My name is Ikalaheng Mogalakwe and I began my career at one of the big safari companies in Botswana as a manager. It was during this period where I developed my love for nature. 

It all started when I heard the owls, nightjars and lions calling at night and the bird's calls in the morning. These amazing sounds and sights encouraged me to become a guide. I enrolled on a professional course at the Botswana Institute of Wildlife and Training. 

In terms of locations, The Okavango Delta has a special place in my heart and it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The water does not reach the sea or ocean but rather it ends in the middle of the Kalahari. It contains 1300 plant species, 64 reptiles, 33 amphibians. I will never forget the day I was surrounded by a breeding herds of elephants for about 30 minutes. They were very calm and I was able to observe their interaction from a close range before they dispersed. 

At Xigera, the first thing I do in the morning is look on the ground for footprints of any species. I check the timing to decide if the animal is worth following. Warning calls of birds, squirrels, baboons and monkeys can also help locate birds of prey or predators. The termite mounds play a big role in being used as observation points by predators and I always advise my guests to check for them when driving. 

Guests should try and familiarise themselves with the key sounds of species that they are hoping to see. The body language of mammals can also be observed as a guideline for finding prey i.e. mammals often stare in one direction for a long time. 

I always encourage my guests to be out in the Delta as much as possible, Dawn and dusk provide the best lighting opportunities for photography and most species are active, especially birds and predators. The temperatures are also more comfortable for both guests and animals. You may see some animals around the water holes or flood plains at midday but the temperature will be warm and most animals will reside in the shade.  

My favourite animals to photograph are leopards and lions. The above is a picture of Leaku drinking water in the afternoon after scavenging. 

When photographing, the following must be taken into consideration:  

  • You should be prepared to get out early in the morning before sunrise and later in the evening, this is the best lighting.  
  • When taking pictures, it is best to focus on their face with their eyes open.
  • Carry two lenses, a wide-angle for landscapes and a big focal length for up to 500mm in taking pictures of birds and a 70mm - 300mm for mammals.
  • Always check the settings on your camera before starting to photograph. 
  • My standard settings are F8 for aperture and ISO 800 but the camera and lenses you may be using may require different settings. I encourage you to do a short course on photography before coming on safari.
  • Consider the ‘rule of third’ when taking pictures.  
  • The picture taken should answer the following questions. Where? When? What? 
  • The centre of any lens should be focused. 

Xigera is a special place because there is such a variety of activities. The game drives provide a closer view of the big mammals, whereas the mokoro activities are peaceful and tranquil, and that will get you closer to aquatic plants and species. The walking safari will initiate your senses and fishing normally takes place on the boat, enabling you to cover long distances deep into the delta where incredible crocodiles and birds can be seen. 

Xigera Safari Lodge will far exceed your expectations due to the sheer variety of what you can experience. I personally invite you to come and experience our amazing camp for yourself.