December 2009 was a good month for C4 Images and Safaris. Firstly we had a 2-week safari to Botswana and then it was Christmas holidays for us!
We wont write about the holidays, but we do want to share with you a great photo tour to the Okavango region of Botswana. Ill document each day as the tour went along.
The tour was led by Shem Compion and Greg du Toit. There were 7 clients and between us we had 3 private vehicles for our sole photographic use.
Leopard at dawn. What a way to start the day. It was a classic scene- a large tomcat resting on a low horizontal branch with the sun softly glowing through the clouds. A perfect set up, but unfortunately an unwilling model. The beauty of travelling into such wilderness areas is that animals like this male leopard determine your photographic success. In this case, this leopard might not be seen for another year by another vehicle and we were very fortunate to see him. That is the beauty of true wilderness areas. The morning wasn’t a waste though- we enjoyed photographing a black bellied bustard doing its champagne cork courtship pop and an open billed stork fishing away on fresh water mussels. Tea time was to be the real treat though, as we witnessed nearly 150 elephants emerging out of the bush to drink, play, mud wallow and swim in the lagoon in front of us! It was a sight to behold and we slowly got right in amongst these silent giants- brilliant! We left one hour later with some of the elephants still not having completed their watery activities!
The wattled crane is a highly endangered bird- with the Okavango being its largest breeding ground- so it was very pleasing to be able to approach a pair preening in the last light of day. It was the closest I have ever been to a pair and they gave us a real show, calmly cleaning their feathers with the wattles swinging away.
This morning was rain filled, which doesn’t always make for great photography. However, it does bring out the unusual animals and a honey badger was spotted while Harry spotted and photographed a caracal out stalking!
Unfortunately the rain continued in the afternoon, making photography impossible.
After the rain, out comes the Velvet mites! These tiny creatures attracted the interest of all on the vehicles and resulted in some very unusual poses with many bottoms facing skywards trying to get nice and low angles on the mites!
However, the best was to come, as we tracked the wild dogs and found them lying up in the shade. The next few minutes turned out to be one of the best sightings of 2009, with all the wild dogs getting up and playing in a pool of rainwater. I have written about this in a post entitled “wild dogs in 409”, but I will say it again- this was simply magnificent animal behaviour of the highest order. Great subjects, good light, excellent action, repeated motion, willing subjects and excellent positioning!
That afternoon, we sat with the wild dogs again and followed them as they went off on the afternoon hunt in perfect golden light. You could say it was a “wild dog day”.
Cheetahs and wild dogs. Lagoon camp is famous for its wild dogs and by the end of the day we knew why. It started with finding the three brother cheetah, who posed on a termite mound before heading off to hunt Impala which once chased ran right past one of our vehicles! In the afternoon, we found wild dogs running like crazy dogs along the road- a kill had been made and the adults were coming back to the pups. Again we witnessed brilliant behaviour of these dogs playing, regurgitating, chasing and feeding in an open clearing.
Rain hampered our start to the morning, but keeping a keen eye out on the weather, we headed out as soon as it started to clear- that being 13h30. A long afternoons drive it was going to be- and what a smelly one it was. A dead elephant was located, attracting hundreds of vultures and marabou storks. The fighting and hissing around the carcass was something to behold. The area surrounding the dead elephant was littered with hundreds of scavengers filled to the crop with food. They decorated the large dead trees like Christmas decorations!
We left the smell and headed to a peaceful lake where we photographed hippo in lovely light before the sunset stopped us and we photographed in the opposite direction. (Were far from the hippo by now!) En route back to camp we chanced upon the rare roan antelope. It was many peoples first sighting of one and although it was shy, we all got a good look at its “clown like” facial features.
Last day blues were to be banished by the excitement of the morning’s sightings. Cheetah buffalo and wild dog saying their good byes were the morning’s main attractions. We followed the cheetah, scent marking and patrolling- making for very good images. They rested up eventually and we were off to find the buffalo- a nice breeding herd with oxpeckers providing that extra bit of colour.
From there we raced back to camp for brunch and the flight back to Maun, civilisation and unfortunately the end of a wonderful tour.
The start of the rainy season is my favourite time in the bush. Everything comes alive, the migrating birds are back and the animals are dropping their babies. Some mornings, you can literally feel the bush buzzing with excitement.
With our clients on this tour, we certainly had a few days of “buzzing excitement”!
Thank you to all our clients who once again provided a great tour.
At the start of our safari, I asked one of the clients what they were particularly interested in. “Insects”, they replied… well at least I had just completed an insect book! However it highlights a typical C4 Images and Safaris safari. We aren’t here only for the big 5 and their kin. We take tours for people who enjoy experiencing nature in its entirety; and then photographing it to capture its beauty.