Trip report - mobile camping in Botswana

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Nov 1st, 2005, 07:20 PM
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Trip report - mobile camping in Botswana

I thought I would post a trip report about the mobile camping safari I went on in Botswana, Sept 29 - Oct 16. I apologize in advance for mispelled words, incorrect tenses, bad grammar, being in a totally random order etc.

2 nights Livingston
2 nights Chobe
2 nights Savute, the last afternoon a leisurely boat cruise on the Chobe River
2 nights Khwai community campsite on the border of the Moremi Game Reserve
2 nights in the Xakanaxa region of the reserve
1 night at a remote island in the Okavango Delta (they called this the fly camp - we only had "bare essentials" which mainly meant smaller tents and no cots)
1 night in Maun at a guesthouse (we stayed in chalets)
1 night in the Makgadigadi pans, fly camp
2 nights on the Boteti river (dry) on the border between the Makgadgadi and the Central Kalahari (Meno A Kwena Lodge)
2 nights in the panhandle area of the Okavango Delta at the Xaro Lodge

There were 6 of us on this trip. We did not know each other but we did all know the lead photographer. We all met the first time when we arrived in Livingstone late on the afternoon of the 29th. We spent the first 2 nights at a place called Maramba. Not bad but nothing to write home about. We visited the falls one morning. Before I left I read here on Fodors that the Zambia side was dry and that you should go to the Zim side. I tried to convince them to do that but none of them had researched about this trip and they were all afraid to go to Zim. So we didn't. We viewed the falls in Zim from Zambia. Also ended up on a party boat cruise down the river instead of a small photo opportunity boat. The only photo opp we got on the party boat is when the drunk guys on the other party boat mooned us. Hah!

On the second morning we set off with our guide, Nick, in The Beast for our safari. When we entered camp and it was just like the picture on their website. Big tall trees with the tents. We met the camp staff of 6 young men and they showed us around camp. There were 4 tents and 2 showers and 2 toilets. We were assigned to a tent number and the guys delivered our luggage to our tents.

The food. Breakfast was cold cereals, fruit, coffee and tea. A tea/coffee stop around 9AM with rusks. Lunch was either served in the camp or in a picnic hamper if we were on the road (we were usually on the road). Lunch in the camp was a hot meat dish and a couple of different cold salads, fruits, breads, crackers, cheeses, butter etc. Lunch on the road was very similar but the meats were cold and varied from fried chicken to lunchmeats. Dinners started with soup, followed by a buffet and a dessert. The food was pretty good and I did not notice anyone not eating much except one guy wouldn't eat vegetables. We had many vegetables so his meals were pretty limited. The table was always set as if we were in a nice lodge (including the napkins being folded into a bird) and the food was served buffet style. Wine, beer, G&T's, water, coffee, tea, fruit juices and soft drinks were included in the price. We stopped at a bottle store for anyone to pick up any other alcohol they wanted to drink. Amarula, of course!

The tents. Since I was the only female I had my own tent. (The others 5 were dbl, dbl, single) We had a cot with a thin mattress with regular bedding (bottom and top sheet and a blanket). It was so hot I sincerely doubted I would ever need that blanket. The tent had a canopy over the front, a canvas "patio" in front, and a wash basin and pitcher of water that was filled early every morning and in the evening with hot water. There was a little nightstand with a flash light, bug spray, room bug spray, a water mister, soap, toilet paper and a mirror. Since there was only one bed in my tent I used the extra space for my luggage. Had there been another bed I would have needed to store my luggage under the bed. There was also a battery operated lantern hanging from the ceiling. At night, the staff lit lanterns and placed one in front of each tent, another at the shower/toilets and a couple around the camp. On moving days we packed up our own luggage and left it outside the tent. The guys would pack the luggage in the trailer that we pulled to the next destination. They then packed up the camp in a different truck. They kept the personal items (from the nightstand in the tent) seperate and you would get your own bar of soap back when they set up the camp at the next spot.

Showers and Toilets. The shower tent and toilet tent were the same - a metal frame with heavy canvas on all sides. A 5 gallon bucket with a shower head was hanging by a rope and was filled anytime you wanted a shower. The staff must have kept hot water all the time because you never had to wait on a shower. The canvas around the shower and toilet was heavy enough that when you showered at night and had the lantern inside there was no silhouette (that's a good thing). The toilet was a chemical toilet and served it's purpose.
Sundowners. Most of the places we were did not allow night drives and we had to be in camp by dark. Of course, we were taking pictures until there wasn't any light left in the sky (low f/stops!) so we usually had sundowners in camp around the fire.

Moving days. Normally we would be up at 5 and leave for game drives around 5:30. On moving days we left around 6. After we left on the game drive, the guys would pack up the camp and radio us when they were pulling out. They usually were ready between 8:30 - 9:30. They headed to our next destination the quickest way they could get there. We "game drove" as far as we could and then did the Beverly Hillbilly thing on the "highways" until we could start game driving again. By the time we arrived in our next camp the guys had everything set up and ready. The person that planned our itinerary must have been trying to punish us or something because we did lots of driving. I will say we didn't miss any (or hardly any) games drives because most of the driving was done during mid-day when we wouldn't have been doing anything anyway. But all that driving in that heat (did I mention it was hot?) was just miserable. But the bad part was even when you got where you were going there wasn't any relief from the heat. It was still hot.


Before I signed up for this trip I knew it was going to be hot. I was oh-so-right. It was so hot. So very hot. During the mid-day breaks when we hung around camp it was so blanking hot. Too hot to take a nap. Too hot to look at pictures on the computer. Too hot to read a book. Too hot to breathe. I finally got the spray mist bottle out of my tent and just sprayed myself, face, arms, legs - whatever was exposed - and just hoped for a breeze to cool me off. I ended up carrying that bottle on game drives too. BUT, we would leave for the afternoon game drive around 4 and shortly after it felt like someone turned down the heat. Not that it got cool. It just wasn't quite so hot. So by the time we returned at dark you could actually sit around the fire and have sundowners. (Far away but still around the fire.) It usually cooled off enough around 1AM or so that you could fall asleep pretty good. Some nights I would have to find the blanket (that I had kicked off the bed) before morning. The 2 days we knew the temperature it was 112 and 114.


I'll go ahead and get my complaints about the itinerary out of the way and then talk about the good stuff. Without a doubt we did too much driving. I'm not real sure what I would eliminate except: 2 nights in Livingston was way too long (for all 6 of us). The 2 nights on the Boteti River at Meno A Kwena Lodge could have been skipped. I haven't plotted all of this on a map (I'm really afraid to find out how much we actually drove) but this place was not worth driving out of the way for. (Maybe we didn't - who knows.) We arrived at the camp after a long, hot drive. No one came out to greet us so we got out and walked into the main area of the camp. There were 3 staff members there and they still didn't greet us. Our guide told them we had reservations for the next 2 nights and there still wasn't much reaction. In the mean time we walked around and found this camp was on a high bank of a dry river (dry for 10 years now). At the bottom of the bank they had a bore hole and there was a huge herd of zebra and some wildebeest. Very cool perspective, looking down on them. It was so hot we couldn't stand out in the sun any longer so we moved to the shade of the huge tent they had over the main area. Still hot but the sun wasn't beating down on you. The sky had a few clouds so as soon as a cloud blocked the sun we would go out and take pictures and head back to the shade as soon as the sun was out. The staff did cook lunch for us once they decided we were really staying there. There was no game drive organized for the afternoon so our guide took us around. We didn't see much except a dead zebra with some vultures around it and a very long black mamba that slithered back into the brush as soon as we saw it. The next day we did an all day game drive with our guide and vehicle. 9 am until 7:30 pm. Hot. Hot. Hot. We saw a few oryx, a few zebra, a few eles, a few ostrich, the only secretary birds we saw on the trip. Everything we saw here was far, far away. Back in time for dinner and showers and bed. The camp itself was very nice. Permanent tents, bathrooms in bomas etc. You could hear the zebras making noise all night long. The main area included a large seating area with lots of books to look at and photo albums. The kitchen was there also - separated by a half wall. 2 large dining tables. Just not much game. Maybe it was just the time we were there. The owner of the camp did arrive the second day and apologized for the staff not being aware that we were coming. He said it was his fault.

More bad stuff. There was a lack of communication between the organizer (J, who was also a participant of the safari), the travel agent and the safari company. We were supposed to all have a row of seats per person. They sent one truck with 4 rows of seats. The safari company was out of the office for a 4 day weekend so we could not communicate with them until after that. The extra vehicle would cost $4000 more. J didn't have that $4000 built in to the cost of the trip so no 2nd vehicle. The two leaders of the safari decided they would take the last row of seats themselves and the other 4 could split time between the 3 remaining rows of seats. It worked out okay but it wasn't what we signed up and "paid" for. Another issue was electricity. The digital cameras, portable harddrives and computers all have to be charged regularly and this safari company doesn't use generators. J did bring an inverter with 2 plugs and Nick had one inverter so we were constantly charging stuff and switching stuff around. Nick didn't have a lot of room in the cab of the truck with all of our crap up there charging all the time. Another issue was the refrigerator. It also worked off the battery. Or should I say tried to work. Nick had to turn it off every night to keep from running down the battery in the truck. It didn't work properly and never got cool. The drinks were cooler than the air temp but never cool. He complained to the safari company but they didn't have another to swap it out with.

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Nov 1st, 2005, 07:28 PM
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The good stuff. There was lots of good stuff. The camps were great. The camp staff was great. Anything you asked for they took care of it right away. The tents were cleaned at least once a day. One thing this trip did not include was laundry. We all washed our clothes out in the little enamel sinks we had outside our tents but they weren't clean. The second time I needed to do some laundry I asked Ralph, the head guy of the staff, if any of the guys was interested in making some extra money by doing my laundry. Someone did so I left my dirty clothes with some cash. Came back that afternoon to clean clothes! They did a great job. (I didn't have them wash the underclothes.) I should have done that from the start. None of the men took advantage of this. Nick was great. He doesn't work for the safari company but just works for whoever calls him. He's probably in his 60's and has retired from his regular job. He's orignally from Great Britain but has lived in Botswana for 30 years or so. He knew so much about everything. He was also very patient with us - pull up 2 feet, pull up 3 feet and then turn to the left, can you move around to the other side so the sun is behind us, can you get closer, can you move further away etc. I'm sure we drove him crazy. You could tell he was perturbed a few times but he didn't ever say anything and was never rude. He did apologize for being short with us and blamed it on the heat. Did I say it was hot?

None of us really kept up with the itinerary so we would quiz Nick every day or two about what we would be doing. When he got to describing the trip to the Makgadigadi Pans, we were all looking at each other thinking - we are going to drive how long (5-6 hours) to spend one night in a place where there is no game and get up and drive 5-6 hours to get back out of there? How dumb is that and who put this trip together?? Nick kind of got upset and said you come all the way to Africa and you don't want to see anything you can't take a picture of? So what the hell. Off to the pans we go. (Like we could really change the itinerary now.) It is a long, long hot, hot dusty drive with intense sun. I was on the sunny side of the vehicle and used the kikoi to try to block the sun. Boy, we were so wrong in thinking the drive wasn't worth it. This place was so amazing. It's a dried up lake bed (2,000 years ago) that is nothing but crinkled white ground, 50 km by 100 km. During the rainy season it fills with water (3 or 4' deep) and then it evaporates away/soaks in and it's dry again. The drying ground leaves bubbly areas on the very top layer of soil (salt? I never did taste it) so it "crunches" when you walk where noone has already walked (pretty likely out there). It's hard to describe this place. (We passed Jack's Camp on our way out here so you don't have to bring a sleeping bag and sleep under the stars.)

The first thing we did was pick a place to camp. That's pretty funny. Here we are in the middle of nowhere and there isn't a blade of grass and nothing on the horizon in all 360 degrees. What's the criteria for picking a spot to camp? It's all the same! Nick was visiting with the staff about setting up the camp and he asked who wanted their tent set up. No one did. One guy was a little worried about what might "get us" but Nick assured us there were not any animals. So the guys just set up our bedding in a huge semicircle around the camp. We would just be sleeping out there in the open. Cool! then Nick wanted us to hurry because he wanted to show us something before the sun went down. Turns out to be this 3000 year old baobab tree. It was beyond huge. Simply amazing. We took pictures there until the sun went down and then back to camp. Nick surprised us with ice in our G&T's! We were so excited. Here we are in this totally awesome place, we've just seen this immense tree that's 3,000 years old and we get ice for the first time on our trip. We went to bed early (9 or 9:30?) after dinner, lots of wine and then Amarula to top off this unique experience. The moon went down around midnight and then you could really see the stars. During the night it got really cold and windy here. The next morning we woke up around 5:30 and took pictures of the sunrise and "stooged" around (a word we learned from Nick) and the camp guys cooked a real breakfast for us. It was the only full breakfast we had while mobile camping. The Makgadigadi Pans was a great place to go.

We went on a few river boat trips (not counting the party boat!). One afternoon while in Chobe we had a ride in a small aluminum boat. My notes say "It sure was nice on the water. Just the sound of the water lapping on the bottom of the boat made you feel cooler than it was." On this ride we saw lots of game and birds. Nick stayed with The Beast and drove to a prearranged spot and picked us up from the boat ride. No backtracking.

The next boat ride was several days later. We packed a small bag with stuff for 1 night and the staff packed small tents and 2 boats took us and the gear to an island in the Okavango. My notes say "took a LONG ride, 1pm-6:30pm and saw birds, pampas grass, papyra and lots of ferns. Then we came across an ele. He gave a mock charge and splashed into the water. Scary. But the boat driver never even started to motor so I guess he wasn't too scared." Anyway, the boat trip wasn't that exciting other than the elephant. When we finally got to camp they had it all set up (they were 4 or 5 hours ahead of us so they had plenty of time!). The tents were tiny. Tiny tents for the 2 singles and a little larger tents for the doubles. One tent was set up under a sausage tree that was full of sausages. We teased the guys that the sausages would fall on them at night and knock down their tent. Didn't happen but I think they were worried. Dinner was all cooked on the fire - beef fillets, vegetable kabobs, corn with tomatoes and a pudding. We slept late here (6:30) because the boat couldn't drive back in the dark. The drive back was faster, 7:15 - 9. Didn't see much on the ride back to The Beast. I probably wouldn't do this trip again. Lots of travel for an overnight and nothing that spectacular to see.

Khwai. Notes say "As always, hot as hell. There have only been a couple of nights that I slept well. Most nights I start waking up at 10 or 11 and then wake up ever hour or so all night long. 2 mornings - both at Khwai, we were awakend by hyena in camp. VERY LOUD NOISE. Not scared - maybe too tired. Lion tracks in camp one night and ele tracks another." In Khwai we saw the giraffe necking, 3 cheetah brothers, the bridge over the river khwai (nope, not the one in the movies) as well as all the usual game.

On the road to Maun. Notes say "another long dusty ride from Khwai to Maun. Half on dirt/sand roads and half on tar roads. Who would think you could get excited about tar roads! Nick said in some of the sandy places the sand is 1 km deep. Imagine that."

More notes about the trip from Meno A Kwena Lodge to our last lodge, Xaro Lodge in the okavango Delta. "Nick said tomorrow is a long driving day. I don't know how it can be longer than today. He said we won't need cameras. Not a good thing. But it is tar road. The most brutal thing about the driving is the sun. It just beats down on you." next entry is "Okay, we've reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! This last camp is heaven!" For this part of the trip we ditched The Beast and moved over into an unairconditioned van. How smart is that? We did have an ice chest with ice in it so the drinks were actually cold. In the ride to the last camp, we talked about how we could translate to our our spouses how hot it really was. We decided we would sit them in front of a 400 degree oven (to similate the heat) and turn on a fan ( to similate driving in The Beast) and mist their face (to similate the sweat) and then throw some baby powder in the fan (to similate the dust). They would have the perfect example of what we went through. We stopped on the side of the road under a big tree for lunch. Almost too hot to eat. We did later stop at a gas station and the guys bought us all an ice cream - heaven! Xaro Lodge was a permanent tented camp. The tents are huge (they all have an 8' sliding glass door installed in the front of the tent), they are on leadwood decks. They all have a water view. There is a seperate room at the back of the tent that has all the bathroom fixtures but they haven't been installed yet. Until they are installed there were real bathrooms with showers and flush toilets across a path from the tents. They have 8 tents, a real nice bar area and dining area. The dining table is probably 8 x 20'. Huge. The camp itself was like a tropical paradise. Plants and trees everywhere. And it's on the water so our game drives were in boats. The boat driver had obviously had taken a few photographers out before because he knew how to handle the boat to get us where we needed to be. We got lots of bird pictures here - kingfishers, bee-eaters etc. Saw several "flatdogs" and a water monitor. One afternoon I was sitting by the water's edge in camp, waiting for the malachite kingfisher to land, and the owner of the camp came by to give me a warning. He pointed upriver to where a croc was sunning in the sand and told me to watch the croc. He said if it disappears then I need to get away from the bank because he might be coming after me. Alrighty then. Needless to say I watched the croc.

More good stuff. We saw so many great things. Huge herds of elephants. Baby elephants. Baby elephants nursing. Baby elephants trying to go into the river and moms and aunts making sure they didn't get in the water. Lots of baboons. Huge pride of lions at Savute. We saw 16 at the waterhole at one time. Lions mating. Sub-adult lions playing/fighting. Lions on a young (appx 2 year old) elephant kill at the same water hole we had seen them drinking at the night before. Giraffes necking. 160+ different birds (I think the "birdman" of our group memorized the whole book about birds in southern Africa). Kingfishers fishing. Bee-eaters flying in their holes in the riverbank. The kori-bustard displaying (Nick was even excited to see this). The baobab tree. Hippos. Cheetahs. Leopards. All the big stuff (except rhino).

Random thoughts -
Drank quarts and quarts of water every day but only needed to use the toilet 2 or 3 times a day. Usually 2 (wine and coffee).

I took 5 or 6 books to read and didn't even finish the shortest one. Either too busy or too hot to read.

The people really live in the mud huts like on the cover of Alexandar McCall Smith's book. These huts are everywhere. Nick said they are free to build. They cut the grass to use on the roof, they cut the mopane trees to use as the frame, tree bark cut in strips to hold it all together, mud for the walls, and ashes from the leadwood trees are white so they use that to whitewash them.

A guy on the plane from Maun to Joburg pointed out that one of the beer companies was having a contest by collecting the ring tabs. Instead of winning a trip to Disney like you would in the states, you could win a herd of 6 cattle. How cool is that! He drank the beer and gave me the can to take home to my husband who is in the cattle business. His bride (newlyweds) noticed the guineau feathers I had found and just oohed and aahed over them so I gave her some. She was excited about the feathers.

One night while mobile camping, we drove up to a campsite with a big fire. It wasn't our camp because there weren't any tents. We were a little confused about why we were there and I realized what it was. They had prepared a bush dinner for us! Rice and pork stew, salad, fresh baked bread, Tiramisu for dessert, lots of red wine. Very nice.

Probably saw the most game in Savuti. One morning the waterhole was just full of lions. There were probably 10 or 12 on the ele kill, and still another 10 or 12 laying around. We watched as this one male approached 3 females and some cubs. He walked up to each lion and rubbed noses (or smelled or whatever he was doing) and it was like he was greeting each one. Very cool.

So, in a very roundabout way, that was the trip. I loved the mobile camping. I was a little worried about being the only female, having enough water for showers/washing hair, and potty breaks. All of it turned out fine. I would definitely do the mobile safari again. Just not in October.


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Nov 2nd, 2005, 04:36 AM
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Sundowner, thanks for the special report. Nice way to take an early morning break! Enjoyed and appreciated your humor through out the report. Trust you will have pictures. Was it hot? ha. What are "flat dogs"? Showing my ignorance but never to late to learn more about Africa. Again, thanks for posting. Dick
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 06:21 AM
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Dick, they call crocs "flatdogs". Cool huh? I don't have all the photos processed yet. You can see the ones that are finished at http://www.pbase.com/cjw/botswana_africa_2005&page=all

Nick asked us all before we left what our favorite photo of the trip was (most of the group were pro or semi-pro photographers) (not me!). It was hard to decide but I think the necking giraffes was my favorite. I don't have it processed yet (saving it for last I guess).
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 06:49 AM
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Thanks so much for sharing the report with us. Can you remind us who you booked with (and if you're willing) how much the trip cost?

MANY THANKS!
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 07:38 AM
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Kavey, the trip was with http://www.gametrailsbotswana.com. The price I paid had extra included to pay the photographers leading the trip so my price would be higher than booking just the regular trip.

I looked at their website and a trip similar to ours in high season:
12 Day / 11 Night Traditional Mobile Safari (Kasane - Maun)
Highlights: Chobe National Park, Makgadikgadi Pans, Central Kalahari, Moremi Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta is US$2340.00 per person sharing (No s.supp subject to booking terms and conditions. Optional Safari Extensions: Maun, Kasane/Chobe and Livingstone/Victoria Falls

The price seems quite reasonable.

One other issue about my trip was I booked airfare for the return from the WRONG CITY! We were leaving from Maun to Joburg and I booked a flight from Livingstone to Joburg. How dumb was that. Anyway, Lorraine at Game Trails made the phone calls and got it all worked out for me. I was lucky because Air Botswana originally told Lorraine that the flight was full and I could book on standby. Oh no! She must have known how they worked because she asked how many seats were on the plane. 75. She then asked how many tickets the had sold. 74. So Lorraine said, you have one seat left and we are buying it. The Air Botswana was a 5 minute drive so she had Irene take me over there and got it all sorted out. They wouldn't actually issue the ticket so Irene picked the ticket up the next day and then met me at the airport when were ready to leave. I really lucked out.

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Nov 2nd, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Sounds reasonable...
I don't think I could do the same itinerary - I think those driving distances would do my back in further - but it sounds, in the main, well organised and lots of fun!
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 08:19 AM
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Great report, GREAT photos. Please tell me what photo gear you took. I'm not sure I could handle all that driving - in the heat, so I applaud you for that! How did you get that effect on the baobab tree? Good stuff!!!
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 08:31 AM
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Sundowner your photos are absolutely incredible, stunning, mindblowing - you must be soooo delighted with them.
Can you remind us what equipment you took and also, can you tell us whether these are cropped much or whether you just got really close/ had a good long zoom?
And can you tell us more about how the photographer contributed? Did he make frequent suggestions on aperture, composition etc as well as giving you warning on something that was about to occur (such as drinking giraffe water shake)?
Truly spectacular images. If they're high enough resolution I'd load them onto some stock sites. Many of them are better than stuff I've seen from pros.
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 09:18 AM
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I agree - so many great shots, but the giraffes drinking - superb, what great detail!!
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 09:39 AM
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Beautiful beautiful photos! Thanks. Will make us ponder our plans yet again!
J
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 09:56 AM
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Thanks for sharing your experience - it kind of makes me feel like I was there - heat included. Your pics. are terrific - love the lions (they're so perfect that you couldn't have got any better if you had them pose. You really also seemed to capture the beauty of the birds.
Sherry
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 10:23 AM
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Thanks for the comments!

Regarding the itinerary - I don't think I would do this itinerary again either. Those long drives were hard work. Did I mention it was hot? I would certainly do another mobile safari (in cooler weather) but just not go so many places. I don't know the cost of a custom safari for 2 or 4 but it would be worth looking into if you have a group.

Most of the photos of wildlife are full frame. Many of the birds are cropped 20 - 40%. The "print size" after cropping was usually no smaller than 8x10.

Cameras - I used the Canon 10D and 20D. Before I used them side-by-side, day after day, I thought the cameras were very similar. Well, they are very similar but the biggest difference is the speed. The 20D comes on instantly. The 10D takes awhile (in comparison to the 20D). The buffer on the 20D is larger and it writes faster too. (If you only have the 10D and don't have a faster camera to compare it to it's a great camera.) 6 MP vs 8 MP.

Lenses - I use Canon lenses. 300mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, and 16-35mm f/2.8. I also had the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. (When I was trying to get the malachite kingfisher I used both teleconverters at the same time. The effective focal distance was 300 x 1.6 (camera) x 1.4 x 2.0 = 1340mm. I haven't cleaned the dust spots off of the picture but I think it's pretty sharp considering that I used 2 teleconverters.)

The baobab tree picture was taken at dusk (almost dark). The camera was mounted on a tripod and the shutterspeed was very slow. (15 or less). The lens used was the 16-35 and while the shutter was open I moved the lens from 16 to 35. Cool, huh? The leader taught us how to do that.

Kavey, the photography instruction was just as you listed. Plus he taught us how to use the incedent meter (that is what he uses for exposure). He also taught some on flash and using the Better Beamer (which doubles the distance of the regular flash). And a little photoshop stuff. However, I was disappointed in the amount of "classroom" type teaching that was done and I told him so. (not enough photoshop and lessons etc) However, in his defense (and I told him this also) it was so darned hot I couldn't have retained anything anyway. During the day it was too bright outside to see the computer screen and inside the tent it was hotter than hell. Photoshop couldn't be taught during the day. And at night when it did cool off (somewhat) I was too tired to learn anything (and maybe a little too much G&T's and wine). I definitely learned new things on this trip that I would not have learned without a very skilled photographer.


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Nov 2nd, 2005, 11:18 AM
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Thanks Sundowner. I'm going to try that tonight with my 17-85 lens to see if I can do it! You're making me second guess my decision to rent or buy the 100-400. Maybe the 70-200 with a converter or two is OK.... Did you have trouble with swapping lenses? I'm sure it was dusty. Anyway thanks again for sharing the pics and the report!
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 01:33 PM
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cooncat - the best way to change lenses is to keep the camera pointed down while a lens is off so no dust can fall into it. It's easier to blow the dust off the lenses of the teleconverters than the camera. I had a big bulb blower that I used to blow the dust off.

Our photo leader had received a 100-400 as a gift so he used/tested it while we were there. I'll have to ask him what he thought of it. (he's in Churchill now, where ThitCho just returned from so I'll have to wait awhile) He claims the 70-200 2.8 and the 300 2.8 are some of the sharpest lenses that Canon has ever made. And that the 300 2.8 with the 1.4 or 2.0 (not both at the same time) are as sharp as his 600 f/4.0. He was also using the 600 on the safari but is way beyond handholding and there are only so many shots you can get with the camera on a tripod.
sundowner is offline  
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 06:11 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Thanks sundowner! If/when you hear from him, please let us know what he thinks of the various lenses. I tried your trick - it kind of worked! I hand held the camera though, so it's not quite the way I'd like it to be. I've got a few more months to practice!

Sharon
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Nov 2nd, 2005, 06:59 PM
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Sundowner,
Great photos. I hope people here notice your use of late afternoon light and of back lighting.
You say ,"I don't have all the photos processed yet. You can see the ones that..."
What kind of "processing" are you doing?
About how many photos did you take?
Was it hot on safari?
regards - Tom
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 08:01 AM
  #18
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Thanks, Tom. I use the RAW format to take the pictures. No sharpening is applied in camera. I adjust levels, saturation and sharpness to the photos. The RAW does allow you to change the exposure by up to 2 stops (I think) and white balance. Most of the photos didnít need adjustment in levels or exposure.

I haven't looked to see how many photos I took. I'll have to do that. I do know the "keeper" ratio is pretty low. Have to get better!

By the way, did I mention that it was hot in Botswana in October this year?
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 11:17 AM
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Thanks sundowner,
I forgot to mention how enjoyable your trip report is. I wish I could flow out the words like you and many do for trip reports.
I forgot you might be using RAW. My (comparatively) cheap camera does not do RAW. If you're using PhotoShop maybe you can "batch action" the files into jpeg and then do some course pre-sorting. Don't know if PS can do this, maybe Canon or some other program can. Just an idea, you don't have to do it
My "keeper" ratio is very low, probably 1 in 10, and really nice "big print keepers" are maybe 1 in 50 or lower. I don't worry/care about the ratios, I just try. (Especially being digital)
Seems I do recall you mentioning that is was hot in Botswana.
regards - tom
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Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:40 PM
  #20
 
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Great photos, including all of your bird shots. The lions drinking was a beauty.

Where did you see the sable?

Your report was fun to read and very clear on the weather in Oct. Thanks
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