The Low Angle Safari will feature a 4 night stay on the Pangolin Voyager House Boat ( (Previously known as the Zambezi Voyager) in Chobe National Park, Botswana and 4 nights at Jaci’s Tree Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa. Also included is an overnight stay and ‘meet and greet’ dinner in Johannesburg upon your arrival in Johannesburg before we depart into Chobe National Park.
- Cost of the Trip: $5,895.00 per person based on double occupancy
- Dates of Trip: August 4 through August 13
You may be wondering why we’ve called this safari ‘low angle’. Here is why: A few years ago our lead, Buddy Eleazer had access to a special low angle photographic hide known as ‘The Elephant Bunker”. From that vantage point, he was able to capture some powerful photos that are still frequently seen on the internet.
Sadly, that site is no longer available; however, the creator of “The Elephant Bunker” has just completed a new hide known as “The Terrapin Hide” at Jaci’s Safari Lodge in Madikwe. While this lodge is just opening to the public in September, 2015, our Buddy Eleazer has already been there and feels the wildlife diversity and unique hide design may allow for even better sightings.
Our Low Angle:
- At Chobe National Park, the photo boats allow you to get an unusually low angle shot of wildlife along the Chobe River. These low angle shots have gotten critical acclaim in the photo world.
- Jaci’s in Madikwe Game Reserve has just installed a water level hide at the lodge that will also allow amazing low angle shots. This new hide is only opening to the public in September 2016; however, our lead for this safari, Buddy Eleazer, has gone there during construction and can attest that there is plenty of wildlife and the viewing at the waterhole is just amazing.
Of course, not all of the shooting must be low angle. At Jaci’s in Madikwe is also an elevated viewing platform, so if you are not pleased with the water level view, you can also try the birds eye view. At Jaci’s, we will have the water hole during both daylight hours and after dark when many animals come out to drink; however, we will also be going out and about twice a day to locate great game sightings. At Jaci’s in Madikwe Game Reserve we will do our game drives in more traditional game viewing vehicles at Jaci’s. Though the game viewing vehicles are designed to comfortably fit 10 people, we will have only 6 per vehicle (2 per row), this will assure plenty of space for your gear. In Madikwe, we will be able to off road track predators, allowing some very special sightings many will not get on safari.
We picked Chobe National Park because:
- Every time we screen our images for a photo book, invariably the highest percentage of ‘keepers’ were photos taken at Chobe.
- The Chobe River is one of the only rivers in Africa that affords photography from boats, allowing for a) wide open vistas with uncluttered backgrounds, b) extremely low angle shots with high impact and c) shots with action/gesture created by animals drinking and playing at water’s edge.
- During the winter months from May until September it is difficult to find a stretch of river where you cannot see wildlife. Literally, there will be some subject in sight at all times!
- We can access our accommodations flying major airlines. This helps us avoid the overly restrictive weight limits required by small bush planes.
We picked Madikwe because:
- Unique wildlife that includes black rhino, white rhino, wild dog, brown hyena, lions, leopards, cheetah and ostrich.
- Unique ‘Tarrapin Hide’, a water level observation room located at the lodge.
- Off-road tracking: In Madikwe, we will be able to leave the road to track predators. This allows amazing viewing of lion, leopard and other predators.
- Our lodges are inside the reserve. As a matter of fact, it’s at a popular water hole, so you are assured of hearing elephant, lions, etc. as they announce their presence at the water hole. Imagine having morning coffee while watching zebra drink right across from you.
- Proximity to Johannesburg – The transfer from Madikwe on departure is by private coach and is only a four hour drive. Along the way, you will see several local villages and rolling farmlands that will give you a better sense of true southern Africa.
As in the past, all Magnum Excursions trips to Africa include:
- All flights and transfers within Africa (trip plans begin in Johannesburg and conclude in Johannesburg).
- All lodging, park fees and meals.
- Game drive vehicles will have a maximum of 2 people per row (These vehicles are designed for 3 per row; however we have made special arrangements to allow extra space for viewing and carrying gear on board.
- Expert photo instruction by our founder and renown wildlife photographer, Buddy Eleazer
- And as always Non-photographers are welcome. In fact 30% of our travelers have been non-photographers who love being close to nature and/or spouses of photographers.
Chobe National Park and the Chobe River
Our safari begins with a meet-up in Johannesburg upon your arrival into Africa. You will be met at the airport and within a five minute drive you will be greeted with a clean room and a chance for an afternoon nap before the group gets together for a ‘meet and greet’ dinner. The next morning, we will have a brief one and a half hour flight to the town of Kasane, gateway to Chobe National Park. We will transfer across the Chobe River into the Caprivi Strip of Namibia and our accommodations: the Pangolin Voyager 5 bedroom houseboat.
We chose this large, well equipped house boat as our operational base for the first half of the trip because we wanted to be embedded within the park environment. We know the boat owners and totally trust their quality standards. We will not be ‘roughing it’ while staying on this exclusive house boat. The Pangolin Voyager is spread over three levels affording plenty of space for up to 10 guests. We will be limiting our group to 8 guests plus our group leader, Buddy Eleazer
On the lower level the houseboat has five well-appointed en-suite cabins with double or twin beds available depending on the required configuration. The beds are fitted with the finest linen and mattresses. The cabins have built-in cupboards, a cooling fan and the windows are fitted with mosquito net to allow the gentle breeze from the river and the nighttime sounds of the Chobe National Park to permeate the rooms.
The middle level is occupied by the lounge and dining area along with a deck at the rear which accommodates the Braai (barbeque). 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 on the large dining table and the menu varies depending on what ingredients can be locally sourced throughout the seasons. There is a comprehensive selection of alcoholic and soft drinks for you to enjoy throughout the day from the bar.
The upper level hosts a viewing deck equipped with table, chairs and sun loungers perfect for working on your tan in between activities and for witnessing the majestic African sunsets the grace us every evening.
During the day game drives will be conducted two custom built photo boats with fully rotating chairs and fitted with state of the art camera mounts. These boats are available all day and are moored alongside should any photographic opportunity present itself as we cruise along the river. There are also other tender boats for general game viewing, Tiger fishing or for transporting you to a local fishing village perhaps to meet the locals and learn a bit about their lives along this iconic river.
The Pangolin Voyager is actually moored on the Chobe River within the National Park. This allows us to begin game drives at sunrise and immediately be photographing in an area of the park less frequented by other visitors. Traditional safari game drives on land or water are not allowed to enter the park this early and boats typically have to stop at the ranger station to document the boat manifest. Further, many tour boats only go into this first portions of the park. We will be beginning beyond where they typically stop their tours!
Just as we benefited at the start of the day, we will be winners at sunset also. Botswana’s Chobe National Park Rangers have a generally strict policy that you must be out of the park at sunset. Historically we have pushed to stay as late as possible and then rushed to be clear of the park at sunset. By staying on the houseboat, we fall under Nambian law which allows those staying on the water to return at our leisure. The elephants really begin to move (often swimming) and some of the most powerful skies occur just after the sun goes down and we will be able to stay on the water to catch those special moments.
On the afternoon of our fifth day on the Chobe River after our morning game drive on the river we will take a flight Gaberone, Botswana and our transfer to Madikwe Game Lodge. Madikwe Game Reserve is on the northern border of South Africa and Gaberone is on the southern border of Botswana. This direct flight will allow us to shoot on the Chobe in the morning, transfer mid-day and be photographing at Madikwe in the afternoon.
Madikwe Game Reserve – We want to share a few word on the Jaci’s Tree House Lodge and Jaci’s Safari Lodge. The owners are a married couple named Jaci and Jan. They are the original owners and have been very careful about having the right staff, the right ‘feel’ for the lodge, etc. We can attest the staff is wonderful and the lodge and rooms are beautiful. The two lodges are adjacent and both have access to viewing of the water hole via the elevated hide or the new low angle Terrapin hide.
Both lodges at Jaci’s feature vibrant colors and African themes. Jan tells me Jaci is in charge of decoration and we feel she has done an awesome job. While bold, the room and main lodge is very tastefully appointed. A stay at a Jaci’s lodge is a real treat. Rooms have both a bath and a shower, with the private shower having an open view of the stars above.
We love this lodge, but we go on safari for the wildlife. Madikwe Game Reserve has a broad variety of terrain. Madikwe Game Reserve are vast open, nearly moonscape regions with it’s iron laden red soil, steep hills with views of the valley below and regions of more classic African ‘bush’. This variety of settings allows for a variety of wildlife and viewing vantage points. Madikwe Game Reserve is unique in that besides elephant, giraffe and zebra, we will be able to see a few species not often seen on safari. These include black rhino (very endangered and known to be much more aggressive than the more common white rhino), white rhino, brown hyena, cheetah, brown hyena, ostrich and springbok.
While on the subject of Madikwe’s wildlife, we want to especially mention the male lions of the area. The lions of Madikwe have blood lines originating from the Kalahari which is both east and north of Madikwe. Kalahari lions are known for two things: a) size – the lions tend to be much larger than the lions of Kruger National Park area and b) their manes – the Kalahari lion is distinguished by their huge black mane, which is both impressive and incredibly photogenic.
On the last day of our safari, we will begin as other days with a morning game drive followed by brunch. Following brunch, we will be transerferred via motor coach back to Johannesburg in time for folks to catch their scheduled flights home. Yes, this is a departure transfer, but we feel you will find it to be much more. During the drive, you will pass through several native village areas and also vast farmlands. This drive will help you understand what life in rural eastern South Africa is like and we are sure you will have your camera out to catch a few last shots.
Cost of the Trip: $5,895.00 per person based on double occupancy. There is a supplemental charge for singles not willing to share a room. If you are a single and willing to share a room, contact me and I will make best efforts to pair you up with an appropriate roommate.
Group Size – Maximum group size is 8 (4 per photo boat at Chobe NP and 4 per vehicle in Madikwe Game Reserve) NOTE: We do not expect an issue, however, we will need at least 6 to sign up for this trip. If less travelers, lodging may be modified and those committed will be briefed on options and impact on cost.
Deposit Due Date: A nonrefundable deposit of 30% will be required to secure your spot(s), and a second payment of $1,000 will be due by April 1, 2016. The remainder will be due by June 1, 2016.
Cancellation Policy: If you need to cancel, Magnum Excursions will refund your monies only after we are able to market and re-fill your spots, less the nonrefundable fee of $400. We will make every possible attempt to refill your spots. We must receive written notification of your cancellation, at which time the following fees apply:
- 151 days or more before departure: 100% of payments less the nonrefundable deposit
- 150 to 91 days before departure: 50% of trip fee
- 90 or fewer days before departure: 100% of trip fee will be forfeited
To minimize your risk related to this cancellation policy, we recommend that you purchase cancellation insurance as this policy is strongly adhered to. Depending on coverage selected, purchased travel insurance can covering baggage, accident/life and trip. Magnum Excursions, LLC reserves the right to cancel the planned group safari due to insufficient registration. In the event of such cancellation, those with reservations shall be notified as soon as possible and a full refund of trip payment will be given.
Dates of Trip: August 4 through August 13
- August 4 (Day 1) – Johannesburg arrival, meet and greet dinner and overnight stay
- August 5 (Day 2) – Flight to Chobe National Park and transfer to our private houseboat. Afternoon game drive
- August 6, 7, 8 (Day 3, 4 and 5)– Morning and afternoon game drives from the boat
- August 9 (Day 6 )– Morning game shoot from boat and then transfer and flight to Madikwe. Afternoon game drive at Madikwe
- August 10, 11, 12 (Day 7, 8 and 9) – Morning and afternoon game drive, shooting from the hides available at all times.
- August 13 (Day 10) – Morning game drive, transfer and Flight to Johannesburg (JNB) for your connecting flight home transfer to
What is included:
- 4 nights (5 days) in Chobe National Park, Botwana
- 4 nights (4 1/2 days) at Madikwe Game Reserve, South AFrica
- 1 night (arrival day) in Johannesburg
- All meals at the lodges
- Two game drives per day plus night drives after ‘sundowners’ (remote evening snack and drink) at both Timbavati resorts
- Maximum two people per row (versus standard 3 per row on safari vehicles)
- All park gate and conservation fees
- Airfare from Johannesburg to Kasane (Chobe National Park)
- Airfare from Chobe to Gaberone (Madikwe Game Reserve)
- All ground transfers to lodges and between lodges
- Ground transfer from Jaci’s Tree Lodge, Madikwe to Johannesburg airport (JNB)
- Night Sky Photo Workshop (moon phase/cloud cover permitting)
- All day access to tender boats while on the Chobe River
- All day and evening access to Terrapin Hide and Overlook Hide at Jaci’s Tree Lodge
- Photo instructional help and image critiques throughout the trip
- All soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on the Pangolin Voyager portion of the trip
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 specified above
- Flights from the U.S. to Johannesburg, South Africa
- Any optional extra travel nights in South Africa
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