Today was our last day at Chitabe Camp, and like the previous mornings, it wasn’t too cold when we started out. It was overcast and more windy today than the past few days. On the days when we are leaving one camp and heading to another, we typically have a shorter morning game drive to allow for an early brunch, packing of duffle bags and time to get to the airstrip.
We knew we wouldn’t be out for more than about 3 hours, so we chose to search for game closer to camp. We found a healthy-sized cape buffalo herd, and chose to spend the bulk of our time with them. When photographing buffalo, if you wait for a long while you may end up with them on all sides of your vehicle. We didn’t have the time to accomplish that particular approach this morning, due to time constraints. We were able to find quite a few red billed oxpeckers on their backs and faces, and chose to home in on the symbiotic relationship between the two.
After a nice brunch, the Chitabe staff sent us on our way with smiles and full bellies. We made it to the airstrip before our pilots arrived, and we took the time to tell bush stories and just chew the fat. On all of my safaris, we always provide whatever it takes to allow people to bring enough camera gear to make the safari successful. On this safari we have provided for a pair of Cessna Caravans for our group, which significantly increased the weight allowance from only 44 pounds to more than double. This is a huge benefit if photography is your main goal from your safari.
After only a 30 minute flight to Savuti, we disembarked our planes and jumped into our safari vehicles. I also had a chance to see my friend and guide Kane, which is an excellent safari photographer and guide. You can see his photographs at www.kanethebushman.com. I helped him setup his web site last year, and he updates his site often.
After a 3:00 tea, we headed out for our first game drive at Savuti. Right outside of camp, we were stopped by a large group of elephants on both sides of the road. A lone bull elephant decided to walk towards us and dined on a healthy diet of minerals about 10 feet from us. We had a great time zooming in and grabbing intimate details of his face, ears and tusks, and when he was through putting on a show for us, he picked up some loose dirt and flung it in our faces. I actually had to turn my D700 + 70-200mm lens upside down just to get the dirt out. Talk about a fun time with a very very relaxed bull elephant that all in the vehicle will remember.
As the sun started to get low in the sky, we worked the edges of the Savuti channel in hopes of picking up lion or leopard tracks. We did track a lion for the better part of 2 hours, however we never could catch up with it before we had to head back to camp.
On the way back to camp, we stopped to photograph a lone bull elephant crossing the channel. The channel is more flooded now than in recent years, and the water is flowing all the way to the Savuti marsh, inside Chobe National Park. This is a significant change since the early 1980’s, as the channel hasn’t held flowing water since that time. The area is lush and green, and elephants are crossing the water quite often.
We were back to camp on the early side, as we didn’t stop for anything on the way back. An early dinner awaited, and now I cannot wait for tomorrow’s game drives, as we have heard of the local wild dog pack’s movements near our camp.
Note: All images in these daily blog postings are very very rough edits of the things we have seen, and I often omit the photographs that take too much time to process. I don’t take much time off during the day, as I am working with people with their photographic needs. All of my images in these posts will have to be re-processed when I get back home, and they are only included in these blog entries for illustration purposes.
James Weis strutting his photographic stuff with BB, our guide
Lone elephant, crossing the Savuti channel at sunset