Guest Blog: Botswana Wilderness Safari, A Safari with a Twist

Andrew Beck Guest, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

My journey to wild Okavango Delta with Wild Eye and Wilderness Safaris started the same way as any other Photographic Safaris, Maun was slow and the wait was long with many very irritated passengers huffing and puffing…..   however once through customs the wilderness Safaris official took over and in no time, we were on our way to Chitabe Camp (1) situated on an island in the south-east of the Okavango Delta, a breathtaking mosaic of open floodplains, waterways, marshlands, dry acacia and mopane woodland, riverine forest and open grasslands, the area is famed for its incredible numbers and diversity of wildlife, in particular,  predators.

The scene from the aircraft window was hypnotic, to say the least.

The welcome at Chitabe was warm and friendly,  rooms spacius and inviting,  however  the urge to dawdle in the room after a long day,  was overidden by the excitement of getting gear ready, for our first  game drive

We headed out after a quick high tea,   and as we rounded a corner quite close to camp our guide alerted us to a lioness lying in the grass my eye caught  this foot sticking up between the grass…… our fist sighting of a lioness with two cubs…

As the afternoon grew to a close we witnessed a leopard pounce on a faun that had been left in a safe place, or so she thought. Darkness had already crept in and the only source of light was a red filtered spotlight . and although photo not salon quality I managed to take a few shots

An Early wakeup call and quick breakfast and out again in search of whatever we can find,  a spotted hyaena  was first on the list she was heading to her den we assume,  with a new born impala in her mouth, she stopped for a drink of water and collected her kill and continued.

We continued in the direction where wild dogs we seen earlier in the week, and evenually we ran into them lying under a tree, their bellies were full indicating  weren’t going to move until much  later we left them to relax

Next we come across a leopard and her youngster they were under a tree and as the sun rose higher and it warmed up they both went up into the tree for a snooze.  We spent some time with the Leopards practicing pano’s .   the nice thing about  the lodge is they don’t force you to be back at a certain time for brunch,   we  were able to stay out as long as we wished. We spent some time doing pano’s and different setting.

The afternoon we headed back to the dogs they were still asleep when we go there but we decided to wait around until they started to move, it was a huge pack about 30 dogs and when they did move it was an awesome sight to see so many dogs all in one spot,  we followed them for awile  all of a sudden they split up  the next moment they had pulled down a huge Impala male.

The next morning it was up early quick coffee and toast and off in search of the Cheetha and her cub, along the way we ran into the lioness and her two cubs just as the sun was rising,  once again pretty close to camp

Eventually we did track down the cheetha she was resting under a tree with her cub, they were very relaxed afording us the time to try various photography technics, the photo below is in fact two photographs one head and shoulder shot and one hind quarters  merged together as a panorama

The afternoon was spent watching a large heard of buffalo, knowing that  the lioness and her cubs were lurking in the long grass, we expected some action, however she never even attepted a kill eventhough the buffalo wondered realy close to them.

This image was taken as the sun was setting

Lioness with a forlorn look on her face…..an opportunity gone a begging…..

After a quick bite and cup of coffee it was back to our early monrning meeting with the lioness at sunrise  light was awesome…..…….this morning took us out in the direction of the wild dogs again they were very far out so  bets of catching them on the move were low on the way we saw a pear spotted owl , and some raptors this vulture was perched on a dead palm tree.  We did catch up with the dog lying in the shade of a tree again.

After brunch it was off to camp no 2 …..

Pelo Camp.

The word Pelo in Setswana means ‘heart’ – a fitting name inspired by the distinct heart-shaped island on which the camp is built in the heart of the Jao Concession. This is the Delta as it is meant to be enjoyed – remote, genuine, and wild.

Pelo Camp’s main area comprises a tented dining area and lounge situated under impressive wild date palms, jackalberry and Natal mahogany trees while the inviting plunge pool allows for refreshing dips in the midday heat. There is also an outdoor boma area and a raised lookout deck perfect for sundowners. The five intimate guest tents, complete with a covered front veranda, have en-suite bathrooms with both an indoor and outdoor shower. The camp’s footprint is light allowing unobtrusive wildlife viewing and a sense of being at one with nature.

The main area comprises a tented dining area and lounge situated under impressive wild date palms, jackalberry and Natal mahogany trees while the inviting plunge pool allows for refreshing dips in the midday heat.

There is also an outdoor boma area and a raised lookout deck perfect for sundowners. The five intimate guest tents, complete with a covered front veranda, have en-suite bathrooms with both an indoor and outdoor shower. The camp’s footprint is light allowing unobtrusive wildlife viewing and a sense of being at one with nature.

This camp delivered the unexpected, all activities are water based, the afternoon outing was in a mudbuddy, used when the water levels are very low.

Quite a few photography opportunities presented themselves, Lechwe leaping across the water.

and to our amazement a pair of Sitatunga or Marshbuck rarely seen, lingered awhile as camera’s clicked frantically. And although no award winners it was my first …..

this elephant grazing on the river bank gave us the opportunity to do some backlit work, good fun waiting for just the right moment….Next morning from the makoro we learnt about how the fish lay their eggs in one of the holes seen in the photo below tryimg to confuse preditors, saw the tiniest read frog and quite a few water birds, glidding through the water was serene…… feeling one with nature.

After brunch the local guide said he would try and find the Pels fishing owl, about an hour later I heard him calling for us to bring our gear as the owl was not to far off.  I was blessed to get a few nice photo’s as he gazed down from a very tall tree, thank goodness for a converter….

Next stop, Little Vumbura!

Little Vumbura

Little Vumbura  (3) is situated on a beautiful island in a private concession in the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta. Surrounded as it is by water and lying close to large rivers, water-based activities are just as popular as those on land, both offering spectacular and diverse wildlife sightings.

Little Vumbura is a beautiful six-roomed tented camp shaded by the canopy of an ancient forest. Each well-appointed tent has en-suite facilities and a deck with incredible vistas. A plunge pool and reading area overlook the floodplains and a star deck leads off over the water from the dining area.

the habitat mix means that just about every species found in the Okavango can be seen. Excellent predator sightings are possible all year round, encapsulating island living, this intimate camp is accessible only by boat

At Little Vumbura it was into action immediately…..Andrew fetched from our rooms, he had located a Pels fishing owl right his room,  with a fish,  once again converters needed.  Our first outing we headed to to find a leopard and her two cubs,  our local guide, the best tracker. After a while he spotted a tail switching in the distance and sure enough there she was. The light was fading fast and iso’s were pushed to the limit…..

Next morning after early wakeup call a cup of coffee and toast we headed for lion country we tracted them down but by the they were alseep we made the best of the situation by doing some creative work, we caught up with the dogs after that,  it was also a large pack at least they were moveing around. One of the dogs appeared to be an albino.

Then the highlight of my trip. the afternoon as an add on we could do a scenic trip in a Helicopter I could barely contain my exhilaration when the pilot after  inspecting his craft came walking towards us with the doors of the chopper in his hands total freedom to photograph  whilst in the air below just a few from the 3500 photo’s taken in one hour..

On a morning drive we evenly met the “swamp cats” Lions that cross back and forth across the many channels.

This little elephant was taken on our last afternoon drive.

This was the most memorable trip I have ever made,  thinking back as to why  Diversity come to mind immediately,  it truly made the trip different it feels as if I packed three trips in one.

Great job Andrew Beck from Wild Eye,  for putting this one together I would recommend to anyone, this is a must!

 

Margaret Olivier

 

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