As many of you know – Crystal and I recently returned from a scouting trip to Botswana & South Africa. We spent the better part of two weeks exploring these diverse & incredible countries in search of wildlife & the perfect safari experiences for our guests. Needless to say – mission accomplished.
We arrived in Johannesburg with a long list of fairly well-researched locations to visit – the majority of them in Botswana but our goal was to get a broader sense of the region – we also visited Zimbabwe for a few days and spent some time photographing Victoria Falls.
We love Botswana for its unique approach to wildlife conservation. It is a small country of only two million residents that is also very stable in a region known for instability. There are countless National Parks, Game Reserves & Concessions – to top it off hunting is completely illegal in Botswana. It can be a bit more expensive than other parts of Africa – simply because to access many of the prime wildlife regions one must take a bush-plane. For example, the infamous Okavango Delta is largely inaccessible by road (which also makes it FANTASTIC) as it is super remote.
We found the wildlife experiences and sightings to be exceptional. Sure there were a few slow days – but not really – the action was literally non-stop. It’s pretty exciting getting face to face with a Leopard or cruising along at high speed running with a pride of lions – or watching painted wolves take down an Impala right in front of you!
The camps we ended up selecting for the trip are great. The highlights being Mashatu, Chobe National Park & the Okavango Delta. Each location is unique and for each location transfer, we fly in bush-planes.
Mashatu is known as “the Land of Giants” referring to its exceptional population of African Elephants but possibly more importantly it is one of the best locations in Africa for big cat photography – Lion, Leopard & Cheetah are regularly spotted on the dusty expanses of the Mashatu Game Reserve. The lodging & food here is superb as well.
The Chobe River is a unique eco-system where the majority of the safaris happen by boat. Our trip will utilize custom safari boats that allow quick access to the riverbanks. The birdlife here is stellar and most of the photography happens at eye-level with critters either on the riverbank or in the water. Fantastic images are possible of Hippos, Crocodiles, Elephants, Cape Buffalo, Lions & more. For this section of the trip, we will stay in a great lodge near the park in Kasane.
The Okavango Delta is remote & wild. We’ll travel by bush plane to our safari camp that sits right in the heart of it all! This place is so large & wild that we’ll rarely see other people and the wildlife sighting are like one stepped back in time. We’ll venture out from camp each morning & evening via Land Cruiser to photograph Lions, Leopards, Zebra, Hippo & likely the rare & endangered African Painted Wolves (wild dogs).
Read More about Botswana
Botswana: A Tale of Two Seasons
The Beating Heart of Botswana
Botswana: Land of Giants
Africa’s Garden of Eden: Okavango Delta
The Big Five of Africa
Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda
Ultimate Botswana Wildlife Safari
Isak Dinesen probably said it best in Out of Africa
“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”
Russ Nordstrand is an award winning Landscape & Wildlife Photographer based in Flagstaff, Arizona. His Fine Art Prints are hanging in private collections throughout the world and he runs Photography Tours & Workshops in the most beautiful and inspirtational locations in the Western United States and beyond.
Russ has been hiking, backpacking, photographing and guiding people in the wilderness areas, deserts, canyons and mountains of the world since 1997. He has logged thousands of miles on the trail and for many years in the past decade over half of his nights were spent in a tent in some far flung outdoor destination.
His Photography reflects an awe and admiration of the great, wide and still wild world we live in. Often his subjects include towering canyon walls, mist shrouded mountain lakes or wildlife in their natural habitat. It also reflects a commitment to preserving these places for the health of our world and for those who come after.
It would be a lie to say he does it completely from an altruistic standpoint. Like any great outdoor photographer he loves the thrill of wild, remote places and the accomplishment of nailing that shot after waking up three hours before dawn and hiking in the dark!
Don’t Miss the Next Session of BCJ “Live”
Backyard Bird Photography: Simple Techniques for Wildlife Close to Home
with Russell Graves
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 at 11 am (Mountain)