Dates: July 11 – July 19
Cost: $4,499 per person based on double occupancy
Group Size: 8 plus group leader
Our group leader, Buddy Eleazer’s first trip to Africa in 2014 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 10th trip to Chobe. There is a reason. 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.
Join us as we take you on a safari into Chobe National Park. On this safari, we will have 8 days/7 nights at Chobe National Park. While some of our trips are “just about photography”, this trip will be a pleasant mix. Yes, we will use all of our skills and technique to get you into position to get an amazing photograph, but on this trip we will also focus on the non-photographers and make sure we absorb all of the cultural this location has to offer.
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. Our trips will be during the prime, dry season, when game density is high as the river becomes the key source of drink from game. We will be viewing from large 4×4 vehicles as we travel the river banks, but we’ll also have an option of photographing from specially equipped boats, designed for accessing the shallow areas, allowing a close view of the wildlife. In addition to the wildlife, we will also take a day trip to nearby Victoria Falls, one of the natural wonders of the world.
We’ll be staying at the Cresta Mowana which has hosted dignitaries from Bill Clinton to the President of Botswana, Ian Khama. This lodge has a true feeling of Africa and each room has a private balcony viewing the river. The dining and entertainment each evening will also be unforgettable. The Cresta Mowana is located along the Chobe River near the eastern gate at Kasane. 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 wil 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.
There is something quite different about viewing wildlife from the water. One gets very close to the animals and birds We will have the best of both worlds. We will have daily access to a photo boat and also daily access to a roomy 4×4 vehicle for land based photography. We’ll be taking advantage of the dry conditions when the water in the area is pretty much restricted to the river. This makes river based photography very productive. We will let the sun, weather and wants of our fellow photographers dictate whether we shoot from land or water each morning and afternoon.
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 fo 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 7D MkII bodies with CAnon 100-400m 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.
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:
- A lioness from the hills above the Chobe River. Elephants can be seen in the background
- 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, we will have live entertainment and, of course, a lot of table discussions 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 plus ‘sundowners’ (remote evening snack and drink)
- 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 (8 days) in 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
Day 1 – July 11 – Arrival in Johannesburg, lodging, arrival celebration dinner and briefing on trip plans
Day 2 – July 12 – Mid-day 1 1/2 hour flight to Kasane, Botswana, transfers to Mowana Lodge and afternoon game drive
Day 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – July 13-18 – 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 – July 19 – Morning game drive afternoon flight back to Johannesburg for connections back to US. Some will start Trip Extensions at this time.