Botswana photo safari: Top tips to make the most of the experience

In this show-and- tell age we live in, with its ever-present streams of images and video, capturing your holiday experience has become paramount - as it certainly goes a long way to preserving those memories, whatever the hastag.

Simply put - the more graphic and visually stimulating, the better.

The wildlife or safari experience is broad and untamed in itself but when you find yourself in Botswana - well there are some significant moments worth planning around.

- The Okavango Delta

- Chobe National Park

- Makgadikgadi Salt Pan (Makgadikgadi Pans National Park) 


- Kubu Island (Makgadikgadi Pans National Park)

- Kalahari Desert 

Five practical elements to keep in mind and if you're serious about your hobby invest in a wide-angle lens for your phone or camera:

1. It’s never predictable!

- Mother Nature is a power unto herself. You may not always know what to expect but the unexpected could be the very prize you’re looking for. Also, you’ll never be at a loss for things to photograph from birds, animals to plants and bugs.
- Remember to keep a safe distance, not only for your own safety but also to ensure that your perceived threat factor does not scare the animals away.
- Eye-to-eye pics are awesome – you may have to get low down and dirty but the shot will be worth it. Zooming in or changing the level of your lens can make a huge difference.
- Always check the outer edge of your shutter for clutter or unnecessary objects. Less is more in the wild too.

2. Finding your subject...

- The key word is patience. The more you are out in the wild the more familiar you will be with your surroundings. The point is to be there when the shot happens. In most cases an animal will leap out of view instead of into it. The best pictures are when your subject is doing something other than its usual activities, such as sleeping or walking.
- Learn some animal language. Seriously, the movement of birds or the alarm calls of monkeys can signal when a predator is near. Get ready, some memorable snapshots could be in the making.
- Try brushing up on some tracking skills or learning more about the animal’s movements and habitats. You don’t want to be searching for night predators, such as the black backed jackal, during the day.

3. It’s no good if you’re all shook up...

The more you are able to steady yourself, the sharper your shot will be. Tripods can sometimes be impractical in the wild, especially when you’re shooting from a 4x4.
-          Car-mounted tripods are useful otherwise a beanbag is convenient for stabilising your lens.
-          Depending on your location, crumpling up your shirt could also work or simply lean up against a tree. Desperate measures have seen some people even using their shoe.

4. An aspiring wildlife photographer should not forget:

-          Bug spray - remember you’re in their habitat now
-          Extra batteries - you don’t want to fade before nabbing the shot.
-          Compass - you may just wander further than you expect.
-          Disposable shower cap or garbage bag - unexpected downpours can damage your equipment.
-          Toilet paper - when nature calls, she calls

What to read next on Traveller24:

45 Practical tips for South Africans planning their first 4x4 Botswana trip

Botswana bans elephant-back rides

Border Crossing into Botswana – everything you need to know

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