Republic of Botswana & Victoria Falls, Zambia 2nd-16th June 2008

Published by James Walsh (J.Walsh5 AT

Participants: Samson Obitseng (tour guide), Helen Walsh, James Walsh, Jan Corlett, Roger Burrows


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Saddle-billed Stork
Saddle-billed Stork
Verreaux's Great Eagle Owl
Verreaux's Great Eagle Owl
Steppe Eagle
Steppe Eagle
White-fronted Bee-eater
White-fronted Bee-eater
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
African Skimmer
African Skimmer

The Expert Africa Pel's Fishing Owl Tour was booked through Susannah @ Expert Africa (


Flights Manchester-London Heathrow-Oliver Tambo Johannesburg-Maun Botswana 1st/2nd June, Livingstone Zambia-Oliver Tambo Johannesburg-London Heathrow-Manchester 16th/17th June


The weather throughout the trip was excellent - typical Southern African winter conditions of very cool nights, no rain and hot sunny days.


Currency: In Botswana - Pula, in Zambia - Kwacha, US dollars, Sterling and South African Rand widely acceptable


Safety: Northern Botswana is a malarial area so prophylactics advised (Malarone on private prescription), however we did not see a mosquito at this time of year as it was too cold. Obviously there are a number of large animals and everyone travelling through the area is advised to take the utmost care when on safari, especially keeping in your tent at night ! Overrall, it was a pleasure to be in this area of the world.


Special thanks to Samson "Sammie" Obitseng (freelance Botswana Eco tour guide), fellow travellers Jan Colett and Roger Burrows (writer for African Conservation Foundation/Wild Dogs expert) and mobile safari campsite/catering staff - Enoch, Barobi and Legkowa.


On arrival in Maun we transfered to the very pleasant and superbly designed Motsentsala Tree Lodge. The environs here are an "enclosed" reserve that includes 2 nature trails. There are no big cats on the land so it is safe to walk the trails without a guide.

The afternoon was quiet but included a stunning Crimson Breasted Shrike, singing Bearded Scrub Robin, the "Nuthatch-a-like" Long-billed Crombec, and a small flock of confiding White-browed Sparrow Weavers, aswell as Eland and Zebra.


Early morning nature trail walk around Motsentsala saw many feeding flocks of passerines including Golden-Tailed and Bearded Woodpecker, Black-backed Puffback, White-Crested Helmet Shrike, Orange Breasted Bush Shrike, Black Faced Waxbill and Chinspot Batis.

In Maun we met our guide, Samson (aka Sammie) Obitseng, and after a brief transport debacle a trek worthy safari vehicle was sorted out and we made our way into the Moremi Game Reserve, having first encounters with Elephant, Giraffe, Impala, Kori Bustard, Brown Snake Eagle, Saddle Billed and Yellow Billed Storks, Bataleur, Lilac Breasted Roller (the national bird of Botswana),
Southern Ground Hornbill, Blacksmith Lapwing, Nile Crocodile and African Jacana.

In Moremi we had our first night camping, the camp site was full of wild life with birds such as Green Wood Hoopoe, Crested Barbet and Black Shouldered Kite, while Spotted Hyena, Lions and Elephants were heard at night (some very close!) under a perfect sky.

On Day 3 we took a river trip on the Okavango Delta, seeing White Breasted Cormorant and Dickinsons Kestrel on the way to the boat mooring area. The rarest bird of the river trip was the Slaty Egret, a species found only on the Okavango Delta/Zambezi River, other excellent sightings were Rufous Bellied Heron, Yellow Billed Pintail, Black Crake and fishing Malachite Kingfishers watched at close quarters. Raptors were seen on the Delta; stunning views of African Fish Eagle, and a passing African Marsh Harrier, passerines were represented by Cape Wagtail, African Stonechat and Red Faced Mousebird, and proud parents included Saddle Billed Stork (2 nests both with young in) and a pair of African Pygmy Goose with pygmy goslings ! Several Languanas (Water Monitor Lizards) sunbathed on the banks and 2 Elephant crossed the river as we watched from only a few yards distance.

Evening bird sightings included Bennetts and Cardinal Woodpecker and African Green Pigeon, whilst a pride of lions had been found and we had views of them sunbathing in the afternoon and then all 8 adults (2 males and 6 females) at very close quarters (as close as 2 yards from the vehicle) in the evening. Just one of many sensational experiences during the trip.

In the early morning of Day 4 the pride of Lions plus 5 cubs were located. The cubs were 2 aged around 2 months and 3 aged approximately 3 months. Sammie informed us that these would certainly be the offspring of the 2 males otherwise they would not be accepted into this pride. Once again we had awesome views of Lions as they walked next to us.

Moments later, news came through that a male Leopard was being watched nearby. We arrived to find a poser lying in the grass, “preening” post meal (a small kill). After a few minutes he strolled around, leapt over a stream, found another small meal of Francolin eggs and then began hunting again.

The marshes and watering holes produced Hadeda Ibis, African Openbill and Kalahari Scrub-Robin, plus a Grey Headed Kingfisher perched on a termite mound.


On the way to Khwai a series of small pools and marshes held Hammerkop, a male Painted Snipe and 2 Wattled Cranes, and more raptors included Tawny Eagle and Hooded Vulture. A change to sandier more open habitat was reflected in the species - Namaqua Doves, Red-crested Korhaan and Sammie did well to swerve past 2 tiny, newly hatched Double Banded Sandgrouse chicks on the sandy track.

The Khwai Community Area was fairly quiet due to it being a hunting zone but the area around the river and campsite was excellent for owls with sightings of African Barred Owlet, Pearl Spotted Owlet and African Wood Owl.

DAYS 7-9 (8th-10th June) SAVUTI, BOTSWANA

Day 7 and the drive to Savuti was certainly a memorable one......almost unbelievably a pack of 14 African Wild Dogs, including a pregnant female, were sighted by the river, as they nervously attempted to find a safe place to cross. It took them a while to find a crocodile-free crossing area which gave us over an hour of close views. Whilst watching, a huge Lappet Faced Vulture flew over the river completing an amazing scene !

More raptors were seen as the terrain became more open including Lanner Falcon, Black Chested Snake Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Martial Eagle, White Headed Vulture, Shikra, Gabar Goshawk, Little Sparrowhawk and a Steppe Eagle at a nest.

The watering holes at Savuti were areas of constant motion with birds flying in and out to drink and bathe - Namaqua Sandgrouse, Capped Wheatear, Red-capped Lark and even a Kittlitzs Plover - and Elephants and Giraffes drinking here, mainly in the evenings. Passerines in this area included the subtle Bradfields Hornbill, Southern White-Crowned Shrikes and, one of the birds of the trip - a stunning male Long Tailed Paradise Wydah.

Other birds that could not be missed were Secretarybird, Ostrich, Northern Black Korhaan, Kori Bustard and a superb Verreauxs Great Eagle Owl sat out in the open at dusk (thanks to Sammie for the mission to see this one).

Another superb evening sighting were 2 Cheetahs that occasionally gave good views as they wandered warily and stealthily around an area of dense undergrowth and long grass. To cap off the Savuti experience 4 African Wild Dogs were seen trotting along the Savuti Channel near the rock painting site.

DAYS 10-11 (11th-12th June) CHOBE RIVER, BOTSWANA

A flock of Pratincoles hawked insects high over the Chobe River (too high for identification), before an unscheduled stay @ Toro river lodge due to a support vehicle failure. This proved good for the bird list as we saw Lesser Moorhen in the reeds, and White-browed Coucal, Lesser Striped Swallow and White-fronted Bee-eater on the lawn !

The Chobe River is well documented as a wildlife haven and the boat trip here must be comparable with world class river trips such as the Okavango and the Daintree. A Lioness lazily chased a herd of Kudu, we had rare sightings of Sable Antelope and Bushbuck, 200+ Elephant lined the river banks which also hosted Bee-eater, Brown-throated Martin and Pied Kingfisher nesting holes, as well as African Skimmer, Water Dikkop and Comb Duck.

Our stay at Chobe was all too brief but just before we left we passed by a huge flock of several hundred Buffalo, another (or the same?) Sable Antelope and a tail wagging Buffy Pipit.

DAYS 12-15 (13th-16th June) VICTORIA FALLS, ZAMBIA

A Wire-tailed Swallow flew over the Zambezi as we made the border crossing into Zambia onto our last destination of the trip - Victoria Falls, where a Red-capped Robin-Chat was found in the undergrowth by the spectacular waterfalls.

Zebras on the lawn of the hotel - the Zambezi Sun - looked incongruous and the Nature Trail here was superb: a male Southern Brown Throated Weaver in the small reedbed, 3 species of Kingfisher on the pond (pair of Brown Hooded, pair of Giant and a Pied), and a number of passerines in small feeding flocks including Tropical Boubou, Grey Headed Bush Shrike, Terrestrial Brownbul and Red Winged Starling.

A tourist cruise on the Zambezi onboard the African Princess saw Water Dikkop, Giant Kingfisher and 26 Trumpeter Hornbill and perhaps the same flock early the next morning by Victoria Falls.

Overall, a really quality trip and an awesome experience, I can't rate this safari highly enough.

Species Lists

Little Grebe
White-breasted Cormorant
Reed Cormorant
African Darter
Grey Heron
Yellow-billed Egret
Great Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Squacco Heron
Black Heron
Slaty Egret
Rufous-bellied Heron
Green-backed Heron
Yellow-billed Stork
Marabou Stork
Saddle-billed Stork
African Openbill
African Spoonbill
Hadeda Ibis
African Sacred Ibis
Spur-winged Goose
Egyptian Goose
Comb Duck
White-faced Whistling Duck
African Pygmy-Goose
Yellow-billed Duck
Lappet-faced Vulture
White-headed Vulture
African White-backed Vulture
Hooded Vulture
African Fish-Eagle
Brown Snake-Eagle
Black-chested Snake-Eagle
Steppe Eagle
Tawny Eagle
Martial Eagle
African Hawk-Eagle
African Harrier-Hawk
African Marsh Harrier
Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk
Dark Chanting Goshawk
Black-shouldered Kite
Gabar Goshawk
Little Sparrowhawk
Lanner Falcon
Dickinson's Kestrel
Red-billed Francolin
Swainson's Francolin
Crested Francolin
Helmeted Guineafowl
Common Ostrich
Lesser Moorhen
African Jacana
Black Crake
Wattled Crane
Kori Bustard
Red-crested Korhaan
Northern Black Korhaan
Black-winged Stilt
Kittlitz's Plover
Crowned Lapwing
Long-toed Lapwing
White-crowned Lapwing
African Wattled Lapwing
Blacksmith Lapwing
Greater Painted-Snipe
Pratincole sp(p?)
Water Dikkop
African Skimmer
Grey-headed Gull
Whiskered Tern
Double-banded Sandgrouse
Namaqua Sandgrouse
Burchell's Sandgrouse
African Mourning Dove
Red-eyed Dove
Cape Turtle-Dove
Laughing Dove
African Green-Pigeon
Emerald Spotted Wood-Dove
Namaqua Dove
Meyer's Parrot
Grey Lourie
Coppery-tailed Coucal
White-browed Coucal
Senegal Coucal
Verraux's Giant Eagle Owl
African Wood-Owl
African Barred Owlet
Pearl-Spotted Owlet
Common Swift
African Palm-Swift
Red-faced Mousebird
Giant Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Malachite Kingfisher
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Grey-hooded Kingfisher
White-fronted Bee-eater
Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
Little Bee-eater
Lilac-breasted Roller
Southern Ground-Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill
Bradfield's Hornbill
African Grey Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill
Red-billed Hornbill
Green Wood-Hoopoe
African Hoopoe
Crested Barbet
Cardinal Woodpecker
Golden-tailed Woodpecker
Bennett's Woodpecker
Bearded Woodpecker
Rufous-Naped Lark
Red-capped Lark
Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark
Greater Striped Swallow
Lesser Striped Swallow
Wire Tailed Swallow
Common House-Martin
Grey-rumped Swallow
Brown-throated Martin
Pied Crow
Miombo Tit
Arrow-marked Babbler
Hartlaubs Babbler
Southern Pied Babbler
African Red-eyed Bulbul
Dark-capped Bulbul
Terrestrial Brownbul
Yellow-bellied Greenbul
Capped Wheatear
African Stonechat
Red-capped Robin-chat
Bearded Scrub-Robin
Kalahari Scrub-Robin
Grey-backed Camaroptera
Long-billed Crombec
Zitting Cisticola
Marico Flycatcher
Chinspot Batis
Cape Wagtail
African Pied Wagtail
African Pipit
Buffy Pipit
Crimson-Breasted Shrike
Common Fiscal
Tropical Boubou
Grey-headed Bush-Shrike
Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike
White-crested Helmet-Shrike
Black-backed Puffback
Greater Blue-eared Starling
Cape Glossy Starling
Burchell's Starling
Meves's Long-tailed Starling
Red-winged Starling
Wattled Starling
Red-billed Oxpecker
White-bellied Sunbird
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver
White-browed Sparrow-Weaver
Lesser Masked Weaver
Southern Brown-throated Weaver
Weaver Sp(p?)
Red-billed Quelea
Long-tailed Paradise-Wydah
Jameson's Firefinch
Black-Faced Waxbill
Blue Waxbill
Scaly-Feathered Finch

176 species


Nile Crocodile
Languana (Water Monitor Lizard)
Snake sp
Chacma Baboon
Peters Epauletted Fruit Bat
African Buffalo
African Wild Cat
African Elephant
Spotted Hyena (heard)
Greater Kudu
Red Lechwe
Vervet Monkey
Common Reedbuck
Sable Antelope
Tree Squirrel
Wild Dog
Blue Wildbeest
Burchells Zebra
Banded Mongoose
Dwarf Mongoose
Slender Mongoose
Small Bat sp