2013 07 Newsletter, African Photo Safari to Botswana

Renner Safaris

Dream, Explore, Discover

Find information and prices for our 2014 Safaris below in the Newsletter. 

Our high quality, outstanding trips fill up early with a high percentage of our guests being returning customers. These are amazing photo safaris!

Botswana, the land of leopards, elephants, wild dogs, hippos and so much, much more! In May we had another incredible photo safari in Botswana.  The lodges were beautiful, the staff wonderful and the animals put on a great show!
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Running to Water
Laroo La Tao, Botswana
Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

Our lodge in Laroo La Tao was set up on a hill overlooking the banks of the river where the water attracted a multitude of animals.  Greater kudu, zebra, wildebeest, elephants and many birds were just a portion of the of the wildlife we were able to photograph. Three Wattled Cranes had made the riverbed their home and we saw them each day. Standing nearly six feet tall, the birds were hard to miss! Nearby, was a sizable herd of zebra and wildebeest running along the river. They were backlit by the setting sun which created wonderful opportunities to photograph the animals in the light with dust billowing up from their thundering hooves. The mornings and evenings in Laroo La Tao were magical. Every game drive was different from the last and every game drive was exciting!

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Our first afternoon drive provided us with sightings of two herds of elegant greater kudu. A bull with massive spiral horns accompanied each herd. A Pied Kingfisher hovering above the water as it scanned for fish, paid no attention to the Kudu bull standing merely inches away.

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Greater Kudu Bull and Pied Kingfisher
Laroo La Tao, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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The sun was getting low and the dust stirred up by animal hooves created a wonderful, almost mysterious aura! A lone wildebeest is heading for the river.

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 Walking Through The LIght
Laroo La Tao, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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At Laroo La Tao thousands of zebra move through the area each year on their annual migration in constant search of fresh grass and water.  We had great opportunities to photograph them when they gathered near the river. At times they do things that are quite humorous.

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So Many Stripes!
Laroo La Tao, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Backlit Foal
Laroo La Tao, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Dare To Be Different!
Laroo La Tao, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Our guides were intent on finding lions for us.  They often pointed out fresh lion tracks in the sand, but with all of the bushes in the area finding the lions was easier said than done. When we found our first lions, photographing them was tricky because they blended in with the grass.

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Hidden In The Grass
Laroo La Tao, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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At the airstrip in Laroo La Tao we caught our flight to Camp Moremi. Our next  lodge was beautifully sheltered under giant Ebony trees located near the edge of the water on Xaxanaka Island in Moremi Game Reserve in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta.

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Our Flight to Moremi
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon 7D, Lens: EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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We were only a couple of minutes from the lodge when our drivers found this old male lion guarding his meal. It was a buffalo calf he had been fortunate to catch a few days earlier. He was an older lion, battle scarred and looked weary. Judging by his missing tooth it was obvious that hunting would be more difficult for him and he was now on his own as younger males had taken over his pride.  Remaining King is no easy task!

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Old Warrior
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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One way to spot leopards is to figure out what a herd of impala might be looking at. They are cautious and always on the lookout for predators. If one of them spots a cat it will warn the rest of the herd and they will all be looking in the same direction at the predator. After spotting any danger they sound an alarm to alert other animals in the vicinity. The warning alarm sounds like loud snorting noises and is sometimes mistaken for a rooting warthog.

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Impala Females
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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On our first game drive in Moremi we found a Leopard and her eighteen month old cub. It was near sunset and getting dark.  When we returned to the area the next morning we discovered that they made a kill during the night and had eaten their fill. The mother was hidden in the bushes but the cub stayed out in the open, laying along side a termite mound, moving and posing for us for over two hours!

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Young Leopard
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

Before we left, the leopard’s curiosity got the better of it, and it came right up to the side of the vehicle and looked up at me like it was thinking about jumping up onto my lap. Fortunately it heard something clicking at the front of the vehicle and went to check out the sound.  It was a fantastic experience to spend that much time with a leopard out in the open and up close too!  

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Inquisitive Leopard
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Lens: Sigma, 150-500 IS
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013  

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What Do You Have For An Engine in Here?
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Nikon D600, Lens: 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
Copyright: Deborah Pelton, 2013

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I Could Really Sink My Teeth Into Those Belts and Hoses! 
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Deborah Komatsu, 2013

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Feeling Comfortable
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Nikon D600, Lens: 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
Copyright: Deborah Pelton, 2013

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The next morning we came across two male lions whose unusual looking manes appeared to have been clipped by a groomer. Very unusual! Even our guides had not seen this before nor did they know what area the two males had come from.

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Male Lion 1
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Male Lion 2
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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We found Hippos in many areas throughout the Delta.  I converted the image to black and white in Lightroom and enjoy the texture of his whiskers.

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Who Said That I Need To Shave?
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Water lilies are abundant in the Okavango Delta. It can be challenging to capture sharp images of them from a rocking boat!

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Water Lily
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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You will find more photographs below the safari listing tables and information.2C8R5510

 Giraffe
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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African Photo Safaris in 2014

The remainder of our 2013 safaris have been sold out for some time and the 2014 trips are filling fast. Be sure and book your 2014 trip early so you wont be disappointed.

Tanzania and Kenya – Birthing Season for the Great Migration                (Five Spaces Available) Feb.1-17, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing
Botswana and Zambia (Seven Spaces Available) May 20 – June 4, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing 
Tanzania and Kenya – Season for Great Migration Crossings at the Mara River  (Sold Out) July 16 – Aug.2, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing
Tanzania and Kenya – Season for Great Migration Crossings at the Mara River. We have also added an optional 4 day pre-safari extension to Samburu for this safari.  (Sold Out)  Aug. 28 – Sept. 13, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trek   Sept. 13 – 17, 2014 Itinerary and Pricing 

African Photo Safaris In 2013

The remainder of our 2013 safaris have been sold out for some time. Be sure and book your 2014 trip early so you wont be disappointed.

Tanzania and Kenya-17 Days – Birthing Season for the Great Migration Feb. 1-17, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Botswana-15-Days (sold out) May 16-28, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Tanzania and Kenya-18-Days – Season for Great Migration Crossings at the Mara River (sold out) July 18 – Aug.4, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Tanzania and Kenya-17-Days – Season for Great
Migration Crossings at the Mara River (sold out)
Aug. 28 – Sept. 13, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Trek (sold out) Sept. 13 – 17, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing
South Africa Photo Safari (sold out) Sept. 19 – Oct. 2, 2013 Itinerary and Pricing

Important information about our safaris:

 

Prices for our safaris to Kenya and Tanzania include international airfare from LAX – most other companies do not include airfare.
We have only three passengers per nine passenger 4×4 safari Land Cruiser so You will enjoy plenty of space for you and your equipment.
We stay in luxury safari lodges and tented camps.
You do not have to be a photographer but you must enjoy watching the wildlife because that is what we do!
I will be there to photograph with you and available to answer your questions.
 Parks we visit on our African safaris.

 

On our Tanzania/Kenya safaris we have only three passengers per nine passenger vehicle giving you plenty of space for you and your photo equipment. You can photograph through windows on BOTH sides of the vehicle and also from the top, which pops up to create shade so you are protected from the hot, equatorial sun. Compared to other tours that pack the vans with up to eight people, this is a huge deal. 

When using six great guides, you will hardly believe all of the wildlife they find. We have trained them to understand lighting, composition and what we are trying to achieve. Our guides are awesome! As we leave the lodges on our game drives to hunt for animals, the vehicles separate and spread out. This allows us to have up to six guides each looking for wildlife. They each have radios to share what they find so no one misses out. Our safaris are designed for the ultimate photographic experience, however please don’t be intimidated from enjoying one my photo safaris just because you are not a photographer or you don’t use a “great camera.” If you enjoy wildlife you will love these safaris and more than likely you’ll come home with your own great photos too! I will be photographing on our game drives too, but I am available to answer your questions and am happy let you know how I am photographing each subject so you can learn more about photography and bring home your own great photos too. To avoid disappointment, make your reservations today.

To reserve your space on our photo safaris, please call Paul Renner at (949) 295-3136, or email him at: paulrenner3@cox.net or call Prem Sharma at Best Safaris (800) 757-6625

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After landing on the dirt airstrip at Savute, and taxiing to a stop, we were greeted by our friend and guide, Baba, a wonderful man whose broad smile and big hugs made us feel most welcome.

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Our Greeter, Baba
Savute, Botswana
Canon 7D, Lens: EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Botswana is known to have the greatest number of elephants of any country in Africa. Many of the bull elephants live in the Savute area. We were able to watch and photograph them as they gathered to drink only a few feet from the deck at the lodge dining area while we were served our delicious meals. What a thrilling and unique experience!

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Elephant (Right Side)
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Elephant (Left Side)
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Birdlife in most areas we visit in Africa is spectacular!  Botswana is no different! I have tried on many safaris to get a photo of a flying Lilac Breasted Roller. In Savute, this year, I finally succeeded in capturing a photo I am happy with.  And yes, the colors on this bird are real!

Lilac Breasted Roller Flying -

Fly Like The Wind
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Lens: EF 400mm f/5.6L US
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

Another fascinating bird is the Crowned Plover. When they sense danger near their nest, they will start making noise and fein a broken leg or wing to lead the danger away from the nest.

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Crowned Plover
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Lens: EF 400mm f/5.6L US
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Savute is not only a great place for elephants, but also for leopards, lions, wild dogs and a host of other wildlife as well. IMG_9732

Elephant Reflections
Savute, Botswana
Canon 7D, Lens: EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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As with many antelope, only male kudu and impala have horns. In this same area the following evening we watched a leopard patiently stalk a group of impala for one and a half hours, only to have her hunt thwarted when she was only about twenty yards away. A male impala spotted her and sounded the warning alarm which ruined her hunt! The leopard instantly laid down in the sand and appeared to play dead.  She was trying to entice the curious impala to come in close to her, but the impala didn’t fall for the trick this time.

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Greater Kudu and Impala
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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There are several different species of Mongoose in the Savute area.  We encountered Banded Mongoose, Dwarf Mongoose and Slender or Black-Tipped Mongoose.  These little predators  are not only cute but also help to control the insect population and also eat small creatures like mice and lizards.

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Slender or Black-Tipped Mongoose
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013


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Dwarf Mongoose
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Elephants are methodical in what they do. This herd walking in an orderly formation across the dried marsh is headed to the river to drink and enjoy being in the water. One or more of them often raises its trunk to catch the scent of anything that could be a danger to the herd or a threat to their babies.  The herds are led by the matriarch, with bulls joining the herds for breeding purposes. 2C8R5838

Walking Across the Marsh
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

This curious old bull came by to wish our group hello.

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Curious Bull
Savute, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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It was early morning in Savute and we had just begun our game drive when our driver heard on the short wave radio that lions were walking through the public campground! We were off to find them! There were only a few campsites in use and none of the campers had seen the lions yet. Suddenly, there they were! Walking beside the tents!  The campers were only a short distance away but the lions kept moving and didn’t pay any attention to them. There were two females and the male pictured below. With the females in the lead, and the male following them, they moved down into the river bed. Without warning, one of the females crouched low, hiding behind some logs for cover. About two hundred yards upriver there were two wild dogs eating an impala and the lioness had spotted them. One of the dogs appeared to be ready to have pups any minute. Suddenly the lions charged the dogs and grabbed what was left of the impala leaving the dogs who fled for their lives. Just as they began to eat, the male lion went rushing in and stole the kill away from them. He carried it up the hill into the trees where he could eat his fill without sharing and then lay in the shade. Quite the gentleman! Not!  2C8R5767

Lion Reveling In Early Morning SunlIght
Savute, Botswana
Canon 1D Mark lll, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

Converted to Black and White using Lightroom.

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Lioness Taking a Quick Drink
Savute, Botswana
Canon 1D Mark lll, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

 

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Wild Dog Drinking
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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In a drying up pool a flock of Yellow Billed Storks was having a fish feeding frenzy. Because the pool was drying up the fish were easy to catch in the mud. I have never seen so many birds catching fish at the same time! At one point I counted seven birds with fish in their bills. Some of the fish were quite large and the storks had difficulty swallowing them.  But it was a great fishing day for the birds!

IMG_9334Yellow Billed Stork Eating Mudfish
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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We found birds in various assortments of shapes and sizes. This Red Billed Hornbill landed on a nearby log and stayed just long enough for me to get a few photos before flying off.
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Red Billed Hornbill
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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 Hammerkops are medium sized birds but build the largest nest of any bird.  The nest is over six feet across and round with a hole on one side to give them access to the nest. Hammerkops are usually found near water.

Hammerkop
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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It almost looked like fall in Savute. Many leaves were golden and the black and white zebras blended right into the picture. 

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Zebra Stripes and Colorful Trees
Savute, Botswana
Canon 7D, Lens: EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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Our final stop was Chobe National Park and we had just begun our first game drive when our driver/guide said that one of her colleagues had spotted wild dogs near a water hole.  We rushed off to see them because they can move quickly. When we arrived there was a herd of twenty or so elephants in the water with the dogs off to the left. The dogs drank their fill and turned to leave just as two large Sable antelope bulls came charging down the hill in our direction. One was chasing the other. They swerved around us and the elephants to the opposite side of the pool where one of them ran in and then out of  the water.  Their commotion caught the attention of the Wild Dogs who came running back thinking they might get a chance for a meal. As they moved in on the Sable, the whole herd of elephants charged out of the water at the dogs and chased them off.  Lucky day for the Sable!

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Sable Antelope
Chobe National Parke, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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Clients tell me they love being on our safaris because they not only see a lot of animals,  and are encouraged to take their time observing and photographing interesting animal behavior. Elephants love swimming in the Chobe River and it was fun to see them in deep water with their snorkels up. 

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Crossing the Chobe River
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon 1D Mark lll, Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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A cloud of dust off in the distance as the sun was rising turned out to be a herd of about 500 Cape buffalo making their way to the Chobe River for an early morning drink.

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Cape Buffalo Herd
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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Cape Buffalo
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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Being in a boat and down at water level gives us an interesting perspective of the animals, especially something as large as elephants with young babies. Being low gives the  animals the appearance of greater stature.

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Family Time 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 
 

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Even being eye to eye with hippos can be exciting! Check out the teeth! IMG_1618

 Hippo Munching On Swamp Grass 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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And speaking of teeth!  In my book, the crocodile wins the prize for the scariest choppers! It is fascinating to think that crocodiles have survived with their current design for millions of years. One evening we saw a fifteen foot crocodile leap (and I do mean leap!), off the shore and disappear under water in less than a second.  I had not realized they could move so fast on land. WOW! It was really amazing.

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Crocodile 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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This Grey-Headed Kingfisher was there to greet us when we docked the boat after our ride.

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Grey-Headed Kingfisher 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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The birds are not the only ones fishing on the Chobe River.  Every so often a native fisherman will pole by in his mokoro. I think they are pretty brave to be out there fishing along with the hippos, crocs and elephants, all on the same river together.

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Native Fisherman in Mokoro 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013 

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You have probably guessed from the photos in this newsletter, that one of the things I enjoy on safari is watching the animals around water. Baboons are no exception. The surrounding territory is usually dry and I like thinking that the animals are getting water that will sustain them through another dusty day in Africa. 

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Baboons 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013  

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Impala bucks drinking from the Chobe River.

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Impala Bucks 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013  

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Baboon babies.  One nursing, one still sleepy.  It is so hard to wake up early! IMG_1833

Baboons
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013  

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Cape Buffalo drinking with three Red Billed Oxpeckers also reaching down to sip water when they get the chance. If the birds did that to me, I am sure their feet would tickle my nose and I would be laughing too hard for any of us to get a drink. The buffalo didn’t seem to mind them on his face.

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Cape Buffalo 
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013  

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A Herd Of Serious Drinkers
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013  

High Stepping
Chobe National Park, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Sigma 150-500 mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013  

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 All in all, it was another tremendous safari with a wonderful group of clients.  I can hardly wait to go back next year! Why don’t you join me for the excitement!

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Sunset on the Okavango Delta 
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Canon EOS 7D, Lens: Canon 18-135 mm, f3.5-5.6 IS USM
Copyright: Paul Renner, 2013

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This could be you! If you are not joining us on safari in 2013 I hope you will be able to in 2014 so you can see, experience and photograph all of this for yourself. It will be the trip of a lifetime! Imagine the thrill of being on safari with us in Kenya or Tanzania. I hope you will be able to join us on at least one of these amazing experiences.

Clients Photographing a Male Lion From One of our 4×4 Land Cruisers
Masai Mara, Kenya
Canon EOS 1D Mark lll, Lens: Canon EF100-400mm, f4.5-5.6 IS USM

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Please feel free to forward the newsletter on to friends that might enjoy it.

For more safari information, prices and itineraries click here.

I hope that you will be able to join us on one of our safaris in the not so distant future. It will be the trip of a lifetime!

Enjoy each day.
Paul Renner

paulrenner3@cox.net

www.rennersafaris.com

(949) 295-3136

Read more about what our clients have to say about our safaris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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