Botswana Wildlife

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Botswana is one of the great wildlife countries in Africa offering spectacular photography opportunities in dramatic habitats—the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park.  Bisected by the Tropic of Capricorn and located on the southern African plateau, landlocked Botswana encompasses an area slightly larger than France.  This fascinating country enjoys an incredible richness of wildlife and represents the last hope for a great refuge from elephant poaching—and large herds still roam the unspoiled parks!
"Camp Moremi and Savute Lodge were both outstanding, The accommodation there was excellent and the staff in both places were truly wonderful. One thing that was particularly pleasing was the overall skill level and knowledge of the driver-guides we had. "
- P. McFadden
Botswana is so arid that much of its land is uninhabitable.  Yet, paradoxically, Botswana also contains one of the world's great wetlands and the largest inland delta—the Okavango.  During the annual “flood,” the mighty Okavango River rises in Angola, flows into the Okavango Delta, and then abruptly disappears into the desert.  This seasonal abundance of water limits human settlement.  Canals of deep, clear flowing water lined by waving papyrus fronds reveal the underwater “highways” of feeding hippos, lurking Nile crocodiles and the elusive sitatunga—an antelope that seems to walk on water with its broad, splayed hooves.
During our shoot we stay in two small and luxurious bush camps, both located in the heart of the regional photo action.  With a full tour we may have these camps almost exclusively for our group.  Our first camp—at the Moremi Reserve in the lush Okavango Delta—is on the beautiful Xakanaxa Lagoon under cool towering ebony trees.  Lions, cheetahs and leopards are counted among the area’s many highlights.  Our camp lies within Chobe National Park on the banks of the famous Savuti Channel, sometimes called the “Stolen River” because it remains dry for exceptionally long periods—a consequence of tectonic activity in the area.  It is currently flowing again and in January 2010 reached the Mababe Depression (once the Savuti Marsh) for the first time since 1982.  As a result of this variable flow, there are hundreds of dead trees along the channel's bank populated by a host of animals that inhabit this unique biome.  The channel and the Mababe Depression support an incredible number of elephants. 
We see a number of ungulate species that can’t be photographed in East Africa—red lechwe, tsessebe, and the beautiful roan and sable antelopes.  Another outstanding feature of Botswana is its remaining population of wild dogs.  We search for their denning areas during our stay.  With its great mammal herds still intact, an impressive variety of birdlife and low number of tourists, Botswana affords a “wilderness” wildlife photography experience as it was in East Africa 50 years ago. 
We dine al fresco, enjoy the evening campfire and, if we’re not too busy downloading from all the day’s shooting, night game drives are possible here.
Join us on an amazing Photo Safari in this safe and thriving country, to see Africa as it existed during the days of Burton and Livingston!

To learn more about this trip, read John Shaw's 2013 Botswana Trip Report.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Depart from home. 
Day 2 (Sep 5)
Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa.  Meet the leader.  Dinner and overnight accommodation included at a convenient airport hotel. (D)
Day 3
Morning flight on commercial jet to Maun, Botswana.  We continue on a short flight aboard light aircraft to our small luxury camp in the Moremi Reserve in the Okavango Delta.  Our first game drive is this afternoon.  Along with the mammals, birds provide exceptional photo opportunities here. Wildlife possibilities include elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, African wild dogs (Cape hunting dogs) jackals, impalas and red lechwes.  Moremi contains one of the last great strongholds for wild dogs in Africa.  Along with the mammals, almost 500 species of birds have been recorded here and provide exceptional photo opportunities. (BLD)
Days 4–6 
With an area of just under 5,000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles), Moremi is a surprisingly diverse wildlife reserve, combining mopane woodland and acacia forests, extensive floodplains and lagoons.  Only about 30% of the reserve is upland, with the bulk of the reserve being within the floodplain of the Okavango Delta itself.  We explore the shallow flood plain waterways by boat and the dense riverine forest by vehicle, photographing during morning and late afternoon light.  We return to camp during midday for lunch and rest. (BLD)  
Day 7
To the northeast lies Chobe National Park which borders the Moremi Game Reserve.  Chobe hosts one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of wildlife in Africa.  Light aircraft takes us to our second small and luxurious lodge in Chobe National Park at Savuti. (BLD)  
Days 8–10  
We have these three full days to photograph nearly all of the big mammals of the Savuti region.  In late afternoon, huge bull elephants, and other animals, come to the water hole at our lodge.  We dine next to this amazing wildlife concentration where several herds, each comprised of several dozen elephants may converge to drink just a stone’s throw from our dining tables. (BLD)
Day 11 (Sep 14)
We return to Johannesburg and depart for home or take time to visit world-renowned Victoria Falls on our optional extension. (B)  
Day 12 Arrive home.

Victoria Falls Extension

Day 1 (Sep 14)
We travel across the border with Zimbabwe to our small elegant camp on a private concession bounded by the Masuwe River and the Zambezi gorges.  Every tent has breathtaking views from its own private deck.  As sunset approaches we spend the evening photographing Victoria Falls.  (BLD)
Day 2
We have a full day to explore Victoria Falls—Mosi-oa-Tunya or the “Smoke that Thunders.”  We compose sunrise and sunset images from camp, then depart to areas outside the concession—walkways along the gorge with a variety of excellent viewpoints. (BLD)
Day 3
We have one last sunrise shoot at the falls before departing for Victoria Falls airport and returning to Johannesburg in time for late afternoon flights home.  (BL)
Day 4 (Sep 17)
Arrive home.
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Botswana Wildlife

Sep 04, 2017 - Sep 15, 2017

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits only, we accept Visa or MasterCard. Final payment of the trip fee must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

A deposit of $1,000 per person is required. Full payment of the trip fee is due 150 days prior to departure date. We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
122 days or prior:
121 to 91 days prior:
90 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of trip fee
100% of trip fee

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

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Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

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They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

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A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Botswana Wildlife
  • Photograph the two most diverse and wildlife-rich areas of Botswana—the Okavango Delta wetlands at Moremi and Chobe National Park at Savuti
  • Fly in privately chartered aircraft between lodges
  • Reside in small luxurious safari lodges situated at the center of wildlife action
  • Wild dog photography a good possibility
  • Optional extension to Victoria Falls
Sep 04 - Sep 15, 2017
Fee: $11,995 from Johannesburg, South Africa
Deposit: $1,000
Limit: 14

Victoria Falls Extension Details
Dates: Sep 14–17, 2017
Fee: $3,995
Deposit: $500
Tour Leaders
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