Need help for Botswana in December '14





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  1. #1
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    Default Need help for Botswana in December '14

    A friend and I have been planning a trip to Namibia for December but that is not panning out the way we though and after some deliberation we have made a call to go to Botswana. I have a few questions as neither of us have been there or know much about it other than it is on both our bucket lists, I realise we could search the web but who would give better advice than the guys on this forum. The plan is as follows :-

    1. We are planning to go from the 19th of December until the 4th of January
    2. We have no route yet as there are some blanks to be filled
    3. We have a Pajero with a Jurgens Xcape and a Volvo XC90 with a Jurgens Explorer
    4. Will we be able to tour Bots with the van's or are we limited to certain areas
    5. We would like to see Kubu island, Vic falls, camp between the predators if possible,Okavango Delta, other game reserves
    6. Is it too late for camp site availability
    7. We like roughing it up when camping
    8. Moving around is not a problem as we would like to see as much as possible


    Any info will be greatly appreciated

  2. #2
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    Sorry to put a damper on things but I doubt very much that you will be able to get any bookings in the Game reserve campsites in the Delta or Chobe at this stage.

    I have vivid memories of encountering a group of self drivers in the Delta area (Moremi) a few years ago. They were in a state of extreme irritation. One of their group was travelling in a Volvo 4X4 and their whole trip had been dominated by this vehicle becoming repeatedly stuck on the sand roads. It appears that the main problem had been the low clearance of the Volvo and its undercarriage was not high enough to clear the middle-mannetjie along long stretches of the road.

    The group had gone ahead to set up camp and then to return to help their buddy get through. We came upon the Volvo, stuck again. These poor travelers were very stressed. We towed them out but I am sure they were rapidly stuck again. It was easily visible almost all the way to Savuti, where the undercarriage of the Volvo had been ploughing away at the middle-mannetjie. Remember too that this was without towing a off-road caravan.

    My personal suggestion would be to revert back to plan A and visit the more sedate areas in Namibia, or restrict your trip to the main routes in Botswana. I cannot see you making it to the pans or to the game reserves in Botswana.
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    Thank you the information. I gather that when you say Volvo 4x4 you are in fact refering to the XC90 and not the XC70 ?

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    I concur with Stan's advice both in respect of the availability of camping sites at this late stage as well as the middle-mannetjie for very long stretches of soft sand tracks.
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    Thanks gents, we will then push the plans through for namibia and plan a Bots trip for Dec 2015

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    Mels, I really do not want to be disparaging about the Volvos, but I would not take either the XC90 or XC70 to the rugged roads in the Botswana game reserves. Even more specifically towing an off-road caravan. The same would apply to a Freelander or Suburu.

    Towing as you will be, you will be caught short without a low range gear box in my opinion. The main obstacles here are the two-track sand roads and the deepish water crossings. At times you might need the capability to drive out of the tracks to pass obstacles or to pass an oncoming vehicle. Even the most rugged Land Rovers and Toyotas are tested in these conditions. In December in Botswana there will be extremely muddy sections to contend with as well.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

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

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    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan Weakley View Post

    Towing as you will be, you will be caught short without a low range gear box in my opinion. The main obstacles here are the two-track sand roads and the deepish water crossings. At times you might need the capability to drive out of the tracks to pass obstacles or to pass an oncoming vehicle. Even the most rugged Land Rovers and Toyotas are tested in these conditions. In December in Botswana there will be extremely muddy sections to contend with as well.
    Having just come back from Botswana (Nxai Pan, Moremi, Savuti, Chobe) I totally agree with Stan. You definitely need Low range 4x4 and a high clearance on a vehicle. We came across a chap in a Nissan Patrol who had totally wrecked his car on the roads in Savuti - back bumper was ripped off by the high middle mannetjies and back window blown out because he had to be towed out of a situation backwards and ended up hitting the towing vehicle. And that was just due to deep sand - would hate to do the mud without the benefit of Low range.
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    There is a view campsites in Kasane - no need to book and they work on a first-come-first-serve basis. We stayed at Chobe Safari Lodge. Awesome place!

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    For Botswana look into Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Elephant Sands and Senyati Lodge. They all offer camping. It's not as wild as chobe/Delta but you would still encounter game. Also, just for giggles, find out about availability at ihaha camp in chobe. I suspect you may still be in luck here. It's about a 30km sand road from tar to camp and it's not as deep as lower towards savuti - the volvo should be ok here - dont go further than ihaha though. Research these spots i pointed out and pm me if you need more info


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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillied View Post
    We came across a chap in a Nissan Patrol who had totally wrecked his car on the roads in Savuti - back bumper was ripped off by the high middle mannetjies and back window blown out because he had to be towed out of a situation backwards and ended up hitting the towing vehicle. And that was just due to deep sand - would hate to do the mud without the benefit of Low range.
    My mistake - I realised it was actually a Nissan X-Trail, not a Patrol!
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    You'v been well adviced as far as Botswana roads can get, and with both of u towing you will be asking for trouble.... However it dies not mean you cannot come to Botswana, am sure you will be able to kubu inland and vic falls as preferred... U will however need to use friendlier routes if u want to be on holiday, otherwise it will turn out to be a nightmare
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pantoffel View Post
    For Botswana look into Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Elephant Sands and Senyati Lodge. They all offer camping. It's not as wild as chobe/Delta but you would still encounter game. Also, just for giggles, find out about availability at ihaha camp in chobe. I suspect you may still be in luck here. It's about a 30km sand road from tar to camp and it's not as deep as lower towards savuti - the volvo should be ok here - dont go further than ihaha though. Research these spots i pointed out and pm me if you need more info
    Thanks for your assistance Pantoffel, I really appreciate the input and apologise for the late reply

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    Could someone give me a bit more info on the issue with the Volvo XC90 in terms of ground clearance as I have been checking every possible website with vehicle specs and found that the XC90 is spec'd as follows compared to other vehicles :-

    XC90 clearance - 218mm, Wading depth 883mm
    Fortuner - 220mm, 700mm
    Prado - 220mm, 700mm

    Does 2mm make such a big difference or is it only the low range requirement ?

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    Now you got them! Bring on the popcorn!

  17. #17
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    I’m going to leave it to the forum experts to explain the technicalities... I will say though that I agree with Stan. I have a friend in the off road recovery business here in Maun and I assure you he makes a very good living pulling soft roaders out of Moremi, Savute, CKGR etc. I don’t recommend doing the route with a Volvo but if you do, pm me for my mates cell number...

    You could look at a trip up the western panhandle of the Okavango, maybe do some camping and fishing in the Shakawe area?

  18. #18
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    Mels, once again apologies for being the prophet of doom.

    A Volvo XC90 towing a Jurgens Explorer is going to test your friendship with the Pajero owner. You are correct that on paper a 218mm clearance is not too bad. However it is not just as simple as clearance. I am far from a technical boffin but there are other factors at play here.

    I would suppose these include tyre profile, articulation and wheel travel, heavy load capacity, center of gravity, suspension, position of spare wheel, departure and approach angles etc etc.

    The absence of low range, especially if towing, is decisive.

    You have to be able to be able to move out of the deeply rutted, very sandy tracks with a very high middle-mannetjie. This entails driving up on the side of the road with very awkward cambers. For instance you may have to move around a stranded vehicle. Granted most oncoming traffic will move out for you if you are towing. In December you are also very likely to encounter the very glutinous black cotton-soil prevalent in the mopani belts of Botswana. There are very few soft-roaders that will take these sort of conditions in their stride.

    If you are steadfast in your desire to tackle this trip then make sure the Pajero travels in front, carry a spade, tow strap, kinetic strap, decent recovery points, perhaps a high level jack or air-jack, puncture repair kit, air compressor, fuel for 600km at least and a very large bag of patience. If you were not planning on towing it would be more realistic. It is not a simple matter to recover a vehicle and an Explorer.

    Remember that you will be travelling relatively long distances on challenging roads with a fairly heavy load. You must also be happy to sustain some scratches to the vehicle paintwork, especially with oncoming traffic.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

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

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    Trans East Africa 2015/2016 Trip report http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Botsboy View Post
    I’m going to leave it to the forum experts to explain the technicalities... I will say though that I agree with Stan. I have a friend in the off road recovery business here in Maun and I assure you he makes a very good living pulling soft roaders out of Moremi, Savute, CKGR etc. I don’t recommend doing the route with a Volvo but if you do, pm me for my mates cell number...

    You could look at a trip up the western panhandle of the Okavango, maybe do some camping and fishing in the Shakawe area?
    PM sent

  20. #20
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    Will I be able to go from Maun to Savuti with the transit road if I had a 4x4 with low range and the caravan behind it ?

    Are there places to see that would be a sin missing whilst in Bots ?
    Last edited by Mels; 2014/10/21 at 06:38 PM.

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