Trip Report: Chobe Photo Safari, March 2014 (part 3)

Morkel Erasmus All Authors, Morkel 7 Comments

By now, if you’re up to date, you are probably waiting anxiously for me to carry on with the stories and photos of our recent Chobe safari. If you’re not up to date, get up to date quickly!

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Shall I carry on then?

Right!

Day 4: March 15th

 It’s another lovely morning on the Chobe river as we wake up, in solitude far up the river, with only the sounds of Africa to chime in for the morning’s melody. The weather is really holding up well after a gloomy-looking forecast on the day of our departure. We finish up our morning coffee and head straight to the photographic boat for the day’s adventures to begin.

Our day starts off with the local baboon troop again. For a few moments we hear what sounds like alarm calls and we head downriver in the hopes of perhaps seeing a big cat along the river. We find the cause of the raucous soon, and it’s the local troop being quite sociable next to the water again.

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As usual, the Fish Eagles are up early and are calling loudly and patrolling the river in search of breakfast.

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We pay a visit to our hippo pod from the previous evening, and spend some more time capturing that elusive perfect photo of a Fish Eagle taking off from a perch.

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The rest of the morning is taken up by the ever-present Whitefronted Bee-eaters, and we travel up the river again towards Serondela.

A quirky Open-billed Stork provides some more bird-in-flight practice.

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It’s another morning for the birds, as we are able to approach quite close to an African Jacana or two, some more Pied Kingfishers and some egrets along the riverbank.

A family of Warthogs and some old Buffalo bulls (daggaboys) round off our trip upriver before we turn back towards our houseboat as the lunch hour approaches.

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Lunch is once again most pleasant, it always amazes me what the Ichobezi crew can rustle up on the boat.

Ralph and the Ichingo management team really do make sure that the houseboat is properly stocked and staffed, and it greatly enhances the experience.

With this being our last full day on the river, we opt once again to go out again sooner rather than later…

From the houseboat we already spotted some elephants having fun in the water all along the riverbank, most notably in Elephant Bay close by.

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We pull in to the bay and come across a wonderful sighting that many people would miss if they are not attuned to the small wonders of nature that are found all around us…a spawning of yellow butterflies had taken place and these lovely things were fluttering all along the shore, presumably after the elephant dung that lies strewn there.

A couple of Whitecrowned Lapwings and Cattle Egrets took notice of this and began hunting the butterflies. We actually only notice it as we sit watching the elephants and waiting for interesting moments from them to photograph.

That’s the wonder of the Wild Eye Chobe safari  –  you can have this taking place on the one side of the boat:

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The birds slowly move further away, making photography not as productive, and we decide to head on downriver again.

Between some Pied Kingfishers with big guppies in their mouths, and hippos crashing into the water, we are constantly enthralled by the myriad of life along the Chobe riverbanks.

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As we move closer to Kasane we come across some elephants on the large island-floodplains in the middle of the wide Chobe river again, and they are kind enough to afford us some more opportunities for close-up approaches with wider angle lenses.

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One glance to the other side of the river and we know that a storm is going to catch us out on the open water!

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Moments later we are cruising full speed back towards the houseboat, as a gale force wind comes rushing in and pushes the storm towards us. We make it back to the houseboat just in time – as big fat drops of rain crash forcefully down and we dash back into the houseboat.

The storm is short-lived, however, and after a quick cup of coffee watching the storm rush by, we are back on the photographic boat for the rest of our afternoon’s explorations. I spotted a herd of elephants frolicking in the water not far from where we were forced to turn about not 30 minutes ago, so we head that way immediately.

A stunning sighting greets us – as a couple of young bulls play and fool around in the water, with the rest of the herd drinking from a backwater pool right next to them. Once again, we are able to position the boat quite close to enable low angle and wider angle photographs.

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After a good 20 minutes these guys clear out back into the bush, and with the weather not looking promising downriver we head back upriver past our houseboat and towards Puku flats again. Guess what?

More elephants in the water…are we tired of them yet?

No way!

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By now we’ve photographed so many water-bound elephants with our DSLR cameras, we even started pulling out our smartphones for some pics bound for Instagram!

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The light fades fast from this point, as the clouds aren’t lifting. As the very last light of day fades away, we end up at Elephant Bay again where a big herd of elephants are sneaking in a late sundowner drink.

I encourage my guests to play around a little with radial blur – a technique where you shoot with a medium zoom lens and use a very slow shutter speed, zooming in or out slowly as the shutter is tripped.

It takes a bit of practice and a lot of luck, but just maybe you can walk away with one or two images that end up being something different, a bit artistic and interpretive…

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It is with sad hearts that we return to the houseboat that evening – sad in the knowledge that this would be our last night of the trip. Luckily the quality of the meal and the company is enough to cheer us up and spur varied conversation deep into the night hours.

We still have a full morning’s photography left before the flight from Kasane would beckon us home…

 

Stay tuned for my final episode where I will share some of the final morning’s images, as well as a couple of photos that my guests supplied me with to share on the blog!

Morkel Erasmus

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  1. Suhail Khan

    Absolutely Brilliant, I must say. Looking forward to the pending installment. You really make it interesting. God bless.

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