BIG CATS OF AFRICA PHOTO TOUR
Big Cats of Africa Photo Tour
The big cats of the desert and the delta
Our Big Cats of Africa Photo Tour will take you to two of Botswana’s most productive wildlife areas. We will enjoy the Kalahari Desert when it is lush and full of predators, including leopards, one of the highest densities of cheetahs, and its famous black-maned lions. From there we will fly by charter to the Okavango Delta where we look for those same big cats in the famous wildlife rich floodplain.
Why we love this Big Cats of Africa safari
The Big Cats of Africa Photo Tour is a dream come true for any wild cat enthusiast who wants to get up close and personal with lions, cheetah, and leopard. Our small group ensures intimate, meaningful encounters with these incredible felines. Not only will you have a chance to see the cats from a safari vehicle, but also from a boat, on foot, and even a helicopter is available for hire. We have picked two of the best wildlife locations in Africa for this tour.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is untamed wilderness and supports one of the highest cheetah densities in all of Africa. Other desert animals including spotted and brown hyena, aardwolf, oryx, ostrich and bat-eared fox can be found in higher numbers here. During our tour, the black-maned lions move into the area due to the rains which make the desert more productive bringing in the plains game.
The Okavango Delta is world famous for its great wildlife viewing and we will be staying at two of its top locations, Chitabe Lebida, and Little Tubu. We hand-select our guides to make sure that you will be in the best position to make unique photographs of the delta’s big cats, elephants, hippos, and amazing bird life. Since lots of ungulates have their young during the time of our tour, finding the big cats is easier.
To top it all off, you won’t just be snapping pictures of incredible wildlife and locations on your Big Cats of Africa Photo Tour, but you will also learn about how these felines adapt to their environment and how they co-exist with people. We partner with both Wilderness Safaris as well as the wild cat organization WildCRU to give you scientific insight into the ecology of the predators of the area.
Big Cats of Africa photo tour testimonials
“I can say with certainty that in over 30 years of going on safari I had my most exciting predator interaction at Chitabe - wild dog, lion, leopard and hyena in one go.”
Target wild cats during our big cats photo tour
We will look for lions in both the Kalahari as well as the Okavango Delta. The Kalahari male lions are famous for their black manes which are believed to be more attractive to mates. The Kalahari lions are also some of the biggest lions in all of Africa, with their preferred prey being oryx and zebra. In the Okavango delta, lions will go after everything including giraffes and sometimes even elephants.
Leopards are present in both the Kalahari and the Okavango Delta, but are a lot more common in the delta. This is where we will spend most of our time looking for these shy cats. In the delta, leopards main prey are impala, which they will carry up into a tree once killed so the can feed on it without being disturbed by other predators.
Other possible wild cats during our safari
You are in good hands, we are big cat experts
There are multiple companies out there that offer you opportunities to see the big cats of Africa. However for many of them a lion is just a marketing tool, rather than caring about the animals themselves. We at Cat Expeditions breath wild cats, we are obsessed with them. This means we prioritize spending as much time as possible at wild cat sightings, to give you the best chances for great photographs, but also to dive deeper.
We will make sure you understand the behavior your are witnessing, who the individuals are that you are looking at, how they fit into the larger ecosystem, and how the species is faring on a global scale. Your big cat photography guide, Sebastian Kennerknecht, is not only a conservation photographer who can help you with your camera settings, but is also a wild cat expert with a degree in behavioral ecology.
Sebastian has spent months in Africa, photographing big cats and working with conservation projects that study these cats to understand what threats they are facing and how to mitigate them. He has not only seen the three big cats targeted in this photo tour, but also all four small cats that too are a possibility to see on this tour, including serval and caracal.
Besides having Sebastian by your side for guidance at all time, we hand pick the best local guides who have spent years if not decades in the Kalahari desert and Okavango delta. They know what trees the leopards like to sleep in, what areas the lions hunt in, and what termite mounts the cheetahs use to find their potential prey.
Fly into Johannesburg, South Africa. Fly to Kalahari Plains Camp. Meet your photo tour guide and settle into the beautiful camp which provides inspiring views of the Kalahari desert. Embark on your first game drive to see the desert adapted wildlife. Have dinner back at camp and rest on your own private sleep-out platform to enjoy the star-filled sky.
Morning and afternoon game drives with lunch and relaxation time back at camp during the middle of the day when the light is bad for photography. During the game drives our main aim will be to find the black-maned lions and cheetah, but we will also enjoy the desert animals like oryx and bat-eared fox.
After a sunrise game drive in the Kalahari, followed by a late breakfast, you will take a chartered flight to Chitabe Lediba Wilderness camp in the Okavango Delta. Settle into camp which overlooks a waterhole that attracts plenty of the surrounding wildlife. Go out for a sunset game drive followed by dinner back at camp.
Early breakfast followed either an all day game drive with lunch in the field or lunch back at camp depending on weather conditions and sightings. Our main goal in the Okavango will be to find leopards, lions, and hopefully cheetahs. Dinner back at camp. Night drives available for the small nocturnal wild cats like serval and caracal.
Early breakfast followed by a game drive to the airstrip to catch our chartered flight to Little Tubu camp which is located on the western side of the delta on Hunda Island. Enjoy the views of the delta before going out an afternoon game drive or boat ride. Walking safaris are also an option here.
Sunrise game drive to look for the big cats of the delta. Lunch back at camp. For dinner, we will choose to do a boat ride, game drive, or walking safari. This is also the day you have the option to hire a helicopter in case you want aerial photographs. Dinner back at camp.. Night drive is an option to look for African wild cat.
One last morning game drive or walking safari to get you a few last good delta wildlife sightings, possibly of elephants or wild dogs, before returning to camp for late breakfast. After packing your bags you will be driven to the airstrip for your chartered flight to Maun. You will catch your international onward flights from here.
Itinerary at a glance
5 NIGHT DRIVES
5 NIGHT DRIVES
Tailor-made big cat itinerary for a unique experience
This itinerary was specifically crafted to not only see big cats in Africa, but to put you into great positions to make impactful photographs. We have chosen three different top notch camps that put you right into the heart of wild cat country. Additionally, unlike many other African wildlife experiences, we are able to drive off road, meaning we can approach the wild cats and do so with the best photographic angles in mind.
And you aren’t limited to a safari vehicle, but you can experience these predators safely from eye level while on foot with an armed guide or play with reflections as you see wildlife from a boat. Unlike other times of year, we may experience quick afternoon showers, which can lead to dramatic skies and interesting behaviors, once again giving you the opportunity to create unique photographs.
Besides providing you the opportunity to see and photograph wild cats, we at Cat Expeditions make your travel experience hassle free. Upon booking, you will be sent a full itinerary that includes what to bring and how to prepare. Once you land in Botswana, you can focus on enjoying yourself as all the travel logistics are not only taken care off, but optimized to give you the most time to enjoy the incredible wildlife that the Kalahari and Okavango Delta have to offer.
Kalahari Plains Camp
Located in the northern parts of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), Kalahari Plains camp provides comfort in one of Africa’s most remote protected areas.
The eight canvas units with en-suite bathrooms look out over an immense desert pan, often filled with game and sometimes even big cats. Each unit has its own sleep out platform from which you can safely enjoy the star-filled sky, one of the clearest in Africa.
The lodge has an inviting lounge area where you can relax during the middle of the day, or enjoy its refreshing pool and deck.
Chitabe Lediba Camp
In the southern part of the Okavango Delta lies Chitabe Lediba camp, perfectly situated for us to experience the wildlife diversity of the delta. Chitabe concession, in which the camp is located is one of the world’s best wildlife locations.
Chitabe Lediba is perfect for our small photo group with canvas tents built on raised decks. Outdoor showers offer tremendous views of the surrounding delta, and wildlife can often be seen.
The lounge, pool, and dining area overlook a waterhole which is frequently visited by wildlife, providing private views of the mammals and birds.
Little Tubu Camp
The Little Tubu camp is located in the western part of the Okavango Delta and offers an intimate experience of this seasonal plain.
Being a smaller camp made up of just a few canvas tents that have their own bathrooms and outdoor showers, Little Tulu provides well deserved privacy. Each unit has its own private viewing platform from which you can often spot elephants.
The tents are connected to the main lounge area, pool, and bar via elevated walkways, all designed to maximize views of the delta.
Conservation impact of our big cats of Africa photo tour
Like all Cat Expeditions tours, our big cats of Africa photo tour has conservation impact built into it. Lions, leopards, and cheetah face a multitude of threats on the continent including habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, poaching, and persecution because of conflict with livestock.
There are many organizations thankfully fighting these threats and standing up for the big cats. Our partner on this tour, Wilderness Safaris, does more than provide accommodations, but they also organize their own anti-poaching teams. This means that not only is the wildlife protected but local people have jobs, something desperately needed in so many parts of Botswana.
We will hear about the anti-poaching activities as well as big cat research in the area to get a real understanding of the situation on the ground. This only makes us appreciate every wild cat sighting even more. Part of the cost of the tour goes to fund this research as well as the anti-poaching teams.
Big Cats of Africa Photo Tour Dates
February 25th - March 5th, 2023 (6 spots available)
February 19th - 29th, 2024 (6 spots available)
Big Cats of Africa Photo Tour Pricing
Price per person: $12,000
Single room supplement: $2,000
The price includes:
- all transportation starting in Botswana
- meals (not including alcohol)
- wild cat excursions
- guide services of Sebastian Kennerknecht
- English speaking local guide
- conservation donation to wild cat project
- flights to Maun, Botswana