Cape Town to Murchison Falls ... and back in a Landy

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Cape Town
    Thanked: 40

    Default Cape Town to Murchison Falls ... and back in a Landy

    Blog 1

    Day 1 Cape Town o Sutherland

    After a fine breakfast farewell from Tashas we headed out of Cape Town … the backdrop of Table Mountain like a painted movie set against a perfect blue winters day. We met Megan and Graham at a bustling Engen on the N1 … we being my wife, Kathy and I and two good friends Piri and Lindy Ackerman who have joined us for the first leg to Kasane.

    The vehicles, a 2013 Pajero Sport and a 2015 Land Rover Defender SW are loaded to the hilt, filled with every conceivable camping touring and comfort item known to man (or woman) … The drive out of Cape Town is a breeze, up and out through the tunnel we raced through the patchwork of grape farms that cuddle the road then sweep into the badlands of the Klein Karoo … we stay on the N1 until the turnoff to Sutherland, the destination for night one.

    Well, Sutherland … hmmmm, we went on the tour of SALT and had to share two telescopes with 44 other people who were as disappointed as we were. The freezing cold night didn’t help at all, we were only too happy to head back to town and the mystery of Cluster D H’ot restaurant on the bedraggled main road. We went with the local fare, lamb shank, and were not disappointed … the food was amazing; despite the 1820 look and feel of the old place we had a great meal.

    Karin’s Cottage, our home for the night, sits casually on the dusty outskirts of the town; it’s a beautiful old farmhouse, build of stone and Oregon pine. Its bitterly cold and we huddle around the gas heater until our heated blankets thaw the beds. Its -4 at 4am.

    Day 2
    A weak yellow sun works its way through the frozen air and we brave the start of an early departure day with some trepidation, birdbaths are frozen, our breath like snorting dragons … and that’s when we in the vehicles!!

    We get a taste of gravel roads for some 180 km to Loxton, some slippery sections through remnants of a recent thunderstorm …. The vehicles are starting to look the part as they shed their city skins and adorn African mud ….

    North North and more North we go, through small towns and villages, every kilometer we closer to the start of this African adventure. Some 650km later we trickle through a Kimberly that seems to be recovering from a Saturday night hangover. The roads are quiet, the churches full. Graham had arranged a stay over at the Road Lodge at the Flamingo Casio some 15km north of Kimberly.

    A quick dinner in the casino where, if you had the desire, you can play 5c one arm bandit machines … whoooaaaaaa big spenders!!!

    Day 3 To Gabarone
    An early start again … we leave after a somewhat disappointing breakfast, but the N12 Northwards fills us with anticipation … we enter Botswana today.

    511km of boring uneventful driving, save for a short visit to the border post, we enter orderly Gaberone. We are all amazed at how clean it is, devoid of the litter that is so common throughout African towns/cities. Gabs is spotless!

    Perhaps the town planners and the architects didn’t quite make it through some first world university, but the administrators and service providers sure did. Take a leaf from this book JHB … ANC!

    It’s Road Lodge again tonight, lovely rooms and once again north of the city so we will have a fairly easy exit in the morning. Dinner was at the Ocean Basket at the shopping center next to the hotel.

    It was a fairly long day as we slowly get into the stride of these long days in the seat … we will sleep well tonight!

    Day 4 to Khama Rhino Sanctuary
    Break out the camping gear … at LAST!!!!
    After filling the larder we continued on our northern route, the bushveld around us at last, beware of animals signposts adorn the roadside and we are “feeling Africa”.

    Khama Rhino Sanctuary is 280km from Gaberone, it’s a smallish reserve named after the legendary leader whose against all odds took an English Rose, Ruth, as his wife, and built a country based on integrity and honesty … I guess the looming death penal system plays a major role in this society.

    Their approach to poachers is simple … kill them because they going to kill you! The army is present in every enclave of this country, they are responsible for the all the precious resources, including the wildlife and in particular the rhino.

    We make camp at site 9 … so mooi … our home for two nights.

    After a hearty meal of pure Botswana beef, a 1.5kg fillet for a mere R230!!!!!, Megan’s homemade potato bake and a fine salad we ready for bed.

    As I sit and write this the glowing embers of the fire are slowly flickering and dimming … its 8.35pm and the others have made their way to bed!!! The moon is 2 nights away from being full, our campsite nestles beneath a massive African chestnut tree, devoid of leave its branched like black veins against the moonlit sky … then in the silence there is a shuffling in the bush behind me … I am tempted to head for the safety of my tent … all of 0.2mm of canvas. But I have to finish this …

    Then … another shuffle, a little nearer behind me … a scratching and a scuffle to the right …. A jackal cries at the moon … fok this, a combination of the darkness and my over fertile imagination send me to bed!!! We are going to sleep well tonight.

    Day 5 Khama Rhino Sanctuary
    We had risen at 5, thawed over a cup of coffee and a lovely fire, and collected by a ranger for a game drive through the reserve. A little disappointing … the ranger sat warmly in the cab with his female trainee (or girlfriend) and we were perched on the back in freezing wind … the animals had gone to ground as there was a rather icy wind whistling through the thicket. After an hour or so of endless bush we stumbled across a couple of rhino. The ranger, seemingly keen to take the trainee on her next lesson, spent little time or attention on them and drove off with us craning our necks.

    We were relieved to be dropped off at Campsite 9 around 8.30 … hungry and a little saddened at the experience we tucked into a hearty breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, toast et al. Spirits were back on an all time high.

    After an afternoon of tending to the packing strategies on the vehicles and some attention to our equipment we decided to take ourselves on a game drive. It was all we had expected of KRS … at the first waterhole we sat spellbound, after 5 teenage rhinos had quenched their thirst a stream of mothers and calves came down in a procession of two by two, each pair giving the other a wide berth … some of the longest horns we had ever seen were on show. In the distance we watched a massive bull strut his stuff as he eyed a female that was clearly weaning her calf, the shacking bush and resulting dust storm surely meant that the cycle of life was at full speed.

    The army is prevalent throughout the reserve, we came across two or three vehicular patrols where the soldiers showed a keen interest in the rhinos.

    Sunset at the next watering hole was as astounding, the sun sunk into a reddened haze, its last reflection blinked over the small pool, orange and gold ripples danced around a big four twist kudu, three more rhinos appeared like ghosts from the thicket, guineafowl scurried through their own dust, gin and tonics clinked with ice, Hunters snapped open … and surreptitiously the almost full moon rose behind us as the sun slipped behind a baobab encrusted horizon. This moment is why we do this!

    Night comes quickly and after another hearty meal we are in bed, tucked into thick Oztent sleeping bags and piles of blankets, around 2am its cold, very cold …. But, we will sleep well tonight.

    Day 6 Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Pans
    The day started with a quick break of camp, the start of the trip had been designed so that we would be on the Pans on the rising of the full moon. Timing was impeccable. We shifted through the 200km to Lethlakane … a brief shop at the Spar and then we meandered into the pans, relatively easy going but slow and VERY sandy and dusty, so much so that cameras and phones stayed well hidden from the talcum powder type dust that jets out from under the Land Rover … enveloping the Pajero in a ghostly cloud.

    Eventually we break out into the vast nothingness and the pans seem to stretch on to the horizon and beyond. We pause for a photo opportunity and we soon succumb to pan madness, I will save those photos for a more private exposure … I mean showing.

    We cover the 35km to Kubu Island in a record breaking 2 hours, we drive in the sandy track alongside the pan … our GPS says “DON’T DRIVE ON THE PANS, YOU WILL KILL THE PANS’ BULLFROGS!!!” we agreed that the last bullfrog probably hopped here during the paelentrhoracic era some 364 million years ago, we abided with the GPS tho … low and behold if we were to kill the last Pans Bullfrog.

    The campsite was barren, only a smelly pit toilet to assist with lavatorial duties. We decide to sleep under the glowing moon and distant stars, spanning the Oxwing Awning as some comfort from NO elements.

    Around 5 we climbed the Kubu koppie and settled in to bade the sun farewell … and await the arrival of the moon.

    More to come

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    East Rand
    Thanked: 0


    Wow this is well written, awesome to share your trip, hope you gonna post some pics

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Gordons Bay as a base - travelling Africa
    Thanked: 110


    Already love it

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Thanked: 162

    Default Re: Cape Town to Murchison Falls ... and back in a Landy

    ... and then ...

    Did they get stuck in the pans, were they eaten by lions, or shot by the poachers or army?

    The story started well, but fizzled out after chapter 1 scene 1.
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