Great Rivers of Africa 2020

29 September 2020 - 7 October 2020 1 single or 2 sharing available

The Chobe Riverfront is one like no other in Africa. At first glance, the large expanse of water that is the Chobe River meanders and flows languidly and peacefully through islands on towards its confluence with the Zambezi. It is a calm and peaceful scene if there every was one. Yet on the islands and along the banks thrive some of the most prolific animal and bird life in Africa. The Chobe attracts wildlife and birds from very far afield and no more so than in the dry season, when this photo safari takes place.

Photographing on the Chobe River is a wonderful experience. Our special boat, using two motors- one in the front and the main one at the back, keeps rock steady when idling allowing you to focus on photographing your subject perfectly. Bird life is prolific, elephants and hippos are very common in the water and buffalo herds in large numbers front the riverbanks.


C4 has booked a specialised boat for your use to be able to get the most from your photography. In the Okavango portion, we will be based on the rivers edge at Xaro Lodge, where all your accommodation needs will be perfectly catered for you. You literally walk 50m from your room right onto the boat and are photographing 2 minutes later!

This tour focuses on getting the best waterbird photographs possible. Timed to coincide with the breeding season of the Carmine bee-eater as well as the African skimmer you will have full access to these and many other beautiful and brilliant coloured birds over the duration of this tour. It is exceptionally rich in diversity, colour and activity for you to point your lens at.

October is a special month in that both the African skimmers and the Carmine bee-eaters are breeding. Currently there are three carmine colonies to visit. Skimmers nest on the sand banks and so are found along the rivers edge wherever suitable banks are available. The two bird species are the highlight, but there are many other avian specials here. Some are: African fish eagle in flight and coming in to catch fish, rufous bellied heron, slaty egret, pygmy goose, African jacana, squacco heron, white fronted bee eater, pied, giant, malachite kingfishers, little bee eater, cormorants, other egrets, herons, plovers and pratincoles.


Basically it is bird photography paradise. The birds are relaxed around human presence allowing easy approaches to many of the species. Of note is trying to find a “barbel run”. This is a type of catfish that migrates up the river in the month of October. It attracts many different bird species, which gorge themselves on the fish. If you luck onto one of these runs, it makes for fascinating photography as the birds dive into and stalk the barbel. Even the fish eagles get in on the action.

Each day we will set out in aluminium boats booked for our use. The boats can accommodate 4 photographers each. The waters in the main channel as well as the smaller channels are extremely calm. There is never a swell or strong currents that may tip the boat or cause you to become uneasy. It is extremely stable and seasickness is a non-issue.

About your host, Isak Pretorius

Isak was born to be a photographer, but before he discovered this, he became an engineer. Once he picked up a camera, his engineering career came to an end and Isak has now established himself as one of the top bird photographers in Africa. The benefit of his engineering training is his flawless technical knowledge of camera systems and the post processing software that accompanies them.

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Day 1 - 5

Pangolin Voyager Houseboat, Botswana

Your specialist photographic guide and host will meet you at the Kasane International Airport. A short transfer from the airport will take us to the Chobe river where we will be transferred with a small boat to the Pangolin Voyager Houseboat. Once you’ve arrived on the houseboat there will be a short orientation and a chance for you to settle into your cabin to unpack and get your photographic equipment ready. We will meet for high tea and have a chance to discuss the safari before embarking on our first afternoon activity.

The activity is about enjoying, relaxing and to get familiar with the photography from the small boat and to get familiar with the Chobe riverfront and photographic opportunities. On this activity the aim is to take photos ‘as you are used to’, so that it sets the benchmark to measure the images taken at the end of the photo safari against.

During the next three full days the daily schedule will remain more or less the same. The times are flexible and might vary slightly depending on the sunrise times, the sightings and our activities (e.g. we might decide to have an extended morning out on the river). Generally we follow this schedule:
05:00 – Wake-up and meet for coffee and a small meal
05:30 – Morning activity
09:30 – Breakfast
10:30 – Rest and own time
13:30 – Lunch
14:30 – Photo presentation, workshop and photo review (not compulsory)
16:00 – Meet for high tea
16:30 – Afternoon activity
19:30 – Dinner and then retire to bed for another day of more great photography

The topics of the photo presentation and workshops are not fixed and will be altered to meet the specific requirements of all the guests. These could include the following:

  • Understanding light.
  • Understanding composition.
  • Tutorials on advanced photo techniques.
  • Use of Lenses for various effects.
  • Post processing your images in Lightroom or Photoshop.
  • Cataloguing images.
  • Startrail and starscape photography.
  • Flash use and advanced flash use.

During the photo workshop sessions there will be a chance for guests to bring their own photos for feedback and critique by the guides. Typically three photos from each guests per session are enough to not only see what different photos we all got from the same sightings but the feedback the critique on your photos is one of the best ways to improve your own photography.
number of bird species in the Shakawe region of Botswana.


Day 5 - 9

Xaro Lodge, Botswana

Road transfer to Kasane Airport for your charter flight to Shakawe Airport. You will be met at the airstrip by a Xaro Lodge representative who will transfer you to Xaro Lodge for your 4 night stay.  

A midday charter flight from Kasane to Shakawe in Botswana means that we’ll have time for a short morning activity on the Chobe river before breakfast and then a small boat transfer to the town of Kasane. Once we arrive at Kasane, a road transfer will take us to Kasane airport. The scenic charter flight is roughly one hour long but keep a camera handy as we’ll be flying over the Linyanti and Okavango Delta which are some of the most beautiful wildernesses of Africa. Once we arrive at Shakawe airport, a road transfer will take us to Drotsky’s Cabins followed by a boat transfer on the Okavango river to the island where Xaro Lodge is located. We’ll arrive in time for a late lunch and then have time to unpack and get our photography gear ready for the afternoon activity.

We’ll explore the bird photography opportunities of the Okavango River before enjoying sunset drinks and then returning to camp for Dinner and bed.

During the next three full days the daily schedule will remain more or less the same as on the Chobe river.


Day 9

International Flight

Our last day begins with a short early morning activity after which we have breakfast. We will depart for Maun at roughly 9:30 from where we will catch a chartered flight from Shakawe back to Maun International Airport. This is unfortunately the end of your photo workshop.


Photographic highlights are:

  • Brilliant and close up photography of waterbird life on the Chobe River and at Xaro.
  • Carmine bee eaters and African skimmers are a special of Xaro and you should have them in full courtship display.
  • Herds of hundreds of elephant and buffalo on the Chobe river front.
  • An amazing variety of water bird life which makes your bird photography endless.
  • The classic Chobe river sunsets, with the sun as a red over setting over the river.
  • Good general game viewing- animals are very relaxed.
  • Access to Chobe reserve via the boat.

Pangolin Voyager Houseboat

The Voyager is spread over three levels affording plenty of space for up to 10 guests at any one time. On the lower level the houseboat has five well appointed en-suite cabins with double or twin beds available depending on the required configuration. The beds are fitted with the finest linen and specialist mattresses.

The cabins have built-in cupboards, a cooling fan and the windows are fitted with mosquito net to allow the gentle breeze from the river and the nigh time sounds of the Chobe National Park to permeate the rooms. The middle level is occupied by the lounge and dining area along with a deck at the rear which accommodates the Braai (barbeque). The comfortable lounge area is stocked with reference books and binoculars, which are yours to use as we drift between our private mooring points. Meals are served on the large dining table and the menu varies depending on what ingredients can be locally sourced throughout the seasons. There is a comprehensive selection of alcoholic and soft drinks for you to enjoy throughout the day from the bar. The upper level hosts a viewing deck equipped with table, chairs and sun loungers perfect for topping up those tans in-between activities and for witnessing the majestic African sunsets the grace us every evening.



Xaro Lodge

Luxurious and tranquil, Xaro Lodge is situated on the banks of the Okavango River, where Africa is still wild. Here you awake to the call of fish eagles, share your meals with robin chats and babblers, and watch skimmers shear the smooth surface of the river while you enjoy some of the most magnificent sunsets Africa has on offer.

While its remote location makes for total peace and quiet, every element of guest comfort is seen to in meru-styled luxury tents with en-suite bathrooms. Lounge in bed while absorbing the view through the glass sliding door, enjoy your early morning coffee on your own private patio, or stroll along the riverbank to the open air dining area, where all meals are served. Grab a book from the library and relax in the lounge overlooking the river, while local fishermen drift by silently in a mokoro, hoping for their daily catch.


$9 000.00 price per sharing person

$10 500.00 price per single person

30% Deposit confirms your place, balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.
Minimum of 4 photographers and maximum 8 photographers.


The above costs include

  • Pickup and transport for the entire tour.
  • Entrance to concession and accommodationion on a house boat and in camp.
  • All meals, full board.
  • The services of our guides.

Costs not included

  • International flight to Kasane and international flight from Maun to JHB.
  • Gratuities to staff and guides.
  • Extra activities not included.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Travel visas.

Day 1:

On arrival at Maun International Airport, Botswana you will be met by a C4 representative you will transfer you to Pangolin Voyager Houseboat for your 4 nights stay.

Day 5:

Road transfer to Kasane Airport for your charter flight to Shakawe Airport. You will be met at the airstrip by a Xaro Lodge representative who will transfer you to Xaro Lodge for your 4 night stay. 

Day 9:

Last day you will be transferred back to Shakawe Airport. This is the end of your safari.

Thank you for your Testimonial, it's much appreciated!

Great Rivers of Africa 2017

"During October 2017 myself and two others spent nearly 8 nights with Isak Pretorius on the Chobe and Okovango Rivers. The photographic opportunities are endless and I would strongly recommend this trip to anyone who wants to get up close and personal with all manner of animals. The bird life especially on the Okovango River is incredible the four images, are my favourites from the trip, were taken on this river. Herds of elephants are to be seen on a regular basis swimming, drinking and playing in the Chobe River. Hippos are a regular encounter. Time spent with Isak is time well spent as his photographic knowledge is first class and he has a way of getting ideas across that always seem to work."

David Battensby
13 October 2017

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