Those who know a little about me will know that meeting clients in an unknown destination in Botswana, a destination chosen by the clients, always fills me with some trepidation. I hope the clients arrive safely ? Will the venue for the start of our wildlife photo and birding safari in Northern Botswana and Namibia’s Caprivi strip be suitable ? I did my research for the areas, as I always do and felt the birding would be good at this time of the season, despite it being so dry and the floodplains receding. The large mammals like Elephant, Buffalo would come down to the river in the late afternoon so plenty of photographic opportunities; all should be well for them.
Greeting Roland and Gertru Schatz from the Netherlands at Muchenje (Chobe) in Northern Botswana soon put my and their minds at ease as we surveyed the excellent viewing platform overlooking the floodplains of the Chobe River. It was late morning and the sun was high and the temperature in the mid 30’s but astonishingly there were vast numbers of birds still around.
Early the next morning we set up their camera equipment after I went over the basic settings for the location; considering the type of photography we were undertaking (birds mostly) and the current lighting conditions. Rufous-bellied Heron, Little Egret, Pied Kingfishers, Striated Heron, Grey Heron, Painted Snipe, Coppery-tailed Coucal, African Crake, Open-billed Stork and Squacco Heron were just some of the species we saw during the mornings and afternoon sessions whilst in Muchenje. The Muchenje landscape of the floodplain made for spectacular sunsets, finally bringing a cloak of darkness and some silence over the Chobe floodplains.
Our photography in Botswana on the floodplains and along the Chobe River was rewarding with sightings of large herds of Elephants on the shoreline and great birding especially the sighting of hundreds of Southern Carmine Bee-eater gathering and preparing to breed in the river banks.
Sadly it was time to head out of Botswana, crossing over the Ngomo Bridge and the border post of the same name between Botswana and Namibia. It would be lunchtime before we reached Nkasa Rupara National Park in Namibia which would be our final destination of the short tour. Nkasa Rupara National Park is about 150km from the border along Namibia’s eastern part of the Caprivi Strip and is centred by the Nkasa and Rupara islands on the Kwando/Linyanti River in the south-western corner of East Caprivi. Often called the ‘little sister’ of the more famed Okavango Delta, the Linyanti wetlands hold a plethora of birds and large mammals like Red Lechwe, Elephant and Hippo. The national park itself is home to Lion, Leopard, Buffalo, Giraffe, Impala, Warthog and hundreds of Zebra.
As we silently passed through overhanging Paparus during our afternoon boat photography sessions along the Linyanti River we were often given fantastic sightings of White-fronted Bee-eater darting and dashing around the skies after tasty meals, Red Lechwe grazing close to the waters edge and African Fish Eagle calling to one another, hippo pods were rising and sinking as we glided past them.