Changing Planet

Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness #23

“Life in us is like the water in a river.” Henry David Thoreau

The Okavango is the beating heart of Africa, home to an estimated 50% of the world’s elephants, most of the world’s hippo, and crucial populations of many other keystone species. There is no wilder place on earth: this is the Africa of a hundred thousand years ago. If its catchment is not protected this wilderness as we know it could disappear.

The 21st May marks the start of Expedition #Okavango15. This National Geographic exploration is the first of its kind ever attempted. A 10 week, 2, River, 1000 mile, 3 country traverse of the Okavango River system on mekoros (traditional dugout canoes) from its source in the Angolan Highlands to the sands of the Kalahari Desert.  Our team of scientists, conservationists and artists will be focusing on understanding one of the most unknown catchments in the world, and trying to secure it World Heritage Status.

This is a request to help us in our endeavour.

Solar powered satellite transmitters will be sharing the experience as live as possible. You can see what we are seeing, ask us questions on Twitter, follow our paths through the networks of papyrus, monitor our heartbeats as we pass pods of hippos, celebrate with us if we discover new species, and listen to our Radio Okavango podcasts from the campfire. Every single time you interact with us or share our posts and messages you will be widening the Okavango’s audience and increasing the chances of this place getting the political support and protection it so badly needs.


[For a detailed list of links to follow Expedition #Okavango15 see the bottom of this post]

[Submit your photographs for possible inclusion in our next “Top 25 Photographs from the Wilderness” post here]

1. A new dawn, by guide Daryl Dell.
2. A new dawn, by guide Daryl Dell. Photographed at Phinda, South Africa.

“Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.” Abdul Kalam.

2. Take Down, by Simon Cox. Chobe National Park, Botswana.
3. Take down, by Simon Cox. Photographed in the Chobe National Park, Botswana.

Within each of us there is a silence, a silence as vast as the universe. And when we experience that silence, we remember who we are.” Gunilla Norris

3. Lone Hartebeest, Ken & Michelle Dyball. Mali Mazuri, Kenya.
4. Lone hartebeest, by guides Ken & Michelle Dyball. Photographed at Mali Mazuri, Kenya.

“One who will not accept solitude, stillness and quiet recurring moments…is caught up in the wilderness of addictions; far removed from an original state of being and awareness. This is ‘dis-ease.” T.F. Hodge

5. Giraffe at sunrise, by guide Chris Renshaw. "Pamushana is a very spiritual place, etched in history, and not just in the bushman rock art, but it is palpable in the air you breathe."  Singita, South Africa.
5. Giraffe at sunrise, by guide Chris Renshaw. “Pamushana is a very spiritual place, etched in history… and it is not just in the San bushman rock art, but palpable in the air you breathe.” Photographed at Singita, South Africa.

“The desert, when the sun comes up…I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the Earth began.” Tom Hanks.

6. Inquisitive, Brendon Cremer. Machaba Camp, Botswana.
6. Inquisitive, by guide Brendon Cremer. Photographed at Machaba Camp, Botswana.

“… what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.” Norton Juster.

7. Lion in the rain, Brendon Cremer.
7. Lion in the rain, by guide Brendon Cremer. Photographed at Duba Plains, Okavango Delta, Botswana.

“You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.” Karen Blixen

8. Grumpy Hippo, Mario Moreno. "A Hippo getting quite upset of our presence puts on a fantastic show for us." Motswari Private Game Reserve in Greater Kruger, South Africa.
8. Grumpy hippo, by guide Mario Moreno. Photographed at Motswari Private Game Reserve, Timbavati, South Africa.

“The power of nature can make fun of the power of man at any time!” Mehmet Murat Ildan.

9. One Day, by guide Calvin Kotze.
9. One day, by guide Calvin Kotze. Photographed at Ulusaba, South Africa.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Confucius.

10. Life Blood, by Keith Connelly. Mashatu, Botswana.
10. Life Blood, by guide Keith Connelly. Photographed at Mashatu, Botswana.

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” Benjamin Franklin.

11. Giraffe under the moon, by Ken and Michelle Dyball.
11. Giraffe under the moon, by guides Ken and Michelle Dyball. Photographed in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” Karen Blixen

12. Locked, by Ross Couper.
12. Locked, by guide Ross Couper. Photographed at Singita, Sabi Sands, South Africa.

“All problems, though appearing outside of you, must be resolved within YOU.” Vivian Amis.

13. Stomp, by Brendon Cremer "During the dry season elephants can be seen by the thousands gathering to feed and drink along the banks of the chobe river. Being able to get so close to the large animals while they are feeding allows for some great close up photography, in this image the elephant was kicking up grass to feed on. -  Image was captured from a boat shooting off a tripod." Loxodonta Africana - Chobe National Park, Botswana
13. Stomp, by guide Brendon Cremer. “During the dry season elephants can be seen by the thousands gathering to feed and drink along the banks of the Chobe River. On a boat you are able to get so close to the large animals while they are feeding allows for some great photographic opportunities. In this image the elephant was kicking up grass to feed on.”
Photographed in the Chobe National Park, Botswana

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife, are in fact plans to protect man.” Stewart Udall.

14. Everything the light touches is our kingdom, by Roel van Muiden. Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa.
14. “Everything the light touches is our kingdom”, by guide Roel van Muiden. Photographed at Madikwe Hills Game Reserve, South Africa.

“Empty yourself of everything. Let the mind become still. The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return. They grow and flourish and then return to the source. Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.”  Lao Tzu

15. Kalahari Dreaming, by Keith Connelly. Namibia.
15. Kalahari dreaming, by guide Keith Connelly. Photographed in the Kgalagadi, South Africa.

“When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” John Lennon.

16. Untitled, by Ross Couper.
16. Pride, by guide Ross Couper. Photographed at Singita, Sabi Sands, South Africa.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu.

17. Wildebeest Under a Storm, by Mario Moreno. Two Wildebeest lead the way under a threatening sky. Masai Mara, Kenya.
17. Wildebeest under a storm, by Mario Moreno. Two wildebeest lead the way under a threatening sky. Photographed in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

“Water is the driving force in nature.” Leonardo da Vinci

18. Little Miracle, by Christof Schoeman.
18. Little Miracle, by guide Christof Schoeman. Photographed at Simbavati, Timbavati, South Africa.

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Franz Kafka.

19. Give Me a Kiss, by guide Daryl Dell.
19. Give me a kiss, by guide Daryl Dell. “A very special moment between a black rhino bull and a male calf.” Photographed at Phinda, South Africa.

“They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.” Hermann Hesse

20. Flight at Sunset, by Mario Moreno. A Cape Vulture leaving his perch behind under the watchful eye of two other vultures. There was a buffalo carcass just a few meters away that had been killed by a pride of lions the night before. We first encountered this kill in the morning and knew the vultures would still be around at sunset so came back and got lucky with plenty of silhouette shots.
20. Flight at Sunset, by guide Mario Moreno. A Cape vulture leaving his perch behind under the watchful eye of two other vultures. TA pride of lions killed a buffalo the night before, and the carcass attracted the vultures. We knew the vultures would still be around at sunset and were rewarded with plenty of silhouette shots. Photographed in the Kruger National Park, South Africa.

“…I keep looking for one more teacher, only to find that fish learn from the water and birds learn from the sky.” Mark Nepo

21. Chameleon, by Andrew Schoeman.
21. Chameleon, by guide Andrew Schoeman. Photographed at Sabi Sabi, Sabi Sands, South Africa.

“Wonderful how completely everything in wild nature fits into us, as if truly part and parent of us.  The sun shines not on us, but in us.  The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing”.  John Muir

22. Before the Night, by guide Francois Rademeyer.
22. Before the night, by guide Francois Rademeyer. Photographed at Londolozi, Sabi Sands, South Africa.

“If we are willing to be still and open enough to listen, wilderness itself will teach us.”  Steven Harper

24. Panthera, by Keith Connelly. Timbavati, South Africa.
23. Panthera, by guide Keith Connelly. Photographed at Motswari, Timbavati, South Africa.

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” James Thurber.

24. Love, by guide Calvin Kotze. Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa.
24. Love, by guide Calvin Kotze. Photographed at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa.

“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.” Paul Coelho.

25. Elephants of Masai Mara, by Mario Moreno. "Elephants drinking at a small waterhole in the vast open plains of Masai Mara." Masai Mara, Kenya.
25. Elephants of the Mara, by guide Mario Moreno. Photographed in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans; in one aspect of You are found all the aspects of existence.” Kahlil Gibran


If you would like to follow the story of #Okavango 15 here are a handful of platforms we will be sharing it on:

Live expedition:

Blog posts:

Twitter: @intotheokavango and @rangerdiaries

Instagram: @intotheokavango and @jameskydd

Radio Okavango:

For updates on these posts, sign up for our newsletter:

See Jer Thorp’s Nat Geo Live talk on #Okavango15:

James is an international safari guide and wildlife photographer. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Nature Conservation and has been guiding at some of South Africa’s top safari lodges since 2002. Since then he has lead safaris further afield, that include following the great herds through East Africa, tracking jaguars in the floodplains of the Brazilian Pantanal and seeking out snow leopards in the Himalayas. James has dedicated his life to re-connecting people to the natural frequencies of the wild with the belief that this is our greatest chance of protecting wilderness. He created the multiple-award winning website as a platform to promote guides and photographers and celebrate the wildlife they work with. When not on safari he is based in Cape Town. If you'd like his advice on wildlife, guiding or planning a safari you can reach him at
  • Francisco de Assis de Brito

    Belo trabalho desse pessoal, estão de parabéns por nos trazer ótimas informações sobre a vida no delta do Okavango, África. Valeu pessoal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



  • Djordjeta

    Absolutely great pics!

  • Jo Durnford

    These photos are beautiful. Can you tell me how I can travel this area with the least possible impact on the environment. Also is it possible to purchase the film?
    Many thanks

  • VJ


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