4x4Community Forum Articles - Chobe, Linyanti, Savute, Moremi trip report April

  • Chobe, Linyanti, Savute, Moremi trip report April

    Day 1: Pretoria to Nata Lodge (823km)
    As with any Overland trip I have ever done, there always seems to be one day to little. This means that you always have one day that you travel quite far. On this trip we decided to do the first day as a long day.

    We crossed the border at Martins Drift without any issues and made it to the Lodge at around 16:00. It was our first time there and I was pleasantly surprised by their facilities and the condition of the camp site. We paid 120 Pula for the 2 of us to stay and I will gladly stay there again. We asked at the office what the condition of the Bird Sanctuary was and they told us that although you could drive all the way to the viewpoint, there were no Flamingos there at that time.

    Day 2: Nata Lodge to Ihaha (366km)
    Just North of Nata we came across a family that rolled their car. One boy was badly injured and in need of an ambulance. Our car had no space, but we raced back into Nata, found the Clinic, discovered that their Ambulance was away elsewhere, and eventually managed to get the Police to come and help. It was all pretty effortless and we believe the Boy will recover fully. T4A does not have the clinic on, so for the sake of sharing info: When traveling from South to North, you will cross the Nata river and see the Police Station on your left. If you turn right at the first road after the bridge, the clinic is about a kilometer further on the right hand side.

    We then negotiated the worst potholed road I have ever come across! (I do not know much about Mozambique). We reached Kasane around Mid day and decided to spoil ourselves to a lunch at the Chobe River Lodge. We also discovered with a shock that the price of Fuel in Botswana was increased that day (6.42Pula per liter) and that gas is a LOT more expensive there and over here. We paid 58 Pula for a no 4 cylinder to be filled that normally cost me R28 at the hardware store around the corner from me!

    We entered the Chobe reserve at about 15:00 and were again astonished by the amount of wildlife we saw. Elephants and buffalo are plentiful and we also saw lots of Puku and other plains game. There is an abundance of bird life and you could spend a whole day just driving along the river.

    Instead of the normal baboons and impala in camp we had 2 Buffalo Bulls that seemed to be unfazed by our presence.

    There was no water in camp, but fortunately, knowing Botswana Parks, we were fully prepared. Apparently the pump is far away from the camp and the official there is too scared to walk to the pump. This was sorted out the next day.

    Our bush shower consists of a water Jerry can and a Campmaster 12V shower. It uses about 10 liters of water for 2 people to have a shower and has enough pressure to wash long hair with. We topped up 18 liters with 2lieters of boiling water to have a nice warm shower.

    Day3: Ihaha game drives.
    The morning we drove west along the river and then took the southern tracks back to camp. That side of the reserve seemed really quiet compared to the part between Kasane and Ihaha. The tracks away from the river also seems rarely traveled and the grass was quite high in the middle of the road.

    We spent a fabulous 4 hours in camp over lunch and took a drive towards Kasane in the afternoon. Again the game was plentiful and the bird life along the river incredible! That is definitely the recommended side!

    Although the roads are mostly dry in the reserve, there are parts of the river track that is flooded. It made no difference to the sightings we had though!

    Day 4: Ihaha to Linyanti (139km)
    The road west of camp was again very quiet. We had some excitement in the form of a leopard crossing the road and we had some fun photographing about a million white face ducks flying circuits around us.

    The road to Kavimba seemed a lot better than what it was in December. Few potholes, but you can drive about 60 or 70km/h. After Kavimba the cut line track is not too bad and the track through the Chobe Forest reserve towards Gcoha gate is also no issue.

    The Cut line road from Gcoha gate to Linyanti is very sandy n places and although we never got stuck, deflated tires and the occasional Low Range was still necessary. The road was bone dry though.

    It took us about 5 hours to make the journey.

    Linyanti camp was deserted apart from the odd Hippo coming for a visit. We drove south west along the river that afternoon and found a waterhole to relax by. We saw herds and herds of elephant and plenty of bird life!

    Day 5: Linyanti to Savute (40km)
    This was my first time traveling this road. There were thick sandy patches, but again, with deflated tires and the occasional low range we negotiated it without any issues. We came across two lions lying in the road in the morning sun and spent a good hour and half watching them and waiting for them to move off.

    We reached Savute before lunch and had a relaxing time in camp until the late afternoon.

    In the afternoon we drove around quarry hill and went back to a waterhole just in time to see a massive breeding herd of elephant coming for a swim and a drink. We spent the best part of 2 hours watching this before heading back to camp.

    Day 6: Savute Game Drives.
    In the morning we followed the Savute River towards the South. We then explored the Northern part of the March and found all the roads dry and the game plentiful. We saw huge herds of Zebra and Wildebeest and quite large herds of Giraffe.

    On our way back to camp we stopped at Marabou pan and watched a couple of young bull elephants chase a few hundred zebra away from the water…

    That afternoon we went back to the water hole where we saw the elephants the previous day and had the same entertainment.

    Day 7: Savute to Kwai Community Camp. (85 Km)
    As we did not know the condition of the March road, we opted to take the Sand Ridge Road South. It took us about 3 and half hours to reach the gate. From there the road was bone dry up to the Kwai River. We had one or two patches where there was a new track to avoid a huge pool of muddy water, but never got the wheels wet.

    We had lunch at the Community Camp site as per T4A. It was a little surprising to find that there was nothing... Apart from 4 Camel thorn Trees. We had 2 elephants walk straight through our lunch spot. Close enough so that we jumped in the car and forgot our sandwiches on the table outside. They sniffed in our general direction, but were not fazed at all.

    After Lunch we drove to the Village to find out where to pay for the camp site. We found a German couple stuck in some mud about 3km west of the village. Apparently they had been there most of the day, but managed to free themselves just as we arrived. This muddy patch was really not that much trouble, they just didn’t bother to stop and investigate before driving into it.

    As it was Sunday, the office (White building with Land Cruiser and Satellite dish, but no signage) was closed. One local told us that they patrol the area, so we should just camp at the designated spot and someone would come to collect the fee.

    We drove to Magotho 2 campsite, which was occupied by yet another elephant. We waited for him to move on and made camp under the trees. We were visited by 2 officials at around 20:30. We paid an extortionate fee of 275 Pula for 2 people to camp under a tree with no facilities whatsoever. Personally I think it is a rip off and although I always try to support the community where I go, I will not stay there again. We were planning on staying there for 2 nights, but decided to try our luck in Moremi the next day.

    Day 8: Kwai Community to Xakanaxa (62km)
    We did not have a booking, but knowing Moremi, thought we’d have a go anyway. We took our time exploring Kwai River in the morning. Although the main track was flooded in places it was pretty easy to negotiate around. We did drive through some water, but always in sandy soil and never deeper than half a meter.

    We entered Moremi at North gate. The water was lower than the bridge, but the river road to Xakanaxa was mostly flooded so we took the main track. We did have to drive though puddles every once in a while, but again there was no real drama.

    We reached Xakanaxa for Lunch. Instead of taking an afternoon drive, we hooked up with 2 other couples and took a 2 and half hour boat cruise. The boat costs 400 Pula per hour and can take up to 15 people. So the bigger the group, the cheaper it gets.

    Being the wet season we did not see an awful lot. We did however get to see two Sitatunga which is something I had never seen before.

    Back at camp we spoke to a tour operator that offered us a camp site he had booked and was not using, so camping was no problem. He also said that this year is the most water that he had ever seen in Botswana and he has been there for 27 years. They are expecting the flood water to reach Moremi at the end of May only…

    Day 9: Xakanaxa to 3rd Bridge (16km)
    Anyone who has been to Moremi knows how many little tracks there are between these two places. We tried to drive as many of them as possible. We also tried to get to Dead Tree Island, but when we found the sign on the main road and saw it was half way under water, we decided that it might not be such a great idea…

    We really did take our time, but reached 3rd Bridge at about 10AM. There was a guy with a shiny cruiser SUV that had a problem we tried to help him with. He had some warning lights on the dash board and after inspecting everything my limited knowledge allowed, we concluded that it was an alternator problem. It was the same symptoms as when your fan belt breaks, but the fan belt was fine. He could still drive it and decided to head for Maun that day to get it fixed.

    We saw a couple taking a walk through camp and then saw them walking across the bridge… they must not know about the hippo that lives there…

    That afternoon we heard of a leopard taking an impala halfway between Xakanaxa and 3rd bridge and with a hand drawn map from a tour guide we went searching. We found the carcass, but it seemed that some idiot drove off road and so close to the scene that he scared the leopard away.

    Most of the roads were dry and we never needed to venture into water. We found a road leading into water and for some reason this place attracted a variety of water birds. We parked up and spent a good hour photographing: saddle billed storks, Yellow billed storks, sacred Ibis, little egret, cattle egret, great white egret, hammer head, pied kingfisher, woodland kingfisher, and spur wings.

    That night was like a circus in camp. The poor people under the big Sausage tree had an everlasting fight with a troop of baboons. We heard a hayena on the other side of camp, then another one in our camp. I saw him at the bonnet of the car and roared like a lion, which seemed to scare him. Problem is that my roar got answered by another lion, which seemed to have scared a buffalo and the resident hippo made a noise just so he did not feel left out.

    I was very happy to be in a roof top tent and did not envy the guys in the direction of the lion in el cheapo ground tents.

    Day 10: 3rd Bridge to Khumaga Camp in Makgadikgadi. (275km)
    This was a traveling day for us so we took the main road towards South Gate. This took us 3 hours to drive, but the road was dry and not difficult to drive. We had an absolutely brilliant leopard sighting. I had a 300mm lens with 1.4 x converter on my Canon 5D and I could not get the whole animal in frame… She did not give me enough time to change lenses before walking off into the bush.

    There is major building going on in all the camps in Moremi. It seems like they are building entrance gates into all the camps and new ablution facilities. We passed about 5 or 6 trucks on the way to South Gate and at the gate itself it looks like they are building a lot more than just a new ablution block. Just outside the gate is also a construction site and I’m not sure what it will be.

    We reached Maun at about mid day and had to fix a broken silencer box that started making a noise on day 3. This was done without hassle. We had lunch at the Buck and Hunter pub by the airport. It was well priced with good service and well prepared food. I would recommend it.

    Our total distance traveled from Kasane to Maun, including game drives was 805km. Our fuel consumption was 12% more than traveling at 120km/h. but we did have a broken silencer.

    After re-stocking some food stuffs we headed to the Makgadikgadi camp. At the vet control point they made us walk though some stuff with our shoes on and sprayed the whole bottom of the car. They obviously had some foot and mount scare recently.

    We reached the camp site at around 17:00 and decided to fire up the donkey for a hot shower. Some rude people jumped in the shower before we could get to it and we had to re-stoke the fire for our own shower.

    Day 11: Khumaga Camp to Kwa Nokeng (560km)
    We spent a few hours in the morning driving up and down the Boteti river bed. Saw some interesting birds and few wildebeest. We left the park at 9:30 and headed towards the border.

    We got stopped at a Vet Gate South of Lethakane and asked for animal products. I had put the Boerewors back in the fridge that I smuggled through the Maun Vet gate, so had to own up to that. When the guy saw it was from South Africa, he said it was fine and let us keep it. It seems like that gate was a backup for the Maun one.

    Our original plan was to stay at Itumela in Palapye, but we reached that at 14:00, had a Wimpy Lunch and carried on the Kwa Nokeng. It was our first time there and I will stay there again. It was terribly noisy up to about 20:00, and dead quiet from 22:00 to 07:00. It was 124 Pula for the 2 of us to camp for the night.

    Day 12: Kwa Nokeng to Pretoria (370km)
    This was quite a pleasant day. We reached home by lunch time and managed to unpack and clean everything before dark instead of reaching home in the dark and having to deal with stuff then.

    A few notes:
    It seems like the fuel price in Botswana will mostly be 50c a liter cheaper than South Africa. Their fuel does however get more expensive the further North you go. There was a 6 thebe difference in price between Martins drift and Kasane.

    We drive a 89 Hilux 2.2 which is very heavy on fuel and spent R4 764 on fuel over a total distance of 3 412km using 577lieters of fuel.

    Because we stayed in National parks most of the time, our accommodation was also quite expensive at R4 159. Kwai Community camp’s price was a shock, but still cheaper than another night in a park.

    Apart from Milk, Sugar, Coffee and bread rolls that we bought in Maun, we bought all our groceries in Pretoria and manage to fit everything that needed to be kept cold in our 60l Engel.

    We came to the conclusion that a holiday like this requires a budget of R1000 per couple per day.

    I noticed that all the local guides in Botswana drive Land Cruisers with the standard Marie Biscuit tires on. They drive the same roads we do and never deflate tires and seemingly do not get stuck… Makes me think that spending less money on thinner tires might not be such a bad idea…
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Chobe, Linyanti, Savute, Moremi trip report April started by freeflyd View original post