Trip report - mobile camping in Botswana

Nov 3rd, 2005, 04:03 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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So you say it was temperate in October?

Wonderful photos, and I agree with Jules: please, oh please, do not give me any more ideas about that "next big trip" always looming in the distance.

Thanks for the great read, too.
Leely is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:30 PM
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You spent 2 nights at Savute. Savute is an area, I think. So, where in Savute were you, do you know? Still tented, yes? Not in a lodge, no?
regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 06:52 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your comments about the trip report (I worried it was too long and boring!) and the photos. I really appreciate them.

atravelynn - we saw sable a couple of times. I'll have to get out the laptop and see if I can figure out where they were. (The laptop stores the pictures in the order taken. The Epson P2000 stores the pictures in the order you download them so on my home computer they aren't in order.)

Tom - I can't tell you where we were in Savute. It was a 5-10 minute drive from a waterhole and we were told there were 3 waterholes there. We were camping at this point. (We were camping all except the first two nights and the last four nights plus the one night in Maun.) I can copy what the itinerary said about this portion of the trip (although I found the itinerary a little hard to figure out):

"Day 3-6 01 - 04 October 2005: Drive to Kasane and spend the next four days in the Chobe National Park. The Chobe National Park is one of Africa's finest game sanctuaries. Situated in the far north of Botswana, the park encompasses a diversity of habitats from the severe, desert-like landscape of the Savute to the lush grasslands of the Chobe river front. Home to breathtaking variety of animals and birds, it boasts one of the greatest concentrations of game found on the southern African subcontinent.

You will spend the next two nights camping in an exclusive wilderness campsite in the Savute area of the park, exploring the area on game drives. Savute is a seemingly endless desolate landscape, famous for the dry marsh, sand ridge and volcanic hills which are unique to this area. This famous area is home to a variety of dry-land animals, including zebra, wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, wild dog, leopard and lion.

Leaving this parched landscape, you will travel further north to the contrasting Chobe region of the park. The Chobe River forms the northern boundary between Botswana and Namibia. The region boasts the largest concentration of elephants in Africa as well as an abundance of birds, buffalo, lion and hippo.

The following two nights will be spent camping in an exclusive wilderness campsite, exploring the river banks and surrounding flood plains on game drives. On the last afternoon, you can enjoy a leisurely boat cruise on the Chobe River against the backdrop of a magnificent African sunset."

sundowner is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2005, 11:24 PM
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Thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs.

Do you think it was a real benefit to have along a photography instructor? Were you able to enjoy each spotting or was there an emphasis to rush out to find the next photo opportunity?
For the most part, was the group able to get along well with each other? I would be afraid that with so many other photographers that there would be occasions where some would have alternate goals from others, possibly causing a rift.

Anyway, so many beautiful photos that I cannot pick a favorite. I look forward to whatever other photos you add to the gallery. Thanks.
Roccco is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 08:12 AM
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Cindy - terrific photos. I am still in the learning stages for my 20D and hope to eventually go on a couple of trips (safari and otherwise) that focus on photography. I'm going to try the trick you applied to the Baobab next time I go out with my camera.
eenusa is offline  
Nov 4th, 2005, 09:19 AM
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The group got along well – especially considering we spent 24 hours a day together for 17 days. In the very beginning I thought we might have some problems but in a day or two I could tell that it would work out. The only common thread was that we each knew the instructor and that photography was the goal.

6 people in 4 seats meant that everyone could not photograph the same thing at the same time. And it was also dependent on how Nick was able to maneuver the vehicle. Sometime only the people in the front seat could get a picture and by the time we moved the vehicle to another position the animal was gone. There was some “pouting” by everyone at some time or another due to missed opportunities for shots but I wouldn’t hesitate to travel with any one of them again.

We weren’t rushing around looking for things to shoot. I think some photographers feel “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” so the group was always willing to wait until everyone was ready to leave a sight. Even if someone tired of what the others wanted to see they would make it known and then patiently wait. One guy was tired of hanging out at the hippo pool (and we stopped there more than once). He would roll his eyes when we would stop and then just stooge around the truck while waiting for us. We started calling him Hippo Joe.

Rocco, I think you would be amazed at the caliber of the photographers that attend these workshops. They may not be pro’s (selling their images) but they are definitely pro quality. So yes, even the most accomplished photographer will learn something at a workshop. (I still have lots to learn). Ideally, attend workshops here in the states to learn everything. Then go on private safaris to have your say about what you stop for and how long you stay. I don’t have enough vacation time to do both. I would love to go on more workshops here but then I wouldn’t have vacation time to go to Africa.
sundowner is offline  
Nov 5th, 2005, 04:26 AM
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Wow, your photos are so great. I LOVE the baobabs, the lions drinking, the giraffe drinking, the pied kingfisher in flight -- and the Makgadigadi pans look amazing -- so much space -- almost like what I imagine the surface of the moon to be like.
lisa is offline  
Nov 5th, 2005, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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I travelled with Game Trails last year, not the same itinerary, however did the southern sector, pans & khalahri, saw the zebra migration, wild dogs and a zillion quellea over a water plus plus plus.
Your trip report brought back some great memories, and a rush of blood! I need to return.

Oh And I did meet Nick...he was "off duty" camping with his wife in the Khalahari, what a true "bushman". You I believe were spoiled to have been on safari with him.
mkhonzo is offline  
Nov 7th, 2005, 06:17 AM
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What kind of storage device(s) did you take with you?
lisa is offline  
Nov 7th, 2005, 11:48 AM
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mkhonzo - Yes, Nick was awesome. I remember when we arrived in the pans someone asked him a question. He had all of us get out of the vehicle and he gave us a history lesson by drawing a map of the country in the dirt in front of The Beast. He told of all the changes in the rivers, lakes etc over the past couple of thousand years which explained the Delta area, and the pans and changes of wildlife migrations etc. Very, very interesting man. We loved to hear his stories.

Lisa (or anyone) - most of us used the Epson P2000. It's a 40 GB harddrive with a good viewing screen. It also has a good battery (reviews say you can download 9 GB of cards as long as you aren't viewing the pictures). I know of used one for sale for $425 (it was taken on this trip as a backup harddrive and not used) if you are interested in one.
sundowner is offline  
Nov 7th, 2005, 04:29 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Brava!! Stunning photos, and excellent trip report. I hope that the results made all the heat and dust and bumpy travel seem worthwhile! All the bird photos are wonderful. (The others are too, but I am just in awe of things like the bee-eater with dragonfly... and that malachite kingfisher. I was amazed that you used BOTH the 1.4 and 2X together for that...excellent! Did you find that you used the 300mm most of the time, and did the 70-200 get much of a workout? Any comments you have about these two lenses would be appreciated. Also, I can't recall if you used tripods or beanbags or IS...comments about this too, please!
ddgattina is offline  
Nov 7th, 2005, 05:42 PM
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Thanks,ddgattina. I used both lenses alot. I also usually had a teleconverter on both lenses.

The leaders of this trip sell their images so the first lesson we learned was take a close-up vertically and horizontally, then a longer shot vertically and horizontally. This will let you have the image any way a buyer could want. (I'm not selling anything but sounded like a good idea anyway.) Then if the animal is still there you get more images. Using this "rule" I would start with the 300 and then the 70-200. After that I would take the time to move the TC from one camera to the other or just remove it if necessary. (Some of the bee-eater shots from the boats were too close with the 300 so I used the 70-200.)

Both lenses have IS. We started off in The Beast with no support for the cameras. (I had the smallest big lens. The others were using 500 f/4 and 600 f/4 with 70-200's and a 100-400 for the 2nd lens.) We used the tops of the seat backs, braced against the vertical frame rails for the canvas top, the frame rails across the front of the truck, or slouched down in the seat and used our knees for support.(3 of the guys in the back did have tripods that they bungee-corded to the rails.) Then we tried a "sling". We used some rope and tied it onto the frame for the canvas top. This seemed like a great idea but was still too unstable. Nick talked to the manager (or owner) of Game Trails to see if we could get something better to use and he ended up bringing out some long boards made into a shelf that we tied and wired to the frame rails. This worked very well for photography (but did make it a little harder to climb in and out of the truck for which I didn't really need any more challenges). These boards really added to our Beverly Hillbilly look but worked out great for the cameras.

Bean bags were used quite a bit on everything, including laying the cameras on them for cushion on the drives between camps.

I love both of these lenses and I don't lust for any others. Well, maybe the 500. But the 300 is definitely heavy (for me), especially with the 2x so I won't go any larger.
sundowner is offline  

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