Uniquely Chobe 2019 - 9 night boat and bush special, including houseboat and tented camp

A nine night Chobe safari

Join us on an epic Chobe river photographic adventure. Photograph from custom-built boats on the river, spend three nights on an exclusive houseboat, and three more nights experiencing the African bush in a tented camp.

One date in 2019

  • August 3 – 12, 2019

Competitively priced

The cost of this safari will be confirmed in early 2018.  We anticipate a cost of around £4,000.

Fully escorted, small group

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

African elephants at sunset, Chobe

Special features

  • Custom-designed photo boats
  • Exclusive-use houseboat
  • Tented camp bush experience

9 Night African Wildlife Photo Safari

UNIQUELY CHOBE

Join us for an unforgettable nine 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.

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. Three 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. Three nights will be in the newly opened Pangolin Chobe Lodge in Kasane, from where we’ll take game drives and boat trips. And three nights will be in a mobile tented camp in the heart of the Chobe national park, where we’ll enjoy an authentic African bush experience.

Pangolin Voyager houseboat

Our accommodation

This safari gives you the chance to explore the Chobe national park on land and water. Our first three nights will  be spent on the Pangolin Voyager houseboat on the Chobe River.  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 explore the river, and we’ll be using custom-built photo boats for our photography.

From the houseboat we’ll transfer to a mobile tented camp in the north west of Chobe national park, to enjoy an authentic bush experience. The mobile camp consists of 4 very large walk-in tents with proper beds, places to store your luggage, solar lighting and an ensuite bathroom. In front of the tent is a covered area or “stoop” with a couple of chairs which is a great place to relax with a good book in between game drives.

Our final three nights will be spent in the newly opened Pangolin Chobe Lodge, in Kasane,  from where we can choose between more river trips in the dedicated photo boats, and game drives into the park.

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.

Cape buffalo crossing the Chobe

Our action-packed itinerary

August 3: Guests arriving at Kasane airport on the lunchtime flight from Johannesburg will be met by ourselves and transfered to the Pangolin Voyager houseboat for a three night stay, passing through Botswanan and Namibian border controls – the houseboat moors at various stops on the northern, Namibian side of the Chobe river. With the houseboat as a base we’ll be exploring the unique photographic opportunities of the Chobe, using the special small photo boats to photograph the river’s abundant wildlife.

August 6: After our morning boat trip and a hearty breakfast, we’ll disembark the houseboat and be transferred back to Kasane for the drive to the mobile tented camp, deep in Chobe national park.  The mobile camp is usually set up in in the north western side of the Chobe, which is superb for game viewing. We traverse the hilly forests of the reserve and down to the river, looking for predators and their quarry moving back and forth to the river. There are healthy lion and leopard populations in this area and African wild dog are regularly spotted.

August 9: After our final morning game drive from tented camp, we’ll be transferred back to Kasane for three nights in the newly-opened Pangolin Chobe Lodge. We’ll have the chance of more boat trips on the river and more game drives into the park, guaranteeing lots of superb photographic opportunities.

August 12: One more morning photography session, then it’s back to the lodge for breakfast, before we transfer to Kasane airport for the early afternoon flight back to Johannesburg.

African elephants playfighting, Chobe River
Hippo yawning, Chobe

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. 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. 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

Young male lions on buffalo kill, Chobe

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 six boat trips on the river using the houseboat as a base, then more boat trips when we’re back at Pangolin Chobe Lodge.  At the tented camp and also from the lodge we’ll do morning and afternoon game drives in the national park, using specially adapted vehicles. 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.

We hope to fix prices for our 2019 Uniquely Chobe safari in early 2018.  We anticipate a rate of around £4,000 per person sharing. If you wish to book in advance of our rates announcement (which is highly recommended, as these trips fill up fast), we will take a booking deposit of £250 per person at time of booking.  Should you decide not to go ahead with your booking when rates are announced, we will refund this deposit.

The cost includes:

  • Three nights Pangolin Voyager houseboat, all-inclusive
  • Three nights mobile tented camp, all-inclusive
  • Three nights Pangolin Chobe Lodge or Chobe Safari Lodge, all inclusive
  • Local drinks
  • 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)

  • Laundry

  • Items of a personal nature

  • Gratuities

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.