Tag Archives: big five safari

Wildlife and Wilderness in Botswana

Botswana will celebrate 50 years of independence in 2016 and in that 50 years has  grown to be one of the most exclusive safari destinations in Africa.  

Lovely small camps and lodges, often in private concessions where visitor numbers are restricted, result in a high quality safari experience.

17% of Botswana’s land is given over to conservation while the jewel in Botswana’s crown, the Okavango Delta was last year declared the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site.

Botswana – the number one place to visit in 2016

As many will have read, the world’s second largest diamond has just been discovered in Botswana – a whopper – at 1,111 carats, but in our opinion nothing sparkles brighter than Botswana’s beautiful landscape, home to a plethora of wildlife.

It is for these reasons that The Lonely Planet team, who describe Botswana as ‘wild Africa at its best’, have rated the country the number one place to visit in 2016.

We couldn’t agree more! Here’s our guide to one of Africa’s most rewarding safari destinations.

Introducing Botswana

Botswana offers you:

  • small camps
  • a great range of activities to enjoy including 4×4 safaris, bush walking, horse riding, canoeing, fishing and boating
  • a fantastic array of wildlife to enjoy from the big cats of the Linyanti marshes and Chobe’s vast herds of elephants to the shy inhabitants of beautiful islands, channels and remote plains like the Sitatunga, Pel’s Fishing Owl and the rare Klipspringer antelope.
  • the chance to combine the arid salt pans of the Kalahari Desert with the watery scape of the Okavango Delta – you can even throw in a stay at Victoria Falls in nearby Zimbabwe, making for a superb safari holiday.

What’s more, you don’t have to wrestle with time change since Botswana is only 2 hours ahead of GMT and also has a reputation for being the ‘safest country’ in Africa with little poaching or corruption.

Did you know? Pula is the name of the national currency but also the Setswana word for rain.

WEATHER TRENDS

When to visit – in a nutshell

  • The peak season is between June and September, characterised by dry and warm days in the twenties with cold nights. Booking early is imperative as the small camps and lodges fill up quickly at this time of the year.
  • The low or green season is between November and  March, characterised by  hot steamy weather by day and night, and sudden afternoon downpours. This is the time to take advantage of great deals and special offers and is the best time to see the desert salt pans which spring into life as game tracks south from the Delta.
  • The shoulder months of October and April/May are transition months with the weather changeable. October is the hottest month, but you’ll be rewarded with vast herds gathering around the last bodies of water. April is generally quiet in the parks and reserves and can be stormy.

Season by season – in more detail

May to October (Dry winter months)

  •  The Okavango Delta starts to flood in May time,  allowing for mokoro journeys and boat safaris from many of the camps.
  • Temperatures by day in the Delta are moderate throughout May, June, July and August, hovering in the mid twenties but becoming increasingly hot as the months progress with daytime highs of 40 degrees by October, the hottest month
  • Night-time temperatures in May are around 10 degrees, becoming increasingly cold through June and July, before rising gradually again in August and September reaching the high teens by October. Temperatures can fall to freezing in the desert pan areas in July, the driest month
  • As the winter progresses,  there is less vegetation and less water, with September and October often hailed as the big herd months, when animals gather in great numbers around the remaining water sources. Water levels can become perilously low in October in some areas, with boat safari activities sometimes suspended in extreme cases like in 2015. This may impact on your choice of camps and may not be the best time of year to combine Botswana with Victoria Falls which can be reduced to a trickle by November. We try and recommend camps on deep water channels at this time of year subject to availability.
  • There are few mosquitoes during the dry season and you can expects beautiful, clear days.

November to April (Green or wet summer months)

  • The scenery is at its most lush and beautiful – great for photography.
  • This is the best time to see migrant birds and young animals are often born at this time of year.
  • It is the optimum time to visit the pans (the desert area) which springs into life with green shoots on the dunes, courting giraffe displays and zebra and antelope arriving followed by the big predators.
  • January and February tend to be the wettest months and October and November the hottest.
  • There are excellent offers and low season rates available throughout the Green season – look at for Kwando’s Five Rivers offer usually out in January time annually. Find out about Five Rivers here.
  • Daytime temperatures hover around the low twenties in the Delta –  most downpours arrive in the afternoon having little impact on your safari day with the exception of January and February when rain can be more persistent.

LOGISTICS

Getting there

There are currently no direct flights to Botswana – the vast majority of our clients fly direct to Johannesburg in South Africa, from where there are good reliable connections with SA Airlink on to Maun or Kasane.

You can also fly into Maun direct from Harare, Cape Town and Namibia. The national carrier Air Botswana runs scheduled flights. Many people choose to combine a safari in Chobe, Botswana with Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, only a few hour’s drive away – there is a fine tarred road from the Falls to Kasane, and then once over the border it generally takes around half an hour to the riverfront area making a drive of around 3  hours in all,  (depending where you are staying – the Chobe Forest Reserve is a bit further away). The opening of the new Victoria Falls airport in late 2015/early 2016 will no doubt open up many more opportunities for safari combinations in this region.

Getting around

All the major gateways are linked by air, while the private flight charter network is well developed. Because of Botswana’s geography it is usual to fly-in to your lodge/camp by light aircraft. Chobe is the exception. Luggage is restricted on light aircraft to a single piece of soft luggage weighing no more than 20kg. Camps include your laundry in their nightly rate so this is manageable for most but for those away for a long time, excess luggage can be left in Maun or Johannesburg.

ATTRACTIONS
Top Five Must-dos

A trip to Botswana is all about getting into the wilderness. This is a place where experiential travel excels. From canoeing the remote waters of the Selinda Spillway and camping on deserted islands, or paddling a traditional mokoro (dug out canoe) to staying in utter luxury and enjoying safari on foot, by boat and by 4WD (by day and night), Botswana really does have it all.

  • Float in a Mokoro
  • Enjoy a bird’s eye view with a flight over the Delta
  • Walk the wilds with a guide
  • Sip a sundowner
  • Camp – huddle round the camp fire, marvel at the southern sky and sleep under canvas

Where to visit

THE OKAVANGO DELTA (incorporating Moremi Game Reserve and the Zambezi Region)

Main gateway : Maun

The Okavango Delta is an iconic landscape, one of the world’s largest inland deltas, where the waters ebb and flow. Rain falling in the distant mountains of Angola, reach the Delta in May/June time, flooding it and changing the landscape,  only to be absorbed by the greedy salt pans further south. The Delta can be split into three key areas:  private concessions, the Moremi Game Reserve and the Zambezi Region.  This area is so special it was declared the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site in 2014.

The Okavango Delta covers more than 15,000 square kilometres. Wonderful private concessions including Chitabe, Kwara, Shinde, Duba Plains and Jao help to protect wildlife and keep down visitor numbers,  while the eastern edge of the Delta is safe guarded by the Moremi Game Reserve (see below). The western side which flows to Namibia is known as the Panhandle, Caprivi Strip or Zambezi Region.

Experiences will be different in each area – we recommend six nights on safari in the Delta area itself,  allowing you to combine two or three  contrasting camps and locations.   While the camps in private concessions within the Okavango Delta offer incredibly high standards and low visitor numbers, their real calling card is that guests can enjoy a variety of activities including off road driving, night drives and walking – activities not offered by camps in the Moremi Game Reserve.  Land-based 4WD safaris will be largely  focussed on seeing the big predators like lions, wild dog, leopard and cheetah, while the water based safaris bring you up close to the magnificent bird life of the Delta and some of the rarer and shyer Delta dwellers.

You’ll find a range of habitats and  a network of channels interspersed with islands. Shallow reed beds, swamps, floodplains and forests are home to a huge variety of sepctacular wildlife, from the endangered red lechwe and wild dogs to elephant, lion and hippo. There are around 122 species of mammals, 71 species of fish, 444 species of birds, 64 species of reptiles and 1300 species of flowering plant in this region.

If you’re really lucky you may see all the Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo are all present while  a rhino reintroduction programme in the Okavango now puts the population of White Rhino at approximately 35, and Black Rhino at 4 (and growing thanks to the Great Plains / AndBeyond Rhinos Without Borders relocation).

  • Moremi Game Reserve

Moremi Game Reserve is the protected eastern portion of the Okavango Delta. It has been a national reserve since 1963 and covers approximately one third of the Delta (around 5000 sq km). Moremi’s main landmark is  the 70km long Chief’s Island, historically the hunting ground for the local chief. Today, Chief’s Island is a wildlife haven with much of the Delta’s wildlife retreating here as the water level rises.  It’s prime Big Five territory once more following a successful rhino reintroduction programme. In addition, Moremi harbours the largest population of red lechwe, protects African wild dogs. and is the best place to see Pel’s Fishing Owl. Another place of note within Moremi is the Xakanaxa Lagoon, home to a heronry.

  • Okavango Panhandle or Zambezi Region

The Zambezi Region, once known as the Caprivi Strip, is a narrow strip of swamp that extends to the Namibian border. You’ll find permanent waterways, vast reed beds and calm lagoons perfect for fishing and bird watching. Big game is harder to see.

CHOBE NATIONAL PARK

Main gateway: Kasane

Chobe has been a National Park since 1968 covering 11,700 sq km. It can be split into three key areas: Savuti, Linyanti and the Chobe riverfront. 

Chobe comes into its own during the dry season when vast numbers of game congregate around the water sources – the Chobe River and the Linyanti River. Concentrations are truly spectacular as the dry season marches on. Wildlife to be encountered includes waterbuck, lechwe, puku (this is the only part of Botswana where they can be seen), giraffe, kudu, roan and sable, impala, warthog, bushbuck, monkeys and baboons, along with the accompanying predators of course from lion and leopard to hyena and jackal. Chobe also has the densest concentration of elephant in the world – some 120,000. A river cruise is a great way to appreciate the spectacle. In addition, over 460 bird species have been recorded in the park, making it one of Africa’s premier birding destinations. Seeing Pel’s Fishing Owl is a highlight, while most members of the kingfisher family, carmine bee eaters, rollers and raptors can all be admired.

  • Savuti/Savute

Savute is a region of Chobe. The Savuti channel is one of Africa’s great mysteries, a truly remote and wild place. The channel has a long history of drying up for many years and then miraculously flowing again – possibly due to tectonic activity in the region but largely unexplained! The word Savute means ‘unpredictable’ and refers to the region, while Savuti refers to the channel itself but it is common to see both spellings.

The channel itself stretches for 100km, leading from the Linyanti River to the Savute Marsh. Following a a period of heightened rains in 2008, the Savuti channel started to flow, deep and blue, once again, eventually flooding the Savute Marsh in 2010. Before that, the channel had not flowed since 1982!  In the past, the main features of the area were the ghostly dead camelthorn trees rising above th edry plains but now areas of  flat marsh and woodland habitat are home to herds of buffalo and elephant moving in from the south-west of Chobe, with wildlife concentrations improving year on year while the channel is flooded.  There are no rhino here yet but plenty of birdlife, plains game and the annual migration of zebra ensures a trail of lion, leopard and cheetah.

Zebra migrate  in December and  February time, depending on the rains. They move from the rivers in the north to the lush new grass in the south. The rare Klipspringer antelope can also be seen in this region, along with San Bushmen rock art in the 980 million year old Gubatsa Hills which rise 90m above the plains.

  • Linyanti

Linyanti is the region in the northwest of Chobe, home to the private Kwando/Linyanti and Selinda concessions. The area is game rich,  bordered by the Okavango Delta to the south.  The permanent waterway, the Kwando River, ensures that game is excellent throughout the dry season. Being private, activities sych as walking, night drives and off roading are possible.

Kwando Linyanti is home to five camps – Lagoon and Lebala camp in the Kwando portion and Duma Tau, Kings Pool and Savuti Camp in the Linyanti concession while the Selinda concession, which protects the famous Selinda Spillway is home to Zarafa, Selinda Camp and Motswiri Camp.

The area is a mix of lagoons and marshes along the Kwando-Linyanti Riverfront with drier mopane forest beyond. Lions are abundant and wild dogs den in the area.  For seeing the big predators this area is simply fabulous.

  • Chobe Riverfront

Easily accessible from Kasane by road, everybody wants to be on the northern boundary where the Chobe River flows and as such it attracts a high density of traffic from day trippers and self drivers to lodge vehicles.  The Chobe Game Lodge is just a half hour drive from Kasane, and with a plum location right on the river, is hard to beat for those wishing to stay in the heart of the action. The density of game during the dry season here, peaking September/October time, is impressive.  Small safari motor boats ply the river dodging hippos, while huge herds of elephant and buffalo gather on the banks. You also have a good chance of seeing lion and even leopard. Heading further west to the Forest Reserve, away from the bustle of Kasane, is a good alternative. Here, lodges like Muchenje, enjoy commanding views from an escarpment looking over the Chobe River beyond. Game densities may be lower beyond the riverfront but rarer species are evident such as Roan and Sable and there is considerably less bustle.

DESERT

Main gateway: Maun

The desert region is made up of Kgalagadi, for the Kalahari and the Makgadikgadi for the famous salt pans.

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world, encompassing 52 800 sq kms.

The CKGR was off limits to tourists for around three decades as the reserve was to be a place for the San Bushmen to live their traditional life. The government is now allowing restricted development for a few lodges in the hope of developing tourism in this fascinating area where you can see some of the world’s oldest rock art, witness the ancient migration path of thousands of wildebeest and zebra  and experience the true meaning of isolation.

Deception Valley is one of the highlights, coming to life after the rains with lush sweet grass shooting and grazers coming from miles around. There are only two permanent camps actually within the reserve – Kalahari Plains and Tau Pan.

  • Nxai Pan
Makgadikgadi covers an area of around 12 000 sq kms, and is part of the Kalahari Basin. It is one of the largest salt pans in the world. Actually the area comprises a whole series of salt pans – from Sowa, the largest, to Nxai Pan, the most accessible. The area has a stark beauty, which David Livingstone experienced during his explorations of the 19th century, guided by one special landmark: Chapman’s Baobab . The baobab tree is possibly 4000 years old and one of the only things to punctuate the endless blue horizon. The salt pans shimmer in this arid landscape, with clouds of dust blurring the horizon, before the landscape is entirely  transformed; the salt pans become  shallow powdery blue lakes during the summer rains, flamingos arrive, and  grass and other vegetation shoots,  attracting animals from miles around to feast on the lush new shoots.

Nxai Pan itself is a 2578 sq km national park with, as you may expect,  two distinct seasons – wet and dry. During the green summer season, large herds of animals track from the south followed by predators and flowers bloom on the dunes making this an exciting time to be in the area. If you visit is timed to perfection you may observe giraffes as they start courting. The males engage in a ferocious battle for dominance called ‘necking’ . During the summer, there are also good cheetah numbers.

Baines Baobabs are in the south . The scene is largely unchanged since the baobabs were painted by Thomas Baines in 1862.

  • Tsodilo Hills

The UNESCO World Heritage Tsodilo Hills are nicknamed the ‘Louvre of the Desert’ for good reason. Four hills, the highest at 1400m, have huge spiritual significance for the San Bushmen in north west Kalahari with stunning displays of ancient rock art.

DISCOVER MORE

Explore some sample itineraries with guide pricing here.

LODGE LIBRARY

Check out some of our favourite lodges in Botswana.

REQUEST A BROCHURE

We have a dedicated Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia brochure now out – request yours here. 

INSPIRATION

Classic Botswana – a safari holiday that gives you time to enjoy the iconic Victoria Falls as well as game drives in Chobe National Park, Botswana, famous for its elephants.

Into the Okavango – a private safari to 3 diverse habitats in the world-famous Okavango Delta. Staying at Ker & Downey Camps – Camp Okuti, Kanana Camp and Shinde.

Desert & Delta – a fabulous fly-in safari combining camps in three areas, including the famous Savute region.

Ultimate Botswana – the ultimate safari to Botswana; exploring the Okavango Delta and the Selinda Spillway and staying in some of the finest luxury camps in Africa.

 

By Sara White

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safaris with soul – it’s not just about seeing the Big Five anymore

Why do people go on safari? To see the wildlife of course.

But things are changing in Africa. The sad reality is, that unless we act together the Big Five may well be a thing of the past.

If any of you watched the Martin Clunes documentary on Friday night, about Mugie the lion, you’ll have heard the shocking statistics about the threat to lions in the wild  – less than 32,000 lions remain in the wild and Africa has lost between 30 and 50% of its lions in the last twenty years alone.

If you follow our Facebook page you’ll know how passionate we are about anti-poaching campaigns, along with our support of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya via the Real Africa Trust.

The bottom line is that our wildlife and habitats need safeguarding for the future and tourism plays a major role in this.

Increasingly now,  as part of the safari experience, you can witness first hand ‘modern conservation’ in action. Modern conservation is the term given to describe the delicate relationship between wildlife, tourism and conservation. This experience can add a whole new and fulfilling dimension to your safari.

The team here at Real Africa have hand-picked some very special fly-in modules which transport guests to largely remote areas of Africa, at the forefront of the modern conservation movement.  Here you can combine the thrill of Big Five safari while staying in luxury at a beautiful lodge or camp,  with visits to uplifting community or conservation projects, research centres or programmes. This adds a fantastic extra dimension and in our opinion a real African experience.

By staying at such lodges who work together with conservation trusts you are  helping directly and giving something back.  The continuing success of these projects undeniably hold the key to the future of safari.

For us, the following camps and lodges really shine when it comes to community and conservation.

To find out more and to see detailed sample itineraries please click here.


Zimbabwe – Singita Pamushana fly-in

  • 3 nights at Singita Pamushana in the remote and exceedingly beautiful far reaches of Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Highlights

  • Seeing black and white rhino, many of which have been re-introduced to the park as part of Singita’s comprehensive programme of conservation and community action – you can also track rhino with a ranger
  • Dining under the lantern lit ancient baobab canopy
  • Cruising at sunset on the dam below the lodge
  • Jaw dropping location and stylish private suites with infinity pools including family suites

About Singita Pamushana  

The lodge is the ecotourism arm of the not-for-profit Malilangwe Trust, and its role is to help foster the sustainability of the wildlife and broader ecology, while enabling guests to share the magic of the lodge and the 130,000 acre wildlife reserve. Guests can visit projects, such as the Child Supplementary Feeding Programme, initiated by Singita Pamushana in partnership with the Trust, following the acute drought of 2002.

19.000 children, most under five, benefit daily from the programme. Guests can also learn about the rhino re-introduction programme which has been a great success with black and white rhino thriving in the reserve.

During your stay you are likely to spot a great variety of wildlife including species such as black rhino, white rhino, Lichtenstein hartebeest, sable, nyala, klipspringer, cheetah, wild dog, lion, leopard and an abundance of bird life.

Kenya – Samburu Singing Wells and the Mara Fly-in

  • Combines 2 nights at Sarara Lodge in the dramatic Mathews Range, Northern Kenya  with 3 nights at Kicheche Valley Camp in the Masai Mara. The Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust, which works in partnership with Sarara Camp, is widely recognised as one of the most successful community and conservation projects in Africa.

Highlights

  • Sunrise visit to the Sarara Singing Well where the local Samburu tribespeople come to water their cattle. The Samburu warriors form a human chain to bring water up from the well, chanting as they do so
  • The views and the tranquility
  • Watching wildlife from the hide by the watering hole and looking for leopard on game drives
  • Spending time with the Samburu guides
About Sarara Camp
30,000 elephant and rhino were killed by poachers between 1977 and 1995,  when the Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust was at last  formed. Sarara Camp works with the Trust and local Samburu people to change attitudes to wildlife and to secure the area from poachers. Elephant, leopard, reticulated giraffe, wild dog and kudu are present in ever increasing numbers across this remote and dramatic landscape and income from the camp helps to continue this valuable work.
There are just 6 luxury tents at Sarara, all positioned to make the most of the jaw dropping views. The water hole is just below the mess and wonderful rock hewn swimming pool and so much of this wildlife can be seen from camp, but there are also many activities to enjoy from mountain biking and game drives to bush suppers and bird watching.

Tanzania – Singita Serengeti fly-in

3 nights in a private luxury cottage at Singita Sasakwa, in the Grumeti region of the Serengeti, protected by the  Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund.

Highlights

  • Serengeti wildlife
  • Meeting students from the Environmental Educational Centre, dedicated to educating local young people about the Serengeti Ecosystem and the importance of conservation
  • Wonderful private cottages with infinity pools which ooze classic 1920s style
About Singita Sasakwa
Singita Grumeti is located next to the Serengeti National Park. 350,000 acres are protected by the Singita Grumeti Find, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to safeguard this important migration corridor. Prior to 2002 poaching in the area was having an adverse effect on wildlife, community and tourism. The Anti Poaching Unit is comprised of 120 game scouts who working alongside the Wildlife Division  have made a massive impact, virtually eradicating illegal activity within the concession. Black rhino have been reintroduced and there is also an invasive plant project which aims to control the spread of invasive species in the Serengeti Mara ecosystem.
There are only nine cottages and one villa at Sasakwa – all are private with pools. Activities include Landrover safaris, bush walks and mountain biking.

South Africa – Cape Town Tswalu Kalahari fly-in

  • Combines 4 nights at the stunning Cape Grace on Cape Town’s colourful V&A Waterfront with 4 nights at Tswalu Kalahari, where you have the chance to see the desert black rhino, black maned lion and San Bushmen carvings and to see the wonderful work of the Tswalu Foundation.

Highlights

  • Tswalu’s new Malori sleep-out deck experience where guests, including families, are invited to sleep out under the stars surrounded by the majesty of the Kalahari. The Malori deck is a raised platform with thatched overhang, complete with luxurious king sized bed (and camp beds for children) and lantern-lit outdoor bathroom
  • Meeting the meerkats
  • Seeing the Kalahari’s famously powerful  black maned lions
About Tswalu Kalahari
South Africa’s largest private game reserve is owned by the Oppenheimer family and conservation is their number one priority. The Kalahari has been inhabited by Bushmen for 20,000 years but because of the inhospitable environment the area has remained undeveloped by modern man and so remains a great true wilderness. The southern Kalahari is known as the ‘green’ Kalahari, recieving more rain than the central Kalahari and therfore supporting a greater diversity of wildlife – this is where Tswalu is located.
The Tswalu Foundation assists in developing  research programmes to better understand this vast, unique and very beautiful area. Guests are enocuraged to get involved and interact with researchers – a fantastic opportunity.
In addition there are a number of incredible activities to enjoy such as a sunrise visit to the meerkat colonies, enjoying sundowners on the dunes or even spending a morning tracking Desert Black Rhino.

South Africa – Camp Jabulani fly-in

  •  3 nights at Camp Jabulani, situated within a Big 5 reserve near to Kruger National Park and the only camp to offer elephant back safaris other than Camp Abu Botswana.  Staff aim to ‘indulge, spoil, pamper and entertain guests, but most importantly, to share with them the story and the experience of the elephants.’

Highlights

  • Interacting with the camp’s herd of elephant and learning about how they came to be there; you can watch them swim and take a night time elephant back safari
  • Visiting the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC)
  • Being pampered!

About Camp Jabulani

Camp Jabulani was born after the rescue of a single elephant. Now there is a herd, all rescued and rehabilitated and living a good life. Guests are able to interact with the herd at much closer proximity than would be usual on safari, personally bonding with this incredible animals. In turn guests then spread the word about wildlife conservation. It’s a formula that is really working here.

Not only can guests try out an elephant back safari, by night, but also enjoy game viewing in 4x4s within the Kapama Game Reserve which lies in close proximity to Kruger and has a great density and variety of wildlife. There are only six suites – all very luxurious and also a Therapy Lapa for spa treatments.

The HESC is a leading light in private research and breeding facilities for endangered species in the country. There is a cheetah breeding programme and animal hospital and guests can visit the facility during their stay giving a valuable insight into conservation.

By Sara White

The Safari Big 5 in photos

The so-called safari big five is made up of the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. These are the animals that most travellers want to see when on their safari. It is actually a throw-back to the days of Big Game hunting and the five most dangerous species to hunt.

One of our directors Robert selects his own big five, choosing the photos he’s taken on his trips to Africa that he likes the most for varying reasons.

Rhino

Rhinos at Lake Nakuru
Rhinos grazing on the shores of Lake Nakuru.

 

This was taken several years ago at Lake Nakuru in Kenya. Nakuru is a great place to spot rhino as its home to both the black and white species, the white rhinos emerge in the morning to graze the grass on the shores of the lake.

I was with Sammy, one of our most experienced guides, and we’d only just arrived when we saw these two rhino feeding. It has that warm morning light and the flamingos in the background give it a great fringe of colour.

Leopard

Leopard in the Masai Mara, Kenya
Leopard watching hyenas, Masai Mara, Kenya

 

Photographing leopards is tricky. They are shy creatures, keeping themselves hidden in the undergrowth, and are often only seen in fleeting glimpses that doesn’t give much time for getting the camera out and focused. They do like sleeping in trees, but are usually facing the wrong way or in deep shadow.

I like this photo as the leopard is so alert and elegantly moving, framed by the tall grasses that surround it. I was with Lorna, a guide from the Karen Blixen Camp in the Mara North Conservancy, and the leopard had a kill in a nearby tree and was watching some approaching hyenas.

Lion

Lioness looking straight at the camera
An old lioness resting in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

 

I chose this picture as its sums up lions! The face of this lioness shows what a tough life she’s had. Lionesses do must of the hunting, and the prey they stalk all has horns and hooves that can do a lot of damage. Add to this the need to maintain her position in the pride and defend her young, you can see that she’s been through a few fights in her time.

It’s taken in the Mara in Kenya, and we’d been watching her for a couple of minutes. A few seconds after I took this photo she stood up and walked towards us, her eyes fixed on my daughter who was sitting in the seat before mine. She stopped a few metres from our vehicle and sniffed the air, before casually walking behind us and joining three younger lionesses who were preparing to hunt.

Buffalo

Old Bull buffalo looking at the camera
An old male buffalo in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania.

 

The largest herd of buffalo’s I’ve ever seen was a couple of years ago in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. It was during the dry season and they were dropping down towards the river bed to drink from one of the large pools that remained in the otherwise dry river bed. There was well over 100 of them.

We stopped to let them cross the rack in front of us, and they stopped to check us out by watching and sniffing the air. This huge bull was at the front and stood watching us for several minutes before leading the herd on. Just by looking at him you can see how solid and strong he is.

 

Elephant

baby elephants playing
Baby elephants playing at the Sheldrick Trust, Nairobi

 

I’ve plenty of photos of elephants, from small calves to solitary bulls. I’ve got them bathing, eating, drinking and even cleaning beneath their toe-nails with a stick! This is my favourite however. It’s taken at the Sheldrick Trust in Nairobi, just after the baby elephants have finished their milk bottle feed in front of the daily visitors and are on their way out to spend the rest of the day browsing through the vegetation in Nairobi National Park.

As a supporter we were allowed to walk with them for 30 minutes. They were fascinated by our children, sniffing them with their trunks and gently prodding them as if daring them to come and play (something the kids were happy to do if not held back by boring parents.) They then started playing with each other, rolling each other in the dust and chasing each other around. After all these orphans have been through it was a wonderful sight and a memorable experience.