This is the last post from our CNP safari on the Chobe River in August, but certainly not the last trip to the Chobe.
I have entitled this post “Chobe – a photographic wonderland”. The images I have included show in a small way the vistas, moods, light and vast opportunity to photograph mammals, bird, reptiles and landscapes.
“Light makes photography.
Embrace it, admire it and use it.
But above all, know light.
Know it for all you are worth and you will know the key to photography.”
– George Eastman
In winter the sun rises a little later so we normally have coffee around 6h30 and leave the lodge around 6h45. For the first 15 minutes of the journey the sun is still behind the ridge on the east of the river and the new morn light creates soft pastel colours exuding sense of serenity and peace – an in-between time.
This is the time when I feel I am experiencing heaven on earth. It is exquisitely beautiful, calm and quiet and we are bathed in soft beautiful light.
On a clear morning the sky turns a reddy-orange at sunrise making it look like it is on fire.
On this first part of the river there are two pairs of Fish Eagles and they normally herald the morning with their iconic call, reminding us that a new day is starting in Africa.
We normally travel up river passed the army camp towards “Pygmy Goose” bend.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Just passed “Pygmy Goose” bend we often see Baboons, Impala and at this time of the year many Spurwing Geese.
It is such fun photographing Baboons because they are always up to something, especially the youngsters. They are human-like in so many ways which normally causes many chuckles on the boat.
The “Oshkosh band” invariably remind us to respect their space. We call Hippos “Oshkoshs” because they sound like the air brake of an Oshkosh truck when it is slowing down.
This last trip we were fortunate to see a reasonable size herd of Waterbuck just passed “Pygmy Goose bend”. It is flat on the flood plain which are intersected by gullies which are filled with water. The Waterbuck are extremely wary of these gullies, probably because lurking in their dark waters are “flat dogs”, our nickname for crocodiles. The Waterbuck and Lechwe jump high over these gullies making sure they clear the gap easily. We only get to see just how strong their legs are when you see how high and far they are able to jump.
The Lechwe graze with the Waterbuck. Presumably there is greater safety in numbers.
This lone Puku caught sight of a Lioness some distance off at the edge of the treeline. He was very nervous even though the Lioness was a long way away.
Down near Skimmer Island we saw a small herd of Buffalo cross the channel between the main island and Skimmer Island. Unlike Wildebeest, they have one good look at the water and then go for it on mass. No crocodile would get in the way of the mass of thrashing hooves under the water.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
– Henry Miller
August is early blossom time for the Knob Thorn tree. This Knob Thorn was amongst the trees at the water’s edge at Chobe Game Lodge. I have never before noticed how beautiful they are in blossom.
On upstream toward “Elephant Valley” and you pass steep tree-lined banks where you will see Giant and Pied Kingfishers, Baboons, Impala and the odd family group of Kudu. Once you get to “Elephant Valley”, especially in the afternoons, you are usually rewarded with close sightings of Elephant families drinking and having fun in the water.
Even the opportunists need to sunbath in the warm late winter sun.
On up river toward Puku Flats you often see Elephant, Giraffe, Hippo and plenty of birdlife. You may even be lucky enough to see a Roller display.
“Regard Heaven as your father, Earth as your Mother and all things as your Brothers and Sisters”.
– Unknown tribe
Mother Oshkosh does not like to be caught on land. When you are moving into position to photograph wildlife, it is always wise to see where the Hippos are and watch and wait to see their intentions.
Further up river beyond Lechwe Flats you travel along a wide bend in the river on your way up to Serondela. At this point, if you are lucky you can get some great perspectives because the boat is below the elevated sand bank.
Once you having been travelling for at least an hour up river you come to the Serondela part of the river. Here the river is tree lined. The trees are home to Black -crowned Night Herons and many species of Kingfishers. This is where we saw the African Harrier-Hawk lazily hunting along the treeline.
“Walk lightly in the spring; Mother Earth is pregnant”.
This is about as far up river as you can go in an afternoon.
Late winter produced an unexpectedly beautiful and colourful treeline along the river’s edge.
On our way back to Kasane just past the Chobe Game Lodge it was early evening. This is the time when the Skimmers start using the evening light and still water surface to start skimming.
The unusual hunting technique in the golden light is special – you have to remind yourself that what you are seeing is real.
We must be out of the park by 18h00 in winter. The trick was to get on the east side of the main Chobe island to be able to get evening silhouette shots. Elephants make ideal silhouette subjects, especially if they are mock fighting.
This bull Elephant was slowly making his way up along the island at last light grabbing swathes of grass with his truck and trashing them around to remove the water and soil.
Photographers are not the only ones enjoying the river at sunset.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
– Miriam Beard
These images, show in a small way the photographic wonderland along the Chobe river. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
Explore, seek to understand, marvel at its interconnectedness and let it be.