Chobe River Photo Safari: Birds, Birds, Birds … and Elephants Galore …

Brendon Reports from the Chobe River Safari on the Pangolin Voyager:

We were up bright and early and after coffee and a snack we jumped into the photography boats and set out heading downstream. We wanted to arrive down at the rapids as early as possible to catch the sunrise. It was spectacular! We captured some really nice shots of African Skimmers that we saw at the mouth of the Kasai side channel. There were plenty of Spoonbills again, as well as a number of juvenile Yellow-billed Storks.

We arrived at the rapids where we spent almost the entire morning photographing all the rookeries and heronries that are found there. We photographed lots of Yellow-billed Storks, Black-headed Herons, Spoonbills, Reed Cormorants and White-breasted Cormorants.

Large crocodiles basked on the rocks or lurked in the water, while Rock Pratincoles could be seen in their groups. Water Thick-knees could also be seen on the rocks, making that area really well-populated with so many different species.

And of course there were different Kingfishers going about their busy mornings. Malachite Kingfishers hovered and fished, and not to be outdone, a number of Pied Kingfishers also added to the busy scene with their fishing activities.

We were very fortunate to find the Spotted-necked Otters – and that really was a special sighting! We spent quite a while with them, making the most of the opportunity.

On the way back to the Pangolin Voyager we stopped at a large Water Lily bank where African Jacanas trotted on the lily pads. Squacco Herons, Purple Herons, and Pygmy Geese could be seen close by, also increasing the total count of different bird species for the morning.

This afternoon we headed in the opposite direction – this time travelling upriver. We decided to concentrate on the animals on this trip. Good decision! There were herds of elephants everywhere, and I am sure that we saw thousands of them. If not, it certainly seemed that way! We again used our wide-angle lenses for those ultra close-up shots, – an eye here, the tip of a trunk, or just a tail. The elephants were standing in the water, feeding in the water or along the banks, they splashed, played, and bathed.

We found three bull elephants and stopped for a while to photograph them as they went about their activities, after which we continued up the river where we saw herds of buffalo, and plenty of Puku, and herds of Impala. Then we spotted a huge crocodile. He was enormous and looked quite awesome as he baked in the afternoon sun and a small colony of African Skimmers flew around.

We enjoyed sundowners at Savannah Backwater where a herd of elephants looked most impressive against the vibrantly tinted sunset sky.

So, after another very successful day we all returned to our houseboat, ready for meal, chats, anecdotes, and jokes before heading for bed to be lulled by the night sounds of the surrounding area and the gentle lapping of the river against the boat. In the morning we may start by heading upriver again …