Chobe river – a photographic wonderland

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.

Chobe AM 10-Aug-14 1152

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.

Chobe AM 10-Aug-14 1162

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.

Chobe AM 10-Aug-14 1150

We normally travel up river passed the army camp towards “Pygmy Goose” bend.

Chobe AM 10-Aug-14 1165

“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.

Chobe AM 12-Aug-14 3010Chobe AM 13-Aug-14 4074

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.

Chobe AM 13-Aug-14 4068

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.

Chobe AM 9-Aug-14 0797A

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.

Chobe AM 12-Aug-14 3152Chobe AM 12-Aug-14 3168Chobe AM 12-Aug-14 3187

The Lechwe graze with the Waterbuck. Presumably there is greater safety in numbers.

Chobe AM 9-Aug-14 0856A

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.

Chobe PM 11-Aug-14 3108

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.

Chobe AM 10-Aug-14 1285Chobe AM 12-Aug-14 3313

“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.

Chobe PM 11-Aug-14 2687

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.

Chobe PM 11-Aug-14 2711

Even the opportunists need to sunbath in the warm late winter sun.

Chobe PM 10-Aug-14 2295

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.

Chobe PM 10-Aug-14 2116

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.

Chobe PM 12-Aug-14 3736A

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.

Chobe PM 12-Aug-14 3704A

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”.

– Kiowa

Chobe PM 12-Aug-14 4184

This is about as far up river as you can go in an afternoon.

Chobe PM 12-Aug-14 3834

Late winter produced an unexpectedly beautiful and colourful treeline along the river’s edge.

Chobe PM 12-Aug-14 4200

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.

Chobe PM 8-Aug-14 0276

The unusual hunting technique in the golden light is special – you have to remind yourself that what you are seeing is real.

Chobe PM 9-Aug-14 1035

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.

Chobe PM 10-Aug-14 2340

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.

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Photographers are not the only ones enjoying the river at sunset.

Chobe PM 8-Aug-14 0569

“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.

Have fun

Mike

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