Portraits of Wild Africa
Botswana and Zambia
August 5 - 24, 2020
Travel to the edge of the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park then onto Luangwa National Park in Zambia to capture unforgettable moments on your camera with professional photographer Tom Murphy. Ride in an open-air Land Cruiser with our expert local guides who are adept at finding leopards, lions, elephants, African wild dogs, giraffes, and other wildlife while positioning the vehicle for the best photographic opportunities. Spend a night at spectacular Victoria Falls – the widest curtain of water in the world. Travel to Mfuwe in South Luangwa National Park – Zambia’s best game area. Relish overnighting in mobile camps in Botswana, staying at a luxurious resort within walking distance of Victoria Falls, and then move into permanent safari tents overlooking the Luangwa River in Zambia.
- Feel the pulse of the African bush during carefree mobile camping in Botswana.
- Experience an elephant extravaganza along the Chobe River.
- Hear the roar of Victoria Falls, the world’s largest sheet of falling water.
- Spend four days exploring South Luangwa with concentrated congregations of game animals at the Luangwa River.
- Study photographic composition and technique in this hands-on photography workshop.
- Begin your journey a few days early on our Meerkat extension from August 2 to 7, 2020. Ride quads through the Ntwewe Salt Pans and towering 4,000-year-old Baobabs as you make your way to a friendly meerkat colony in the Kalahari Desert.
- Continue your journey with Tom Murphy on our Rwanda safari to visit mountain gorillas from August 22 to 27, 2020. You’ll come face-to-face with these gentle giants as they interact and socialize in close proximity.
- Continue your journey on our Madagascar safari from August 22 to September 14, 2020. Witness over a dozen species of lemurs leaping through the canopy and discover the island’s impressive biodiversity and endemic wildlife.
Itinerary Updated: December 2019
FAQ Print Trip Safari Options
|Aug 5 - 6||Travel to Johannesburg, South Africa.|
|Aug 7||Continue from our Meerkat extension to Maun, Botswana to join the Botswana and Zambia safari group, or morning flight from Johannesburg to Maun. Then fly to Moremi.||Mobile camping at Moremi||D|
|Aug 8 - 9||Explore Xakanaxa area of Moremi Game Reserve in the famous Okavango Delta.||Mobile camping at Moremi||B, L, D|
|Aug 10 - 12||Explore Khwai area in Moremi Game Reserve with more spectacular game drives.||Mobile camping at Khwai||B, L, D|
|Aug 13 - 15||Discover the wildlife rich Savuti Marsh region of Chobe National Park.||Mobile camping at Savuti Marsh||B, L, D|
|Aug 16||Fly to Kasane, then take an afternoon boat trip on the Chobe River.||Cresta Mowana Safari Resort and Spa, Kasane||B, L, D|
|Aug 17||Cross into Zimbabwe for guided tour of Victoria Falls. Then transfer to Livingstone, Zambia for a free afternoon.||Avani Victoria Falls Resort, Livingstone||B, L, D|
|Aug 18||See the Falls under morning light. Fly from Livingstone to Mfuwe then drive the short distance to South Luangwa National Park.||Flatdogs Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia||B, L, D|
|Aug 19 - 21||Visit South Luangwa National Park, one of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries.||Flatdogs Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia||B, L, D|
|Aug 22||Fly to Lusaka to continue on our Rwanda or Madagascar safaris, or stay in Lusaka for an overnight.||Protea Tower Hotel, Lusaka||B|
|Aug 23||Depart homeward from Lusaka.||B|
|Aug 24||Arrive home, depending on flight schedule.|
Our Trip Leaders
Tom has offered custom photographic tours and seminars for nearly 30 years, specializing in engaging locations such as Yellowstone National Park, Antarctica, and Africa. He travels and photographs extensively throughout Yellowstone and has hiked thousands of miles and skied on hundreds of extended overnight trips in the backcountry. Much of his work in Yellowstone was highlighted in a popular PBS Nature series program, Christmas in Yellowstone, and several of his own books. His passion and talent is photographing wildlife in their environment to tell the story of life and survival. He is a popular teacher, known for his easy-going attitude, helpful demeanor, and one-on-one style of instruction.
A glimpse into our journey
Travel to Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta
If you are joining from the Meerkat extension, fly to Maun to meet the other safari participants. If you are not joining from the Meerkat extension, in the morning you’ll fly from Johannesburg to Maun, and then fly as a full group on your charter flight to Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. Moremi lies on the eastern extremity of the Okavango Delta and has many types of habitats including wide-open floodplains, marshes, ox-bow lakes, riverine forest, lagoons, papyrus-fringed channels, vast reed-beds of Miscanthus and Phragmites, woodlands, and savannah. En route to your campsite, discover mopane (pronounced Mo-pa-ni), the dominant tree in the wooded areas, in dense stands that provides a safe refuge for rare, timid, large antelopes, especially greater kudu. You’ll encounter every type of mopane habitat – the towering cathedral woodlands called Xakanaxa (pronounced Ka-kana-ka), the classic climax mopane woodland and, in the drier and harsher habitats, extensive stretches of scrub mopane. Rainfall from the Angola highlands surges 745mi (1,200km) into the Okavango Delta, creating a unique wetland that supports and sustains a huge diversity of wildlife.
Xakanaxa area of Moremi Game Reserve
Aug 8 - 9
You’ll have daily morning game drives to search for African wildlife. Moremi Game Reserve is among the best game reserves in Africa for viewing the endangered African wild dog, especially around Xakanaxa. With luck, you’ll also see breeding herds of African elephant or even red lechwe (one of the more unusual antelope species) moving between their browsing areas in the mopane forests and the fresh water of the Okavango.
In the afternoons, enjoy a walk in the vicinity of the camp, looking for animal tracks in the sand. Botswana’s sandy foundation is the result of thousands of years of termites turning wood into soil. Your afternoon game drives are timed to be in the field for the best light and during the magic hour of dusk to dark when nocturnal animals become active.
Khwai area in Moremi Game Reserve
Aug 10 - 12
The Khwai area is the North Gate region of Moremi Game Reserve. You’ll travel to the Manuchira Channel, weaving along from the riverside and floodplains into the mopane veld and the woodlands. You’ll visit the magnificent Dombo Hippo Pools to enjoy the scenery and the antics of the resident hippopotamus. The western mopane veld is home to breeding herds of elephant, while the eastern reaches of Khwai are home to some impressive old bulls. The mature bulls revel in the cool waters of the Khwai and are more approachable while drinking and bathing.
Khwai is a great ecotone area between the contrasting habitats of the marshy backwaters of the Khwai River, the dry-land leadwood, camel thorn woodlands, and savannahs – truly one of Botswana’s birding meccas! Marula trees, a species of fig that produces the delicious liquor, and giant wild ebony trees shelter outstanding birdlife, such as bat hawks, in the delta that hunt along the entire length of the river. Away from the waterways, we will encounter hornbills, bee-eaters, rollers, starlings, and others.
Savuti Marsh area in Chobe National Park
Aug 13 - 15
You’ll stop for wildlife along the way from Khwai to Savuti Marsh. You will see the remains of a once vast paleo-lake called Lake Makgadikgadi that dried up some 10,000 years ago. Then, you’ll traverse a winding track through deep sand while crossing the Magwikwe Sandridge that formed the shoreline for this massive inland sea. The old lakebed is now the Mababe Depression, and the dense clay floor of the depression results in high protein food for wildlife after the rains.
The Mababe Depression is a birder’s paradise. The nutritious grasses that grow on the rich soils provide excellent seed for an impressive array of estrilids and viduids, such as the village indigobird and shaft-tailed whydah. These birds provide a good food source for small raptors such as the little sparrowhawk, shikra, gabar goshawk, and lanner falcon.
Unlike the vast majority of Botswana, the sandy Savuti area is dotted with small rocky outcroppings of volcanic rock amidst the Kalahari sands that provide habitat for a completely different array of small wildlife and plants. The Savuti Marsh has been the stage for many dramatic wildlife documentaries in Africa because of the wide-open country, healthy ungulate populations, and particularly strong lion prides and spotted hyena clans.
Chobe River area in Chobe National Park
Your last day in Botswana is spent along the Chobe River. Take an early morning flight from Savuti to Kasane, then enjoy some down time and lunch at the hotel. You’ll take a late afternoon boat trip on the Chobe River within the heart of elephant country among large herds congregating along the river to drink and bathe. This is one of the best ways to get really close to elephants for photography and to observe behaviors and herd life.
Cross the Zambezi River to Victoria Falls
Experience the might and beauty of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, located on the wide and powerful Zambezi River. The spectacular falls are the widest curtain of water in the world and plunges 330ft! Several species of birds, including trumpeter hornbills, do well in the moister forests bordering the falls. This morning, you’ll cross the Zimbabwe border, travel along the Zambezi River, and take a guided tour of Victoria Falls. The Zimbabwean side of the falls is known for having the best views. Enjoy lunch at a café along the edge of the Zambezi River before crossing over into Livingstone, Zambia for free afternoon and overnight.
Explore Victoria Falls and fly to Mfuwe in Zambia
Soak up the breathtaking scenery at Victoria Falls this morning then transfer to the nearby Livingstone Airport for your flight to Mfuwe via Lusaka. You’ll arrive late in the afternoon to meet your Flatdogs Camp guide at the airport and drive to Flatdogs (meaning “Crocodiles”) Camp. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon on the grounds with a view of the Luangwa River.
South Luangwa National Park in the Mfuwe Sector
Aug 19 - 21
South Luangwa is touted by many travel experts (e.g. Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, TripAdvisor) as being one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. The Luangwa River is the most intact major river system in Africa and supports life within the park's 9,050km2. More than 60 mammal species and 400 bird species reside along the river.
During night drives in the Luangwa, you’ll have opportunities to see leopards and many other nocturnal animals. You may encounter African civets, common (or small-spotted) genet, spotted hyenas, nightjars, honey badgers (ratels), and lions. On most nights you may hear hyenas and their plaintive, eerie cry -– so characteristic of the African bush.
The Luangwa River has an extraordinarily high number of Nile crocodiles. At first glance it may look like a floating log, but often times it will be a crocodile basking on the riverbanks or floating down the river. In Luangwa Valley many large water birds wade through the shallows. Yellow-billed storks move with their beaks open underwater, disturbing the muddy water with their feet until the fish flop into their mouths. The striking 1.6m tall saddle-billed stork will make quick darting movements into the water to capture prey. Southern ground-hornbills emit the sound of a deep base drum early in the morning while the melodious white-browed (Heuglin’s) robin-chat and cry of the African fish-eagle are very distinctive against the ever-present cooing of all the resident doves.
In the morning, you’ll transfer back to the Lusaka Airport to fly to Johannesburg and connect with flights homeward.
Depending on your flight schedule, arrive home today.
Botswana and Zambia
Mobile camping immerses you in the wilds of Botswana, giving you a true African safari experience.
Cost & Payments
Costs (in US$)
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip Cost, double occupancy||$13,890|
Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except charter flights from Maun to Moremi, Savuti to Kasane, Livingstone to Mfuwe, and Mfuwe to Lusaka), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$500|
|Second||July 15, 2019||$1,000|
|Final||January 15, 2020||Remaining Balance|
Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
- All leaders, transport, park entry fees, landing fees, and permits for all activitiesunless described as optional.
- Charter flight from Maun to Moremi, Savuti to Kasane, Livingstone to Mfuwe and, Mfuwe to Lusaka.
- Accommodations for the nights of August 7 through August 22.
- Meals from dinner on August 7 through breakfast on August 22, plus breakfast on August 23.
- Drinks while in your private mobile camps and drinking water while on game drives.
- Airport transfer from Moremi to your mobile campsite on July 7 and airport transfer from Protea Tower Hotel to Lusaka Airport on August 22.
- Trip Materials –information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,800 to $2,500 from USA to Maun, Botswana and from Lusaka, Zambia to USA.
- Passport and visa fees.
- Lunch and dinner on August 22.
- We can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra hotel nights for an extra cost.
- Accommodations, transfers, meals, and any other arrangements in Johannesburg, South Africa.
- Gratuities – tipping is, of course, discretionary, however we suggest budgeting about $20 per participant per day for August 7 to August 22 with our guides and camp staff (about $320 total per participant).
- Emergency medical and evacuation insurance, but it is required for you to purchase. For more information see www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance.
- Trip Cancellation insurance.For more information see www.cheesemans.com/travel-insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.
Daily temperatures in August can vary between below freezing 32°F (0°C) and up to around 85°F (29°C) during the day with the possibility of some rain. In the last five years, the dynamics of climate change have been impacting the area by increasing overall temperatures. Dressing in layers is the best way to deal with the varying temperatures.
Minimal fitness level is required. Our game drives require good energy levels, as some days are long. Most travel is in open-air safari vehicles on sometimes dusty and bumpy roads. You may have short walks around camp and lodge grounds between game drives, if conditions permit. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.
Unless listed as included, airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Pleaselet us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive at Maun Airport, Botswana (MUB) from Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB) around midday on August 7 via South African Airways – we will send details when the airline schedule is confirmed. If you are arriving from our Meerkats extension, see the Flights section in its itinerary for arrival information. Depart from Lusaka, Zambia (LUN) on August 23. If you are continuing on our Rwanda safari, see the Flights section in its itinerary for departure information. If you are continuing on our Madagascar safari, see the Flights section in its itinerary for departure information.
Flights we book for you: Flights from Maun to Moremi, Savuti to Kasane, Livingstone to Mfuwe, and Mfuwe to Lusaka. The cost of these flights is included in the tour cost.
Is this a safari only for photographers?
No, both photographers and non-photographers will have a great safari experience guided by Tom’s longstanding passion for both wildlife and wildlife photography. His eagerness to share his photographic expertise ensures that photographers get skillful guidance during the day and one-on-one critique time in the evenings, making this a unique photo workshop safari. Tom’s lofty patience and welcoming personality benefits amateurs and professionals alike. And if you are not a photographer, you have ample opportunity to simply watch wildlife behavior in its most natural environment.
How long will we travel in vehicles between locations?
The distances between locations vary greatly. Generally, we will travel to a new location after a morning game drive when the animals are less active, so you will not miss any action.
What is the difference between experiencing Victoria Falls from Zambia and Zimbabwe?
We stay on the Zambia side of the falls. Zimbabwe encompasses about 75% of the falls, while Zambia has 25%. During the drier seasons, portions of the falls on the Zambia side dry up. Zimbabwe provides more viewing locations (about 16 overlooks) to give different views of the falls, while Zambia provides a view of the “knife drop” from closer vantage points.
Is it dangerous to camp in the “bush” in Botswana?
Camping immerses you in nature to give you the real experience of the African bush. You will be safe as long as you follow camp rules that will be thoroughly explained at the beginning of your camping stay. Camp staff is always nearby to assist you and to ensure your safety.
Camp in HATAB (Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana) sites with no fixed buildings or facilities. Our outfitters handle all camp set-up, so you can fully enjoy your wilderness experience. You will be in 2-person tents (9x9ft) with a high roof, attached bathroom (9×7.5ft) with shower (hot water provided), and a covered area in front of the tent (9x7ft). Comfortable camp beds are made up with mattresses, sheets, duvets, and pillows. You’ll dine in a dining tent or beneath the stars depending on the weather. Wine, local beer, and soft drinks are provided. Electricity is not available while in our mobile camps; the safari vehicle has the ability to charge camera batteries.
Take comfort in “luxury, en-suite” permanent safari tents at Flatdogs Camp in Zambia. Each tent has a door leading to a shaded open-air bathroom with a hot shower, flush toilet, and washbasin.
Travel in two open-air, jeep-style four-wheel drive vehicles with rows of seats that provide 360° viewing. Dust protection for your camera and gear is necessary. Blankets are provided, but warm layers are essential.
- Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
- Maximum time in nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
- Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
- Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
- Medical conditions and travel risks: Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.
- Use of drones/UAVs on tours: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), AKA drones, are not suitable for use on most Cheesemans’ Ecology expeditions due to logistical constraints and in many cases, local and national laws or regulations. In some cases, such as on our polar voyages, we operate under environmental regulations that ban the use of recreational drones. Do not bring a drone on safari without contacting us first.