A journey through the Okavango Delta: Capturing a mobile safari expedition with cazenove+loyd
Photographer Nick Horowitz recently joined Henrietta Loyd on her return to Botswana. Together with their guides John Barclay and James Stenner they journeyed through the Okavango Delta and the Moremi Game Reserve, setting up camp in remote locations each night. Here, Nick discusses the story behind some of the images he captured on this extraordinary trip.
The Leopard Hunt
Of the Big Five, the leopard is by far the most elusive, but within our first three days, we’d seen four.
Watching one female carry out all the stages of a hunt – the stalk, chase and kill – was a definite highlight. One amazing moment was watching this female applying a technique she’d learnt to catch helmeted guineafowl. This saw her rush up trees to flush them out, so they would all bunch up in one. This ultimately made it easier for her to catch at least one.
In the second photo she stands over her fresh kill; alert to anyone who might try and steal it.
Under the Mopane
There’s nothing like sitting by the fire at night in the Okavango. Stars overwhelm the sky and the only sounds you can hear are those of the surrounding game or our guides (John and James); who tell stories long into the night over a glass of Amarula.
Every night, our bush camp was situated in a new but equally remote part of this unique wildlife habitat. Being truly cut off from the outside world, without sacrificing the comforts of it, made the nights as special as the days.
An African sunset is hard to beat. You’ll see why in Botswana. When the sun decides to settle in the Okavango, it paints the rolling savannah and meandering waterways of the delta in an array of colours, that makes you see the landscape in a new light. Add to this a cold glass of kir royal and some biltong bites, and you’ve got the perfect way to end a long day out on safari.
Out of the Darkness
On our fourth day out in the bush, we stayed out a little too late in our pursuit of a male lion. Subsequently, we had to speed back to our campsite before total darkness consumed us; which would make an already tough drive back, almost impossible.
However, as we sped down the dirt tracks, John suddenly screeched to a halt. In his lights, he’d somehow spotted a tiny flap neck chameleon, sitting in the middle of the road ahead. He got out to move it, and when he did, the chameleon sat their quite comfortably on his hand for a minute or two, before it slowly strolled back off into the darkness.
Taking to the air
You get a sense of the vast scale of the delta, and some of the wildlife that inhabit it, when you take to the air. We were treated to a helicopter ride on day three of our trip. For thirty minutes, we soared at great speed (but low altitude) over the Okavango and enjoyed amazing bird’s eye views on what was hiding in the bush below. One particular highlight was spotting a, herd of 20+ elephants effortlessly making their way through the long grass.
It’s an unconventional way to do safari but definitely worth doing at least once; especially if you’re a safari veteran. It’s a unique experience.
James and John are reason alone to go to Botswana. Despite their ages, they are incredibly knowledgeable guides and are extremely passionate about the area. John is a natural storyteller, which means you’ll learn an incredible amount whilst out on the road with him. Be sure to ask him about his bushman initiation encounter with a porcupine if you get the chance.
A favourite moment was when John pulled over one day to fashion us an aAfrican Toothbrush’ from a Star Apple Bush. Initially, your teeth go yellow after rubbing your teeth with the root of this bush. However, this soon vanishes to leave your teeth a shade whiter and your breath a little fresher.
James is definitely the man you want to see after a long day out on the road. With a serious eye for detail, James goes to great lengths to make his guests feel comfortable and at home; be it through the breakfasts he serves or the tents he’s designed. Sundowners are his particular speciality; combining picture perfect spots with delicious food and cocktails.