[email protected] | +230 452 3731

botswana okavango delta lions photography workshop 2

Botswana: Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Photo Safari with Daniel Bailey

In August I set off for the first time to Botswana with the promise of would be a great adventure to two contrasting, diverse destinations. Traveling alongside my ORYX guest, and now close friend, to capture the wonders of this iconic safari destination.

On the 17th August 2022 at 06h15 I met my client at OR Tambo International Airport as he cleared customs from his inbound flight from Singapore. We had a bit of time to spare before our flight to Botswana. We checked in early and cleared customs. This gave us ample time to have a relaxed start to our adventure. We sat down at a restaurant and had a light meal and drink. It was a great opportunity to discuss the trip, get to know one another, and discuss the plans and photographic targets for our 8 day/ 7 nights ORYX Botswana Private Photo Tour. Together we boarded our flight and at 13h45 we landed in Maun, Botswana. After clearing Botswana passport control and customs, we boarded our short transfer flight with Wilderness Air to Qorokwe Camp. A quick 10-minute flight to the south-eastern corner of the Okavango Delta. The view from the air was incredible and we enjoyed the sights of the waterways that bring life to the Okavango Delta. No sooner had we taken to the air we touched down in the Qorokwe concession.

botswana okavango delta photo tour 2

After landing on the dirt airstrip, we met our local guide Tshabo, who would be responsible for looking after us for the next 5 nights at Qorokwe. We jumped onboard the Land Cruiser and set off on a 40-minute drive through the concession to the camp. We were introduced to the area and Tshabo explained to us all the wonderful possibilities that lay ahead. On arrival at Qorokwe Camp, we were introduced to the team, enjoyed a refreshing drink whilst completing the formalities of a short check-in at the camps main lounge area. From this point we settled into our accommodation and then returned for afternoon high tea. We enjoyed a bite to eat, and a drink on the main deck of the camp overlooking a lagoon teaming with waterlilies and resident birdlife, whilst Chacma baboons, Impala and Warthogs roamed the lawns and a herd of Elephants fed in the backdrop.  At afternoon tea I took the opportunity to chat with Tshabo about our goals for the trip. We discussed my guests’ photographic targets.

botswana okavango delta african wild dogs photography workshop 3

Tshabo mentioned that guests had seen a pack of endangered African Wild Dogs on the morning game drive. My guest had never seen the endangered African Wild Dogs before, and this was one of his most desired specie requests for the tour. He had not seen them on his previous trips to Africa. We made the decision to go in search of the pack. The pack had been left in an area of the traverse about 30 minutes’ drive from the camp. We set off with the high hope of finding the pack still at rest.

It took us 30 minutes to drive to the last known area of a pack of 15 African Wild Dogs. When we arrived, the pack wasn’t in the last known area. They had gotten up and moved during the day. So, the tracking began! The limited daylight hours and light was working against us. We searched, checking all the road networks and game trails. Game trail after game trial we figured out their movements and general direction. The African Wild Dogs move quickly and erratically, especially when chasing prey. Tshabo figured that they had run past a series of dry waterholes. Which had now turned into mud wallows. The pack had likely moved during the heat of the day to find a water source. Tshabo set off in the direction of a larger waterhole. As we arrived at the waterhole, we noticed a Spotted Hyena sleeping under a tree. But, to our despair no immediate sign of the African Wild Dogs. We decided to stop at the waterhole for a moment. My guest and I were feeling a little deflated. The day was ending. There was a beautiful sunset on the horizon, and we took the opportunity to photograph the setting sun.

I stepped off the Land Cruiser for a quick comfort break. Only seconds later, Tshabo announced, “The African Wild Dogs are coming!” I quickly jumped back onto the Land Cruiser, to enjoy the welcomed sight of a pack of 15 African Wild Dogs running out of a dense thicket of Mopani trees straight towards our vehicle. The entire pack stopped to drink water from the waterhole as the sun set. As quickly as they had appeared they disappeared back into the thick Mopani tree line. In the fading light we lost sight of them as the vegetation was impenetrable to off-road at high speeds often required in order follow the pack on the run. This was the perfect start to our Botswana adventure.

botswana okavango delta wild dogs sunset photography

The first full day a Qorokwe started a dawn, 05h30 wakeup call and a quick cup of tea and coffee. We had a light breakfast prepared to take out into the bush with us. We set off early to chase the light and try get back to where we had seen the pack of African Wild Dogs the previous evening. As we left the lodge we noticed a large dust cloud, and in the distance a herd of 300+ Cape Buffalo. The decision was made to continue with our plan. We enjoyed the sight and sounds of the herd from a distance. At first light we encounter two relaxed Bat -eared foxes. They were close and were moving around in search of insects. They appeared to wander aimlessly, using their disproportionally large ears to pinpoint the movements of harvester termites underground. They would frantically dig up juicy beetle larvae.

botswana okavango delta photography tour 2

After the Bat-eared Foxes we came across a herd of Tsessebe antelope. We took the opportunity to photograph them and went through different camera settings. We spent longer with the Tsessebe than expected! Our vehicle got stuck in the soft sand for a short period of time! We got off the vehicle and ran through camera settings and the benefits of switching from shooting in Aperture priority mode to Manual mode. After a short wait, another vehicle pulled us out, and we continued with the game drive. Our search for the African Wild Dogs was unsuccessful. Despite spending a good amount of time looking for them. We spent time with elephants and enjoyed the birdlife. Attempting to capture the Lilac-breasted roller in flight. A somewhat difficult and frustrating challenge! The quieter morning and afternoon drives gave us a good opportunity to revise, practice and relearn camera controls and desired settings. We ran through the pros and cons of different shooting modes. Opting to try shoot with greater control in the manual mode

botswana okavango delta bird photo safari

In the afternoon, Tshabo took us on a lovely game drive in which we started to explore the Qorokwe concession. It was a quieter day out in terms of sightings. We enjoyed great birding, and focused on photographic tutoring, camera settings, techniques. We finished the evening drive photographing a different pair of Bat-eared foxes in the last light of the day. These are fascinating little creatures. The day ended with an enchanting sunset framed by the Northern Lala Palms on the skyline. We returned to camp for a delicious dinner, serenaded by a concerto of calls from the Painted Reed frogs in the lagoon in front of the camp’s main deck.  We called it an early night, to get a good night’s rest to be ready for a new day full of possibilities.

botswana okavango delta photography safari 2

Qorokwe is an exclusive, private concession which encompasses over 26180 hectares, in the south-eastern corner of the Okavango Delta, bordering the renowned Moremi Game Reserve. The Qorokwe Concession holds year-round water sources. The traverse is sandwiched between the Santantadibe River to the west and the Gomoti channel to the east.  The area supports a wealth of wildlife and birdlife. We explored a variety of Okavango Delta habitats from seasonal palm-dotted flood plains, wooded islands, tranquil waterways, and dry woodland areas. Qorokwe is known for its large predators namely lion, leopard, Spotted hyena, cheetah, and the endangered African Wild Dog. It is a high-density game area, so we knew that there was huge potential for our photographic subjects.  

botswana okavango delta leopard photography workshop 2

The next morning, we set out a dawn, we headed east towards the Gomoti floodplain. We found lions! There were three lionesses and a male lion. My guest stated that it was photographically his best lion sighting to date. We found the pride of lions in soft, golden, morning light. The light was perfect, and the lions were active. The three lionesses were being trailed by a male lion. The one lioness was displeased with the advances of the male, and she kept snaring and growling whenever he approached to close. The male lion posed beautifully in the golden morning light, watching every move of the lionesses. He was a handsome individual, as lions go! He must have been around 6 years old. We observed the lionesses attempt to stalk warthogs. They were unsuccessful in their approach as there was little cover in the open plains. 

botswana okavango delta lions photography safari
botswana okavango delta lions photography safari 1
botswana okavango delta lions photography workshop 4
botswana okavango delta lions photography workshop 5
botswana okavango delta lions photography safari 2
botswana okavango delta lions photography tour 1

They lost interest and walked towards a waterhole. We looped ahead and photographed the lions drinking water. After they quenched their thirst, they half-heartedly stalked a herd of wildebeest before disappearing into a thicket to rest in the shade during the heat of the day. We left the lions to find a comical sighting of an Elephant bull shacking a Northern Ilala Palms to dislodge the vegetable-ivory fruits. It was a comical sight, and so satisfying to watch, film, and photograph. 

botswana okavango delta lions photo tour 1
botswana okavango delta lions photo tour 5
botswana okavango delta lions photo safari 1
botswana okavango delta lions photography safari 5

For the afternoon we had a scheduled 90-minute scenic helicopter flight organised. We planned to do the helicopter flight in the best lighting conditions. That afternoon we met our helicopter pilot Matt, from Helicopter Horizons. In which we set out at 16h00 for a 90-minute helicopter flight. It is a unique opportunity to experience the true wonder of this oasis from above. On the ground the Qorokwe concession is relatively dry at this time of the year as the floodwater had only started to reach the south-eastern corner of the Delta.

botswana okavango delta helicopter photo safari
botswana okavango delta helicopter photography safari

From the air one truly gets to appreciate this World Heritage Site in all its inundated glory: you can really understand and appreciate the vast open floodplains, the galaxy of termite mounds, little island hideaways, and all the channels sliced through by mighty meandering rivers exploding with life. The helicopter scenic flight is unbeatable its scale of possibilities allowing you to experience one of the world’s greatest natural phenomena – from seasonal floodplains to permanent waterways, viewing this incredible inland delta before it disperses over the Kalahari Desert.

botswana okavango delta helicopter hippo photography safari
botswana okavango delta helicopter elephant photo tour
botswana okavango delta helicopter crocodile photo safari

Qorokwe translates as, “The place where the buffalo broke through the bush into the water”. From the air we found two large herds of Cape Buffalo. The first heard was 300+ strong. We photographed them as the crashed through the waterways and floodplains in search of nutritious vegetation. We took several passes banking for the best lighting. We photographed multiple herds of elephants, as well as lone elephant bulls feeding on water lilies in the channels.  We passed over large pods of hippopotamus, and Nile crocodiles sunbathing on the banks.  

botswana okavango delta helicopter buffalo photography tour 5
botswana okavango delta helicopter elephant photo safari
botswana okavango delta helicopter buffalo photo safari 1
botswana okavango delta helicopter buffalo photo safari
botswana okavango delta helicopter buffalo photography tour 3
botswana okavango delta helicopter elephant photo safari 2

My client enjoyed great photographic moments of Red Lechwe and Zebra out in the waterways.  Another highlight was viewing and photographing 19 female Ostrich on one of the inland islands. A special and uncommon sight as our Pilot had never seen such a large concentration of Ostrich from the air in the Okavango Delta. The helicopter flight was fantastic! We had multiple opportunities to photograph the different species and the beautiful scenery. As we came into land just before sunset, we touched down right next to a herd of elephants. The herd had found and were investigating the removed doors of the helicopter.

botswana okavango delta helicopter zebra photo safari 2
botswana okavango delta helicopter photography tour 1
botswana okavango delta helicopter zebra photo safari
botswana okavango delta helicopter ostrich photography workshop

Tshabo had driven in closer to the landing spot behind Qorokwe camp. We climbed out of the helicopter. Thanked our Pilot, Matt for an epic flight. Tshabo notified us that whilst we were on our flight, he had gone for a short game drive and that he had found the pack of African Wild Dogs. We quickly returned to the camp, collected the rest of our camera gear, and were whisked away to go and see the African Wild Dogs. We got to the pack just in time to enjoy the sighting in golden light, the pack ran through a large grass plain straight towards our vehicle. We got some good opportunities to photograph them in nice light resting near a termite mound with Northern Ilala Palms in the backdrop. The pack was in the hunt and were running quickly in search of potential prey. They eventually caught an impala in the bush line. By the time we had caught up to the pack they were already finishing the last remains of the carcass. It was an actioned packed and phenomenal day. We couldn’t believe that after our spell-binding Helicopter flight over the Okavango Delta now at sunset we were sitting with a pack of endangered African Wild Dogs after a successful hunt.

botswana okavango delta african wild dogs photo tour 2

Our third day at Qorokwe had arrived and we planned to spend the entire day out to explore the Gomoti floodplains. We left camp at first light and within 5 minutes we found a female cheetah and her three cubs. Tshabo had spotted them playing on a fallen over tree from quite a distance. We headed offroad and found the family moving together. The cheetah went from termite mount to termite mound, scanning the horizon for any potential prey and danger. The mother and her 6-month-old cubs were playful, and they provided us with wonderful photographic opportunities. Whilst, following the cheetah an unbelievable sighting played out! The cubs moved off into a section of tall Wild Sage shrubs. There was a sudden commotion with dust flying into the air. The cubs found a Honey badger!  They were chasing it through the vegetation. The mother eventually relocated the cubs, and at this point the notorious Honey badger decided the cheetah were not worth the trouble and scampered off out of sight. It wasn’t a scene in which we could photograph whilst driving, bouncing along offroad, in the Land Cruiser. None the less, it was a very special sighting to observe. This was the first time my guest had ever seen a Honey badger. What a sighting and memory to look back on. The first time seeing a honey badger, and its being harassed by three young cheetah cubs!

botswana okavango delta cheetah photo safari 4
botswana okavango delta cheetah photo safari 3
botswana okavango delta cheetah photo tour 4

In the hope that she might hunt we decided to invest some time with her. We followed the cheetah for close to six hours. She had a few halfhearted attempts on some Impala and Wildebeest. Eventually we left the cheetah at midday resting in the shade. Amazingly enough they went to rest 200 meters from of the pack of African wild Dogs resting in the same grassland plains. We had decided to spend the full day out. We had prepared a packed brunch and cold drinks on board. We left the area of the resting predators and headed further east to explore the Gomoti floodplains.

botswana photo tour 3

We explored new areas and had wonderful sightings of different target species in the waterways. The highlight was a herd of 100+ zebra walking through and feeding on the new vegetable growth in the flooded plains. We stopped for a bite to eat looking out over the waterways.  Whilst, enjoying our meals we watched and photographed impressive elephant bulls feeding in the water ways. This gave us a nice opportunity to photograph them from a lower angle during the harsher midday light. The target was to photograph Zebra and Red Lechwe running or moving through the water which we succeeded in our endeavor. The temperature was very pleasant and even at midday there was always something to see and photograph. The breeze off the waterways was cool and it was wonderful to get a better understanding of the area and see the rising water levels bringing with it new life to the Gomoti landscapes.

botswana okavango delta photo tour
botswana okavango delta photo tour 1
botswana okavango delta photo tour 3

For the afternoon we strategized to get back to the area where we had left the sleeping predators. We aimed to return to the pack of African Wild Dogs and photograph them as they got active. At around 17h00 we returned to find the pack still sleeping in the exact same spot. The cheetah had moved off which was not surprising as they generally move a lot in the warmer part of the day. The mother cheetah may have also spotted the African Wild Dogs and decided to move her cubs to a safer location. We spotted a secretary bird on top of a tree whilst sitting with the African Wild Dogs. We managed to get some nice images of this spectacular bird. The African Wild Dogs woke up, and playful taunted a herd of Wildebeest.  They started heading in the direction of a waterhole. We captured some nice images of the pack at the water edge. After the pack had quenched their thirst, they set off on the hunt. We lost them running into a thicket after a herd of impala.

botswana okavango delta photography workshop 2
botswana okavango delta photography workshop 1
botswana okavango delta photography workshop 4

Whilst driving the area to relocate the pack we found a male lion. As we captured a few images of him, Tshabo received a call on the radio that the pack on African Wild Dogs had been found. Tshabo notified us that they had just chased an Impala into the water hole and were trying the catch it. We shot off at full speed to try get there in time. As we arrived six pack members were feeding on the impala carcass, at the waters edge. A spotted hyena was feeding on the carcass at the same time. The pack was devouring their hard-earned meal when suddenly the male lion came bursting into the scene chasing off the pack and the spotted hyena. He claimed the carcass for himself and began feeding. The African Wild Dogs moved off contact calling for the rest of the pack. They were no match against a lion. Whilst the night creeped closer, the Spotted Hyena began to gather and started vocalizing, laughing, and whooping to try an intimidate the lion. Black-backed jackals were lurking and picking up scraps on the water edge. This was an incredible sighting! It all happened after the sun had set. It was photographically difficult! The light was all but gone, and we couldn’t use artificial light from the spotlights. My guest captured some incredible video content as we opted to enjoy, watch, and rather film the sighting as we had already lost the light.

On our fourth morning we set off at dawn. At sunrise we managed to find a female leopard. This was our first leopard of the trip! We were secretly hoping for a leopard sighting! Although, we had such an incredible action-packed sighting of the African wild Dogs, spotted hyena and the male lion the night before. The leopardess was patrolling her territory. Tshabo explained to us that she is known as the “Boundary” female. She is territorial between the Qorokwe and the Chitabe concessions in the north-western corner of the traverse. She was a beautiful leopardess. We noticed that she was lactating and had full milk pouch. A clear sign that she was a mother to young cubs, less than 3 months old! 
botswana okavango delta leopard photography workshop

We followed her for a long time in the hope that she would return to her cubs. She was completely at ease with our presence in the Land Cruiser. She provided us with wonderful photographic opportunities as she posed on fallen over trees and scanned for prey from termite mounds. She eventually got close to the boundary. We left her resting under a log close to a herd of impala feeding under neath a Sausage tree on the Chitabe concession. We enjoyed 6 hours with this leopardess! We were briefly joined by one other vehicle. Much of the time we were alone with the leopardess. We even ate our packed breakfast on the Land Cruiser in her company. This was a special experience for my guest, a rare opportunity to simply, experience, observe, and learn about these fascinating solitary predators. A secret window into the lives of these secretive predators. Upon returning to camp, we enjoyed lunch overlooking the lagoon, and took the opportunity to get through a lightroom editing session.

botswana okavango delta leopard photography safari
botswana okavango delta leopard photography safari 4

It was our last afternoon at Qorokwe, and we opted to do a Mokoro “traditional dug-out” canoe ride through the water ways of the Santantadibe. An experience everyone should experience in the Okavango Delta. We enjoyed a peaceful, slow-paced paddle in our individual mokoros. Our guides poled us through the magical waterways. My guest wished to photograph the Painted Reed Frogs.  We had wonderful sightings of these painted jewels. My guest got some lovely images of the brightly colored frogs as well as a plethora of dragonflies. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the waterways before returning to the Land Cruiser. On our return to camp for the evening, we set up my guest’s camera gear, tripod, and remote trigger for a few Milky Way shots of the stars and Northern Ilala Palms in the foreground.

img 0761
img 3984
img 0684
img 0748
img 0843

On our last night at Qorokwe we enjoyed a delicious dinner and after all the other guests had retired to their rooms for the night. We set up to do some astrophotography. My guest wanted to practice and capture star trails of the Milky Way. As all the guests and staff had left for the night, all the camp lights were switched off in the main area. We sat around the BOMA fire pit and set-up a 45-minute star trail. It was a great evening in which we enjoyed observing the wonders of the Milky Way. We relived all the incredible sightings we had shared together at Qorokwe.

img 0909
img 0917
img 0911
botswana star trail photography workshop

We finished the Star Trail at 22h30 in the evening. I walked my guest back to his room for the night. As I was walking back to my guide accommodation on the other end of the camp. I heard something moving in the leaf litter underneath the main areas raised decking. I went over the edge, to scan with my spotlight and to my surprise spotted a Porcupine feeding on Wild cucumber at the edge of the deck. Having chatted to my guest over the course of the past few days I knew that he really wished to see a porcupine. So, I decided to take a chance and ran back to his room. I sheepishly knocked on the door to see he was still awake. I knocked on the door and asked, “Sorry, would you like to like to see a Porcupine?” He excitedly replied, “Yes!”

So, we set off in the dark armed with my torch. I was really hoping the porcupine would still be there. I had counted three wild cucumbers on the ground, so it should still have been eating its meal. We snuck up to the edge of the deck in the dark silently, we listened and heard the rustle of movement below us. I advised him as to the best camera settings to capture an image and video of the elusive nocturnal creature. Armed and ready with his camera I turned on my torch. The porcupine was relaxed eating below us. We watched it eat its last morsel, for a good few minutes until it moved off under the deck below us, and into the darkness. This my another first for my guest. He was ecstatic to see a porcupine and capture both video and photographs. “This is amazing, really amazing!” I’ll probably never get this chance again! Thank you, Daniel”. As ORYX’s motto is LiveYourDreams. I always aim to go the extra mile to make my guests dreams a reality! I walked my guest back to his room overjoyed. I wished him good night, for the second time! Culminating our last full day and night at Qorokwe.

Time flies when you’re having fun. Sadly, our last morning had arrived at in the Okavango Delta. To end our time at Qorokwe we luckily found the cheetah family again. It was a brilliant sighting and photographically sublime. She was resting in the morning sunshine as her cubs chased each other in circles around fallen over trees. Eventually the mother got up and began moving with her cubs in tow. She ascended fallen over trees scanning the horizon and her cubs climbed and played in trees around her. The light was great, and we got great photographs. Our time was running out and we left the cheetah as a herd of elephants approached. On route back to the camp we found a male lion resting on a termite mound. He was resting not far from the entrance to the camp. We took the opportunity to get a few images of him. We packed our bags and said our final goodbyes to the warm, hospitable Qorokwe staff.

botswana photography workshop
botswana photography workshop 4

Our flight was set to take off to Jack’ s Camp in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans at 12h00. Unfortunately, due to aircraft troubles our flight was delayed. We eventually took off at 14h35. An hour flight saw us leave the Okavango Delta behind us and onwards across wild Botswana to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. On arrival we met our guide, Villa. He greeted us, offered refreshments, and climbed onto the safari vehicle for a short drive to the highly celebrated, and iconic Jack’s Camp our base for the final two nights of our Botswana adventure. Jack’s Camp is a place of true beauty and style in a stark wilderness. It is an oasis of style and comfort in the middle of Botswana’s Khalahari desert. It is a beautiful, authentic 1940’s style tented camp which includes a museum, drinks tent and a pool pavilion. Spectacular vistas, creative surprises, expert guiding, old-world safari styling and superb cuisine all come together to create an experience that is completely different to any other. We were now in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. A great contrast from the Okavango Delta. “The Great Nothing”, as Villa liked to call it. The environment is a land of vast grasslands and bleached expanses of the worlds largest salt pans. The salt pans lie as a memory of a once enormous lake thought to have been the size of Switzerland.

botswana makgadikgadi wildebeest photography tour 1

This is a place of golden grasses that stretch to the horizon and widely spaced Ilala palms distributed by the eternal wonderings of elephants. We arrived in time for a quick check-in and enjoyed an opulent afternoon high tea serving. The plan for the afternoon is to go on a Quad bike tour of the Salt Pans. It was an adventure, like no other, and one that my guest thoroughly enjoyed. It was something completely new for him and I’m glad he went out of his comfort zone to experience it! It was an experience of freedom that he will never forget. We explored the salt pans. At sunset we experienced a game in which one is blindfolder and sent out to retrieve a bag from the Pans. Due to no reference point everyone ended up walking in circles. It was a comical affair. Showing how quickly one can get disorientated and lost in such a desolate environment. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we continued the Quad bikes. Soon the stars started to appear in the night sky. We stopped again and were advised to take a short walk away from the rest of the group. To take a moment and experience how loud silence can be. From this point we then continued to a surprise dinner and drinks in the middle of the Salt Pans. A wonderful setting, with all the guests staying at Jack’s camp. We enjoyed a lovely meal, under the milky way. After our dinner we set up the camera and did a star trail of the night sky. It had been a long day and we finished our astrophotography and retired for the night.

img 1365
img 1278
img 1362
botswana star trail photography

The following morning, we awoke at dawn with the hot beverage of our choice brought to our accommodation. The plan was to head out to see the Meerkats. Villa collected us and then we met Raisin, the person responsible for the research and the habituation process of the Meerkat family. Our plan was to go and see the family group of 8 individuals that are completely habituated to the presence of people. This offers a wonderful experience to photography these endearing little creatures. At 07h30 we arrived at the burrows. We had been informed that due to cold they would only exit their burrows at 07h50. We set up our tea and coffee basket and waited for them to appear. Like clockwork, and lone behold at 07h50 the first Meerkat came out of the burrow and seconds later all their little heads popped out from underground.

botswana makgadikgadi salt pans meerkats jacks camp photogarphy tour 5
img 1469
botswana makgadikgadi salt pans meerkats jacks camp photogarphy tour 6

The family basked in the sunshine for a while before setting off into the open plains in search of food. They were entertaining to watch and photograph as they searched for insects, beetle larvae, spiders, and even scorpions. Raisin explained the family group dynamic and showed us the Alpha female Magogo. An affectionate term for an “old lady” as well as his personal favorite Captain Hook, a young male with a blind eye.  We got amazing photographic opportunities with the Meerkats as the basked in the sun, searched for food, and scanned the sky for any sign of avian predators. It was an intimate experience which we enjoyed for three hours. On our return through the saltpans to Jacks camp we observed 100’s of wildebeest and zebra making their way across the great expanse. They lined up for kilometers on route to drink from a waterhole strategically located in front of Jack’s Camp. We enjoy brunch whilst watching the wildebeest and zebra. After which we had time for a rest and recharge before our afternoon excursion.

botswana makgadikgadi salt pans meerkats jacks camp photo tour 3
botswana makgadikgadi salt pans meerkats jacks camp photo safari 3

In the afternoon we went for an educational walk with the San Bushmen. We walked through the bush with them for an hour and a half learning about their nomadic way of life. It was a fascinating experience learning from them. They explained the different plants, and medical uses for different species, bark, roots, and tubers. The highlight was watching the men dig out a giant yellow burrowing scorpion, this was a merely a fun way to pass the time and said to be test of bravery for them. They eventually found the scorpion underground. My guest even held it, and we really enjoyed this showing and test of bravery. To conclude the walk with the Bushmen they did a demonstration of how they make a fire. Using a traditional stick method to create an ember and then light the fire with zebra dung and tinder. We left the Bushmen and thanked them for the enlightening experience.

img 6808
img 3983
img 3982
img 3981

We then headed to a different group of Meerkats for an afternoon photography session. This group only consisted of 4 individuals. They were foraging for the last bit of food before heading down into their burrows for the night. It was somewhat challenging keeping up with them on the move. They didn’t stay still for too long. The light was great, and my client and I captured some lovely images of them in the last light of day, golden rays and even silhouettes with the setting sun. It was fast paced, ad challenging at times to shoot to maximize the best light of the day. Once the Meerkats reached their burrow at sunset, they disappeared down the holes for the night. Grateful for another wonderful opportunity to spend time with them we reviewed the images and made our plan for the evening.

botswana makgadikgadi salt pans meerkats photo safari
botswana makgadikgadi salt pans meerkats jacks camp photo safari

On our drive back to the camp we scouted a location to do some star photography. We arranged to have an early dinner and to head back out to do a star trail and capture the beauty of the night sky. Jacks Camp at night is mesmerizing, it is like stepping back in time. It is stylish and elegant, with a distinct Arabian flair. With antiques and curiosities from the surrounding wilderness and travels from all over the globe. We enjoyed a wonderful private dinner in a grand setting. The Salt Pans are so remote that there is no light pollution, and the stars are incredible. The trip was perfectly planned to coincide with the new moon. The was pick dark and I have never experienced the Milky way in that grandeur. We found a series of Northern Ilala Palms for our foreground and set up the tripods, confirmed the correct camera settings and triggered the shutter with a remote trigger. We let the camera run on bulb mode for an hour, and my client ended up with an enchanting star trail image. It was a lovely way to soak in the beauty of the area. We lay on our backs gazing up at the Milky Way and counting shooting stars as we cameras did their thing. On our return to the camp, we found two honey badgers at the waterhole in front of Jacks Camp. This was another great highlight to see these rarer creatures and allowed us the opportunity to capture some video footage of them running along the water’s edge before disappearing. My guest really wished to see these tenacious creatures. It was a sighting enjoyed by both of us.

botswana star photography tutorial

The time had come, it was our last morning in Botswana. We would soon say goodbye to Jacks Camp and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.  We set out for our last morning game drive. We attempted to see the den site of the brown hyenas. On arrival we waited for a while at the entrance of the den, but no one was at home. So, we continued. We photographed wildebeest, zebra, and bat eared foxes. We received a call on the radio that lions had been found close to Jack’s Camp. We went to go and see the lions. There was a lioness and her four sub-adult cubs; two males and two females. We enjoyed our final moments with the pride as they moved through the bush. They playfully stalked and pounced on one another and even climbed and used trees as scratching posts. Spending time with Kalahari lions was a wonderful way to end out safari in Botswana.

botswana makgadikgadi salt pans khalahari lions photo safari
botswana makgadikgadi salt pans lions photo safari 1

After a hearty breakfast, and our final packing. Unfortunately, the time had come to bid farewell to Villa, and the lovely staff at Jack’s Camp. We boarded our flight out of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans to Maun as the safari portion of the tour came to an end. We then travelled back to Johannesburg later that afternoon and overnighted at the Intercontinental Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport. My guest and I enjoyed our last dinner together. We remised about our favourite moments, sightings, and photographs from our Botswana photo tour. After dinner we took the opportunity to do some final post-tour image and video processing. My client captured some incredible images and video content. It was great to help teach and further his understanding on his camera in which he became more comfortable shooting in manual mode allowing much greater creative control. He has left with a great portfolio of images, and I cannot wait to see more of his work in the coming few weeks.

botswana makgadikgadi salt pans meerkats sunset photo safari 2

Post a Comment

twelve + seventeen =

You don't have permission to register