Tree-scratching Lion

Bee & Chaz Capture Rare Safari Moments

On the way to the airstrip at Mara Plains we watched this baby gazelle being born on New Year’s Day. This is how this safari trip has gone. Every day something absolutely remarkable. — Bee & Chaz

As an old saying goes: The only way to have great ideas is to have a lot of ideas. We think the same applies to safaris and wildlife photography. The more time you spend in the bush, and the more photos you take, the better chance you’ll have of getting great shots.

Bee wanted to make sure she had the perfect camera for her safari, and she couldn’t have been happier with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Olympus customer service went out of their way to make sure she had the newest technology without it being too heavy or unwieldy. We hesitate to guess how many photos Bee & Chaz took to narrow it down to these wonderful photos, but we can tell you where they were and a bit about their two most recent safaris.

White Browed Coucal vs Chameleon, Mara

White Browed Coucal vs Chameleon in the Mara

Our guide Duncan at Mara Plains saw the White Browed Coucal attacking this chameleon. We watched in wonder as he systematically tried to pull the chameleon off the bush by trying to unwrap its tail then pulling on the chameleon’s limbs. After some time in the epic struggle for life vs lunch, the coucal gave up and the chameleon survived…for the moment. — Bee & Chaz

Let Wild Dogs Lie, Botswana

Let Wild Dogs Lie, Botswana

In May, they began with a true Botswanan safari that took them through the Jao Concession and the Selinda and Kwedi Reserves with stops at Little Tubu, Selinda Camp, Duba Expedition and Jacana Camp. From the Okavango Delta’s flooded waterways and seasonal islands, Bee & Chaz then journeyed over Namibia’s vast deserts to experience the remote Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp and then to Little Kulala to face Sossusvlei’s massive dunes and unique wildlife.

For the Festive Season around the holidays, they spent extensive time in the Singita Grumeti Reservein the northern Serengeti at Faru Faru and Sabora followed by one of our perennial favorites, Mara Plains, in the Olare Motorogi conservancy adjacent to the Masai Mara. They then moved south to Singita Boulders in South Africa’s Sabi Sands before finishing their epic safari with a stop at Tswalu Kalahari.

Cheetah Cub in the Mara

Cheetah Cub in the Mara

Driving between Faru Faru and Sabora, our guide Anthony stopped for this ‘joyful little cheetah cub’ playing with his mama, and we watched them for as long as we wanted, despite arriving late to lunch at Sabora. At Singita, the wildlife experience always takes priority over being on time!

Cape Fox: This little critter popped up right in front of our room at Tswalu, and we think there was a den nearby…you just see so much from your room during the downtime!

Starling: Spotted from the room at Tswalu–he grabbed a bite to eat just as I snapped his portrait!

Hyena: The heartbreaking side of safaris is watching a kill where the mother gazelle was hopelessly standing by while the hyena ran off with her baby, at Mara Plains.

Oryx: At Hoanib, it was a marvel these large mammals could survive in the desert so well. Their adaptations are mind blowing!

Bee Eater: Taken from the room at Tswalu

African Wild Cat: We sat with her for 45 minutes at Tswalu while she observed and stalked dozens of mice that were scampering in front of her. The cool animals come out at night, so we started our ‘afternoon’ game drives about 8 PM to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and to see some of the nocturnal species. Some other guests we spoke with were out until 4 AM…talk about flexible schedules!

Sunbird: Reminded me of a rainbow and showed the Kalahari in bloom. No one expects to see such lovely delicate flowers in the desert

‘Tree Climbing’ lion: At Boulders, we came upon a pride with 16 cubs in the midst of a play session. This lion was stretching and playing with the tree–not actually trying to climb it!

Horned Adder: Our guide at Tswalu had seen a large tortoise in the bush and pointed it out, then saw the Adder just next to it. We crept carefully out of the vehicle on foot but kept a respectful distance so we didn’t disturb the snake.

Leopard Baby: This was taken in the first hour of our first trip to Botswana while at Little Tubu Tree. Our tracker found the mama lying near the tree and we were privileged to hear her start calling to her cub shortly after we arrived. I got very emotional as they played and she nursed the cub while the sun was setting. It was a truly thrilling experience and we could have gone home right then satisfied with our safari!

Grasshopper: I called this one coffee stop camouflage. On a morning coffee break at Boulders, we noticed dozens of different colored grasshoppers blended into the ground around where they stopped.

Pangolin:  At Tswalu, this pangolin is actually tagged as part of a research project, and we got to watch him dig around for food while discussing the species with the researcher.


While we hesitate to guarantee how good your photos turn out, but we can guarantee a thoughtful and carefully arranged itinerary. Get in touch to start planning your ideal safari.

photo safari Zebra Fighting

Karen & Hank’s Zimbabwe and Botswana Photo Safari

Karen & Hank are keen photographers who went on their first photo safari last year to Kenya and Tanzania. This year, the focus turned to Southern Africa, specifically areas in Zimbabwe and Botswana that offer exceptional wildlife viewing in November when the dry season transitions with the start of the summer rains.

Mana Pools and Hwange National Parks in Zimbabwe combined with the Linyanti/Selinda Reserve and Okavango Delta of Botswana provided a range of complementary experiences, ecosystems and wildlife, and we selected camps that could perfectly accommodate their interest in a high-quality photo safari.

We just returned from an incredible safari  organized by Kili McGowan at Next Adventure. Kili did an amazing job listening to our needs, and creating a custom photo safari itinerary for us. Each camp was special in its own way, and we felt privileged to be able to learn about some of the history and culture in these two countries, as well as achieve one of our primary goals – to obtain outstanding photographs of wildlife! Kili was extremely knowledgeable about the weather and wildlife we were likely to see in each place. We look forward to traveling to Africa again soon and will enjoy working with Kili to plan our future adventures. —Karen P.

Itinerary in Brief

Day 1 Arrive in Vic Falls, Fly to Hwange, Transfer toLittle Makalolo Camp (3 nts)
Days 2-3 Private safari activities from Little Makalolo Camp
Day 4 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to Mana West airstrip, Transfer toRuckomechi Camp (3 nts)
Days 5-6 Private safari activities from Ruckomechi Camp
Day 7 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to Vic Falls Airport, Transfer to The Elephant Camp (1 nt)
Day 8 Transfer to Airport, Fly to Little Vumbura via Kasane, Transfer to Little Vumbura (3 nts)
Days 9-10 Private safari activities from Little Vumbura
Day 11 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to Savuti Camp (3 nts)
Days 12-13 Private safari activities from Savuti Camp
Day 14 Transfer to airstrip, Fly to JNB via Maun for international departure

See more of Karen’s amazing photography!

Happy Lion near Selinda

A Safari for Sisters in Botswana & Cape Town

Myra came to Next Adventure looking to share a special, once-in-a-lifetime, first-time safari with her sister Toby. After getting to know them and their preferences, we settled on a slightly off-season safari in Botswana followed by a visit to Cape Town.

Early November is fast becoming the ‘not-so secret season’ because it still offers great wildlife viewing but with better availability and lower rates. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Scheduled flight from Joburg to Maun, light aircraft transfer to Selinda Reserve, 3 nights at Selinda Camp
  • Helicopter transfer to Okavango Delta, 3 nights at Duba Plains Camp
  • Light aircraft transfer to Jao Concession, 2 nights at Kwetsani Camp
  • Light aircraft transfer to Maun, scheduled flight to Cape Town, 3 nights at Cape Grace Hotel

Myra says:

I loved the combination in all of our camps of both waterlife and wildlife. My sister and I both bought “real” cameras for the trip and were particularly well taken care of by both guides and camp managers as we fooled around with apertures and settings. I feel that the planning that went into our trip was a wonderful balance of water, land, sky and people.

The weather in ‘early off season” was absolutely perfect — not dusty, a little rain (well, a lot of rain in one deluge), not too warm — mild and temperate. This weather contributed so much to the overall enjoyment and thrill of the safari.

Having great confidence in Kili was the easiest part of the planning. Kili establishes confidence with the first conversation. Her knowledge is unlimited. I was especially grateful for everything included in dossier from tips on packing and gratuities to park and lodge information–all first rate. For a first time visitor to the splendor of Africa, I do not have one thing to complain about. I just put my trust in Kili.

Toby says:

Where will I even begin to comment on the beautiful trip you planned for us? Not one detail was a disappointment: the camps were fabulous, the hospitality so warm and welcoming, the food delicious, the guides so informing, the camp managers were perfect.

My husband and I have been on many fabulous trips around the world but this one was so unique. I do believe that it is my most favorite trip just due to the tranquility of the open plains, the magnificent animals, the splendid sunsets, bumping along in the jeeps, meeting all of the very interesting travelers, etc. The food was so outstanding as well as healthy. Everything was perfect.

Special thanks to all our trusted partners on the ground for all their hard work in making every trip so special. It’s such an honor to put together a meaningful trip, and thanks to Myra & Toby for sharing such great feedback.

Some of Kili’s photos from Botswana 2012. Click any thumbnail to enter gallery.

Zarafa Zebras - Selinda Reserve - Botswana

Grant & Miriam’s Grand Tour of Southern Africa

Grant & Miriam’s three week trip in August of this year included some of our favorite destinations in Zambia, Botswana and South Africa, and they have the photos to prove it… (click thumbnails to enlarge images)

It wasn’t easy culling 4,000+ shots, but here’s a glimpse into some of the things we saw. What you won’t see are the places we stayed, people we met and many, many other pictures of the wildlife and surroundings where we traveled.

Their first stop was Toka Leya Camp, on the banks of Zambia’s Zambezi River just a few miles upstream from Victoria Falls. This small tented camp’s wooden walkways meander under a canopy of jackalberry, knobthorn and waterberry trees.

After a day spent exploring Victoria Falls and Livingstone town, it was off to Botswana, flying over the Kazangula border, a point where the four countries of Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia meet, for a 3-night stay at Duba Plains Camp. Situated in the most remote reaches of the Okavango Delta, Duba Plains is the setting of an endless struggle between prides of lions and the enormous herds of buffalo which sustain them.

After watching National Geographic programs for years, I was concerned that we might be immune to the impact of seeing the animals in their environment. That disappeared immediately when, within hours of arriving and lasting for our entire trip, we were stretching our necks to see the giraffes eating leaves at the top of trees, staring in amazement at the size of the crocs on the river with their gleaming white teeth, and holding our breath as lions came by our vehicle and laid down to get some shade close enough to touch them (not!) and hear their breathing.

The next stop was Little Vumbura Camp in the northern Kwedi Reserve of the Okavango. Surrounded by rivers, open floodplains and dense mopane bushveld, the game and bird viewing is exceptional all year round with game drives, spectacular islands walk and excursions via Mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe).

Their last stop in Botswana was at Zarafa Camp in the Selinda Reserve. This small, intimate camp overlooks the Zibadianja Lagoon, the source of the world-famous Savute Channel, with access to a variety of habitats including wide-open savannah, thirst-quenching waterways through dry woodland, and the river systems and floodplains that draw thousands of plains game, predators and over 300 species of bird.


From the Selinda airstrip, a series of light aircraft transfers brought Grant & Miriam to the “sumptuous coziness” of the Singita Ebony Lodge in the renowned Sabi Sands adjacent to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The Sabi Sands Reserve is recognized as one of the premier wildlife destinations in the world with a wide diversity of game and frequent leopard sightings.

We saw different species inter-mingling and going about the business of eating and sleeping, followed the flight of both the tiny and gigantic birds that prowled the sky, and watched the days begin with the sun warming the air and then the sun announcing another day’s end and inviting the cool air to return. That was not HD NatGeo Wild, it was Life in 3-D. Go see.

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Chindeni Veranda Zambia

Small Safari Camps for Groups & Families

Traveling with your family or a small group of friends can be complicated: making restaurant reservations for a group can be tough or impossible, getting around isn’t easy with tourist maps and a couple of rental cars, and hotel arrangements for groups are expensive and inconvenient. Families and small groups of friends can avoid those complications and experience some great benefits by teaming up on an African safari.

Safari Houses can be a great choice, but one of the most authentic safari options for families and small groups is to buy-out or exclusively reserve small tented camps or private mobile safaris.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Chindeni Bushcamp – Zambia

Sublime, peaceful, tranquil and perfect are just a few of the words guests use to describe Chindeni Bushcamp. Located on the edge of an oxbow lagoon in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, Chindeni Bushcamp accommodates up to eight guests in classic canvas tents with vaulted ceilings and private verandas that reach out over the lagoon.

Spend the day watching birds, hippo and elephant visit the lagoon, or go deeper into one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife in Africa on a guided walking safari or game drive.

Naibor Tented Camp – Kenya

Somewhere in the middle of the vast Masai Mara Game Reserve’s 1500 square kilometers sits a small collection of luxury tented camps called Naibor. With three separate camps, Naibor is a great choice for a group or family to explore the Mara. It is perfectly situated to experience the wildebeest migration crossing over the Mara river, plus cultural visits to the nearby Masai communities just outside the reserve can be arranged.

Of course, spectacular sundowners are on the menu, but guests can also enjoy a “bush meal” far out in the rolling grasslands.

Wilderness Dawning Mobile Safaris – Botswana

Wilderness Dawning offers the adventurous family or group 10-day & 14-day overland safaris that “endeavor to enrich our guests and enhance their love of Africa.” Days are spent with some of the best guides in the business game-driving through Botswana’s renowned wilderness areas including Nxai Pan, Moremi Game Reserve, Okavango and Chobe National Park.

Experiencing diverse habitats and a tremendous variety of wildlife while relaxing night after night in a rustic camp under the stars makes Wilderness Dawning’s mobile safaris the ultimate adventure.

Selinda Explorers Camp is also a great tented camp option for families and groups. Read about it here as a Featured Destination.

Get in touch to learn more about these or other safari options for families and small groups.

Photos are courtesy of the camps.

Selinda Explorers Camp - Main Tent Interior

Selinda Explorers Camp – your private safari getaway

Sometimes, you just want to find a hammock and sway next to a lazy African river. Sometimes, you want to hike far into the bush to listen to the wilderness. Sometimes, there is nothing more important than watching wild elephants drink from the river in which you’re canoeing.


Selinda Explorers Camp is just the place to get up-close and personal with one of Africa’s most treasured wild places. Selinda Explorers Camp is a private, exclusive-use camp remotely-set in Botswana’s remarkable Selinda Spillway, a crucial gathering point for wildlife in the 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve. Depending on the day, guests can enjoy a guided wildlife walk, a canoe safari or traditional day and evening game drives.

The camp is easy to miss, accommodating a maximum of 8 guests and having a minimal environmental footprint. Four classic campaign-style tents, furnished with unique and exotic soft goods from north and east Africa, are set in a forest of jackleberry and mangosteen. Selinda Explorers Camp comfortably balances a rustic “bohemian flair” with simple, relaxed luxury.


Due to its size and setting, Selinda Explorers Camp offers families and small groups of friends a private and exclusive opportunity to view the best of Botswana’s wildlife including lion, elephant, hippo and wild dog, as well as Slaty egrets, wattled cranes and sometimes hundreds of buffalo.

Selinda Explorers Camp is the newest in the Great Plains Conservation family of camps. Great Plains Conservation is a unique “conservation organization, which operates ecotourism to maintain conservation as a sustainable land use alternative.” Their executive team consists of some of the world’s most well-known conservationists including Dereck and Beverly Joubert, the renowned filmmakers behind National Geographic’s “The Last Lions” and “Eye of the Leopard.”

Selinda Explorers Camp is a great fit for families and small groups and can be easily added to itineraries with destinations throughout Botswana and neighboring countries.

Get in touch to explore how to include Selinda Explorers Camp in your next safari.

Photos of Selinda Explorers Camp are courtesy of Great Plains Conservation.