Chobe, Delta and Kalahari Hosted Photo Safari
In 2021 we added the amazing Central Kalahari to our other iconic photographic destinations – The Chobe and Okavango Delta – for a 10-day hosted wildlife photography safari. Led by one of our resident photo hosts you will spend three nights in each destination photographing in a group of no more than eight guests. Starting on The Pangolin Voyager Houseboat, on The Chobe River, you will then fly into the Okavango Delta for some more land-based photography in this incredible photo safari destination and World Heritage Site.
The final destination is the Central Kalahari and three more nights at Dinaka where you will find the rarer less photographed species as well as enjoy some hide, night drive and star photography sessions.
Wherever you are arriving from on the first day (whether it’s across the border from Victoria Falls or off the flight from Johannesburg) you will be met at The Pangolin Chobe Hotel by your photographic host who will accompanying throughout this epic photographic safari.
The Pangolin Voyager is actually moored on the Namibian side of the river so you will exit Botswana again and enter Namibia which is a very straightforward, simple but definitely unforgettable border experience.
The Pangolin Voyager has five cabins which mirrors the five tents at the camp in the Okavango Delta so the group will have both exclusively for the first week of the safari. We have three different mooring spots along The Chobe River and we will visit them all while onboard. Alongside the houseboat is one of our eight-seater photo boats which we will use for our morning and afternoon activities out on the river looking for subjects to photograph.
As this safari operates throughout the year The Chobe River offers up different subject matter from month to month. In the (African) Summer months between November and April you will have amazing birdlife everywhere as the “migrants” take up their annual residency. There will still be large mammals around such as elephant, buffalo and hippo as well as resident crocs and antelope, so all in all an excellent time to photograph, with lots of bright green backgrounds and baby animals everywhere. The (African) winter months, between May and October, will see larger numbers of elephants as the water becomes more scarce inland and the river becomes more popular.
The reason we chose to start Pangolin in the Chobe is there is always something to photograph in The Chobe. No matter when you decide to join this safari, throughout the year, you are sure to start with a bang and plenty of “keepers”.
Each Pangolin Photo Host has been allocated a number of groups throughout the year at different times of the year. They will be on hand during every morning and afternoon cruise on the photo boat to help you with your photography. If you don’t have a camera of your own we are able to supply you with one free of charge for the duration of the safari included in the price along with as many memory cards as you require.
With the group restricted to only eight people, it’s ideal for novice and pro photographers alike as the photo host is able to attend to each guest in equal measure, especially on the photo boat. If you are a complete novice then we recommend perhaps coming to the Pangolin Chobe Hotel for a couple of days before to learn the basics before you join the group. This is also advisable for more experienced photographers who might not have been in the field for a while just to get your “eye back in” and the muscle memory functioning!
In-between game activities there will be hosted image review and group editing sessions. For this to be truly effective you will need to have your own laptop with you with the latest version of an editing programme installed and updated. Our software of choice is Adobe Lightroom and we have a free online course you can start before your arrival so that you are familiar with its functions if you haven’t used it before.
Other than that you will be well fed and watered on the houseboat with all the meals and drinks (soft and alcoholic) included in the package – and that goes for the whole itinerary.
The cabins onboard are all en-suite and air-conditioned and can be configured as double or twin beds.
On day four we will make our way back into Botswana to meet our charter flight into The Okavango Delta. The flights usually depart at around 11am.
The flight from The Chobe takes just over an hour and is in itself a beautiful scenic flight from both sides of the aircraft. We land at our private airstrip and will be driven to our private camp in our two customised game viewers (maximum four photographers per vehicle).
Our camp of choice forgoes unnecessary and frivolous luxuries in exchange for a good old fashioned tented camp focussing on what is most important – great photo opportunities, a comfy camp and plenty of exclusive space to explore and photograph. The camp has all the necessary amenities such as large tents, comfy beds, great electricity supply and superb staff to take good care if us…not to mention the delicious food!
The camp sits on a private concession of around 10,000ha in size and we have the freedom to explore and spend as much time as each sighting as we require. We are able to off-road at special sightings and also conduct night drives. The Chobe Delta and Kalahari dates have been scheduled to coincide with the new moon increasing the chances of having perfect conditions for astrophotography sessions.
The concession is bisected by the Moanachira River which is a significant water source. The open plains across the area lend themselves to large herds of herbivores and their pursuant predators – lions, wild dogs, leopards and cheetah. Being the Okavango Delta the birdlife is prolific.
There are healthy populations of big cats on this concession most of whom are very habituated and make for excellent subjects. Wild dogs are frequently seen in the area too along with other large predators like hyenas. All the other larger fauna are present in good numbers such as giraffe, wildebeest, topi, hartebeest, buffalo as well as several herds of elephants.
As with the houseboat, you will have the camp to yourselves and your photo host will divide his or her time between the vehicles to assist you with your photography.
The camp comprises five walk-in Meru-style tents with en-suite showers and toilets. The tents have a good electricity supply and twin steel beds with nice mattresses and quality linen. The communal areas of the camp feature a lounge and dining tent, an editing tent for afternoon image review sessions as well as a fire to enjoy before and after dinner.
The meals and drinks at the camp are all included and the camp can cater for most dietary restrictions and allergies. You will be well fed at the camp with three delicious meals a day prepared by the expert chefs in the camp kitchen.
On the final morning, we make our way to the airstrip slowly, photographing along the way, to meet the next charter flight to The Central Kalahari.
After one week of early starts and over-excitement, The Kalahari by its very nature tends to be a slightly more relaxed environment and the perfect third destination for this safari. As a desert, the animals tend to congregate more around the waterholes which makes it the perfect location for some hide photography. Dinaka, the camp that we have chosen to partner with, has an excellent waterhole hide with more in the planning phase.
Dinaka sits on a private reserve, bordering the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Here you will find an environment very different from what you have experienced in The Chobe and Delta before. The bush is slightly thicker and thornier and the animals seem to be a little different too as you would expect based on the ecosystem. Oryx, springbok, brown hyena, black-maned lions, jackals as well as cheetah and wild dogs do well here.
The camp is owned and managed by safari legends Ker and Downey Botswana and is certainly the most luxurious of the three, but by now you will have earned a little pampering. The communal areas of the camp are fantastic and the rooms are spacious with private verandas looking towards a busy waterhole. The vehicles all have beanbag camera mounts and again is maximum of four per vehicle for the game drives with the photo host alternating between the two game viewers.
The waterhole hide at Dinaka is a sunken “bunker type” hide and can seat the whole group together with the host. You will be photographing out at water level as the animals arrive, to slake their thirst right in front of you. It’s a very special place to be and photograph from.
As a camp, Dinaka is very flexible with their timings and earlier starts or later finishes to game activities are all accommodated to make the most of our time there. One activity not to be missed is a walk through the bush with the resident bushman guides where you will learn about their traditional subsistence way of life from what at first sight appears to be such a stark environment culminating in a demonstration of traditional fire-making techniques and some storytelling as the sun sets.
The night sky of the Kalahari is breathtaking especially at certain times of the month when there is a new moon, and if the conditions are right we will take the opportunity to practice some astro and star trails photography.
Again during the day, there will be editing sessions but also the opportunity to have some downtime by the pool or on a snooze with a good book on the deck…..with your camera close at hand in case something appears at the camp’s waterhole of course!
On the last day, you will depart to Maun airport and bid farewell to your fellow photographers and the host but that need not be the end of your safari. There are daily flights between Maun and Cape Town and even Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, from where it’s a short transfer across the border to South Africa and the wonderful Jaci’s Tree Lodge in Madikwe!
- $2,000 Single Supplement
- $2,700 Single Supplement
- $2,300 Single Supplement
- $3,150 Single Supplement
As we are a group pf eight clients plus a photo host we use private charters wherever we can which allows for a little more luggage weight than the normal 20kgs. This means that you are able to slip in a couple of extra lenses should you wish to do so without the worry of being over the limit for the charter flights we will be taking. Please chat to one of our travel planners for more details.