Botswana, Namibia & Zimbabwe trip report

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Thanked: 248

    Default Botswana, Namibia & Zimbabwe trip report

    Three diesel vehicles: 2011 Pajero GLX with Echo 4
    2006 Pajero GLX
    2002 Mazda 2.5 lwb 4x4
    Seven adults and two children, ages nine and twelve.

    Friday 22 June 2012: We left Bloem at 06:00 in pouring rain (unusual in winter) , via Vryburg, entering Botswana at Bray. Our first stopover was at Kalahari Rest, Kang. We were delayed by a flat wheel and we ended up arriving at Kang just after dark (Tyre was repaired in Vryburg). The gravel road between Bray and the Trans Kalahari highway via Khakhea also took a bit of time to negotiate. Sandy and later on, very rocky and flying stones!.

    Entering Botswana, we found out that there apparantly were no restriction on taking red meat into the country at that stage. The whole matter of meat through border posts and vet points, clearly exposed the fact that one have to be ready for any changes in policy- overnight! So apart from cooked meat and chicken, we had no meat. In a later conversation with other people, only fresh vegetables were confiscated at Martin’s Drift.....

    Saturday 23: We had an early departure and stopped in Ghanzi to stock up on groceries, fuel, drinks and meat. The place is dusty, noizy and very busy on a Saturday. We also had to que for diesel. We got the very last steak from a local butcher and we could stock up with all the neccesary drinks and groceries. We had a long trip ahead of us to Guma Lagoon Camp (Western side of the panhandle). In the vicinty of Tsau we were stopped at a vet fence. For the first time in all my Botswana travels, we were not allowed to take raw meat form south to north in Botswana. Even though it was bought in Ghanzi. We had to cook it on the side of the road......

    We had to do some watercrossings on our way to Guma. Even a bit of sand. The Pajero with the trailer got stuck in the sand, purely because I was “lazy” to deflate the tyres in time.

    Our camp site had a beautiful view over the delta. Also with a private bathroom for the group.

    Sunday 24: We had a lazy day, recouperating from the 1500kms of the previous two days.

    Monday 25: We did a day trip by boat on the Delta. We had beautiful sightings of several birds, especially fish eagles. The only animals we saw were crocks. All in all, I thought it was a bit of a ripp off as we overheard the manager saying that night that the animals is more south at this time of the year. I felt like we should have been warned beforehand. We could see the same animals on a two hour trip.

    Thuesday 26: Itinerary was to move down south again and then west to exit into Namibia at Dobe borderpost. We wanted to fill up at Gumare and there were no diesel. Although we had exstra diesel, I wasn’t sure that we will get enough in Tsumkwe in order to go through the sand of Khaudum to Divundu. We back tracked to Etsha 6 (Thanks to T4A) and we were lucky to get hold of the last diesel they had.

    The gravel road later turned into a track....... .

    We reached Dobe border post twenty minutes after closing time. We drove a kilometer back and looked for a spot to bushcamp. I did not mind bushcamping as it was mos tof my fellow traveler’s first bushcamping experience.

    As we arrived, I rushed for a quick visit to the closest tree. Did not look watch my step and ended up stepping with my left foot in a hole. I felt a “ripping” feeling in my akle and fell down. There I lay – not able to step on the foot and I thought: “My trip is over”. Luckilly the injury turned out to be only a partly torn tendon. It was eina! The injury was nursed all the way through the trip with bandages and pain killers and now I am walking around in a moon boot.

    The stars were an amasing sight. The silence, almost a spiritual experience!

    Wednesday 27: We were greeted by a horseman passing by and he announced that he will be at the border soon and we can come to cross the border. As we started the car, the temp meter registered a whopping -2 Celcius. My leg was aching! The borderpost is just a tin roof with canvas sides. The passing through were quick and friendly. We were checked for meat on the Botswana side, although the wheels were sprayed on the Namibia side. No checking for meat or veggies in Namibia. (Strange as we are aware of the strict Namibian rules after the foot and mouth in KZN).

    ....Namibia (Khaudum & Caprivi) follow soon

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    Last edited by bostoe; 2012/07/26 at 09:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Thanked: 248

    Default Khaudum & Caprivi

    Tsumkwe could only supply us with 30l of diesel. Luckilly we got enough at Etsha 6.

    We stayed for two nights at Sikereti camp. It was just us and the bush. The usual sign warning against lion and haena in the camp. But Werner further gave us a warning not to leave the bathroom doors open as the leopards tend to go in there! We eventually had no animals in the campsite.

    Thursday 28: Again we experience -2 degrees that morning with a day temp of 32 degrees. The animals were a bit dissapointing but that late afternoon we saw lots of elephants at a nearby whaterhole. Some of them mating. Also jackall, giraffe, wildebeest and some “baster gemsbokke”

    Again the stars were amasing – as if one can touch them. Jackalls calling....

    Friday 29: We had the 130 odd kilometres of deep sand ahead of us. The scenery changed regularly as we moved from south to north in Khaudum. Disappointingly little animals.

    At some spots T4A advised “no trailers”. With the right tyre pressures, the Pajero with trailer on tow had no problems getting through. We had the vehicle with trailer at 1.2 bar and the non towing vehicles at 1.7. The biggest problem is avoiding sharp branches where people were stuck and used branches for recovery......Even the one Pajero with HT tyres did not get any damage.

    The Pajero registered about 14l/100km on the open road with the trailer, but that consumption doubled to almost 29l/100km in the deep sand. Arriving in Divundu on reserve. (We had 20l to spare in a jerry can though) And the friendly guy at the fuel station informing us “Sorry sir, no diesel”

    We stayed in Andara (15 km from Divundu) at a private “plot” of a Rundu resident for two nights (A friend of a relative!). He organised us some excellent meat all the way from Windhoek and we could stay at his place for free. The meat was actually waiting for us in the fridge! The “plot” is right on the Kavango. Misty mornings and we could see hippo on the island on the other side! Fishermen on mekoro passing.

    Saturday 30: We had a lazy day enjoying the luxury of clean bathrooms and beds. (Clean feet!) Johannes is the caretaker and his wive washed a huge bundle of washing for us. We could fill up with diesel and also get the road permits at Mahembo border post as they did not sell it at Dobe border post where we entered Namibia.

    Sunday 1 July 2012: We started moving east to Kongola, planning to stay at camp Kwando. Kwando being full, we moved south to Malyo. We had to pass over a very dodgy bridge, which eventually did enrich our adventure..... (later)

    Malyo is a very nice campsite. Some of our neighbours figured that the camping is better than at Kwando – and cheaper.
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    Last edited by bostoe; 2012/07/26 at 09:48 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    East London
    Thanked: 3991


    Thanks Bostoe keep it coming. Followed with interest as yet to visit Kaudom.
    Stanley Weakley.
    Toyota Landcruiser 76SW 4,2L diesel.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report
    OR from post 315.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Thanked: 248

    Default Kwando river, Mamili and Katima

    Monday 2: We did a day trip to Mamili. We experienced the exceptional beauty. The beautiful game, seemingly much more relaxed than those in Khaudum. Buffalo, Elephant and hippos. We could only see part of the park as some of the areas are still unaccessable because of high water levels. Once that water level is right – I am going there again!

    The sunsets at Malyo were spectacular.

    Tuesday 3: As we were just packed and trailer hooked up, somebody told us that the bridge collapsed. A cruiser with a British registration plate did not drive on the beems and cross beems gave way. It took a couple of hours to recover the vehicle and repair the bridge before we could cross. There were a few” manne met planne” getting the vehicle out. Me, a spectator form the side, because of my foot! We left late for Katima, resulting in a late arrival at our campsite and getting the last stand at NAMWI. (Two years ago we were almost the only people in the camp- same time of the year)

    I realised with a shock that I lost the registration disc of the trailer....and still had 2500kms to go! I had the copy of the original faxed form my office, but still wondering whether it would carry any weight.

    Wednesday 4: Again we had to stock up with groceries. Also had to get some “bokkies” for my trailer as the jockey wheel started to malfunction. I was amased at all the spares that were available in the local spares shop in Katima.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Thanked: 248

    Default Victoria Falls, Whange and Matopos

    Thursday 5: We left early for Vic Falls via Kasane. They checked for meat and veggies as we entered Botswana. Later on, we realise we forgot about the packaged spinnich right on top in the fridge......the official did not even notice it! The first border crossing was swift and friendly. Then as we wanted to leave Botswana, the officials were very rude and unfriendly – unlike I’ve ever experienced Botswana officials before.

    Our third “no diesel” experience in Kasane- at several stations. Luckilly there were some or other Shell truck stop on the way to the Zim border that still had diesel.

    The first views of the Falls left us in awe. Especially those who did not see it before.

    We camped at the campsite outside of town, next to the A’ zambesi River Lodge. The constant flying over of the helicopters really made it an unpleasant experience. Forcing us to leave a day earlier.

    We had a fairwell dinner at the Pizza shop in “the Kingdom” hotel for one car going back home the next day. For a pissa dinner and a drink or two it came to a whopping R200 per person. We had problems paying by debit or cheque cards, but credit cards worked fine. The same experience with withdrawing money at ATM’s. Nothing was plain sailing.

    Friday 6: One vehicle left for Francistown on their way back. We spend our time lazing around and some spending time at the curio shops.

    Saturday 7 & Sunday 8: The two vehicles started to move south to Whange. There was a skedonk in front of me and I passed it, luckilly checking the speedo. I was pulled off by a cop. Nervous about the licence disc! He checked everything from paperwork to lights, but not the licence discs! What a relief!? After that, a couple of road blocks – but no checking of my licence disc!

    The changing scenery reminded met of the sheer beauty of the country.

    We stayed at Main camp for two nights. For six people, two vehicles(+trailer) it came to well over a R1000 per night. I was a bit "gatvol" at the level of decay of the buildings and especially our shower that was a bit “grillerig”.

    We saw elephants by the numbers, also a lot of other game. However we did not see any of the large cats. We had an elephant in camp one night, passing close by, which has been an experience!

    Monday 9, Tuesday 10: The initial plan was to leave Zimbabwe through Pandamatenga and spend time at Elephant Sands. But we figured we’ve seen enough ellies and headed south to the Matopos.

    This necesetated that we get diesel in Zimbabwe. “Sorry sir, no diesel” at several stations. We eventually got diesel at a very dodgy looking station – neither a well known wondering about the quality of the diesel for the common rail 140kw Pajero. Apparantly creating no problem.

    Bulawayans seem to be ignoring all the rules when driving. A four point stop seems to have a way different meaning than what I am used to! We made a stop at the Spur (Holiday inn) after T4A mislead us completely on where the Spur is situated.

    The Matopos is a beautiful place. Again the feeling that one is being ripped off with entrance fees. US$ 90 for two vehicles and the trailer. Then camping fees and wood were added on top! Some of the gravel roads is now almost 4x4 tracks!

    The piece and quiet of the place was overwhelming and we thourougly enjoyed the last few days of our trip. Next time I will spend a while there to justify the expensive once off entry fees.

    Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12: We left early in order to get through Plumtree and Martins drift in time to reach Thabazimbi.

    Another road block at Plumtree. This time they were making sure they suck the last bit of dollars out of our pockets. We had all the fire extinguishers, paperwork etc that they could think of at past road blocks, but this time they were too clever! There is a roadblock with a stop sign and an officer a few metres later. So one tend to look at the officer for instructions and ignore the delapidated stop sign. So they give you a fine for ignoring the stop sign. Only $10, but the frustration of knowing you had to still get through two border posts and an officer that cannot even spell English words is immense! Both our vehicles were fined, as well as another SA registered car before us. We were delayed by more than half an hour!

    Further we had a very good journey via Francis to Thabazimbi and stayed overnigt at a guest house. Next day back to Bloem via Rusterburg.

    5188 km later and our memories will be with us forever!
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    Last edited by bostoe; 2012/07/26 at 11:27 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Caprivi Houseboat Safari Lodge, Katima Mulilo
    Thanked: 67


    Should have picked us. We had space.
    Last edited by sandbug; 2012/07/26 at 12:36 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Thanked: 1055


    Great report, thanks Bostoe.

    What amazes me is that you had such hassles to get diesel - what was wrong this time around?

    Then the "silly" roadblock stop arrangements just to extract money fro everybody - unfortunately this habit has spread over into Botswana as well but here I just laugh it off.
    Walter Rene Gygax
    Kalahari Safari
    ORRA Call:​​ WB58 | ICASA ZRF430
    Nissan Patrol GU TB45
    | Nissan Safari GU TD42 | B'rakah 4x4 Trailer
    E34 - 535i for a bit of nostalgia
    E39 - 540i for the open roads

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Cape Town
    Thanked: 361


    We did almost the same trip but anti clockwise starting and finishing in Cape Town. I'm sure we must have passed each other somewhere in the Caprivi.

    I agree that Zimbabwe felt like they were trying to extract as much from you as possible. That said, we truly enjoyed Hwange and Matobos and will go back there anytime. Except for the real sour-faced policemen, Zimbabweans were extremely friendly and helpful and struck us as generally much better educated and informed than Capetonians. We were mostly just waved through the road blocks. We also had the feeling that Zimbabweans were just starting to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and that made paying the price a little easier, hoping that some of it will get back to conservation and reconstruction. We enjoyed the lack of crowds but that will probably not be the case for much longer. The broken down infrastructure did not bother us too much as we were totally self sufficient. I guess it also kept the hordes away, perhaps a good thing then?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Thanked: 248


    About the diesel: We were actually fine: I just want to emphasize that one have to carry some extra fuel to give yourself enough range to reach the next fuel stop.

    Maybe the whole Zimbabwe issue is something personal. I feel frustrated that a place with so much potential- tourism wise- "span die wa voor die osse". They do not need to invest a lot of money to get the place in better shape. Charge a bit less, and South Africans will pour into the country! I mean, how much can it cost to paint buildings and get rid of the grotty tiles?

    I did experience the people very friendly. The same with road blocks. Even the last ones who gave us the fine were friendly. It is the principle that is the issue!

    Last edited by bostoe; 2012/07/30 at 08:02 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Thanked: 352


    Lyk lekker! Dankie vir die oplaai en deel.
    Peet Schultz

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