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Botswana Photo Tour

Private Wildlife Photo Tour to Mashatu Game Reserve with Penny Robartes

As an extension to my Botswana – Savute & Khwai Photo Tour 2021, we booked a 5-day private photo tour for my one guest which allowed us further exploration of Botswana’s magnificent wildlife areas, as well as one-to-one dedicated photographic sessions aimed specifically at my client’s needs, goals and subjects; Lightroom editing sessions, a focus on composition, and Leopards! My guest had never seen a wild Leopard before, and got his first taste of witnessing and photographing this incredible creature on the scheduled Botswana tour. Now, we hoped for even more rosette-encounters to tie up a spectacular Botswana adventure in it’s entirety.

Botswana Photo Tour
Male Leopard on our first afternoon in Khwai

Mashatu Game Reserve was chosen as the destination to take my guest to post Savute & Khwai as it always has consistently produced spectacular wildlife sightings, moments and photographic opportunities whenever I’ve taken my guests there, be it on a private or scheduled photo tour. Mashatu is also well-known for its sunken photographic hide by a waterhole that lies on an active animal trail. In the winter and spring months before the rains begin, very fee water sources are available for the wildlife to quench their thirst from. The waterhole is pumped with fresh water which is ever so enticing for wildlife of all sizes. From a wildlife species point of view, it is fast becoming known as a top destination to view habituated Leopard with a very high density per square meter, fantastic Cheetah sightings, as well as Lion, Hyena, visuals such as towering Baobab trees, mottled barked Rain Trees, free-roaming Elephant herds, and oh, so much more.

Botswana Photo Tour
Botswana Photo Tour

Our private tour took place from the 18th to 22nd October; a month known for it very hot temperatures before the summer rainfall begins. This is a great time for wildlife photography in most of southern Africa as the bush is thinned out due to the lack of rain received in winter, making visibility easier, the lack of water sources ensures a larger density of wildlife species collect around remaining water sources which equates to higher numbers of predator and prey interactions.

 

We had interesting weather patterns during our safari though. Expecting very hot day-time temperatures, we mainly had overcast days with cold mornings and evenings. So cold in fact, that we got hot water bottles in our beds at night as well as for our morning game drive sessions, accompanied with many blankets! We were not dissuaded at all though as we could not have gotten any luckier with the wildlife scenes and photographic sightings that we received on every game drive.

Botswana Photo Tour
Botswana Photo Tour

In 5-days, we saw a total of 11 individual Leopards. Yes. 11 individuals. Not all photographic sightings, but all pretty exciting sightings! One such scene was watching and following (from a distance) a female Leopard on the hunt. Another was a very large, very skittish male Leopard who a few days back, had charged a vehicle. When we came upon this male, our guide Daniel confirmed it was the same male and every time we positioned the vehicle, the male would slink away. After sitting with him for a while and just enjoying the sight of this wild male, we left him to his kill that he had stashed in a tree not far from where he lay and watched us.

Our game drive sessions were so productive and visual that my guest decided to forgo the underground photo hide sessions and continue with game drives instead. This allowed us to explore more of the Reserve and search for the magical moments we knew were occurring.

We saw and photographed Bat-eared fox, my guest got an amazing image of an African Civet, we spent some time with 2 male Lion with 2 large females, a standoff interaction between 3 Leopard (a female with her sub-adult cub, with another female who came upon the scene). It was incredible intense with a lot of growling and posturing. The male sub-adult cub slunk away at this time and climbed high in the branches of a flowering Rain Tree and fell asleep was the imposter had moved away.

Every game drive had its own beauty and experiences for us to take it. When back at camp, we ate delicious food and after a little siesta time and personal image downloading, my guest and I would meet for Lightroom editing sessions. Each day was utilize to the maximum, which is exactly what my guest wanted and wished for.

Botswana Photo Tour
Botswana Photo Tour
Botswana Photo Tour
Botswana Photo Tour

Known quickly as becoming one of the best areas to view Leopard, Mashatu did not disappoint. Which made this tour even more spectacular was the flowing Rain Trees. These are beautiful trees in themselves, but from around mid to end October, they bloom lilac flowers that are just a visual delight. On our first or second game drive, I mentioned to our guide how gorgeous it would be to find a Leopard in a flowering Rain Tree. Not kidding, but no less than 10 minutes later, my vision came to life. These scenes, as we had more than one, certainly became the highlights of the tour for me. Seeing more than one Leopard at a time is so special in itself, but I won’t forgot the intensity of the interaction between the 3 Leopard, and that was straight after us viewing a different female with her female sub-adult cub shortly before that!

Other gorgeous Leopard sightings included the sub-adult male on different dead Mashatu Trees (another favourite tree of mine), a female in a tree eating a Guinea Fowl, watching a male stalk a porcupine at night until we lost sightings of them both, and more.

There were other wildlife species too that we spent time such as Hyaena and, but we came to Mashatu as my guest wanted to see Leopard, and oh, did we.

Botswana Photo Tour

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