For more examples of scenes you can expect to see,visit Buddy’s photos from our Chobe trip in 2019, at this link.

© Buddy Eleazer

What is Included:

  • One arrival night in Johannesburg
  • Six nights lodging in Botswana at Pangolin Chobe Lodge
  • All meals
  • Round trip airfare from Johannesburg (JNB) to Chobe National Park (BBK)
  • Relevant Park Fees (Chobe and Victoria Falls)
  • Twice a day activities including photography  from the photo boat and game drives by vehcile within Chobe NP
  • Domestic beer and wines
  • Laundry Service
  • Tips for the guides and hotel staff while at Chobe (We know this is always a stress point for clients and we know the quality of service at this location, so we have handled it for you.)

What is NOT included:

  • International airfare between your home and Kasane, Botswana (BBK)
  • Personal purchases (including curios, spirits, telephone calls, etc.)

The Cost

The cost of this all-inclusive safari is $5,095 per person sharing. If a single, there is a supplemental charge due to limited room count on the boat and that cost is $7,495 for a private room. The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography or just enjoying the beauty of nature. This fee includes airfare from Johannesburg to/from Chobe National Park, any ground transfers as well as hotel accommodation and all meals. There is an initial deposit of $1,000 for this trip.

Necessary Fine Print: Botswana and Zimbabwe are stable countries, but the world is changing and Africa is changing with it. We will attempt to adhere to this itinerary as much as possible. However, certain conditions (global pandemic, 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 Do I Do Next?

This group size is small. Space is extremely limited. If this exciting trip fits you, and if you’re excited by the thought of seeing nature while taking your photography to the next level, then now is the time to register. Remember, there is limited space available for this trip. When they’re spoken for, that’s it. If you have any questions or wish to register, send us an e-mail with any inquiries to buddy.eleazer@gmail.com.

© Buddy Eleazer

Last modified: June 7, 2021

Author