A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip




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  1. #1
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    Default Brief trip report, now with Blog links

    We just returned from a two week trip through Bots, here's a brief summary of the trip:

    Route:
    JHB->Nata Lodge->Elephant Sands->Ihaha->Linyanti->Savuti->Dizhana->Planet Baobab->Kubu Island->Khama Rhino->JHB

    JHB to Nata. Our original plan was to camp on the pans at the Nata Bird Sanctuary, but when we arrived we found out they unfortunately dont allow that anymore and you have to camp in their little campsite close to the road. There was alot more water around there than what we've seen in the past, so camping out there wouldn’t have actually been possible anyway.
    We eventually camped at Nata Lodge which was the best idea in the end, we were absolutely stuffed from the long drive, and the excellent facilities they have there put a smile back on our faces.

    Nata to Elephant Sands. We always knew the long drive the first day was going to be a killer, so we planned for a non-driving day, and really wanted to see Elephant sands again. Was very busy, but still an excellent stop over to relax a bit.

    Elephant Sands to Ihaha: Easy drive, refuel and stockup in Kasane. Spent three nights at Ihaha. Still one of the best places on earth. Amazing amount of game, excellent lion sighting 2km from camp, lion roaring very close to camp each night, and hyena as well. One big male baboon was a real pain in camp though and made us look like fools on a couple occasions stealing our food.

    Ihaha to Linyanti: A fun drive, but a little tiring, our first taste of very thick sand, but got the hang of it quite quickly. A nice camp, but the ablutions weren’t great - no hot water - seems they’re having big issues with the new gas geyser. Should have stuck to the old faithful donkey.

    Linyanti to Savuti: Everyone we spoke to before this drive warned us of the very thick sand on this road between these two camps, and put the fear of death into us, so we tackled this road early in the morning with sweaty palms and minds racing of what to do when we get stuck out there. Yes, there are two sections of thick sand, the first not too bad, the second, about 6kms out of Savuti just being very long (maybe 1km or so), and uphill, but, it was the most fun I have ever ever had, klapped it at a pretty rapid rate and cruised all the way to the top, easy peasy, and a note to self that maybe my driving skills and car's abilities are much better than alot of the folk that scared us so much with their tales.

    Savuti to me was a major let down. I think I had built it up in my head after years and years of watching documentary after documentary on the savuti area. The camp site is nothing special (worst one of the trip actually) with a huge generator running at the ablution from 8am to 8pm, it made the evening braai a really horrible experience. We had an amazing leopard sighting at Leopard hill, and good lion sightings, but that was basically it, I knew it would be nothing like the game at Ihaha, but it was still a disappointment.

    Savuti to Dizhana: A very bumpy and sandy drive, but I enjoyed it, the others not so much, but Im not really sure why. Stayed at Dizhana for two nights. We all agreed that this was our favourite campsite by far. Excellent facilities (your own toilet, outdoor shower and donkey (with wood being supplied morning and night). Very helpful and friendly staff, and excellent game in and around the camp. Definitely want to get back to this one and spend at least a week there.

    Dizhana to Planet Baobab: A horrible, very long stretch of corrugated gravel road between Dizhana and Maun, Arrived in Maun with zero sense of humour and rattled to pieces, we were all not happy campers! Easy tar road to Planet Baobab. A rather quirky place, but a reasonable stop over.

    Planet Baobab to Kubu Island: Took the road just past Zoroga to Kubu, 91kms of terrible dust, bumps, and paint removal. Arrived at kubu all trying our best to smile, but not that successful. Another place that has been way too hyped up in my head, and found it a let down. Been there, done that, don’t need to go back.

    Kubu to Khama: A much better drive, nice smooth sections across the pans, with just a bit of the dusty bumpy stuff. Nice campsite as usual, but ablutions werent great, zero water pressure, so little you can’t even get the soap off, maybe theyre just having an issue at the moment as Im sure I recall in the past they were very good. Excellent Rhino sightings as usual, and good birdlife.

    All in all a great trip, the Patrol performed like a beaut, obviously had a thirst like you can’t believe, but I knew that going in.

    Kit for next time - I will need to take a mouse trap or two – the mice around the camps at night was quite something and we got one or two in the car (and brought them back to JHB), I’ll need to put traps in the car overnight next time, as these things are chewing all they can find in there at night, and Im not getting stranded out there from a mouse chewing a wire.
    Another interesting tip was after we were talking to a guy who was off to Ihaha about the irritating baboon there, he said he carries a whip with him that works really well to scare the baboons away (the crack of the whip, not physical contact), quite clever I thought.

    Plans for next time: This trip had far too many stops, camping at a place for one night at a time is nice to be able to see so many places, but the packing and unpacking everyday is tiring in the end. Very grateful for the rooftop tent though as that at least makes that very easy compared to a ground tent!

    Also a big thank you to Tara and Botswana Footprints – everything went so smoothly and made arriving at gates and campsites to check in a non-event, really helped so much!

    Edit: And some pics, of the car only, cos thats the most beautiful thing to photograph still

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    Last edited by Graham; 2017/10/02 at 05:46 PM.
    2004 Nissan Patrol 4.8


  2. #2
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Thanks for sharing.
    My forum name was Botsboy, then I grew up into RraBots, but Timmo is who I am

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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Nice report. Thanks.

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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Graham - thanks for the great post.
    We will be departing on our own trip in 3-weeks so a few questions about your “long drive” first day (JHB to Nata)?
    • At what time did you leave JHB and how long did this take?
    • To get to the border do you take the N1 and then the R33 through Vaalwater, or N1 then onto N11 at Mokopane?
    • If you crossed the border at Martin’s Drift, how was it (we will be travelling on a Sunday)?
    • I heard due to the floods earlier this year the Francistown to Nata road is very potholed – it this true?
    • If one arrives in Nata early enough is it worth visiting the Nata Bird Sanctuary to see the pans for a few hours before heading off to camp for the night?
    • Nata Lodge or Elephant Sands?


    Any info will be much appreciated.
    Phil
    Last edited by PhilSA; 2017/08/01 at 11:03 AM.

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Thanks for sharing. Lovely pics. Just a comment on Nata Sanctuary, this year Makgadikgadi Epic, which is usually hosted there(Nata Sanctuary) has been moved next to Sowa Mine due to water. So there is plenty of water there.

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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    Planet Baobab to Kubu Island: Took the road just past Zoroga to Kubu, 91kms of terrible dust, bumps, and paint removal. Arrived at kubu all trying our best to smile, but not that successful. Another place that has been way too hyped up in my head, and found it a let down. Been there, done that, don’t need to go back.
    Thanks Graham.

    I totally agree with your sentiments above.

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  8. #7
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    We just returned from a two week trip through Bots, here's a brief summary of the trip:


    Planet Baobab to Kubu Island: Took the road just past Zoroga to Kubu, 91kms of terrible dust, bumps, and paint removal. Arrived at kubu all trying our best to smile, but not that successful. Another place that has been way too hyped up in my head, and found it a let down. Been there, done that, don’t need to go back.


    The road from Gweta direct to Kubu is better and well used. I know the Zoroga turn off, in fact there are two turn offs around Zoroga to Kubu. but from Planet Baobab, it better to drive through Gweta village and go straight.
    Last edited by PAT n WOLF; 2017/08/01 at 11:29 AM.

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  10. #8
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Quote Originally Posted by PhilSA View Post
    Graham - thanks for the great post.
    We will be departing on our own trip in 3-weeks so a few questions about your “long drive” first day (JHB to Nata)?
    • At what time did you leave JHB and how long did this take? We left JHB at 4h00, and arrived at Nata at 17h00. Im always amazed how long that drive is, but this is now the third time Ive done this drive with the same result, I guess its all the 80km/h zones you need to slow down for. By the time we hit Francistown we were already buggered, I actually had to get a RedBull for the final slog, that really helped, so keep that in mind maybe.
    • To get to the border do you take the N1 and then the R33 through Vaalwater, or N1 then onto N11 at Mokopane? Yes, N1, then R33 to Vaalwater, then Lephalale, and then we went through Stockpoort border
    • If you crossed the border at Martin’s Drift, how was it (we will be travelling on a Sunday)? We did Stockpoort border, its a tiny border post, where 95% of the time you will be the only vehicle when you get there, its a 10 minute affair, compared to potential hours at Martins Drift. The gravel road on the bots side is very very good as well - I caught myself travelling at 100km/h without even noticing at some points!
    • I heard due to the floods earlier this year the Francistown to Nata road is very potholed – it this true? The majority of the road is fine, the worst parts from what I remember are within about 20kms or so of Nata where you'll need to go off the road at some points, but its really not that bad.
    • If one arrives in Nata early enough is it worth visiting the Nata Bird Sanctuary to see the pans for a few hours before heading off to camp for the night? Definitely. The entry fee feels a little steep for a quick pop in (I cannot for the life of me remember the cost now though) but just do it. After such a long drive theres nothing better than parking at that platform, cracking that first beer and watching the pelicans and flamingoes go past as the sun sets. It really calms you down.
    • Nata Lodge or Elephant Sands? Nata lodge, the ablutions are first class, exactly what you need after a long drive, that, and I think those last kms between Nata and Elephant Sands could kill a person with exhaustion


    Any info will be much appreciated.
    Phil
    Answers in red. Let me know if you need any other info. Happy to help!
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  12. #9
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    thx for sharing..

    Try out 'LIQUI MOLLY MARDER SCHUTZ SPRAY' for the mice!
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Hardekool View Post
    thx for sharing..

    Try out 'LIQUI MOLLY MARDER SCHUTZ SPRAY' for the mice!
    Thanks, I'll have a look for that stuff.
    I asked my wife to check the car this morning, apparently there's 'white pieces of plastic' lying at the pedals this morning. This damn thing is destroying my car!!!
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Good luck!

    Had two in my car in Kgalagadi in April. One ran over my wife's legs while we were driving! Manage to get rid of them.

    Only to find another in the back while unpacking at home!

    My friend, touring with us, had to resort to mice traps and caught the culprit back home in back of bakkie. He will never tour again without mice traps.

  15. #12
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Thanks for sharing.

    In December we had the same issue with Khama Rhino sanctuary's showers. No pressure. I love KRS, but the ablutions need attention.
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    Answers in red. Let me know if you need any other info. Happy to help!
    Graham
    I guess we will "play it by ear" w.r.t. which border post we use. It seems to be a trade off between a quick crossing at Parr's Halt but then there's a 60-70km of dust road to reach the main A3. Or risk a longer crossing at Martin's Drift?

    In any case as we are only scheduled to meet up with friends in Kasane on our third day so we have some time to spare. I think on our first day we will leave JHB to head for the border and once on Bots break the journey at Woodlands Stop Over in Francistown. Then head onto Nata the next morning and maximize our time in the Bird Sanctuary. Then we will stop over at Nata Lodge on our second night.

    Thanks for the info, very helpful.
    Phil

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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    My wife is starting to write her blog on this trip if you feel like a read.
    There's so much she wants to say she's had to break it up into parts though

    first part so long:

    http://bushbabyblog.com/index.php/20...enture-part-1/
    Last edited by Graham; 2017/09/18 at 05:54 PM.
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Here's the second (out of 6) installment of the little blog if anyone is interested:

    http://bushbabyblog.com/index.php/20...lephant-sands/
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Fabulous report, thanks for sharing

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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    nice report and well written blog. Looking forward for more. Thanks a lot!

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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    And here's the third entry:
    http://bushbabyblog.com/index.php/20...s-part-3-of-6/

    My wife was saying how she really enjoyed writing this one. I think this was our favourite portion of the whole trip, you just cant beat that river road between Ihaha and Kasane!!
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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham View Post
    And here's the third entry:
    http://bushbabyblog.com/index.php/20...s-part-3-of-6/

    My wife was saying how she really enjoyed writing this one. I think this was our favourite portion of the whole trip, you just cant beat that river road between Ihaha and Kasane!!

    Nice report.

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    Default Re: A brief trip report - 2 week Bots trip

    Morning,

    Heres the 4th entry on the Linyanti and Savuti stretch for anyone whose interested:

    http://bushbabyblog.com/index.php/20...ti-and-savuti/

    Cheers!
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