We have just held the first of our Chiefs island Photo workshops.
Chiefs camp is based on the northern tip of Chiefs Island, within the heart of the world famous Okavango Delta, in Botswana. The camp lies in the Mombo concession, reputed as one of the best concessions for wildlife viewing in Africa and termed the “predator capital of Africa”. This caused quite a lot of excitement amongst us, who were hosting the workshop, and of course our clients too! Expectations were high…
We arrived and settled in. Logistics worked perfectly- landing in Maun, we transferred straight to camp in a Cessna caravan. First game drive was out on to the open flood plains and the “Lechwe plain” we were to get to know over the next few days. Herds of wildebeest, lechwe and zebra led us to a large herd of buffalo- about 300 strong, where we spent time photographing tem with yellow billed oxpeckers. From there we drove onto finding our first lions, right on time as the light had softly turned a golden hue. Perfect for the eager cameras.
An early start led straight to some ground hornbills feeding on insects in the fresh green grass. The sun was perfect and softly lit the birds as they threw up their morsels before eating them. From there we noticed two fish eagles hunting in a pool. We positioned near a bush they were using and had them repeatedly come to and fro as they searched for their breakfast- making for some dramatic in flight images of these magnificent birds. The other vehicle was photographing lions in the morning light, but we were quite content with the fish eagle! From there it was lechwe in the water and more lions before heading back to a deserved brunch.
The afternoon was a classic and will go down as one of the best game viewing drives ever.
Out of camp we found a leopard resting in the shade. He had been courting a female, which others saw, but not us. He did oblige with some beautiful poses though, so quite happy! Leaving the leopard, we noticed an elephant bull walking in the channel. I noticed a mud wallow 5m from us, so decided to wait and see what happened. The bull came straight to the wallow and proceeded to splash, throw, roll, rub and scrub himself in the mud! He was so close we could hear him sigh as he rolled on his side. Simply beautiful! That was not all though, after his bathe, he wandered to within 2m of us, gently sniffing and inspecting this large, brown camera, clicking vehicle. It was a hard decision to choose between the wide angle or the long lens!
After the elephant left, we headed on and 1km later we stopped right next to a troop of baboons. We had just stopped when to our right some impala snorted their alarm. Looking into the thick bush, a jackal was spotted, and below it, an impala fawn. It had just made a kill. Startled by the vehicle, the jackal walked a few meters away. We watched quietly and all of a sudden the impala stood up. The jackal realised this and the chase began. It ended up with the jackal chasing the fawn down and making the kill. No photographs were taken, as we did not want to influence the hunt and kill. This was a time to watch and see nature play out.
We left the kill site, and headed down a channel to find 6 lions at sunset, about to begin their nightly foray. Now it was time to head back to camp, as darkness was upon us. However, in the headlights we saw another leopard! This time with a fresh kill of an impala. It dragged the carcass across the channel and pulled it up into an acacia tree.
What an end to a fabulous drive! We were all exhausted from not only taking photographs, but also the excellent sightings we had just witnessed!
Click here to see part 2 of the trip report.
And click here to read Isak Pretorius's review.