Wildlife and Landscapes in Botswana
Combine the unparalleled game photography in Botswana's Okavango Delta with the raw natural beauty of The Makgadikgadi Saltpans and Kalahari desert, and the result is the ultimate photographic safari adventure! Join Muench Workshops founder and pro Andy Williams, MW Pro Will Burrard-Lucas, and veteran safari guide and best-selling author Peter Allison on this safari of a lifetime.
We start in the heart of Botswana, in the Kalahari Desert, on the meandering shores of the remote and mysterious Makgadikgadi Saltpans. Experience the sensation of being alone in an eerie and completely empty nothingness the size of Switzerland, a vast saltpan that stretches as far as your eyes can see, and then some. But then on closer exploration and inspection there is so much more: zebra, wildebeest, and if lucky, predators to photograph. And not to mention the stars of the wildlife show here, the adorable meerkats, which we will spend plenty of time photographing. Here also we will have a unique opportunity to get to know the Zu/’hoasi bush people, learn their ways and culture, and photograph them, of course! During our time in The Makgadikgadi we will have two nights out at two very remote oases: Island of the Lost Baobabs and Kubu Island, where we will capture unique and dramatic landscapes during the golden hours and the milky way and stars behind them at night. The centuries-old baobab trees make for amazing photography!
We then fly AirMuench from our Kalahari desert camp up to our next stop: Sable Alley on the Khwai River, part of the Okavango Delta. We have five days and four nights to photograph in one of Africa's most wildlife-rich areas. Elephant, giraffe, antelopes, hippos, crocodiles, birds of all kinds will be in our sights. Of course we will go after predators such as lion, leopard, and cheetah! Our camp is cozy and comfortable, and perfectly situated on private land—which means we are not subject to time limits and we can go off-road when we like, in search of the very best wildlife photography.
Guiding and instruction will be provided throughout by a great team: Will Burrard-Lucas is an internationally-acclaimed wildlife photographer and safari leader; Peter Allison has 20+ years experience guiding safaris in Botswana and throughout Africa, and is the author of the best selling books Whatever You Do Don't Run, Don't Look Behind You, and How To Walk A Puma. Andy and Will bring a wealth of photographic experience and knowledge, Peter brings his wildlife and guiding knowledge and also will keep you laughing all day and night with his stories from the bush!
June 12–22, 2018
Itinerary and General Information
June 12, 2018: Travel from home to Johannesburg. Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa before 5:00 pm. We have a hotel arranged, and we'll meet at 7:00 pm as a group for dinner to kick off our Safari Adventure, and discuss the plans and photography for the next ten days.
June 13, 2018: Travel Johannesburg to first camp. We will depart the hotel after breakfast for the quick shuttle ride over to the terminal. Scheduled SA Airline flight SA 8300 at 11:45 AM from Johannesburg (JNB) to Maun, Botswana (MUB). Upon arrival in Maun, we'll go through customs and immigration, and hop on to our private AirMuench charter for the short flight to our first camp, Camp Kalahari.
June 13–18, 2018: Camp Kalahari, Island of The Lost Boababs, and Kubu Island. Our focus here will be on three main opportunities: Photographing meerkats, and any other game that we find; spending time with the San bush people, learning their ways, having fun photographing them as they go about their daily routines, and also posing for portraits—and of course the landscape photography out at Island of the Lost Baobabs and Kubu Island. We are up early to catch the meerkats as they emerge from their dens, sun themselves to warm up, and then go off on their daily hunt for food. It's quite likely that you will need a wide angle lens to capture the meerkats, they will be that close!
Here's a short video from Will that shows how close we are to the meerkats, and what it's like to photograph them:
We will have two nights at Camp Kalahari (June 13–14) and then on June 15 we'll head out to Island of The Lost Baobabs where we'll stay for two more nights (June 15–16). We get there by quad biking across the Makgadikgadi! We dress up in dark glasses and Lawrence of Arabia headgear and race out on to the pan. Fat tires skim over the surfaces where heavier vehicles would sink. The fact that you can travel across the pans at great speed and still arrive nowhere only underlines the pans immensity. There is nothing out here. Absolutely nothing, until your photographer's eye spots the amazing patterns and play of light and shadow across the salt pans. Nothing, until we reach our destination, The Island of the Lost Baobabs. We'll have two nights here to photograph these amazing oases with their centuries-old baobab trees in the beautiful rocky outcroppings. Golden and blue hour shooting, a beautiful camp dinner, and then we will shoot the Milky Way and stars behind the ancient trees. Sleep? Under the light of a billion stars on your comfy bedroll.
On June 17 after breakfast we ride our quad bikes back to Camp Kalahari where we'll have a chance to rest and relax, clean up, photograph meerkats and other wildlife again, of course!
Camp Kalahari is a return to the traditional safari style of the old explorers, and is the best way to experience all that the Makgadikgadi has to offer. Your room has an en-suite covered bathroom with hot and cold running water and a flush toilet. There are are four poster beds, cotton sheets, rich textiles, Moroccan kilims, and hot water bottles when needed. Sit on the verandah and take in the view of the hippos directly out front in their own pool.
A thatched central library, living and dining area featuring an eclectic mix of original African furniture and textiles paired with traditional campaign style pieces and colonial antiques provide the perfect area in which to relax and enjoy the serenity of this enchanting area. For those who’d like to cool off, or enjoy a lazy siesta in or out of the sun, the thatched swimming pool pavilion is ideal. Camp Kalahari’s chef is quite talented, noted for his tasty soups and particularly for his "Pilli-Pilli Ho-Ho," an amazing concoction of chillies marinated in sherry and gin. A dash over your breakfast eggs, and it's just the thing to sharpen sleep-dulled wits in preparation for whatever adventures await!
June 18, 2017: Private AirMuench charter to Khwai River, Sable Alley Camp. After one more early morning shoot and breakfast, we'll pack up and say goodbye to the Makgadikgadi as we climb aboard our private charter and fly up to the Delta. We will arrive at our camp, Sable Alley, in the mid-day.
June 18–22, 2017: Sable Alley, Khwai and Okavango Delta. Now to settle in for five days and four nights of intensive wildlife photography! Overlooking a lagoon that’s connected to the Khwai and Sable Alley rivers, just a stone’s throw from the world-famous Moremi Game Reserve, this enviable location means the game literally comes to us. From the swimming pool, lounge, outdoor seating areas and your room, there are uninterrupted views of the resident pod of around 30 hippos and the large herds of plains game, elephant and buffalo coming to drink—an idyllic way to spend an afternoon, especially with a cold drink in hand. The massive 440,000 acre Khwai Private Reserve contains some of the most fantastically diverse habitats in northern Botswana, including riverine woodlands, open floodplains, rivers, and mopane woodland. This range of habitats means a range of wildlife, including lion, leopard, wild dog, elephant, buffalo, and of course the eponymous sable antelope. Our photography will not just be from traditional safari vehicles (both during the day and at night), there is also the opportunity for you to partake in a mokoro safari: enjoy being gently ‘’poled’’ along the water in a traditional canoe—a great way to experience the birds and other wildlife and make exceptional photographs. Boating is a highlight when water levels are high.
Back at camp, your home in the bush is one of our comfortable, spacious and stylish tents. Elevated onto raised decks, each of the camp’s twelve luxurious tents has an uninterrupted view of the lagoon, with en suite bathrooms, private verandahs and private, indoor & outdoor showers where you can wash off the dust of each truly memorable day. We have the option to end a day of exhilarating game photography with a night drive where we will encounter nocturnal creatures such as leopard, spikey porcupines and fearless honey badgers (don't forget to ask Peter about his many run-ins with honey badgers!).
Our camp routine starts around 5:30 am with an early wakeup, and a quick cup of coffee or tea and maybe a muffin. We're out before the sunrise, to find unique wildlife sightings as the light begins to come up. You'll be in a large Land Cruiser and we put only one photographer per row of seats, so there's plenty of room for you and your gear, not to worry. And you'll never be photo-blocked by someone sitting next to you! We are out all morning, stopping for coffee break mid-morning and staying as late as our energy and our subjects allow us! Back to camp for either brunch or lunch, followed by some downtime. Relax in your room or by the pool! We'll meet again around 3:30 pm for coffee and tea (always with something sweet and something savory) and then we are back out in the vehicles in search of more wildlife photo opportunities. With our private land, we can go when we like, stay as long as well like, and go where we like without any restrictions. This, along with our ability to set our own schedule in camp gives us the maximum flexibility we need in order to make the best use of the best light.
Once back in camp, it's time for a hot shower, a cold drink by the campfire, and a gourmet dinner. We can revel in stories told by Peter and of course we'll spend time looking at your images as well!
June 22, 2018: Final game drive, AirMuench Charter to Maun. We'll have one more chance to photograph the wildlife here, and then after breakfast we'll pack up and take our private air charter back to Maun. Then we fly SA Airlink to Johannesburg where it's possible to catch an evening flight back home. If you need to fly home on June 18, no worries, we can arrange a room at the hotel adjacent to the Johannesburg airport.
- Double occupancy lodging (single available, just ask)
- All meals, soft drinks, water, beer/wine during the workshop
- All transportation (ground and private air charters)
- Photographic guiding and instruction from three pros
- Image reviews, critiques, and post processing instruction
- Fun, inspiration, and a great time!
What’s Not Included?
Your deposit of $4,000 will hold your place in this safari workshop. A second payment of $5,000 will be due by December 1, 2017. Final payment of will be due by March 1, 2018. All payments are non-refundable so we strongly urge you to get Trip Cancelation insurance. All of Muench Workshops' other Terms and Conditions apply.