Botswana and the Okavango Delta

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Botswana-hat

It’s the people (including our excellent guides and camp staff) that make the trip, and the 14 people that joined me on this trip were some of the best guests I have ever taken to Africa. I would know, I have been taking people like this on trips for decades. Hopefully, we will be traveling as a group again in the near future.

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Four of my guests were from Michigan, one was from Nevada, and the rest from California. This is at Camp Moremi, at the Okavango Delta in Botswana. You will get a chance to see them in action later in this page. 

 The guides in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana, were all outstanding. They are the reason we had a spectacular time, saw more wildlife than we ever dreamed we would, and did it in safety and comfort (with full stomachs).

Moremi guides serving drinks

These guides were way too serious about their work, and we could never get them to lighten up for a photo

This page, containing a substantial amount of information and photos on what it is like to travel to Southern Africa on a luxury safari (safari is a Swahili word for overland journey), and the wildlife you will encounter.  I did it for those of you that cannot make such a journey, so you can experience it vicariously. If you are interested in going on a trip like this in the future, rumor has it we will be going back to Africa in 2019, exact dates and location to be determined.

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We set up the trip with my friend Sharel at Luxe Travel, using Big Five Safaris in Africa. They  did a great job on the myriad of details and logistics required to make this trip a success.

Wildlife Photography

For you wildlife photography buffs, the majority of the photos were taken with a Canon 1Dx Mark II using a Canon 400mm f/4 D.O. lens, sometimes with 1.4X and 2X teleconverters. After using the Canon 500mm f/4 lens for many trips, I have settled on the 400mm D.O. for my last few trips, and have not regretted it. Its smaller size and weight are a good tradeoff compared to the extra 100mm of reach with the 500mm lens.

My assistant photographer and I also used a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 24-105 f/4 lens and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. A small amount of photos were taken with an iPhone 7.

Then there is the challenge of getting this equipment though security. Each country is different as to what scares them about what you can bring on the airplane. After traveling through many security checkpoints with no problem, an allen wrench that I use for my tripod was considered dangerous in one country, and was confiscated- go figure. Overall though, security was professional and efficient.

The biggest challenge is using this equipment in the field; getting just the right angle for the photo on moving subjects that could care less about your photo, then getting the guide to stop the moving vehicle in time before the wildlife leave, and then fighting off the baboons when they try to steal your camera. All in a days work for your average wildlife photographer. This page only has a fraction of the thousands of photos we took.

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Sometimes that moving vehicle was a boat

Africa

The continent of Africa has almost a billion people, and is growing rapidly. They want to be part of the modern world, and are developing all of their resources as fast as they can. This burgeoning human population has caused the decimation of all the big cats, the giraffe, the elephants, and the rhinoceros. Add to this the huge poaching problem due to the demand from China and Vietnam for elephant tusks and  rhinoceros horns, (and jaguars and tigers in other countries for their body parts) and you have a bleak future for these animals.

There is a glimmer of hope in China. The demand has come from the growing middle class and their interest in showing off their wealth in the form of Ivory carvings. Added to the unique blend of corruption and crony capitalism that is China’s economic model, and you have a huge demand. As of the end of 2017 China has banned ivory carving, and has closed down businesses that carve ivory. It remains to be seen what will happen in such a large country, with complex business relationships, and a long tradition of ivory carving.

The December, 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine has more detail on Africa’s modernization, and also how the Chinese are poaching jaguars in South America.

This is why I tell everyone who has an interest in going to Africa to see the wildlife, that it is well advised to go now, while the spectacle and the wildlife are still in abundance, and the infrastructure to travel safely and in comfort is still there. The country of Botswana is at the forefront of conservation in African wildlife, and a good place to see these animals.

The Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta in Botswana gets its water from two rivers that flow from Angola, the country just to the north of Botswana. Angola has been the victim of tremendous political unrest, and it is still not settled. These people need important resources like water to rebuild, and there is worry that the people in Angola will use so much of the water from the rivers that supply the Delta, that the Delta is in peril. The November, 2017 issue of National Geographic (Nat Geo) magazine lays out the troubles the Okavango Delta faces in regards to water replenishing the Delta each year. The potential changes here are another reason to go now.

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The Okavango Delta is the the northwest corner of Botswana, adjacent to the northern part of Namibia, and just below Angola 

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The view of the Okavango Delta on our flight from Zimbabwe

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The two camps we stayed at in the Moremi Game Reserve are circled. After or four nights at Camp Moremi (rightmost circle above) we flew to Camp Okavango (leftmost circle above). The blue lines are waterways, where we spent significant time. In the center is Chiefs Island, where we went on walking tours.

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The Moremi Game Reserve has great wildlife viewing. I will be showing only a few of these animals on this page. 

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This is the wildlife sightings board at the entrance to the Moremi Game Reserve. The section on GPS is circled to remind everyone to turn off the GPS function of your smartphones and cameras. If you don’t, and you post animal pictures on social media, the poachers can track the animals you photograph using the GPS coordinates attached to your photo. 

Let’s get on to the story and photos.  This page has 14 separate sections on this trip, ranging from our adventure at Victoria Falls, to our camps, to the wildlife we photographed.

Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls (including swimming in Devil’s Pool at the edge of the falls)

Victoria Falls Entrance

The Victoria Falls airport is nice, too bad it took almost 2 hours to get through customs. Welcome to Africa!

Camp Moremi

After  two days at Victoria Falls we flew to the Okavango Delta in Botswana, staying at Camp Moremi for the next four nights. After Camp Moremi, we stayed at Camp Okavango for three nights.

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This camp is in a remote area surrounded by wildlife

Camp Okavango

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Our second camp was also in a remote area surrounded by wildlife

The fun people on our trip

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Dominic and Michelle have been on many trips with me, with many more to go!

Zebra in action

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The calm before the storm

Elephant

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If it wasn’t for the Chinese the elephants would not be poached for their tusks

Hippos

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They are fun to watch, just keep your distance

Cape Buffalo

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Their nickname is Black Death, so keep your distance from them also

Lions on the airstrip

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Time to move so the passengers can unload

Leopard on the hunt

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This female leopard loved having her picture taken

Wild Dogs

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One of the most successful predators in Africa is the wild dog

Black Mamba

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We encountered this dangerous snake while on a hike

Delta Birds

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The reeds of the Delta harbored many colorful birds like this Malachite Kingfisher

Cape Town diving with the Great White Sharks (well, not exactly)

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I learned about Great Whites, but not from diving with them

Return to Wildlife Photography page