Uniquely Chobe – 8 night special, including houseboat and Victoria Falls

An eight night river safari

Join us on an epic Chobe river photographic adventure. Photograph from custom-built boats on the river, spend four nights on an exclusive houseboat, and visit the ‘smoke that thunders’, Victoria Falls.

One date in 2018

  • August 13 – 21, 2018

Competitively priced

£3,450 per person sharing. £600 single room supplement.

Flights not included.

Fully escorted, small group

Maximum of six guests per safari, escorted by two professional wildlife photographers offering advice and help.

EWlephants on the Chobe at dusk

Special features

  • Custom-designed photo boats
  • Exclusive-use houseboat
  • Visit Victoria Falls
  • Star trail photography

8 Night African Wildlife Photo Safari

UNIQUELY CHOBE

Join us for an unforgettable eight night photo safari on the Chobe River in northern Botswana/Namibia, one of Africa’s premier wildlife photographic destinations.  We’ll be spending lots of time on and around the river, photographing the abundant big game that congregates here in the dry season and the equally spectacular birdlife. And we’ll be taking a day trip to Victoria Falls to marvel at one of the natural wonders of the world.

We’ll be using special custom-designed photo boats on the Chobe river, which allow us unparalleled opportunities to get close to the animals and photograph from dramatic low viewpoints.  Huge numbers of elephants visit the river at this time, often swimming across to the lush grassy islands in midstream.  If the elephants are the stars of the show, there’s also a long supporting cast – buffalo, hippos, crocs, antelope, and much more. The bird life is even more varied, with herons, storks, kingfishers, jacanas, and specials such as the African fish eagle and the African skimmer. Four nights of the trip will be spent aboard the Pangolin Voyager houseboat, where you couldn’t be closer to the wildlife. We’ll have exclusive use of the houseboat, and we’ll again be using the custom-built photo boats for our photography on the river.

We’ll also explore the Chobe national park on game drives, looking for the predators which are harder to see from the river. And we’ll have an evening of star trail photography, capturing the magnificence of the African night sky.

Zambezi Voyager houseboat, Chobe river

Our accommodation

This safari gives you the chance to explore the Chobe national park on land and water. We’ll spend four nights at a lodge in Kasane then another four nights on an exclusive-use houseboat, sleeping on the river itself.  We’ve selected comfortable accommodation, perfectly placed for the various photographic activities, so we won’t have to waste valuable time and good light getting to our shooting locations.

Pangolin Chobe Lodge is a brand new lodge, currently being built in Kasane by Pangolin, our Botswana partners.  It will hopefully be completed in time for our safari, but if not we’ll stay at Chobe Safari Lodge,  a 4-star lodge set right on the riverbank, with magnificent views across the water. There’s a pool and large public areas with a bar and restaurant. It’s a busy place and feels more like a hotel than a safari lodge, but is very comfortable and well-located.

After four nights at the lodge, we’ll transfer to the Pangolin Voyager houseboat on the Chobe River for four nights.  We’ll have exclusive use of the houseboat, which is very comfortable, with well appointed double/twin bed cabins, a spacious lounge and dining area, and a sundeck.  It’s a great spot from which to further explore the river, and again we’ll be using the custom-built photo boats for our photography.

Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) splashing, Chobe river, Botswana, September 2016

Our action-packed itinerary

The eight night trip includes four nights at a lodge in Kasane, the gateway to the Chobe river, and four nights on a houseboat, sleeping on the river itself. From the lodge we’ll be taking game drives in Chobe national park in a Unimog, and photographing on the river in custom-designed photo boats. We’ll also have a day trip to Victoria Falls, in neighbouring Zimbabwe, to see one of the great natural wonders of the world. If you’d like to see the Falls from above, we can book a helicopter flight for you (at cost). While at the lodge in Kasane we’ll have the opportunity to spend an evening photographing the spectacular starry African night sky.

After four nights in Kasane we’ll make the brief transfer to the Pangolin Voyager houseboat, for another four nights, when we’ll be concentrating on the superb photography of the wildlife on the river, again using  special photo boats to put us right in among the action.

August 13: Guests arriving at Kasane airport on the lunchtime flight from Johannesburg will be met by ourselves and transfered to Pangolin Chobe Lodge or Chobe Safari Lodge for a four night stay. From here we’ll have game drives into Chobe National Park, looking for subjects that aren’t so easily spotted from the river, river trips on the specially designed photo boat, a day trip to Victoria Falls, and an evening of star trail photography.

August 17: After our morning activity we’ll check out of the lodge and be transferred to the Pangolin Voyager houseboat, passing through Botswanan and Namibian border controls – the houseboat moors at various stops on the northern, Namibian side of the Chobe river.  We’ll spend four nights on the houseboat, using the special small photo boats to photograph the river’s abundant wildlife and explore further upstream. There’s also the opportunity to fish for tiger fish, or take a walk on the flood plains, if you’d like a change from photography.

August 21: After our final morning boat ride, we’ll be transferred back to Kasane airport, to catch the early afternoon flight back to Johannesburg.

Young male lions (Panthera leo) feeding on a Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) kill, Chobe national park, Botswana, September 2016
African elephant bull flinging dust over his  body with his trunk  (Loxodonta africana), Chobe national park, Botswana, Africa, October 2014

Is this for you?

This safari is aimed at keen wildlife photographers who will relish spending lots of time with great subjects and the unique photographic opportunities afforded by the custom-designed photo boats on the Chobe river. Whether you’re an old Africa hand or a first time safari-goer, you’ll enjoy superb opportunities for great images and memorable wildlife encounters. To ensure the best possible photography, we’re strictly limiting numbers to six guests.

If you’ve a partner who loves wildlife, but isn’t so keen on photography, they’re welcome to come along and enjoy the magnificent wildlife-viewing, but please understand this is a specialist photo safari. We will not be hurtling round to tick off as many species as possible before rushing back to a luxury lodge for brunch. When we find a good subject we’ll spend time with it, which may be frustrating for non-photographers.

We’ll be getting up before dawn each day to ensure we’re in place for the best light, and spending a lot of time photographing, which can be tiring, so you’ll need a degree of stamina. But there’s no significant walking involved, so you don’t need to be super-fit, just able to climb into and out of a boat or vehicle.

We will be working with an experienced and very effective ground crew. But this is Africa, so we’re looking for guests who can take small hiccups in their stride – and understand that wildlife is anything but predictable! We’re a small group so a good sense of humour, a relaxed attitude and boundless enthusiasm will ensure we have a great time and make lasting friends.

CHOBE - AN AFRICAN EDEN

African elephant (Loxodonta africana), Chobe National Park, Botswana, October 2014

The Chobe river forms part of the border between Botswana and Namibia’s Caprivi Strip, and marks the northern boundary of the national park. The park, a vast 11,700 square kilometres of protected area, is famous for its huge herds of elephant. More than 120,000 are estimated to roam in Chobe and the surrounding area. But it’s also home to high densities of lion and leopard, specials such as cheetah and wild dog, and large herds of buffalo, zebra and antelope.

The greatest concentration of game is found along the Chobe river front, where we’ll be operating. Elephant, buffalo, hippo and huge crocodiles are all abundant. The bird life is impressive too (some 460 species have been recorded) and the river banks, low islands and shallows are alive with photogenic and colourful species such as herons, storks, kingfishers, waders and waterfowl. African skimmers nest on small islands mid-stream, and majestic African fish eagles perch on trees along the river bank. Chobe has arguably the highest density of these magnificent raptors on the continent.

May to September is peak photography season on the river. It’s dry season, so the animals are forced to move from the arid interior of the park to the river, in search of grazing and water. The weather is reliably fine, and while it can get hot in the afternoon, we’re assured of golden light around dawn and dusk, and a chance to photograph great wildlife subjects against the famous Chobe sunsets.

 

CUSTOM-DESIGNED PHOTO BOATS

Custom designed photo boats

What sets this photo safari apart from typical land-based safaris is our use of custom-designed boats that allows us to get very close to the wildlife and shoot from a low viewpoint, just inches above water level.

These shallow-draught craft are equipped with fully rotational camera seats, each with a fully adjustable camera mounting, designed to support the largest of lenses. The camera mounting design is based on a lightweight machine-gun mounting used by the South African army, and gives complete control, even for the heaviest camera/lens combinations, and without the need for heavy lifting. All you need do is attach the supplied base plate to your lens collar. There’s plenty of floor space for extra kit.

We’ll have at least ten boat trips on the river, each lasting at least three hours. We’ll also do several game drives in the national park, using a specially adapted Unimog, equipped with padded mounts on which to rest lenses. While it’s the river trips that make Chobe so unique, our game drives will give us an increased chance of spotting apex predators like lion and leopard.

Per person sharing: £3,450. Single room supplement £600.

The £3,450 cost includes:

  • Four nights Pangolin Chobe Lodge or Chobe Safari Lodge, DBB

  • Four nights Pangolin Voyager houseboat, all-inclusive
  • All Chobe game activities, with refreshments

  • Transfers between Kasane airport and accommodation

  • All park entrance fees

The cost excludes:

  • International flights

  • Connecting flights between Johannesburg and Kasane

  • Visas (not required by British nationals or many other nationalities)

  • Lunches at the lodge (lunches included on houseboat)

  • Drinks at the lodge (local drinks included on houseboat)

  • Laundry

  • (Optional) helicopter flight at Victoria Falls
  • Items of a personal nature

  • Gratuities

We haven’t included lunches at the lodge, to avoid charging you for meals you may not wish to take. Because we will be taking breakfast when we return from our morning activity, and then going back out in the early or mid-afternoon, many people skip lunch. If you do want something to eat before the afternoon activity, inexpensive light meals and snacks are readily available. Lunch is included on the houseboat, where local alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are also included.

Gratuities are optional, and while our drivers and guides will welcome a tip, they are not taken for granted, and certainly not at the level of some high end African safari lodges, where gratuities for game drive guides etc can cost you £50 a day. We are happy to give guidance on tipping, but you needn’t anticipate more than £50 per person for the entire trip. We (Ann and Steve) do not expect a tip!

We’ve not included any flights in the basic cost. This is because some guests may wish to fly in to Kasane from other airports than Johannesburg, or fly in early or stay longer at the end.  The daily Airlink flight leaves JHB late morning, arriving Kasane at lunchtime (we’ll meet you at Kasane airport). We’ll send you details when you book your safari. For most people, it makes sense to fly into Johannesburg the evening before the safari commences, stay at a hotel on the airport, and be rested and ready to catch the Kasane flight next morning.

We’ll provide all the info you need about hotels, flights, etc, when you book.