Botswana is one of those places in Africa that people have not heard about. One of the reasons for this is that mass tourism is no longer encouraged. Most camps in the prime areas in and around the Okvango Delta are small, often with only 6-8 chalets, and access is generally only by light aircraft. The downside is of course costs, higher than in other parts of Africa, unless you chose to go in the off-season – which we did.
With more than a 100,000 elephants in Botswanna, this is one mammal that no visitor will fail to see. I had many ‘close’ encounters, and a lot of my photos are shot with a 70-200mm lens, at very close range. The light in the middle of the day like above is often punishing.
he birdlife is also prolific with more 950 species recorded in Southern Africa. Above is a Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides). For a few hours I watched a colony of 100 plus bright red individuals around a river bank while I tried to photograph them in flight with my 600mm lens, a unique experience.
The vulnerable Wattled Crane (Bugeranius carunculatus) can be found here, globally there are only 8,000 left. Here we see a family, two adults with there offspring parading right in from of our Landrover.
Botswana is also home to a pupulation of African wild dogs, one of Africa’s most endangered mammals with only around 4,000 left in the wild. I watched these unique creatures hunt during two afternoons (more about this in another blog!), and it was a real challenge to keep up with them, while trying to stay inside the ‘desert-runner’ holding on to two cameras at the same time. The ‘desert runner’ is a locally SA produced 4×4 vehicle, and it must be the most unconfortable vehicle know to mankind, but it gets the job done, where other 4×4’s would never make it.
On many occations did we see herds of elephants with 25 individuals or more – eating most of the time. An adult elephant eat anything vegetale and consume around 150 kg a day, and when you are close to an adult bull 4 meters high weighing six tonnes you understand why they need to eat so much, and eventhough you are inside a Landrover you feel very small and humble! The infant here is less than one week old.
The Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) is a common resident at freshwater wetlands. It frequently feeds by hovering over the water before diving; I tried several times to record the interesting and unique behaviour for kingfishers, but it is still work in progress.
The Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis) breeds colonially with 10-50 pairs, and at this location together with Marabou storsk and pink-backed pelicans almost on top of each other.
Over a period of 3-4 we visited two camps in the Okavango Delta, the Shinde and the Kanana camps, and two in the north: ‘Lagoon’ and ‘Lebala’ in the Kwando concession, not too far from the border to Namibia. An unforgettable experience, and after the initial sorting I still had 15,000+ left when I arrived back in Singapore.