Saturday, June 28, 2014

Pangolin Ultimate Chobe Day 1: A busy day on the river


I headed back to OR Tambo for my South African Airlinks flight from Johannesburg to Kasane. Unlike Air Botswana, SAA flies a jet from JNB to BBK, so even though the distance is greater, the time is shorter. Like the flight to Maun, it was headed north, into the sun.

I nicked a pen from the Kalahari Plains Camp so I'd have an easier time getting through Customs / Passport control this time. Upon emerging from the airport with my luggage, I immediately found my Pangolin/ODP contacts, and we were off to the lodge, about five minutes from the airport.

Kasane is a tourist town up in the northeast corner of Botswana, and Chobe is a very popular national park.

Here's ODP's description of the photo tour.
ODP's Pangolin Ultimate Chobe

Even more detail in the information and guidelines.

Unlike Machaba Camp and Kalahari Plains, this lodge was large, sprawling, and relatively loaded with amenities. There was (underpowered) wifi in the registration area, a television in the room. The room was large, and there were two floors in my building (hotel style).

Pangolin has an extensive collection of camera gear for you to use while on safari. I was given a Nikon D3s with a Nikon 200-400mm lens (over $10k worth of gear) to use. The challenge was that I never used a top-tier Nikon body or this particular lens, so there was some learning curve to climb while trying to catch on-the-spot-right-this-moment wildlife action. The operational / logistical differences between my newer D800E and the D3s were… more than you'd think. 

The river was filled with big pontoon boats that dwarfed our wee photog skiff. It was a Saturday, and it seemed everyone was on the river. Thankfully, it was never that busy again while we were there.

Here's our specially tricked-out photographers' boat. The boat is covered, the chairs swivel all the way, the Wemberly mounts are attached to the chairs via multiple elbows, all of which are adjustable and lockable. Each chair has two beverage holders to secure "image stabilizers". Well-desinged!

On the river, we had plenty of elephants, a kingfisher, monitor lizard, thirsty giraffe, cape buffalo, and hippos. We even saw a confrontation between a buffalo and an elephant!

My keepers from

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