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  1. #1
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    Default 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Some advise from Botswana experts please.

    We had a trip planned and booked to Botswana in May 2020, Covid caused this to be re-scheduled to May 2021, now of course it is further postponed. Unfortunately the Australian government have amongst the most severe travel restrictions in the world and Aussie citizens/residents are not allowed to leave Australia for holiday reasons at present and recent indications are that this ruling will be in place until at least the middle of 2022.

    NMD, our Botswana agent has been exceptionally understanding and is awaiting advise from me as to what to do. They have been good enough to grant a further postponement and will rebook for a time that suits us. Ideally we would like May 2022 but as stated we will probably still be "imprisoned" at that point in time. However we need to give Maile of NDM advice as to what to do, their service has been exceptional. Our trip is basically Mabua / Khutse / Khama / CKGR / Kumaga / Nxai / Elephant Sands, we are towing a Bushlapa Baobab behind a Toyota Hilux 4x4 3.0 D4D.

    So my query is what is the best time for us to travel, bearing in mind game/bird viewing are our primary focus? Our thoughts are either early August to mid September, ie before SA school holidays or straight after SA school holidays, early October to late November, we are not concerned about the heat. We know these dates are not ideal but it is what it is. Any advise would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
    Last edited by Tedx2; 2021/05/30 at 05:47 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Personally I also tolerate the heat very well.

    Allowing for seasonal variations I would choose mid-August to early October. As you know, these are the months were game is attracted to the dwindling water supplies and viewing is best. This probably does not apply as much to the Kalahari where the animals are more water independent.
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Ted, personally I would opt for early October to November. My favourite time in Botswana: no wind, hot and splatterings of early rain.

    There is an SA school last week of September and first week of October. Maybe bear that in mind.

    Early September can work as well, but not my favourite time as the August winds continue well into September. I am not a fan of wind, although the hazy conditions give opportunity for stunning photos.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Thanks Stan and Christa, when I posted this I almost said "Would Botswana experts like Stan and Christa assist" but I thought that may be a bit presumptuous of me. The only thing I got wrong was that I was hoping you would recommend the same time . Thanks John
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Well Stan and I sort of overlap with early October
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    We are in a similar situation living in oz and have to cancel trips to Namibia twice too. We have been to CKGR and Nxai Pan several times in late august. Weather has always been great, not too hot yet. And dry. And it’s not school holidays. Good time to go. Next year hopefully.

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  11. #7
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by tustinr View Post
    We are in a similar situation living in oz and have to cancel trips to Namibia twice too. We have been to CKGR and Nxai Pan several times in late august. Weather has always been great, not too hot yet. And dry. And it’s not school holidays. Good time to go. Next year hopefully.
    Hi Tustinr, yes, we feel your pain. We are not opposed to what our government is doing, thankfully Covid in Australia is almost a non-event but we so desperately want to get back into the African bush. We are leaning towards entering Botswana on +/- 10th October 2022, ie as soon as South African schools go back, we know this is very hot but we are not adverse to hot weather, one of our best trips ever was 4 weeks in Namibia, followed immediately by 6 weeks in Kgalagadi from start of October to early December in 2019, the 40's were pretty much a daily event, we loved it. Good luck in your quest, we are currently back in our unit in Brisbane after 6 years out of it.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Hopefully Stan, Christa, Pat N Wolf and others are still watching this thread. Latest expectations are that the Aussie government will open international travel to select countries in November/December 2021 and travel to Africa is likely to commence in May/June 2022. With that in mind out planned trip above in October/November is likely to happen. The current plan is Mabua/Khutse/Khama/CKGR/Kumaga/Nxai/Elephant Sands starting on 10th October 2022 and terminating on 8th November 2022. Our plans thereafter have changed and we find ourselves with two or three spare weeks and are contemplating extending our Botswana trip.

    We were thinking that we should delay Elephant Sands and after Nxai we should follow pretty the route travelled by Christoff ie north to Maun, South Gate Campsite (Moremi), Khwai Campsite (Moremi), Savuti (Chobe), Chobe Safari Lodge (Kasane), Elephant Sands, Kubu Island and from there work our way to South Africa. We are travelling in our Hilux and will be towing our Bushlapa Baobab. Bearing in mind we would be in Botswana until late November there is a possibility of being caught by the start of the rains, is this considered too risky? Are there any areas we should consider adding to or removing from this schedule? As always appreciate any assistance.
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  14. #9
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    From Nxai, join the Northern loop as you suggested, Moremi, Khwai, Savuti and elephants sands to Kubu. It’s great to do Kubu last as you will be full of dust after the visit.
    Towing is not a problem. All the above areas are busy, if you get stuck, you will be pulled out. By November, the heavens would have started opening, rainfall almost daily, so be ready to get dirty. Best advice is always ask the DWNP officials at the entrance. They are always up to date with road conditions and what to avoid.

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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Agree that Moremi and Chobe are the natural inclusion, be lengthened by two or three(especially) weeks.

    1, Maun. Spend 2 nights here to replenish meat (Delta Deli at Riley's garage, also Meat Boys), supplies (Spar and Woolworths) and any repairs etc. Camps near town center can be noisy so prefer Sitatunga, or campsite at Sedia Hotel (more central). More outlying are Drifters and Old Bridge - rustic but fine. When in Maun book the fantastic 1 hour scenic flight over the swamps. From the road you see only the fringes of this vast swampy inland delta. Get you agent to book from one of the many light plane companies at Maun airport and indicate you are more than willing to share - cheaper. We use Mack Air and best time is 8/9 am but not critical.

    2. Then one needs to spend some nights at a camp in Moremi, I would choose these at Third Bridge, so conveniently placed centrally for game drives, and would keen for 3 nights - 5.

    3. Some would the also spend 2/3 nights at the also very nice Xakanaxa campsite. This is nice especially if you spend a day out in the swamps in the motorized 10-12 man boats hirable at Xakanaxa. Really a fantastic excursion out on the water after all the heat and dust. We usually hire for about 6hrs so we can penertrate deep into the swamps into the lagoons and the heronries. Once again share to dilute costs. The are options to camp on an island deep into the swamps overnight as part of a boat ride. DELTA MARINE.

    4.If short of time, rather than move onto Xakanaxa or Khwai camps within Moremi, I would consider staying at on of the community camps in the Khwai Tribal Trust are, just north of unfenced Moremi and beautifully situated on the Khwai River, some lovely campsites right on the water. Most often there is plenty of big game. (If time do Xakanaxa as well).
    Here I would choose Mabudi or Magotho especially, 3-5 nights. Stay here too if you have the time.

    5.Savuti. This camp in the dry southern part of the greater Chobe Game Reserve should not be missed, About 3/4 nights there.

    6.Ihaha. On the Chobe River in the north of Chobe NP. Lovely campsites right on the banks of the river, Best game viewing. Toilets a bit rustic. Campsites 1 or 2 probably the best. Just don't pitch tent below baboon roost tree or you will be inundated by baboon feces and urine that will gross you out. Also lock everything up at night in the vehicle. There have been robberies in the past from the Namibian side of the river, Rarely arms were involved. Little concern at present and there are police security patrols. 3/4 nights.

    Other unusual and hospitable transit places to stay in your travels as one-nighters would include: Khama Rhino Sanctuary near Serowe, Senyati Safaris near Kazangula and Kasane, Nata Lodge or Elephant Sands and Woodlands Stopover and Lodge near Francistown.

    Enjoy your planning. Still a lovely trip! You just have to book well ahead.
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2021/09/15 at 04:21 AM.
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  18. #11
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedx2 View Post
    ... Bearing in mind we would be in Botswana until late November there is a possibility of being caught by the start of the rains, is this considered too risky? Are there any areas we should consider adding to or removing from this schedule? As always appreciate any assistance.
    I would definitely do it. November is too early for the really big rains, but thunderstorms are possible. These will not make roads impassable however. In fact it may make your passage easier with compacted wet sand, especially the Sandridge road to Savuti and parts of the track to Third Bridge.

    Just remember that the bridge at Third Bridge is broken and I would bet money that it will still be out of service by this time next year. This will force you to go back to South Gate, but I see that as an opportunity to stay over at South Gate. It is a very under rated area with lots of new loops added in recent years.

    Third Bridge campsite is fantastic, the area is good. However I prefer the area around Xakanaka and North Gate. Xakanaka was always my favourite camp and we stayed there quite a few times way back. Nowadays it is not that great and the management and upkeep are not on par with that of Third Bridge. But...then again one only spend a small chunk of time in the ablutions.

    Ihaha, yes a must do. Take Stan's advice of trying to get site 1 or 2 or maybe 10.

    As Stan also hinted, lots of stop overs on the way back. I will be against the stream here and say that I am not a fan of Elephant Sands (way overrated in my book). Don't forget about Goo-Moremi close to Palapye as a possibility

    Then one thing you mentioned yesterday on Christoff's thread which I wanted to comment on, but did not want to pollute his thread. You asked about using low range on the access track to Nxai pan. We did not use low range, but stayed in high range 4 x 4. Some purists and experts will crucify me, but we rarely use low range when towing in thick-ish sand. And most of the sand to Nxai pan are thick-ish with intermittent bumpy or very corrugated parts. But you will also have to see and get a feel for yourself. If whatever option you chose in terms of gearing does not work for you, stop on a firm section and change it.

    Also very important! Use the western most access track next to park boundary, not the direct one which is more east. This is 'new' and an absolute killer in terms of sand.
    Last edited by lekhubu943; 2021/09/15 at 11:27 AM.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    All the above advice is good. Spend as much time as you can at a site and don’t rush to try and see all.

    My comment on Chobe Safari Lodge is that although it has good facilities ie pub, restaurant, the camp sites are small and not easily accessible with a trailer. The benefit is that you are in Kasane and close to all the amenities, Chobe GR and the river cruises. Spending time a Ihaha is highly recommendable.

    Senyanti although a bit run down is a good place to have close-up experiences with elephant, Buffalo, lions, giraffe and other game from the hide/platform. On two occasions we had lion walk through the camp. There is a pub but no restaurant. You can also organize a river cruise or trip to Vic Falls from there.

    Further comment on the road to Nxai. Take the westernmost access road as recommended. At the main gate deflate your tyres (on inflate there again when exiting) on both the vehicle and the trailer (I normally drop down to 1.5 bar all round).

    The sand is thick in places but you should be OK in 4X4. Early morning up to about 10h00 is the best time when the sand is coolest. Take it slow! Sand is not your biggest problem when towing along this road - the undulating nature of both access roads will catch you unawares and could be costly in terms of potential damage to vehicle and rig. But it is easily doable with common sense. This is one of my favorite GRs in Bots.
    Last edited by TRON; 2021/09/15 at 12:22 PM.

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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Tron, yes good point on CSL. We could barely get our smaller Miskruier into a campsite and had to try more than one campsite. Senyati, even a bit run down (and with grumpy manageress ) is way preferable. Plus at CSL you actually have no view of anything from the campsite even though some sites are right on the river.

    And you are correct on the undulations on the Nxai pan track, they are frequent and some quite severe. We had a few small hops.

    @ Ted: you will need to be wary of your fuel situation. There is no fuel between Khumaga and Nxai. Your first fuel availability after exiting Nxai pan will be Maun if you extend your trip that way or Nata. Gweta, as far as I know, is not reliable yet.
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  24. #14
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Unfortunately you're not going to get DWNP to postpone beyond March 2022. So anything booked with them (Mabuasehube, CKGR) will be a new booking.



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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Pat N Wolf, Stan, Christa and Tron, thank you all so very much, I knew that I would get some great advice from you. In 2022 we are not able to return to Africa with adequate time to arrange our East African trip that most of you have assisted with, we have postponed this to 2023. Two days ago we had no idea how we would fill the void, Christoff's post changed all that. I will absorb all the knowledge I have gleamed from you all and come up with a "plan" over the next few days, I will post this once I have firmed up. We have been using Maile of NDM, a member of this forum, for our bookings so far and will ask him to add the northern trip to our bookings, I think being 14 months out time should allow us to get the bookings we decide upon.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by andyrag View Post
    Unfortunately you're not going to get DWNP to postpone beyond March 2022. So anything booked with them (Mabuasehube, CKGR) will be a new booking.
    Hi Andy, that sounds grossly unfair. Due to Covid the Australian Government will not allow people currently resident in Australia to leave the country, there is no way we or any other Australian resident could get to Botswana between March 2020 and March 2022. I have always been in favour of a travel credit rather than a refund, but surely that cuts both ways. If what you are saying is correct, and I'm not doubting it is I'll try to appeal this ruling but if past dealings with DWNP are anything to go by I rather suspect I will be fighting a losing battle. I'll have a word with Maile of NDM, see what he can come up with. Thanks for the warning.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Hi John, some food for thought, and comments from other members, a number of people have quite rightly suggested Ihaha, with its river setting in the Park.

    When we were in Bots last month we stayed at Muchenje campsites and Senyati. We drove past Ihaha on 2 occasions and I must say I was quite glad that I was not towing, it is not an "un--doable" trip but it will be very slow going on the sandy roads, so to make it worthwhile you would need a few nights at Ihaha and allow enough time for the drive into and out of Ihaha.

    If I did the trip again, I would probably stay at Muchenje and Senyati again. Not all the campsites at Muchenje lookout over the floodplain and it does not have the park setting of Ihaha.
    Last edited by mcowell; 2021/09/16 at 09:25 AM.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    So, I’ve come up with a “plan” that I want to put to my agent, before going firm I thought I’d place it here and see if there are any areas that look wrong. The trip from the start of Mabuasehube to Nxai is pretty much set in stone depending upon discussions with DWNP. The biggest single change is that we will now enter Botswana from Zimbabwe (Mpandamatenga) as opposed to South Africa (McCarthy’s Rest). This does create an opportunity as we can start a few days early and go via Kubu Island, probably better in early October than late November. However, it raises a question on what route to choose to get from Kubu Island to Mabuasehube, my plan provides 3 x 1 night stopovers so need to do about 250kms per day, suggestions would be welcome. Sorry that it is so long but our revised plan (with approximate distances) is as follows;

    3/10/22 – Elephant Sands – 206 kms + border crossing (1 night)
    4/10/22 Kubu Island – 170kms (3 nights)
    7, 8 and 9/10/22 – 3 stopovers, how do I get from Kubu to Mabuasehube – 1,000kms (3 nights on the road)
    10/10/22 – Mabuasehube – remaining part of aforementioned 1,000kms (6 nights, 2 camps)
    16/10/22 – Kang – 230kms (I night)
    17/10/22 – Khutse – 380kms (3 nights)
    20/10/22 – Gaborone – 230kms (1 night)
    21/10/22 – Khama – 335kms (2 nights)
    23/10/22 – CKGR – 391kms (10 nights, 3 camps)
    2/11/22 – Khumaga – 152kms – (2 nights)
    4/11/22 – Nxai – 156kms – (3 nights)
    7/11/22 – Sitatunga – 184kms (2 nights) to book plane flight
    9/11/22 – South Gate Camp – 104kms (3 nights) staying here as Third Bridge looks like a non-starter
    12/11/22 – Xakanaxa – 45kms (3 nights) to book boat trip
    15/11/22 – Magotho Camp – 86kms (3 nights)
    18/11/22 – Savuti Camp – 111kms (3 nights)
    21/11/22 – Ihaha Camp – 134kms (3 nights)
    24/11/22 – Nata Lodge – 366kms (1 night)
    25/11/22 – Goo Moremi – 364kms (2 nights)
    27/11/22 – South Africa – 300kms

    We have decided to do a minimum of 2 nights at each destination, except of course for stopovers. Any criticism or suggestions will be gratefully accepted. So, what started as a one-month tour of southern and central Botswana has ballooned into an 8-week full on tour, Covid allowing. As always, I am very grateful to those intrepid travellers with far more knowledge than I could ever hope to gain, I promise a trip report will follow at the end of this trip.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by mcowell View Post
    Hi John, some food for thought, and comments from other members, a number of people have quite rightly suggested Ihaha, with its river setting in the Park.

    When we were in Bots last month we stayed at Muchenje campsites and Senyati. We drove past Ihaha on 2 occasions and I must say I was quite glad that I was not towing, it is not an "un--doable" trip but it will be very slow going on the sandy roads, so to make it worthwhile you would need a few nights at Ihaha and allow enough time for the drive into and out of Ihaha.

    If I did the trip again, I would probably stay at Muchenje and Senyati again. Not all the campsites at Muchenje lookout over the floodplain and it does not have the park setting of Ihaha.
    Hi Malcolm, sorry only saw this after I had posted my "plan". I will take a look at your suggestion and any other comments after 48 hours. Appreciate your input as always.
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    Default Re: 30 Day Trip To Botswana

    Quote Originally Posted by Tedx2 View Post
    ....However, it raises a question on what route to choose to get from Kubu Island to Mabuasehube, my plan provides 3 x 1 night stopovers so need to do about 250kms per day, suggestions would be welcome. .
    Easy. And I don't think 3 nights are needed at all. One at the most. We have done Khama to Mabua east gate in one day. Granted it was quite a long day, but we managed it. You can maybe look at one overnight stop at Jwaneng, but it will not be camping. As far as I know there is still no camping options in Jwaneng, but there is decent hotel and a few guest houses.

    So the route will be: you will be approaching Serowe from the direction of Orapa/Lethlakane I presume. So at the big t-junction, turning left will take you to Palapye. Turn right. There is a lovely quiet tar road from Serowe, Mosolotsane, Lephephe. You will hit the outskirts of Gabs at Molepolole and it will be a bit of slow going but you will eventually join the A2 just north of Kanye.

    EDIT: if you want to break this section more, you can look at stopping at Khama again, but it may be a bit close to Kubu. And you are already stopping there, but personally I like Khama RS so stopping there twice will not be a train wreck for me. There is also a campsite close to Serowe, but I can never recall the name. Pat will know. There is also some sort of motel behind the garage at Sekoma, but cannot say what it is like or how quiet and safe it will be.

    The sand to Ihaha is nothing worse than to Nxai pan. Coming from Savuti, you will join the A 33 almost at the Ngoma gate entrance. Enter there and there is a track going north, then east, then north again and then it follows the river. This track is easy to tow on, quite hard and even rocky in some places. If you look on the map, you will see several tracks running almost perfectly perpendicular between the river and the A33. I think there are about 4 of them. They are indeed sandy but we used one of them (not sure which one) when we left Ihaha. IIRC it may be the one most to the east, either just before or after Serondela. You will have time to explore when you are camping at Ihaha and you can see which one will work best. Remember you cannot follow the river track from Serondela east wards, it is a one way direction west.
    Last edited by lekhubu943; 2021/09/16 at 11:42 AM.
    Christa
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