Category Archives: Okavango Savuti & Chobe Photo Tour

Two Kills …

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Dawie Updates Us from The Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Safari:

(Photos from Brendon – video thanks to UliHB)

Our final morning at Savute was outstanding. What an end! Wow!

It started when we headed out to where we left the lions previously. It was very blustery, and the wind certainly worked in the lions favour. When we met up with the cats they were gradually closing in on a herd of wildebeest. The lions were quite scattered around and we had to decide where to be – we chose to follow a few adults with cubs.

We interrupted our time with the lions when we received a call about Wild Dogs, and when we reached them we found them feeding on the remains of a tsessebe. Being a large animal the tsessebe afforded plenty for all, but that did not deter the frenetic snarling, yipping, grabbing and tearing as the dogs noisily grabbed, argued, and fed. Five pups darted in and out among the adults to grab their share of the spoils. The gusty wind added to the drama, making the scene quite chaotic and almost intimidating.

We returned to the lions, and as blustery wind whipped around, the lions had been able to were able to creep closer to the herd – and soon we saw a large thick-maned lion walking towards us dragging a wildebeest kill. He dragged the kill between his legs while the wind whipped at his mane. The images we captured were dramatic and impactful.

3 UliHB Lion Kill Savute IMG_1101

After all this drama we photographed quieter subjects like elephants and Plains animals as we returned to the Lodge to prepare for our departure to Chobe.

Having checked in and feasted on a sumptuous high tea at Chobe we were ready to board the boat that took us upriver. The water was quite choppy because of a stiff breeze, and the ripples caught the light from all angles.

Soon after we set out we spotted two buffalo crossing the river. It was so special to see them as they plunged into the water to make their way from an island to the mainland.

Along the banks of the river we photographed numerous elephants, waterbuck, and puku. An iconic Fish Eagle with his distinctive plumage and typical cry kept our cameras very busy, and although he wasn’t all that keen to be photographed, a very cooperative Goliath Heron posed obligingly for us.

We turned towards an area that elephants are known to congregate, and when we arrived we spotted not elephants but a lion on the bank. Because he showed no sign that he would move for quite a while we left him to rest.

Hippos put on quite a show – particularly a female with a calf. Their splashy interactions, nudging, gaping mouths, and playing around gave us nonstop action shots.

We headed back to the lion, hoping that he would be thirsty enough to drink at the river and found instead about sixty elephants as they arrived at the water to drink and bathe.

We stopped once again on the way back to the Lodge. This time we spotted African Skimmers and as they always look so graceful when they skim the water, we simply had to fill our cameras.

Wow, after that fabulous journey up the river, we are excited to experience more of the wildlife in the area …

Different Species Share a Waterhole Together …

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Dawie Updates Us from The Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Safari:

(Photos from back of Dawie’s camera)

While having dinner we could hear Wild Dogs yapping and calling in the distance. They have small pups and it sounded as though they were unable to find them and were therefore calling again and again.

With this in mind our early morning game drive started with a search for the Wild Dogs. As we drove along we first came across some hyenas, but when we reached the area we had pinpointed all we found were dog tracks that criss-crossed in all directions.

But then our attention was diverted by a Honey-Badger. The little fellow dug furiously in the ground as he foraged next to the river. Because he was so busy and so active we just had to remain with him to photograph his digging and snuffling.

From there we headed to a small waterhole, hoping that lions and other animals would arrive for a morning drink. There were plenty of Guinea Fowl, but no other animals at that moment. But about 100 meters or so past the waterhole we spotted a shape that on closer inspection turned out to be a solitary male lion. No, not one – as we drove even closer the one lion turned out to be three. They were asleep and as it was quite warm we left them to rest during the heat of the day.

Marabou pan was our next objective, and as we drove in that direction we could see elephants at the pan. Then, as we drew closer we noticed three lions lying very close to the elephants. It was wonderful to photograph both the cats and the huge pachyderms in one frame. All was quiet for a while, but then the lions decided to move away because of pressure from the elephants.

It wasn’t long before we thought that there could be some drama. When Warthogs arrived for a drink the lions looked up, and took great interest in their presence. Aha, we thought, here we go! But maybe the day was still far too warm for action, and the cats, after a hugely interested inspection of a possible meal, simply flopped down and went to sleep.

Sandgrouse were very busy, and were interrupted regularly by Yellow-billed Kites that swooped to the pan for a drink. In fact, we had great fun photographing the grouse, the elephants, lions, and the kites, trying to get them into a single frame.

Impalas and jackals arrived at the pan, but there was little reaction from the other animals. On the way to the Lodge we photographed giraffe, tsessebe, and a few rollers.

Something different was on the cards for our afternoon drive. We wanted to locate the Wild Dogs again, and went to the area where we had seen their tracks earlier. Sure enough, there they were! While a number of adults sprawled in the shade five adorable pups did what pups do best – they cavorted, played, got up to mischief, and came to inspect us.

We really wanted to find a leopard, and headed to where a leopard with her ten month old cub has been spotted from time to time. We drove in circles, and although we could not see the mother, the cub was not difficult to find. It was a little shy without mom’s reassuring presence, but nonetheless we all managed to get some really superb photos. We left the cub after a short visit, not wanting to pressure or alarm it.

The lions were getting up as we returned to them, but as it was time to return to the Lodge we left them drinking at the waterhole.

 

Tomorrow is our final full day here, and we really hope that the lions will finally decide to hunt …

Non-stop Day and Night Animal Parades …

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Brendon Updates Us from The Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Safari:

When we headed out before sunrise our first action plan was to catch up again with the large pride of 22 lions. We searched the area for quite a while thinking that they had moved, but when there was no sign of any one of them in the predicted areas we made our way back to where we last saw them. To our surprise we found the lions very close to where we had left them. The reason for our surprise was because they had appeared quite lean and hungry, and certainly ready to hunt. So we were quite taken aback to discover that they had hardly moved through the night. Maybe they were just not hungry enough – yet.

Luckily for us the lions were sprawled out in the open, making photography a cinch. We photographed the individuals as they played around, nuzzled each other, and when one of the males showed more than usual interest in one of the females, and started to make amorous overtures in her direction, we were kept really busy with our cameras. Each time the lioness moved, the huge, handsome male was right there beside her.

After we left the lions we saw plenty of tsessebe and wildebeest and then spent quite a bit of time at Marabou Pan. We photographed elephants and because a dead tree created a perfect backdrop we practised high key photography. The compositions were outstanding and everyone managed to get some superb shots.

Because so many animals are attracted to water at Marabou Pan, one can simply stop there and watch the nonstop passing parade of various species. In addition to the elephants, tsessebe, wildebeest we photographed warthogs, jackals, and a variety of birds like sandgrouse and doves.

In fact the pan is such a popular spot for animals that we headed straight back there on our afternoon drive. Once again we photographed not only elephants but also the different animals that arrived to slake their thirst in the afternoon heat.

When it started to cool down we returned to the lions. Surely they would be up and active! No! They were still fast asleep, so we left them and returned to the camp.

After sunset back at the Lodge we went out for some nighttime photography at the waterhole overlooked by the camp area. Streams and streams of elephants, buffalo, Wild Dogs, and even a large male leopard arrived to drink. Wow! The photo opportunities were simply endless, leaving us very torn between not wanting to miss a moment, and getting enough sleep before the morning game drive …

From Khwai River to Savute …

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Dawie Updates Us from The Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Safari:

(Photos from back of Dawie’s camera)

Our final morning at Khwai River started with a search for a leopard that we were informed was in the area with a kill. We were sidetracked many times on our way by diverse superb sightings. There were elephants drinking and bathing in the river, plenty of very active hippos, and a beautiful herd of Red Lechwe as they moved slowly along the banks of the river.

We found the pride of lions that we had spotted the day before, and found that some had crossed the river and were still very wet. They were all asleep, so other than a few record shots there was not much to photograph and we left them to rest for the day.

Our search for the leopard started again, and again we were sidetracked. This time we came across a lone Roan Antelope Bull, and simply had to collect images of this fairly rare sighting.

We found plenty of hyena tracks and as we could find no trace of the leopard or the kill we realised that the hyenas had stolen the kill and had possibly taken it to their den.

We took a slow, meandering drive back to the Lodge and to our surprise we found the pack of Wild Dogs. The morning was quite warm, and they chose to spend the heat of the day dozing, resting, and generally moving very little. They were in an open field and we managed some close ups and portrait shots as they gazed lazily up at us.

By the time we reached the Lodge it was time to pack up and move on to Savute. Some Tusk guests chose to enjoy the drive, while others took a short flight.

We all met up together again at Savute in time for lunch, and after we had unpacked we were ready for our first game drive.

The area is exceptionally dry, which means that the animals gather regularly at the different waterholes, including the one right in front of the camp. We saw plenty of elephants drinking at this waterhole before we even set out.

We scouted around the area, starting at Marabou Pan – an area close to a marsh. As we approached the marsh we saw plenty of giraffe and tsessebe. We stopped at the pan when we saw a whole herd of elephants rushing thirstily to the water, driven by the parched conditions. Our panning shots turned our really well.

We drove along the marsh edge, and then our guide spotted a pride of lions. We approached and found the so-called Marsh Pride, numbering twenty two individuals of different ages.

They adults were relaxed and slumbering, and totally ignored us. The young cubs played around, jumped up and down, and used the adults as obstacles to be climbed, hunted, pestered, and then to shelter from boisterous siblings.

On the way back to the camp we spotted Warthogs and later jackals drinking at different waterholes, and as we arrived at the Lodge we saw hyenas drinking at the waterhole in front of the camp.

After our busy day we are looking forward to an early bedtime in preparation for our early start in the morning …

A Ferocious Hippo Fight …

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Dawie Updates Us from The Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Safari:

 

Our plan for the morning was to return as quickly as possible to the two male lions with the buffalo kill. As happens in this beautiful wilderness we were distracted many, many times on the way to the lions.

We photographed elephants and had a superb sighting of Ground Hornbills. And then we were sidetracked by spoor of a large pride of lions. We followed these but lost them when they crossed a channel. We were about to try and find them again when we found a leopard absolutely fast asleep in a Leadwood Tree. Unfortunately the sighting was on the opposite bank so we turned our attention back to the lions that we wanted to reach in the first place.

One of the lions was feeding on the carcass of the buffalo when we arrived and there seemed to be vultures everywhere, eagerly waiting for their turn to grab a meal. There were Hooded Vultures and White-backed Vultures, and now and again one of the Yellow-billed Kites would swoop down from its lofty vantage point to grab a scrap.  The second male lion was a short distance away, but when we tried to get closer we found that he was rather uncooperative.

We headed back towards the Lodge, passing plenty of elephants, and then shortly before we reached the Lodge we came across a sleeping pack of Wild Dogs.

As the morning was quite hot, we left the dogs to slumber and continued on our way. We stopped once more – this time to photograph Carmine Bee-eaters, and about twelve Fish Eagles.

During our break at the Lodge we saw Buffalo, Elephants, and Hippos.

We wanted to return to the Wild Dogs and as we looped around we saw Plains animals and a female leopard that stopped for a drink at the river. Suddenly she looked up, focussed, started a leopard-crawl and stalked some Guinea Fowl. We actually thought that her hunt was successful, but no! She missed by centimetres! She nearly had one. She continued to walk along the river’s edge and then stopped for another drink. A pod of hippos took umbrage at her presence and temerity to drink from ‘their’ section of the river and they created quite a fuss. The leopard continued her river walk, scent-marking as she made her way along.

We changed course to return to where we saw the Wild Dogs earlier, and on the way we had another surprise. Two male hippos were engaged in a full-on fight, and witnessing the brute strength as they attacked again and again was intimidating to say the least. They really are powerful animals with strength and weight to launch quite an assault. They fought both in and out of the water, creating very intense drama.

When we finally reached the dogs they were still snoozing, and as nothing was happening our second vehicle went to visit a nearby hyena den. The adults were accompanied by five young pups, and as always they kept everyone entertained with their boisterous antics.

Finally the Wild Dogs decided to wake up, and after a game that we photographed, the time had come to get back to the Lodge.

Not far from the Lodge we were lucky enough to encounter a Serval. Although it was in long grass it was very special and we managed a grab shot or two.

Tomorrow is our final day at Kuwait River Lodge before we move on to Savute, and we intend to make the most of every moment, every opportunity …

A Leopard Amputee …

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Brendon Updates Us from The Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Safari:

Thank you UliHB for Photographs

At first light we left the Lodge and very soon we enjoyed our first encounter. A leopard! The cat was very shy indeed, and gave us a few seconds before it disappeared into the lush undergrowth.

Plenty of elephants, giraffe, impala, and other Plains animals could be seen everywhere. And we were lucky enough to spot Sable Antelope. We first saw a lone Sable bull drinking at the river. Shortly after a small herd of Sable also arrived at the river to drink, after which they returned to the Mopane Veld.

Because there is a severe drought in Botswana the area is unusually and unseasonably dry, and the river is lower than we have seen it before at this time of year. This means that the animals tend to visit the river as many small waterholes have dried up.

We traveled to a different area and there we spotted another leopard. It was on the far side of the river, and had been down to the water for a drink. We watched as it left and made its way back to the shelter of the bush.

When we looked up we could see a number of vultures circling, circling, quite low down. We went to investigate.

Wow! The vultures led us to two large male lions feeding on a buffalo carcass. The kill was quite fresh, so must have succumbed during the night or early morning hours. The lions had already eaten very well, and they lay there with distended abdomens, not doing much other than keeping a wary eye on the remains.

We stopped for a lovely, picturesque break close to a pod of hippos, and then returned to the Lodge.

Our plan of action when we set out was to go in search of lions. We found a pride of about thirteen lionesses and sub-adults. They were all sleeping when we came across them and we decided to move on and to return later – closer to evening, when they should wake up.

We photographed many large herds of elephants as they arrived at the water for an afternoon drink. One of the herds numbered around a hundred individuals, and they jostled, drank, played, grazed, and generally kept our cameras busy. We spent ages with them.

Then we found an African Wild Cat. It really was a treat to see the beautiful small cat, and again our cameras were kept very busy. Not only was it a rare sighting – what was even more amazing was the cat’s attitude. It sat next to the road, relaxed and totally uninterested in our presence or clicking camera equipment. It lay there in the shade, and ignored us as totally insignificant.

The timing for our return to the lions was spot-on. As we arrived they got up and started to move around. Then they went on a hunt, starting with some Reedbuck. But after a while, when the reedbuck scented them they dashed away. But we managed some fabulous shots not only of the hunting lions, but also of the pride walking towards us when we pulled ahead of them to allow them to catch up with us again.

On the way back to the Lodge we bumped into a third leopard. This time we found a female, and then we noticed that she was missing a leg! One of her hind legs was amputated somehow earlier this year, and it was incredible to see how she manages as an amputee! She looked healthy, fat, agile, and strong. She really has adapted, and although her gait is rather peculiar, clumsy, and very noticeable, she jumps into trees, climbs heights, hunts, and does everything other leopards do. She is an inspiration, and what was even better was her relaxed demeanour around us that allowed us to photograph her from all angles.

In the morning we plan to try and locate the amputee leopard again …

Hunting Lions …

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Dawie Updates Us from The Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Safari:

As our Tusk Guests guests flew in, we met at Maun and then headed to Khwai River Lodge where we enjoyed lunch together and then headed out for our first game drive.

We had such a good time. Even as we prepared to start our game drive we could see a herd of elephants and a number of hippos right in front of the Lodge. The hippos cavorted in the water while the Elephants grazed and stopped now and again to drink.

On the drive we saw plenty of Plains animals including plenty of impalas and giraffe.

Someone had spotted lion tracks during the morning and we thought it would be a good idea to check that area. After stopping for more elephants we found two lionesses with two cubs. As it was still rather warm the little pride rested in the shade, protected from the sun by a leafy thicket next to a marsh. The setting was beautiful.

We followed the waterline and didn’t go far before we spotted more lions. There were three lionesses from the same pride, and as they snuggled and cuddled together we photographed the affectionate interactions.

We returned to the original lions very quickly – they were stalking zebras. The zebras were quite a distance away, but the lions showed a tremendous amount of interest, but as it was time to return to the Lodge and because we think that they may continue their hunt, we plan to check on the pride in the morning …

From Savute Wild Dogs to Chobe River Wildlife …

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Dawie’s News from the Savute Elephant Lodge on the Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Tour:
(Thanks to UliHB for Lion Images – Wild Dogs from back of Dawie’s Camera)

This morning was our last drive at Savute before we left for Kasane. We split up again as some guests preferred to do the journey by air while others preferred and enjoyed the drive.

The morning game drive was really great with fabulous sightings. Almost immediately after we left the Lodge we spotted Wild Dogs. When we found them they were running about and with the lovely morning light we positioned ourselves to make the most of the sighting. Occasionally we took backlit shots while at other times the sun lit the dogs beautifully for us.

We spent more than an hour with the dogs and at that stage some of our number had to leave. The other half of the group wanted more lion pictures so we returned to the pride with the cubs. We found them easily again. They were moving through the grass and we were able to collect some lovely images before we also had to leave.

We arrived at Kasane shortly after lunch and after a briefing we were on the boats for our first river excursion.

The sightings were really awesome. We saw numerous hers of elephants along the banks, swimming in the river, playing and drinking. We also saw buffalo resting on the river banks and then we stopped to enjoy the antics of a troop of baboons. They were jumping up and down a bank, chasing each other, and having great fun in the late afternoon sun. A herd of kudu milled around while impala rams sparred and locked horns. There was so much to see, it was difficult at times to decide where to point our cameras.

We came upon African Skimmers on an island where they have numerous nests. They flew up and down, and regularly swooped down to the river to scoop water in the skimming way that gives them their descriptive name.

After such a fabulous introduction to the river, we are all keen to get going again in the morning as early as we will be allowed …

The Lion Pride Comes Together – to Hunt?

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Dawie’s News from the Savute Elephant Lodge on the Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Tour:
(Photos from back of Dawie’s Camera)

Because we heard lions calling close to the camp we immediately went in search of them when we left the camp in the cool early dawn. We found tracks quite quickly and followed them as far as some dense Mopanes, where we gave up as the bush was much too thick to even think of going through.

We turned back to where we saw the lions with the tiny cubs yesterday. We had no sooner arrived when the lionesses started to hunt. We followed them as they stalked wildebeest. We we close to the lionesses when we noticed that across the marsh the remainder of the pride with two large males had arrived to join their family.

Well, the excitement! The lions moved in and we were sure that they would cooperate by chasing the wildebeest towards the lionesses. The tension became quite intense. We thought that at any moment there would be action. But then, inexplicably the lions changed direction and strolled away, leaving the females hunting alone. But as the morning progressed it became too warm to hunt comfortably and the lionesses found a shady spot to rest during the hottest hours of the day.

We decided to locate the remainder of the pride and found them walking across a wide open plain. The two large males are in peak condition and looked really magnificent and very regal as they strode along. They then also chose a lovely shady spot where they settled down to sleep until sunset.

On our slow drive back to the camp we spotted a leopard on a rocky hill. We hoped that she would get up and look in our direction, but she remained asleep.

This afternoon we caught up with the lions again. The cubs were playing and rolling around, looking so very cute as they played their clumsy, adorable little games and then stopped intermittently to suckle and doze a little.

We moved on to a waterhole where a herd of elephants were drinking and splashing in the water. Out came our wide angle lenses to capture the herd together.

When we returned to the lions they were asleep, so we started our slow journey back to the camp. And can one believe it – on the way back we found the same leopard we had seen during the morning. This time she was awake, but partly concealed behind some bushes, and not in a good position for photography. So, we will try to find her again in the morning when hopefully she will be in a position for some photos …

Tiny Lion Cubs and Later a Cheetah Kill in Front of our Vehicle …

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Wim’s Update from the Savute Elephant Lodge on the Okavango Savute & Chobe Photo Tour:
(Photos Courtesy of and Thanks to UliHB))

As we left camp we spotted Wild Dog tracks and started to follow them. They led us along the Savute Channel and we could see that we were just moments behind them. Sometimes a vehicle would disappear up ahead and when we turned the bend, dog tracks would cover the vehicle tracks. But we just could not catch up with them. The dogs were hunting and running swiftly in and out of the bushes, but as I said, they eluded us.

Then we found fresh lion tracks and followed those instead all the way past Marabou Pan.

Eventually we found four lionesses and to our delight they were accompanied by five of the cutest little one month old cubs and two baby cubs less than a week old. Their eyes had just opened. The two tiny cubs just wanted to be with their mother and each time they were separated even for a short second or two, they would cry for her, and then suckle when she moved close again. It was wonderful to watch the family interaction with the tender care of the little cubs while the more robust one month old cubs romped and staggered around as they played and suckled alternately.

We stopped for a coffee break and returned to the Lodge for a delicious lunch. On the way we weren’t really paying much attention to our surroundings as the thought of lunch had all our attention. We almost missed a leopard sitting in a wide open area only about twenty meters from the road. We stopped for photographs as the sighting was so superb.

This afternoon we decided to return to the lions. On the way, we had just passed the old airstrip when we found a female leopard. She was stalking some game and we remained with her for a while.

Then we heard that cheetahs had been spotted not far away and we decided to detour that way before continuing to the lions.

We found the cheetahs close to Marabou Pan and as we arrived the cheetahs broke cover, ran across an open area and pulled down an impala right in front of our vehicle.

We hardly had time to aim our cameras, it was all that quick. It all happened about thirty meters from us, and the kill was so fast that we hardly had time to register what had happened before it was all over.

We remained with the feeding cheetahs until it was time to return to the Lodge, and decided that we would continue our trip to the lions with their little cubs again in the morning …