16. Moving to Khwai

It’s another move day. This time we’re headed from one of the driest National Parks to a private concession area in very wet Khwai, where things are more lax in terms of vehicle placement and timing. You may remember Khwai from Tony and I’s pre-workshop warmup. Lots was happening in the area then, but we barely nibbled at that photographically, so we’re both eager to get back. We have a long journey ahead of ourselves first, though.

I’ve mentioned the NatGeo film crews. Here’s one of them with their vehicle this morning as we traded scouting information. When they’re shooting, there will be a RED with a long Canon telephoto lens sitting on that massive mount just in front of the driver:

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Upon breaking camp in Savute, we always make a stop at the bushman paintings. I can’t believe we drove past the signs for several days that said “Bushman Paintings This Way” and no one asked about them that I know of. But today we’ll take the time to climb up the rock (nice technique Tony ;~), have Shane give us a history of them and their significance, and take some time to photograph them close up. 

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One of our guides, Alistair, grew up in Savuti and has one of the paintings as a tattoo. 

This bushman exercise is all an elaborate disguise to do one thing: let the crew break down camp, get it packed on the big Man, and then get on the road ahead of us. In other words, we’re stalling, but at least with something of interest ;~). 

We also take the time to make one last contact with one of our local leopards and lying lions, but once the camp truck is on the road ahead of us, it’s time for us to move, too, as we have a lot of distance to cover. 

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We’re not in a hurry, though, so along the way we’re taking the time to photograph what we see. 

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And, as usual, we have a picnic lunch along the way, where we can get out of the vehicles and stretch our legs. 

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As we neared Khwai, the camp crew in the Man noted over the radio that there was a leopard very close to where we were camped. Indeed, we’d probably have to drive by it to get to the camp. So that’s where most of the gang ended up. 

But first, my vehicle had a slight detour. Adam was flying in additional supplies to the Khwai airstrip, so we took two vehicles over there to meet him and get the items. Normally, the camp crew would do that, but they’re busy setting up our new camp. 

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Somewhere in the offloading of supplies, the big Man shows up anyway, so we just load everything onto it. But now Shane has an idea: we can get a photo of the Capricorn Safari plane, the Man, and two Land Cruisers together. Not just any old photo mind, you, but a buzz by. Here’s the start of Adam’s first approach: 

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And here’s my shot:

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Okay, that doesn’t do it justice. Fortunately, we had an Apple employee along with their iPhone, so here’s the slow-mo video of the pass:

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After finishing up that posed shot, we head over to the leopard. Only thing is, it was two leopards (mom and older male cub) with a kill, and they were definitely in posing mode in the late afternoon light as we got there.

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As you might guess, with two leopards so close to a key road, a lot of vehicles started coming over. And it was getting really dark, as in Oh Dark ISO 12800. So eventually we gave up on the leopards and headed to our camp, now conveniently relocated just around the corner. Those leopards will still be there tomorrow, given that there’s a kill in the tree they’re still eating.

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That last shot is the view from the tent, by the way. 

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