Milestones: A Wild Life With Wildlife


Early this year we reached a significant milestone; guiding our 30th Photo Safari in Africa. We’ve been terrifically fortunate to spend so much time immersed in the continent’s most inspiring safari destinations along with so many wonderful people. We continue to be in awe of all the stunning moments, minutes, and hours spent with big game. And, the fun we’ve had in our quest to discover the best balance of comfort with reliably incredible wildlife experiences, a broad array of luxurious safari camps and lodges that we’ve stayed at—nearly 60.180820_SAfr_4988

Looking through our favorite images from these years, there are particular areas that have always provided amazing encounters with big game. As we prep to depart for our August 2019 safari program, we’re thrilled to be returning again to our favorite and most treasured itinerary—the one we have designed and appropriately named “Wildlife Paradise.” Time and again it’s delivered many of our most incredible wildlife sightings, photos, and memories. More importantly for us, it’s consistently “Wowed” our travelers, many of whom have joined us on prior safaris, prompting letters from them saying:

“It exceeded our wildest expectations!”
—Trevor & Geraldine W., 2018 Safari

As very seasoned African travelers we rank this trip among the best we have ever taken. The many leopard, lion, elephant and wild dog encounters were especially amazing… Five leopard at one time!!!.”
—Alan & Jo Ann H., 2016 Safari

“The wildlife sightings were the best of our three safaris.”
—Wayne & Janine R., 2013, 2015, 2016 Safaris

We thought you might enjoy seeing some of the images we find memorable from these locations during the past five years (since it’s been that long since we blogged about these special places). It’s what inspires us to keep returning for more.

Leopards. Leopards. Leopards.


A favorite elder female we see every year near Chiawa Camp.

We’ll never forget one safari traveler who had been on 4 safaris, three of them with us. He said he was finished with safaris, claiming to have never had a good leopard sighting before, that it wasn’t possible. Rikki “promised” him a really great leopard if he came on this itinerary, and perfectly enough, on the very first afternoon at MalaMala, he had a gorgeous leopard posing on a huge granite rock outcropping in late afternoon light.

Risky business making promises about the most reclusive of the big cats (and interestingly the most prevalent). Yet our safaris in Southern Africa have been created to be particularly rich in leopard sightings. MalaMala, Mashatu, Chitabe, and Chiawa are all camps renown for their frequent and astounding leopard encounters year after year.


Leopard aggressively defending its kill from a potential interloper. We watched for over an hour as five different leopards moved in and out of this scene. Amazing. 


Setting out on our morning game drive, this gorgeous female leapt down next to us from her perch above the safari track. A welcome way to start our day! 



Pausing in the evening sun after an unsuccessful ambush.

Refreshing Perspectives

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From pontoon boats, watching tons of bathing and splashing in the Lower Zambezi River.


Late afternoons on the river are gorgeous, with big herds arriving to the riverside for drinks and bathing.

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From canoe eye-level, elephants of every size enjoying water and mud-baths on the river’s edge.


Breathtaking views from helicopter flights over the lush greenery and waterways of the Okavango Delta.

The Awesome Below-Ground Photo Hide at Mashatu


For a wonderful, eye-to-toe-level view with a huge variety of wild visitors from the smallest to the birds galore to the very biggest, Mashatu Reserve features the Matabole “Elephant” Hide.


Rare view of a spotted hyena’s peaceful morning drink.


Sitting quietly and patiently (on bar stools with hot coffee!) in the hide yields spectacular moments.

Wild Dogs at Chitabe, Okavango Delta


Wild dogs are fast-moving, wide-ranging, and wild to watch. Chitabe Concession has been a longtime denning site, their guides know the pack’s areas well. They make careful and considerate approaches to allow intimate views of the pack and their many young pups.



The Alpha female with her 16 pups all trying to nurse at one time! (Yes, they’re all hers, and, no, she doesn’t have enough teats to feed all of them at once.)


A momentary détente between fierce competitors over the carcass of an elephant.

A Wealth of Wildlife

Endless Fun With Lion Cubs


Lion cubs-combo

Attacking mom and siblings is fun play but more practically, it’s constant training to hone the hunting skills essential for their long term survival.

At the End of the Day

One of the great delights of being on safari in these special private concessions and game reserves is the tradition of “Sundowners.” At the end of the day, we pause the vehicles, or slow the pontoon boat to drift on the tranquil river—hippos peering inquisitively at us— as we pull out a cooler of chilled drinks to toast another incredible day. The sun eases down, etching silhouettes against  the colorful layering of the sky. We pause and take time to reflect, and to be thankful. And then slowly we enter the realm of the moon, curious night sounds, and the vibrant Milky Way.

Interested in knowing more about our safari programs, look under the “African Safaris” pull down menu above. Interested in 2020? Check out this link 2020 Wildlife Paradise Photo Safari with Rikki & Jack for the full itinerary.

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About Rikki & Jack Swenson

Photo Expedition & Photo Safari Leaders
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