On safari in Botswana by boat
Pangolin Photo Safaris offers an alternative for adventurous Australian looking to add another dimension to an African safari.
The Botswana specialist takes guests onto the water, to see wildlife around the iconic Chobe River near Kasane in the country’s north, during multi-day expeditions that blend the delights of a luxury river cruise with the best of the southern African bush.
Pangolin Voyager houseboat is a boutique vessel boasting five comfortable suites with Pangolin Photo Safari’s director Toby Jermyn explaining the craft not only offers comfortable waterborne accommodation but serves as a viewing platform and base for outings on a smaller excursion vessel.
“We have a compact photo boat with a shallow draft, custom designed with rotating chairs and camera mounts, which generally goes out at first light and again in the last afternoon so guests can get even closer to the animals when they come down to drink,’’ he says.
“The Chobe offers excellent game-viewing opportunities all year from the elephants, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and hippopotamus to smaller residents like the tiny Malachite kingfishers and rollers that flutter around the river banks.’’
The benefits of waterborne exploring were reinforced to Jermyn in January when those on board Pangolin Voyager saw a pride of lions – a mother and four almost-grown cubs – cross the Chobe which marks the natural border between Namibia and Botswana.
“We moored near a sandy ramp, a natural landmark that makes it easy for elephants to reach the water, and just after sunrise we saw five lions preparing to cross,’’ he says.
“Hesitant yet obviously keen to swim the wide waterway, and experience making them wary of what might be lurking under the surface, the lioness paused at the edge and snarled at the water warning whatever might be below that they were not easy prey.
“We were waiting at an unimposing angle and distance along the bank, which gave us a remarkable view of the pride when it finally went into the water, and I was surprised at how well they swan making it all the way across in around 90 seconds.
“When they reached the shallow waters on the Botswana side they raced up the bank to get away from the water and we sat silently trying to digest what we just witnessed.
“I knew it was special and that was reinforced when our guide Nico told me that, in all his years showing guests the beauty of the Chobe, he had never seen anything like it.’’
Pangolin Photo Safaris has a selection of Botswana experiences for those travelling with or without a camera and will open the anticipated Pangolin Khwai Camp, in the Okavango Delta’s Khwai Private Reserve, on March 1 for travellers keen to visit another region during a Botswana adventure.
To celebrate the opening of Pangolin Khwai Camp the company is waiving the single supplement on stays between April 1 and June 14.