Uniquely Chobe: Botswana's river of life

Uniquely Chobe: Botswana's river of life

Join us for an unforgettable nine night photo safari on the Chobe River in northern Botswana/Namibia, one of Africa’s premier wildlife photographic destinations.  We’ll be spending lots of time on and around the river, photographing the abundant big game that congregates here in the dry season and the equally spectacular birdlife.

We’ll be using special custom-designed photo boats on the Chobe river, which allow us unparalleled opportunities to get close to the animals and photograph from dramatic low viewpoints.  Huge numbers of elephants visit the river at this time, often swimming across to the lush grassy islands in midstream.  If the elephants are the stars of the show, there’s also a long supporting cast – buffalo, hippos, crocs, antelope, and much more. The bird life is even more varied, with herons, storks, kingfishers, jacanas, and specials such as the African fish eagle and the African skimmer.

Four nights of the trip will be spent aboard the Pangolin Voyager houseboat, where you couldn’t be closer to the wildlife. We’ll have exclusive use of the houseboat, and we’ll be using the custom-built photo boats for our photography on the river. Five nights will be in the modern, very comfortable Pangolin Chobe Hotel in Kasane, from where we’ll take game drives into the national park and boat trips on the river. The hotel was named 'Best new hotel in Africa' in the 2019 World Travel Awards.

Key Information

  • Price £4850
  • Duration 6+ days
  • Group Size 5+
  • Date 28/07/2021 - 06/08/2021
  • Date 10/08/2021 - 19/08/2021

Highlights

  • Ten days/nine nights photographing on the magnificent Chobe river, on the northern edge of Botswana’s Chobe national park.
  • Specially-built photo boats get us up close with the action, offering unique low angle viewpoints of the abundant game and waterbirds.
  • Superb elephant photography. Elephants come to the river in their hundreds for dry season grazing and water: photograph huge bulls and maternal herds swimming, playing and feeding in the river.
  • Photograph a wide range of animals living on and visiting the river, including numerous hippos, big herds of buffalo, enormous crocs, relaxed troops of baboons, and antelope including lechwe, kudu, puku and impala.
  • Excellent bird photography, from tiny malachite kingfishers to goliath herons. Waterbirds include numerous species of heron, egret, stork, wildfowl, jacanas, lapwings and kingfishers. Specials include African skimmers, and fish eagles.
  • Spend four nights afloat, on the delightful Pangolin Voyager houseboat. We’ll have exclusive use of the houseboat to explore the river, with a dedicated photo boat for our photographic activities.
  • Excellent accommodation in Kasane, where the newly built, trendy and very comfortable Pangolin Chobe Hotel is our home for five nights: conveniently located for easy access to the park and river.
  • Game drive into Chobe national park in search of apex predators, including lion, leopard and African wild dog.
  • Photographers will be accompanied at all times by one of us, as well as local driver/guides with an in-depth knowledge of the area. Our philosophy is that your photography comes first, and we will always be ready with help and advice.
  • This safari will suit photographers of all levels of experience, from beginner to advanced. Our focus is very much on hands-on photography. We are available at all times to give individual advice, guidance and feedback.
  • Maximum of six guests, so plenty of personal attention and space to photograph.
  • Non-photographing partners with a passion for wildlife and wild places are welcome.
  • Single room supplement £500.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Guests arriving at Kasane airport on the lunchtime flight from Johannesburg will be met by ourselves and transferred to the Pangolin Chobe Hotel, a five minute drive from the airport, in time for our first evening game activity. The lodge will be our base for boat trips on the river in specially-designed photo boats, and for game drives into the national park. There will be time in the middle of each day to relax, have a dip in the hotel pool, use the free WiFi, and browse the inspiring photographic gallery.

Day 6: After a morning game activity and breakfast we’ll transfer to the Pangolin Voyager houseboat for a four night stay, passing through Botswanan and Namibian border controls – the houseboat moors at various stops on the northern, Namibian side of the Chobe river. With the houseboat as a base we’ll be exploring the unique photographic opportunities of the Chobe, using the special small photo boats to photograph the river’s abundant wildlife.

Day 10: After our final morning boat trip and a hearty breakfast, we’ll disembark the houseboat and be transferred back to Kasane for the early afternoon flight back to Johannesburg.

Reviews

Average Rating

  • 3 Reviews
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Elaine

Elaine Price – July 17, 2019

We did this package in 2018 and were not disappointed. Ann and Steve run the trip with seamless professionalism while creating a relaxed and informal atmosphere among their small group of guests. The Pangolin Chobe Hotel is quirky and a bit different to other Safari lodges. The rooms are comfortable and very roomy with lots of space for luggage/camera equipment and a large working space for laptops plus plenty of plug sockets for the all important battery chargers! There is a photo editing suite for use by guests if you want to do any serious processing while you are there. The staff at the hotel are very friendly and evenings are a relaxed affair with good food to boot. The hotel had only just opened when we were there but they were working on creating a watering hole for animals. I believe they now regularly see elephants and other animals there which would be amazing to watch from your balcony. The Pangolin Houseboat is just wonderful! The cabins aren’t overly large but are well appointed and comfortable. Again, the crew are terrific and do all they can to make your stay enjoyable but beware, you will put on weight as the food is delicious and abundant!! Now to the safaris. Both on land and on the river, the animals and birds do not disappoint. I had thought we may spend time sitting around waiting for animals to put in an appearance, but this was definitely not the case! The Pangolin guides are so good at finding out where the action is. They are constantly in touch with each other to make sure you get to the best spots quickly. There is always something to watch, from large groups of elephants through to small groups of mongoose with just about everything in between...lions, buffalo, crocodiles, impala, baboons and more, plus too many birds to mention but the fish eagles were in abundance and we were even lucky enough to stumble upon 3 leopards together just before sunset one evening.....the icing on the cake for us! The photo boats on the river are fantastic and allow you to swivel around completely with your camera on or off the gimbals provided so you never miss anything. Ann and Steve are always on hand to give advice and offer suggestions on the best camera settings to use, what angle works best, backgrounds to lookout for etc so even if you are a complete amateur you’ll get photos you’ll be happy with. They ‘share’ themselves among their guests so there is always one of them near you if you need further advice. Overall this is an amazing experience which we would do every year if it was feasible! It’s great value for money too. Ann and Steve are professional photographers who have been travelling to Africa for over 20 years so they know what they are doing and can easily deal with any issues that may arise. I think you’d struggle to get the same trip with seasoned professionals anywhere else for the same price.

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Keith

Keith Snell – July 27, 2019

I went on the wonderful Uniquely Chobe tour in 2018 and its description as 'unforgettable' is a massive understatement, certainly a Safari trip of a lifetime comes to mind. The range of wildlife was mesmerising, from leopards and elephants at dusk to African skimmers fishing in the dawn light and a host of iconic species at all points in between. Of course it is one thing to see wildlife and another to photograph it and the immense experience and dedication of Ann and Steve Toon to ensure that our photographic experience was perfection is what makes this tour so incredible. Their constant mantra is that your photography is what comes first. This was helped by the experience of our local guide and the flat-bottomed skiff that is customised for photography and which allowed us to get unbelievably close to the animals and to achieve dramatic low-angle shots. All the accommodation, food and facilities were towards the luxury end of provision. This meant that you were always fully relaxed and comfortable for the day's excitement ahead. The architecturally-quirky Pangolin Hotel is very comfortable and, as well as the spacious rooms, the food was exceptional in quality and variety. But for me the Pangolin Voyager houseboat was the high-point. What an amazing and unique experience it was to be moored on the gentle Chobe river surrounded by the sights and sounds of the African wilderness, and knowing that the wildlife was immediately accessible all around you. And what more could you possibly ask for, after a dawn foray to capture unique wildlife activities with no-one else around, than to return to the boat to freshly baked croissants, pancakes or even a bacon roll conjured up by our amazing on-board cook. If this strikes you as completely idyllic then believe me that is precisely what is was! All that and a wildlife experience to die for and tour guides with the empathy, skill and dedication of Ann and Steve who have been coming here for some twenty years, and at a price which few competitors can match, and you will realise why this is a trip not to be missed. I miss it already!

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John

John Macfarlane – August 17, 2019

August 2019. Husband and wife - John and Rosamund - very keen amateur photographers. Our second trip with Ann and Steve Toon and again it greatly exceeded expectations, for diversity of wildlife photographic opportunities, enjoyment and experiences. They are a terrific team to be with - and good fun! - and they work with the best local agents (who are also focused on providing the best hospitality and photographic opportunities), and very knowledgeable , delightful and excellent guides. The combination of river and bush sessions worked really well. The accommodation, service and food both in the very comfortable and spacious house boat, and on land (the new Pangolin lodge is a real treat) is excellent. Steve and Ann are quietly very efficient and organised and use their wealth of experience in Africa to attend to queries and sort any individual concerns without fuss. They also provide very useful photographic advice at both basic and advanced level. The photo requirements of their guests always comes before their own. All in all, a truly excellent trip. Strongly recommended.

Tuition Quality
Location
Value For Money