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Athene

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Athene

In early November 2022 we visited the Okavango Delta. In March 2024 we returned to Botswana visiting Linyanti, the Delta and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

 

The first trip was a Wild Eye photo safari guided by Andrew Beck staying at three Wilderness camps. The second was with Stephan Tuengler (afrika-reisen.com) to three Kwando properties.

 

This trip report is a combination of these two trips - it is not intended as a comparison and certainly not a rating but just to show what we saw in different concessions at different times in the green season.

 

Here are the two itineraries:

Wilderness safari November 2022 – 3 nights Chitabe – 4 nights Little Vumbura – 2 nights Pelo

Kwando safari March 2024 – 3 nights Lebala – 5 nights 4Rivers – 4 nights Tau Pan

 

I will write the report camp by camp alternating between the trips. As I never take notes the report is mainly based on the photos we took and the things I remember.

 

Just to start it off here is one photo from each camp.

 

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AndrewB

Oh wow @Athene - I do hope you have nothing else on over the weekend to delay this report. Looks a stunning couple of trips!

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Athene

I‘ll start with Chitabe.
We were a small group of four people and Andrew was our photo guide. There were two ladies from the US and my husband and I. Our Chitabe guide was Lesh who was very good. Andrew and Lesh knew each other from previous trips and Lesh seemed to know what Andrew wanted without too much explanation.
The sightings at Chitabe were excellent. We had fantastic sightings of lions, leopards and cheetahs.

Here are some pictures of the first afternoon game drive.

 

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janzin

Oh I'm very interested in this report, of course for your wonderful photos but also I am really keen on hearing what you think about going with Wild Eye, especially Andrew: we met him a couple of years ago in the Pantanal and he was really a nice guy and now I'm on his mailing list, but it's just so much more expensive to travel with him, even in a small group. I would really like to hear what you feel you get out of traveling with a photo guide vs. on your own (since you are already an excellent photographer!) I am getting to the point after many safaris that I feel it could be worth it to splurge to go with someone like him or for example Ed Selfe in Zambia, but it's just so expensive, I always look at it and say for the cost I could go a few additional days on my own private safari.

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Athene
Posted (edited)

Hi @janzin Andrew is an excellent photo guide.  For me, as a beginner, his teaching really made a difference. I have been on previous safaris guided by photographers where this has not been the case. It was the first time I thought that my photography improved noticeably. In previous trip reports almost all of the photographs have been taken by my husband. In this report though, there are many pictures I have taken and edited myself. My husband was also very impressed by Andrew's professional attitude and the way he made sure that everyone in the group received the guidance according to their skill level and experience. His feedback during the trip and later was also a big help.

Since you mention Ed Selfe, last October we were also on a small group safari with Edward in South Luangwa and can very much recommend him as well. He consistently went the extra mile (scouting for the afternoon drive in the midday heat +40°C) to make sure we got the best opportunities. A good photo guide will see the potential shot in their head and tell the driver exactly where to put the vehicle and give advice to the guests on how to take the shot.

Please send me a private message if you want to know more about our experiences.

Edited by Athene
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Athene

A few pictures from Chitabe camp:

 

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Athene

The next morning we found the lions not far from the camp. They had killed a giraffe the night before. The females and cubs were all on the kill. The two dominant males, Limpy and Limpy's brother :) had recently driven out the adolecent sons. They were still in the vicinity and they approached the pride to see if they could feed on the kill as well. They had been followed by Limpy's brother who challenged the last one. It was a dramatic situation as there was a fight and we didn't know how far Limpy's brother would go.

 

Cubs around the kill

 

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First clash

 

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Short break - what happens next?

 

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The son's challenge

 

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Limpy's brother fended off the challenge

 

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Going back to the kill

 

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A little bit later the young males were allowed to feed after all

 

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Short encounter with the cheetah family

 

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An hour later we found this young leopardess

 

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KaliCA

 Beautiful images of amazing sightings.

Thank you for sharing!

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madaboutcheetah

@Athene-  Following their social media posts ......  Chitabe seems to be a cheetah magnet in recent years.

Thanks for writing this up! 

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Atravelynn
Posted (edited)

And all of this action and beauty was at low season rates!  Great times to go.  Thank you!

Edited by Atravelynn
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On 7/6/2024 at 11:54 AM, Athene said:

The second was with Stephan Tuengler (afrika-reisen.com) to three Kwando properties

I also was with Stefan Tüngler in 2017 in Little Kwara. Was your travel a private one? Becasue it is quite long! Normally he has 8-10 days trips.

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On 7/6/2024 at 4:25 PM, janzin said:

I always look at it and say for the cost I could go a few additional days on my own private safari.

The same with me. I made 4 photographic safaris and despite they were very good I prefer to do self-driving now or to go with a private guide/car.

I was also lucky becasue my best photo-safari was not expensive at all but rather cheaper as if I booked it the other way. We went with Tuskphoto when they were still the "Outdoor photo" company and it was their first Chobe-Savuti-Khwai itinerary. It was in 2016 and the price was 2500 usd ppn for 12 days where 8 nights were in Belmond lodges. Now they do the same for about 10000 usd. It's unbelievable. Wim van den Heever was the best host ever. He didn't take photos himself until all guests took their excellent pictures. It was just great.. very good memories! And we had amazing sightings!

Tuskphoto has a good trip to Elephant Plains in Sabi Sands. I did this trip as well. It is not very expensive but very good to improve your photo skills. Very recommended.

 

Now I started to be interested in video becasue I realized how important the accustic is! All those Africa sounds! Earlier it was important for me to take part in some photo contests, to make nice pictures and now to have good memories :rolleyes:to be able to get there for a while when at home, to feel Africa ... 

Edited by ElenaH
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Posted (edited)

 @AndrewB @KaliCA @madaboutcheetah @Atravelynn  Thank you for your comments. 

@ElenaH The first two camps were part of a group photo trip with Stephan and 6 other photographers, most of whom had travelled with him previously. Tau Pan was an add-on just for us without Stephan as I have wanted to visit the CKGR for some time.

Edited by Athene
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Continuing with some more photos from the first morning at Chitabe which I missed in the post above.

Feeding at the giraffe kill in the early morning:

 

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Here is a sequence where Limpy's brother chases one of the young males (leading up to the pictures in the last post)

 

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We came across the cheetah family with a fresh impala kill

 

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On our afternoon game drive we spent an hour following the wild dogs:

 

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We tried some creative stuff..

 

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The pack moved to the road

 

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a couple of close ups

 

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and one very close crop

 

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We left the dogs and were lucky to find this lion cub crèche in the fading light at the base of a termite mound

 

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so cute..

 

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AndrewB

The dogs eye with a reflection of the Safari Vehicle is classic safari, love it!

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Our first sighting of the day was a male kudu, for a change he was not hiding behind a bush or running away.

 

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It was still early when we found this lovely female leopard on a tree branch.

 

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She came down to collect her kill and carried it back up again.

 

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An obligatory LBR

 

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At our afternoon game drive we followed a female leopard. She seemed to be on a mission, walking, sniffing, going up and down different trees and posing for us. We spent the whole afternoon with her and felt very lucky to be able to watch her behaviour.

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It was almost dark when we left her. Chitabe spoilt us with leopard sightings. We saw at least four different females. Predator sightings were really strong at Chitabe.

 

This was our last evening and we saw the first grey clouds.

 

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The next morning we left for Little Vumbura. It looked like it was going to rain.

 

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Bush dog

Nice leopard shots! 

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On 7/13/2024 at 2:21 PM, Athene said:

We left the dogs and were lucky to find this lion cub crèche in the fading light at the base of a termite mound

Absolutely excellent sightings and photo-opportunities! And this is only a beginning! I wonder what is comming next? And what pictures you will master during the photo workshop?

To be honest, I am not sure that you need a workshop ;) The photos are very nice! The leopardess going up and down the tree, the protraits ... high-key adn black-and-whites. And even a rainbow-landscape! Only a nightscape is missing :P You do it really very well!

What I wanted to ask is how many cubs were in that cub crèche? It looks like at least four of the same age? It is interesting because you don't see so many cubs the same age very often. I don't even remember if I have seen more than three of the same age.... That means all of them survived to that age (abount 2-3 months?) Those lionesses are very good mothers :)  It was really very interesting for me. It is a pity you are moving to the next camp and will not have an opportunity to see them again and to make some more shots.

The cheetahs family is aslo not bad ... mom and three cubs. And wild dogs .. Those predators look happy and healthy :)

Chitabe is in NG31, if I am not mistaken. There is also Sandibe lodge where I have been twice. We had also good sightings. This area is really good. I am curious about next camps and sighting and about your photographs.

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Alexander33

I’m thoroughly enjoying your report, and the photos are great. I particularly like the leopard shots. And look at those teeth in that wild dog!

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Really nice photos @Atheneyou certainly had no shortage of predator sightings!

 

Great report so far looking forward to more.

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Really magnificent sightings and photos so far!

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Hi @ElenaH, thanks for your kind remarks. About the photography: I am definitely still learning. As i mentioned my husband contributes many (most) of the photos and he has a lot more experience than me.

Back to the topic of photo-guides: After some frustration with camp guiding in the past we have been mostly pleased with trips using a photography guide. If the photographer visits the camp often, he can often request a particular guide and also knows the area himself. I agree it is more expensive and we don't book this type of trip every time. The group trips with Stephan are more reasonable than most.

I had a look at other photos from the lion crèche and i can't be sure but it looks like 4 smaller cubs and one a little bit older. There were two youngish looking female lions with them.

You are right, Chitabe is in NG31 concession and we were very lucky with leopards there.

 

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