Amazing Aerials of the Selinda Spillway and Savuti Region
Dec13

Amazing Aerials of the Selinda Spillway and Savuti Region

Photographers Shannon Benson and Russell MacLaughlin constantly delight us with their string of wildlife photos. Always eager to use the latest in technological advancements when it comes to photography, this duo combine their innate skill with their technical know-how to deliver stark photos of polar bears in the Arctic and emotive photos of pachyderms in Botswana. They certainly use the golden age of technology to their advantage, and their results are always mind-blowing. While on assignment at two lodges in Botswana, in regions so vastly different yet somehow similar, they took these incredible aerial photos of remote corners of pristine safari paradise. The first batch of images comes fresh from the Selinda Spillway, a quiet and wildlife rich region that links the Okavango Delta to the Linyanti Swamps. The water levels of the area can create interesting patterns where we see water flowing in two different directions in a reserve comprising game rich floodplains. The Selinda Reserve is renown for its remarkable landscapes and variety of game, making it one of the most sought after concessions for a Botswana safari. There are only a limited number of people allowed into the area at a given time, which means plenty of exclusivity and privacy. These photos were taken at RAW Botswana Motswiri Camp, an eco-aware luxury camp located on the banks of the Spillway. This environmentally conscious camp looks out over the peaceful floodplains, and has only five tented chalets, each built on wooden decking and overlooking the waterways. The second set of images comes fresh from the Savuti region of Chobe National Park, and highlights the sheer beauty of a brazen African landscape and the breathtaking wonder of golden hour. The images were taken at the exclusive and luxurious eco-friendly Ghoha Hills Savuti Lodge. Ghoha rests on the ledge of the Ghoha Hills on the outskirts of the Savuti channel inside the Chobe National Park, and has sweeping views of the surrounding Savuti region. Two incredible places that we get to see from a bird’s eye view, thanks to Russell and Shannon’s visual journey....

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Introducing Chobe’s Remote Nogatsaa Pans Lodge
Nov11

Introducing Chobe’s Remote Nogatsaa Pans Lodge

Nogatsaa Pans Lodge is a relatively unknown lodge located in a less-explored region of the Chobe National Park, a game-rich area teeming with an abundance of game. The major drawcard of staying at this safari lodge in Botswana? The design, position and variety of species. Nogatsaa could not have been designed better, and architects have certainly taken advantage of the surrounds and cleverly constructed hides, viewing points and lounges in prime game viewing positions. This eco-aware lodge is an extension of its natural environment, and not an intrusion into its remote and raw surrounds. Situated 80 km south of the Chobe River front area, Nogatsaa region has a unique cluster of clay-bottom pans which fill up during the rainy season and supplemented during the dry season. The pans draw a wealth of wildlife to the area, which can be viewed from the comfort of one of the many hides dotted around the area. This eco-aware lodge epitomises safari sophistication and its superior design elements and attention to detail, make it a sought after destination. This is the latest brainchild of Ghoha Hills Savuti Lodge, an exquisite luxury lodge in an unusual position of top of a hill in the Savuti region. It goes without saying that Nogatsaa will be as successful as its sister lodge. Nogatsaa’s 12 exquisite luxuriously tented rooms with private balconies overlook the Kwikamba Pan, the largest pan in the area. There are luxury tented rooms and family rooms, each with a flexible bed configuration, comprising 3/4 beds and king size beds. Expect exquisite en suite bathrooms, white percale linen, oversized pillows and towels for extra comfort, and even extra touches such as gowns and slippers. Your tented palatial safari suite has a lounge, chairs, and even a desk to catch up on some writing or work you’ve neglected. In short, Nogatsaa’s rooms epitomise the ultimate in safari style. We’ll let the images do the talking with this...

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Selinda Spillway: A Birdwatcher’s Secret Garden
Jun22

Selinda Spillway: A Birdwatcher’s Secret Garden

It is popularly believed that the Selinda Spillway is one of the most alluring and untamed regions of Botswana; a hideaway in the country’s northern marshland territories. This exquisite wildlife conservancy lies between the Okavango Delta panhandle in the west and the Linyanti Swamps in the east, along the floodplains of the Selinda Spillway. This watercourse ebbs and flows with the presence of floodwaters each year, offering sublime avenues for African canoe adventures, riverside bush trails, mekoro canals, and exceptional wildlife viewing. A highlight of the area has to be the presence of the endangered cheetah and wild dog, roan and sable antelope, and free-roaming elephant and buffalo populations. Visitors to Selinda had better have an appetite for birding too, as there is, without a doubt, a feast to be had! Being the shameless Twitchers we are, we’ve put together a birding blog based on a recent trip to Motswiri Camp, which showcased some of our favourite and most photogenic feathered species. Here we go… 1. African Pygmy Goose For starters, this diminutive waterfowl is not a goose at all, despite what its name so clearly suggests. The African pygmy goose is, in fact, a duck – just like numerous other mislabeled ducks, such as the Egyptian goose. This colourful, beautiful bird is one of the smallest of the water birds and it is a total special in regions like the Okavango Delta, and areas with similar shallow waters with lots of green coverage; so the Selinda Spillway fits perfectly into this perching duck’s chosen habitat. The African pygmy geese are timid birds, and it is likely that they will take off just as you get the camera focused and ready to shoot. On the bright side (if you’re a good enough photographer), you’ll capture some fantastic movement shots as the little ducks glide along the water and flap their wings vigorously in an attempt to get away. They are considered to breed as monogamous pairs, and are often seen in groups of 2 or 4, but sometimes you might spot a larger flock, which will most likely be of an even number. 2. Half-collared Kingfisher This brilliant-blue little kingfisher is certainly one of the most striking and photogenic of the riverside birds to spot in Selinda. Its iridescent plumage is similar to that of the malachite kingfisher (pictured below, middle, for comparison) – its more commonly spotted cousin – but the dark beak is a dead giveaway. Once you’ve got the beak colour out the way, its white collar becomes an obvious feature indicating its identity. It wraps halfway around its neck, collaring the back of the neck, and then brushing a white patch on the bird’s chin. This spectacular...

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Horseback Safari Along Botswana’s Selinda Trail
May08

Horseback Safari Along Botswana’s Selinda Trail

When you’re standing face-to-face with your chosen horse, you’ll feel its warm breath permeating the cold mist rising off of the Delta’s tributaries. The soulful eyes of a horse invite you to tenderly stroke its muzzle while you establish an emotional connection with this regal beauty.  A powerful encounter between man and horse is one that is not easily forgotten.  Motswiri is an authentic safari camp located on the waterways of the Selinda Spillway which forms part of the world heritage site, the Okavango Delta. While offering the unique activity of horseback safaris in Botswana, this is not their only speciality. There are mekoro trips, daily game drives, fishing, boating and canoe excursions. For those who love horses, the horseback safaris are only for experienced riders. There needs to be control and trust between rider and horse because of the wild animals encountered en route. Riders have a choice of boerperds, thoroughbreds and Arab crosses. This means you’re bound to find your optimal match for the horseback safari along Botswana’s Selinda trail. Canter through the rugged water-logged terrain of the Selinda Spillway on your big five horse riding safari in Botswana. Your “home” after a rewarding day of game viewing and activities is simple, luxurious accommodation. Motswiri has five tents housing either a double or single bed configuration with views stretching out over the verandah and all the way to the horizon panning over wild landscapes. Tents are wooden canvas structures on elevated wooden platforms raised slightly from the ground. There is also a family unit which can be configured to cater for the family or group travelling. Of course, when you’re not taking time out from your busy day, you can always relax in the main area of camp. There’s a swimming pool, boma area, dining tent and expansive lounge. The camp is literally in the midst of 120 000 acres of pristine area home to high concentration of game. Hippos will honk, lions will roar and you’ll bask in the sun watching nature unfold before your eyes. This is raw and wild Botswana, where you’ll experience mind-blowing sunsets and game drives led by professional rangers.  ...

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Botswana’s Letaka Mobile Safaris : As Seen on TV
Jan18

Botswana’s Letaka Mobile Safaris : As Seen on TV

Letaka Safaris are specialists in providing guests with a unique opportunity to explore the untamed lands of Botswana. Letaka have been in operation for over 40 years and they’re the pinnacle of mobile safaris. The guides and owners of Letaka are pretty much ingrained into the safari life and have an expert knowledge of the areas just waiting to be explored by guests. Mobile safaris allow the best of both worlds – they combine luxury camping and lodge accommodation, which gives you a taste of the authentic, adventurous way of living mingled in with the creature comforts of home. Letaka really have set the standard in terms of mobile safaris and offer a range of set packages and itineraries from which to choose. One of their top mobile safari packages includes a 9 night northern highlights expedition that uncovers a contrasting world of landscapes. This isn’t an ordinary camping stint, but more of a luxury camping trip where everything is set-up and organised for you. From the food to putting up tents and lighting the fires; your ranger and guide will sort everything out. You can expect daily game drives, walks, sundowners and the standard safari drives you would enjoy at a lodge. The only difference is that your lodgings are temporary and every few days you move to a new area. On your 9 night safari you’ll get to explore the reed-lined intricate channels of the Okavango Delta, a world-heritage site. The Delta is the largest inland water system in the world and is home to rare species of wildlife. Marshes, floodplains and islands provide the perfect habitat for a variety of game – big and small. You’ll also spend time in the Moremi Game Reserve, which is a haven for big cat predators.  If the spoils of the Okavango Delta aren’t enough for you, then perhaps you’ll enjoy the addition of Chobe National Park, which is much further north. Here you will explore the famed Savuti region and its desert-like landscape. The Savuti Marsh is the set for many wildlife documentaries because it dries up and flows again erratically. On the subject of TV documentaries, Letaka Mobile Safaris have risen to fame because of  6 part TV series called the Safari Brothers, which documents the ins and outs of owning a safari company. Watch what it’s like going on a mobile safari while watching their reality show on Nat Geo Wild. Coupled with that, they conduct each of their safaris with passion, expertises and sense of enthusiasm. Botswana has high concentrations of game, ruthless predators and over 500 species of bird. Each area offers something unique – from the arid landscapes of...

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Okavango Delta is Paradise for Hippo Lovers
Jan08

Okavango Delta is Paradise for Hippo Lovers

We all have that one animal we’re desperate to see while on safari in Africa and it need not always be one of the big five. There are keen Twitchers dying to see a lifer such as the Pel’s fishing owl and herpetologists eager to spot a black mamba – from a safe distance of course. The big five are the most well-marketed animals and certainly wondrous to see in the wild, but in the Okavango Delta there dwells an amphibious creature that has stolen the hearts of many wildlife lovers – the hippo! The hippo is  Africa’s cutest, yet most cumbersome and dangerous animal to come face-to-face in the wild.  They strike a curious mix of fear and humour within all those that observe. They are territorial creatures and kill more people in the wild than lions, leopards and other animals. Hippos can be found throughout many reserves within southern Africa, but the Okavango Delta has high concentrations of hippo pods. You’ll see them while in the open waters on the Delta or during the evening time when they come out to forage for food. Simply put, the Okavango Delta is paradise for hippo lovers. Here are a four facts about hippos: The name hippopotamus has origins in a Greek word meaning “river horse”. Most of hippos day is spent in the water but they do merge to sun themselves on the banks of waterholes. Contrary to popular belief, hippos don’t actually swim but rather walk along the bottom of the water and create pathways, which become well-used. When hippos open their mouths wide to display their teeth it is a territorial display. This is often accompanied by honking.   Here are three of our favourite camps: Authentic, rustic category : Xobega Island Camp Xobega Island Camp is a piece of paradise located on a remote island just off the mainland of Moremi Game Reserve. Xobega (or Gcobega) Island is ideally located and easily accessible for 4 x 4 self-drivers, and also for guests flying into the Xakanaxa airstrip. Guests arrive at the tree-filled island via boat and are welcomed to this simple safari where the focus is on water activities and sundowner boat cruises. Hippos rule the waters around the island, lions are heard across the water, and a Pel’s fishing owl takes up residence in the trees. Mid-range, comfortable : Delta Camp Delta Camp is situated on a the popular Chiefs Island, which is a private island in the middle of the Delta’s crystal clear channels. There are lagoons, extensive floodplains and a myriad of channels home to over 450 bird species. Peace and tranquility are the order of the...

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The Okavango Delta: A Sacred Eden for a Safari
Jul05

The Okavango Delta: A Sacred Eden for a Safari

The Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta comprising a confusing myriad of rivers, channels, lagoons, islands, floodplains, permanent marshlands and wealth of diverse habitats home to big game, rare birds and aquatic animals. A large arid landscape of the Kalahari in the northern regions of Botswana is home to a low-grade alluvial fan fed by the waters of the Angola highlands. This natural world heritage site has a network of both permanent and seasonal river systems flooding the often parched Kalahari landscapes. It is a geographical marvel because it has an intact wetland system which does not flow into the ocean. Because of the diversity of the area, the vegetation is unique. Palm trees, papyrus reeds, sausage trees (mekoro’s were originally carved from the trees), lily pads and grasses hug the waterways. Wildlife harmoniously functions together in this intricate water system and in the dry season the Okavango River floods, bringing with it a change in wildlife behaviour and synchronisation with the environment. The wildlife in this area is nothing short of phenomenal. The region has one of the highest concentration of game in the world. Endangered African wild dogs, cheetah, leopard, lions all roam freely within in the floodplains. Big cats have adapted their way of life to deal with the water logged swampy areas and can often be spotted crossing channels in shallow areas. Seeing a cat swim is a rare sighting! Wildlife unique to the area includes the lechwe, Pel’s fishing owl, the rare sitatunga and plenty more. There are over 400 species of bird within the Delta. In one boat journey you will probably see juvenile birds of prey balancing on overhanging trees and hear the call of the African fish eagle, a sound which is synonymous with Africa. There is literally a fluttering of colour and an array of birds as you cruise through the channels. Deep beneath the surface dwells the shifty looking Nile crocodiles, bloats of hippo and over 71 species of fish, the most commonly seen being tiger fish, tilapia and catfish. But, that’s not all. There are other animals which roam these parts of the African Rift Valley system. Elephant, hippopotamus, topi, blue wildebeest, giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, cheetah, leopard, brown hyena, spotted hyena, kudu, sable, black and white rhino zebra, warthog and baboon are just a handful of other species waiting to be spotted. The Moremi Game Reserve interrupts and juts into the waterways of the Delta and Chief’s Island is the largest island in the area. Largely pristine and untouched, there are still many areas of the Okavango Delta which remain unexplored. The Moremi offers guests the best of both worlds – the northern regions in particular are perfect...

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