Dates: Tentatively the date is set as May 28 – June 5, 2018 (We are awaiting lodge/room confirmation of availability.)
Cost: $4,800 per person based on double occupancy
Group Size: 8 plus group leader
Our group leader, Buddy Eleazer’s first trip to Africa in 2005 was to Chobe National Park in Botswana. While he’s now been to Africa over two dozen times, he still goes back to Chobe regularly. Matter of fact, this will be Buddy’s 12th trip to Chobe. With so many options for safaris to Africa, you may wonder why we’ve returned so many times. Here is why:
- Few places on the planet can compare to Chobe with regards to quantity and diversity of wildlife.
- There is no better experience on safari than watching sunset on a boat in the Chobe River as hundreds of elephants, buffalo and antelope of various species congregate at rivers edge.
- Wildlife habituation – Maybe it’s because we are on boats. We are not sure why. All we know is that at Chobe we can float right up to elephants, Cape buffalo, kudu, baboons and hippos with the animals being incredibly relaxed and comfortable with our presence. This probably leads to the next reason for Chobe.
- More memorable photos – While we also love our trips to Madikwe Game Reserve, Timbavati and Sabi Sands Private Reserve s in the Greater Kruger Park and the Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa and the Makgadikgadi National Park in Botswana, each time we compare our ‘keeper photos/day’ for the various trips, Chobe comes out on top!
Join us as we take you on a safari into Chobe National Park. On this safari, we will have 7 ½ days/7 nights staying at a lodge at the entrance of Chobe National Park. This location allows us to quickly jump deep into the park on either water via our special boats or on land via our unique, high visibility safari vehicle. Yes, we have a choice, land or water; however, based on feedback, you can expect the majority of our trips to be on the photo boats and a few trips via land vehicles. That’s the plan, but we try to stay flexible and do what this particular group prefers and also we keep in touch with other guides and are influenced by special sightings other guides have identified. For example, if a wild dog den with pups has been spotted inland, we probably want to shoot that. On the other hand, if there are reports of lions regularly coming down to the water’s edge to drink in an area, we will want to go there by boat.
This is more than “just about photography”. About 30% of our travelers have been non-photographers that just want to be closer to nature. Our guides provide these folks with insights that make the trip memorable. We also have some who want to understand the cultural side of the region. We have the contacts to make side trips of this type possible.
One popular side trip during the safari is a day trip to nearby Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world. This incredible spectacle is only a few hours away and during this time of the season, water flow over the Falls is very strong, creating a spectacle to behold! While at Victoria Falls, you may also want to do a little shopping as the local craft market there is one of the best in all of Africa.
We begin this safari with an arrival stay in Johannesburg and a group dinner and orientation. The next morning, we will take a flight from Johannesburg to Kasane, Botswana, gateway to Chobe National Park. The Chobe region of Botswana is one of the most picturesque and game filled parks on the African continent. Chobe is located on the northern border of Botswana, which is the Chobe River.
Please note: We are currently planning staying at the Chobe Safari Lodge in Kasane and bordering the park. If this lodge is not available, we will select a similar lodge or shift dates of trip. This lodge is on the banks of the Chobe and has a true feeling of Africa. Kasane is a small town with interesting shopping areas, access to ATM machines, pharmacy, grocery, etc. in case you left something at home.
In the southern hemisphere winter month of July, water is scarce. This translates to an amazing abundance of wildlife near the only water source – The Chobe River! Our safari will be a mix of land and water shooting opportunities. On some game drives, we will be traveling along land on a series of paths paralleling the river. On other game drives, we will travel via custom photography boat along the river. In addition, on one of the days of the trip, we will take a short hop over to Victoria Falls, one of the true natural wonders of the world.
We limit the size of the group to just 8 travelers so that we can spend quality time together and really work of getting beautiful images. By all means bring your partner along at a reduced rate to enjoy the safari with you.
The program is very relaxed and flexible and while the idea is to bring back some amazing photographs of the wildlife we will also schedule some time to do a little relaxing if you choose. Early mornings and late afternoons will be spent in a mix of opportunities on the water shooting pictures of the animals and surrounds. During the time after breakfast we will have a little free time where we can informally share are photos. Each evening we will collect 3 or 4 images for the day from each participant and conduct a fun and informal photo workshop, discussing what worked well and how to get even better shots the next day!
Besides the fantastic game viewing of Chobe, this trip has some Unique highlights which include:
- Access to special camera equipment – A real bonus on this trip will be access to photo equipment. Not everyone has taken the financial leap of faith to buy a dSLR camera. Many that have the camera, don’t have the telephoto zoom that would benefit one on safari. On this unique safari, every participant will have access to a state of the art camera and zoom lens free of charge while they are with us. The event is in conjunction with Pangolin Photo Safaris. The Pangolin team will make available Canon 70D bodies with Sigma 150-500mm lenses. In addition, we’ll coach you on the use of the equipment to make sure you get the shots you want.
Chobe is about viewing from the water and we’ll have special access to custom viewing boats. These ‘photo boats’ are 9 meters long by 3 meters wide with a shallow draft. This allows a very stable platform for viewing and for photography. Each of the eight seats are equipped with a padded swivel chair attached to a “Wemberley style” camera mount. The seat and mount rotate a full 360 degrees. – We believe that this is the perfect balance between functionality, usability, space and comfort. The mounting design is so simple and effective that guests will master its movement in no time at all. Clients travelling with their own lenses simply attach one of our base plates to their lens collar and they are ready to go. The seats are arranged down the center of the boat allowing maximum storage space on either side for extra lenses and gear but more importantly a configuration like this limits any potential obstruction by the adjacent photographer.
Low Angles from the boat on the Chobe River
Typical daily schedule in Chobe area
During our time in Kasane, we have a few very special days planned. These include a day trip to the magnificent Victoria Falls, which is only 60 miles to the east and also an evening at a private waterhole in our Elephant Bunker followed by a special boma dinner under the stars at Elephant Valley. The specific day for each of these events may vary depending on the desires of participants, but are usually mid-week highlights. Otherwise, the basic schedule each day is similar:
- Upon waking each morning, Coffee, hot tea and rusks will be available. We will head out at sunrise each day for morning game drive. The game drive may be via boat or via 4×4. Based on local sightings and our guide, we’ll choose which mode of transportation each day to optimize viewing opportunities. After a few hours of shooting, we will stop at a safe location for a beverage and snacks and then continue on the game drive. Around 10:30, the light becomes too flat for good photography so we return from the lodge.
- From 11 to 3 each day, we will have a full breakfast, but you will have ample free to relax and enjoy the lodge, talk with fellow travelers, view game from the deck overlooking the river, relax with a book, or take a short nap.
- Typically, the afternoon and evening game drive begins around 3 p.m. The schedule is similar to the morning game drive in that we will photograph for a few hours and then, as sunset approaches, we will find a photograph sunset and have ‘sundowner’ drinks and snacks. The excursion photo leader and guide will work in cooperation to find a location that has a spectacular view of the setting African sun and also close by game or landscape features to allow beautiful silhouetted compositions. Following sunset, we will head back to the lodge.
- Each evening, in conjunction with the evening dinner there is always lively discussions at the table about the days sightings. Dinner is typically from around 7 to 9. While some will follow this with a drink at the bar overlooking the river, others will want to get off to bed as each day begins early.
- All great things must come to an end and on our departure day we have time for one last game drive. The morning will provide a choice of last game drive or the option of a proper breakfast adjacent to the Chobe riverfront. Near mid-day, you will be conveyed to the airport in Kasane where we will fly back to Johannesburg
What is included:
- Brunch and Dinner at the lodge
- Two game drives per day
- All park gate and conservation fees
- 1 night (arrival day) in Johannesburg
- Round-trip airfare to/from Kasane from Johannesburg
- Ground transfers to lodge
- 7 nights (7 ½ days) at Chobe National Park, Botswana
- Daily use of a camera and lens
- Daily image review and workshop talks on improving photography
What is not included:
- Visa or passport fees (no visa required for U.S. citizens)
- Laundry (available at all lodges for slight fee)
- Tips for guides
- Alcoholic beverages except as noted above
- Flights from the U.S. to Johannesburg, South Africa
- Any optional extra travel nights in South Africa
Daily Schedule (As noted previously, dates are tentative, awaiting lodge availability confirmation):
Day 1 – May 28 – Arrival in Johannesburg, lodging, arrival celebration dinner and briefing on trip plans
Day 2 – May 29 – Mid-day 1 1/2 hour flight to Kasane, Botswana, transfers to our lodge and afternoon game drive
Day 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – May 30 – June 4 – Morning and afternoon game drives. These will vary between land vehicles and photo boats depending on local sightings reported and the preferred choice of the group. On one of these days (probably mid-week) we will have a day trip to Victoria Falls.
Day 9 – June 5 – Morning game drive afternoon flight back to Johannesburg for connections back to US. Some will start Trip Extensions at this time.
Payment Terms: total Cost of trip is $4,800. Your non-refundable deposit of $1,000 is due immediately to hold your spot. The second payment of $1900 is due October 31, 2017 (this is 1/2 of remaining trip cost). The final payment of of $1900 is due January 31, 2018. The cancellation and refund policy is stated further below in this offering. Payment of the Deposit Payment, along with a completed and signed Travel Agreement and Travel Information Form (form supplied when you contact us regarding your deposit payment) are required in order to confirm your reservation. Payment can also be made via credit card; however, any credit card fees (typically around 1.75%) will be added to the trip cost.
Cancellation and Refund Policy
Cancellations are only effective upon Magnum Excursions’ receipt of written notification, signed by the client:
- Cancellation Before Six (6) Months Prior to Departure Date. If cancellation is made more than six months prior to departure date, your non-refundable 10% Deposit Payment is forfeited.
- Cancellation Between Three (3) Months and Six (6) Months Prior to Departure Date. If your cancellation is made between three months and six months prior to your departure date, you will be refunded up to thirty percent (30%) of the Balance Payments paid. This refund excludes the Deposit Payment and any portion of the Tour Fare already expended by Magnum Excursions to secure internal flights, animal viewing permits and any other goods or services related to the Tour.
- Cancellation After Three (3) Months Prior to Departure Date. If your cancellation is made less than three months prior to your departure date or should you for any reason fail to join a tour or join it after departure or leave it prior to its completion, no refund of any kind will be made. Magnum Excursions recommend that you purchase travel insurance, including trip cancellation insurance, to protect you in case of this circumstance.
Suggested Pre-Safari Extension to Consider
- Okavango Delta – Pangolin Kwai Camp – 4 days/3 nights – $2,950
- May 24 -Upon leaving Timbavati, we will take a short shuttle flight to Johannesburg where we will spend the night at a hotel near the airport. This is a great chance to organize our gear, catch up on emails and also have a nice relaxing dinner with your fellow travelers.
- May 25, 26, 27, 28 – On May 25, we will take a short flight to Maun, Botswana followed by boarding a smaller bush plane that will take us into the Kwai section of the Okavango Delta. We will be staying at a new lodge built to replace a well known older lodge, so we will be traversing in private regions, but with wildlife habituated to man and vehicles. During our stay at Kwai, you will have daily choices of land based game drives in vehicles (including off road tracking), water based game drives, mokoro based excursions or a walking safari. Kwai offers it all. Regarding wildlife, many experts feel this is the richest region for wildlife in Africa, with large packs of wild dogs, leopard, cheetah, lions, waterbuck, impala, puku and lechwe. This diversity is a great way to round out your safari experience. After our morning breakfast on May 28, we will have a short game drive to our waiting bush plane for our connection back to ‘the real world’ of Maun and our transfer flight to Johannesburg. You should arrive in Johannesburg in time to easily catch your flight back to the States.
- Extension Payment Terms: Your non-refundable deposit of $500 is due immediately to hold your spot. The second payment of $1225 is due October 31, 2017 (this is 1/2 of remaining trip cost). The final payment of of $1225 is due January 31, 2018.