FIRST LIGHT is a partnership project by Belmond and Leica Sport Optics to create early morning nature experiences. At Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, situated on the Okavango Delta in Botswana, biologist and Leica photographer Marc Stickler documented life in the African bush at daybreak.

by Marc Stickler

Photography is my passion. I use my cameras as a tool for conservation. As a biologist and photographer, my aim is to make the unknown visible. Because only what you see you will love and only what you love you will protect. I had the opportunity to live in the Okavango Delta for my research thesis and I fell in love with the animals and people of Botswana.

“First Light” is a place where your mind is focused, your feelings are at ease and where you have the entire day in front of you. It’s your choice to seize it. It’s the time of the day where everything is in balance. Rising early is essential if you want to witness the beauty of Africa. Animals slowly emerge from their sleep and nature reveals the circle of life. The morning light during this short period of time is astonishing.

The Belmond Eagle Island lodge is situated next to the Boro river, which attracts a huge diversity of animals, including elephants and giraffes and makes a trip an unique adventure. It is a unique feeling when you walk through the African bush and immerse yourself in the landscape. Your pulse quickens and the excitement kicks in as you encounter the Botswana’s wildlife.

Botswana is a magical place. The Okavango Delta is one of the most pristine environments on earth and is an important habitat for many species and plants. Including the formidable Baobab trees, which can grow for more than 3000 years. The winding rivers of the Delta are constantly changing through the rainy, dry and flood season.

During the Delta floods when more than half of the land is underwater, this is the perfect time to enjoy a mokoro canoe safari. Glide through the clear, reedy channels, spotting African fish eagles swooping on their prey, crocodiles basking on the banks and bright Painted Frogs croaking among the water lilies.

Witnessing the Okavango Delta at first light will be an unforgettable life experience. As the African saying goes: “If you want to walk fast, you walk alone, if you want to walk further, we all walk together“.


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About Marc Stickler
A biologist from Salzburg, Austria, Marc Sticklers early work included researching lemon sharks in the Bahamas and mountain gorillas in Uganda. But it was during his year in the Okavango Delta, studying chacma baboons, that his passion for photography and nature observation was born. Now one of the world’s leading wildlife and underwater photographers, and a Leica Global Akademie ambassador, Marc’s mission is to utilise photography as a tool for conservation, living by the maxim “What you love you will protect”. 

FIRST LIGHT is a partnership project by Belmond and Leica Sport Optics to create early morning nature experiences. At Belmond Eagle Island Lodge, Leica binoculars are available at reception ready for you to join an expert guide to enjoy nature’s energy up close.

FIRST LIGHT by Belmond and Leica Sport Optics
Sebastià Torrens – FIRST LIGHT in Deià, Mallorca/Spain 
Michael Edwards – FIRST LIGHT in Cape Town, South Africa
Luke Massey – FIRST LIGHT at Iguassu Falls, Brasil

One Comment

  1. Nancy

    Beautiful shots! What Leica camera and which lenses are you using?

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