Results 1 to 14 of 14
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Durbanville
    Posts
    22
    Thanked: 27

    Default 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    TRIP REPORT: BOTSWANA AND NORTHERN NAMIBIA IN A SUV (RENAULT DUSTER 4WD) - JUNE/JULY 2022
    [see the report with plenty photos and images in pdf attached to this post (top or bottom)– hope it works…]
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing
    I am sharing our experiences of an almost four-week Botswana and Northern Namibia trip. Our objective was to experience Botswana for the first time. A logical part of such a trip was to include the Caprivi strip. Then, as an add-on, to utilise our position up north to travel over to Epupa Falls and also to visit a few other places in Namibia we haven’t been to before. Our mode of travel was a 2020 Renault Duster 4WD pulling along a Glider trailer, the latter which is a 6ft trailer that has proven itself over the years for its ability to soak up some punches.
    The route was roughly as follows: Cape Town, Mariental, Gobabis, Maun, Nata, Kasane, Katima, Divundu, Rundu, Ruacana, Epupa, Palmwag, Torra Bay, Swakop, Windhoek, Noordoewer, Cape Town.
    Our planning was designed in such a way that we were not necessarily forced to take high risk 4x4 routes, but that we would have a bit of flexibility to explore opportunities (and the limits of the Duster). In Botswana what you can do in the parks, even with a serious 4x4, is linked to the season. So, the plan was basically to hear from people along the way what interesting routes we can try for day trips. But we pre-booked most of the camp sites, a decision we did not regret for two reasons, a: our trip overlapped with the SA school holidays and b: it allows you to relax instead of having to do research and phoning around along the way.
    The rest of my story is divided into four parts: “A” is the main story/journal of the trip; “B” contains some general observations; “C” is a reflection on the rivers we encountered and, lastly, I added a section (D) containing a few larger ‘widescreen’ photos.
    PART A: ‘JOURNAL’
    We left Cape Town early on a Tuesday morning and headed north via Springbok and the Namibian border to Keetmanshoop. Slept in town next to the church, quite good and well-maintained. From there another long day ‘in the saddle’ to Ghanzi, crossing the Botswana border at Buitepos, east of Gobabis. We wanted to take a shortcut road via Leonardville, but on advice took another route, via Aminuis, which eventually brings you to a tar road. However, this route is not recommended, as you travel about 50km on a sub-par temporary road next to the road being constructed. The red Kalahari dunes between Stampriet and Aranos are impressive.
    After filling up, Buitepos border post went relatively smooth and we continued to Thakadu bush camp just south of Ghanzi. The 1km to campsite is quite challenging and the camp itself was struggling a bit after Covid, it appeared. Arriving at a campsite at sunset is never ideal, so much more if it is your first night camping and while things are still unorganised. That said, the first Botswana sunset was special. Then to Maun. If you’ve never been to Botswana, Maun is the ‘mystical city’, a bit like Timbuktu. To be fair, Maun was never presented as a destination on its own, but nevertheless was just a place that always intrigued me. Anyways, it is definitely an interesting and bustling town. Almost all the taxi’s are Honda Jazz/Fit models and the drivers are always in a hurry, more so than everyone and everything else in Botswana. First spent some time in town getting meat (which was good) at Shoprite.
    After Maun we set out to Drifters camp 30km SE of Maun. Drifters was a pleasant surprise. Very quiet still after covid but a beautiful setting on the Boteti River. The river is quite wide there and we went on a cruise with the manager, Cronje - a very special occasion. Beautiful sunset. Cronje explained how the Okavango delta works and how the Boteti is linked to it. Drifters is also the HQ for the Drifters Safari operations in Botswana, although operated mainly from SA. The continuous night-time choir from frogs and other small things was amazing!
    Speaking to Cronje and another lady, we were convinced to take on the Moremi for a day trip, starting very early. Travelling with the Duster, this was a slightly brave/risky decision. The road from Maun starts reasonable (tar) but then there is a very bad patch of about 20km before the road splits to Moremi. The next 30km to South Gate feels as if you are already in the park, encountering elephant, giraffe and impala. Paid our dues at the gate and were advised to keep to the southern section of Moremi around Black Pool, partly due to the probable concentration of game and partly to due to the limitations posed by the Duster.
    We had the detailed Tracks4Africa maps on my phone (the HD map downloaded at a cost of R200) and explored a few rough tracks scraping the belly and sides of the vehicle but luckily nothing serious. We encountered a lot of game and our best sight was a very large herd of giraffe, also red lechwe combined with hippo and a fish eagle but almost overwhelming was the sense of openness, remoteness, freedom and general absence of other vehicles. Also, the freedom to get out of your vehicle whenever you feel safe, though I’m not 100% sure it is official policy.

    see this report with photos and images https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing

    We had to deal with the road back to Maun and then Drifter’s in the dark, which was not a pleasure due to livestock along the roads, which is particularly difficult to pick up in the dark. The next day we picked up our daughter, who joined us for week, at Maun airport. That evening we went for an extremely nice sunset cruise from Drifters on their small but double-storeyed boat. The following morning we left Drifters behind going east to Nxai pans and Baine’s boabobs. Fortunately, we were able to leave our trailer at the entrance.
    Again, the roads were challenging but doable (only just) with the Duster. The offices at Nxai Pan were a bit dilapidated, and, as expected towards the middle of the day, we didn’t see much game. We arrived at Baine’s boababs and the abutting salt pan at a beautiful time. The sight of the baobabs and the pan was really impressive and made the trip worthwhile. We took the northern 14km route to Baines as everyone advised; apparently there were still deep ruts on the shorter route. Can’t say for sure.
    We set up camp at Planet Baobab in windy conditions. The camp was quite full; good to see. It is a wonderful facility but, although we were booked for two nights (and after chatting to co-travellers), we decided to pack up in the morning and head to Elephant Sands camp, between Nata and Kasane. The road to Nata has potholes but the very bad patch reported on forums is not so quite short, maybe 10kms. Don’t expect much at Nata, except for two filling stations and basic shops.
    Elephant Sands though was a revelation. Featuring the only borehole in a large area the elephant came and came right in front of your eyes, sitting on the lodge’s large viewing deck, even to within 4m of them. Spikes on the ground keep you safe (it may sound a bit alarming but isn’t, as the elephants know well to avoid it). The camping is rudimentary but also looks out on the borehole without any fences (or spikes!). A large overlanding group of about 12 vehicles set up camp in a lager formation next to us. That was an eye-opener in its own right and we wondered if that way of travelling would have worked for us. There are pros and cons, of course, but wouldn’t have been ideal for us.
    From Elephant Sands we headed to Kasane, picking up a fine along the way for some indicator lights of the trailer not working after all the shakes/potholes, but fortunately (!) as we did not have enough pulas, the police had a card facility to pay the fine, there in the middle of nowhere. In Kasane, actually closer to Kazungula, we were booked at Kubu Lodge for camping for two nights. While close to the river you don’t see much of the water and are warned of hippos and crocodiles. Again, it was fairly empty. Covid again.
    The next day the family went with Kalahari Safaris over the Zim border to Vic Falls. It worked very well for them. The falls were in full flood (+/- 1 July) and the service from the operators was very good. Going with them is highly recommended (as opposed to trying to go over the border by your own and with your own vehicle). I had a rest day (seen the Falls before) but took a 1.5 hour boat cruise to the confluence of the Chobe and the Zambezi, to where the four countries meet. Except for the wonderful guide, Pinoape, it was only me on the raft. The new bridge to Zambia is impressive, especially from the vantage point of the water.
    [this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with all the photos and images – the link should be at the top or bottom]
    After two nights in Kasane we packed for Muchenje camp, which is about 5km west of the Ngoma bridge border post, which, in turn, is about 50km west of Kasane. On the tar road, you travel through the Chobe Park where you can see quite a lot of animals. There are check-in and check-out points along the road and be mindful that you cannot travel after dusk. Muchenje proved to be a magic camp, with good facilities and well managed. The best of all though is the location on the wetlands of the Chobe.
    The next day was a full one. We went into the park from the Ngoma bridge side and worked our way through the riverfront section of the Chobe towards Kasane, where we were booked for the 3h river cruise. The Chobe area proved to be quite scenic and highly enjoyable as, for long sections, you drive almost on the water's edge. We ventured inland and were rewarded with sightings of two giraffe fighting and a herd of elephant with two infants falling around playfully in deep mud. The route back to the tar road comprised deep sand and we received a 'spanner warning signal ’ on the Duster’s dashboard. Fortunately, that signal disappeared the next morning. At Kalahari Safaris we were greeted by Sarefu, who first had to chase the buffalo away from the short stretch between their offices on Kasane’s main road and the river so that we could board the boat. Sarefu was a very well-trained guide and enthusiastic person who showed us everything there was to see, including an elephant wading through the river, a malachite kingfisher and a puku. A brilliant excursion. Travelled back to Muchenje, reaching the check-in point along the road just in time.
    The next day we dropped our daughter at Kasane airport and did some restocking. Had a good coffee at Chobe River Lodge. Again, we made our way back through the Chobe to Muchenje and had another great evening there.
    From there the next day it was time for crossing back into Namibia via Ngoma Bridge border post and heading to the Kwando region. First up was Katimo Mulilo to refuel and draw cash. Briefly turned off in Katimo to have a glimpse of the Zambezi river. Continued west to Kongola, which consists of not much more than a petrol station. At Kongola we turned south towards the Kwando and saw many directions signs to campsites and lodges.
    We were booked at Malyo Wilderness Camp. Coincidently we arrived at the out-of-use log pole bridge barely minutes after the only other guests for the night at the camp, all the way from Adelaide, Australia. Together we worked our way exploring a route to the campsite without getting the vehicles too wet. The campsite itself is stretched out along the edge of the Kwando river. Facilities are very basic and water was initially a problem. We haven't seen much action except hunting expeditions launching their boat. Nevertheless a nice experience, close to bush camping as its name suggested.
    Next up was Livingstone Camp which is about 30km south-east of Malyo, just before the Nkasa Rupara Park (previously known as Mamili). Again we had to use GPS to help find the camp, and the reception was a bit neglected, but arriving at our site (#5) was an amazing surprise. Firstly, it was located quite a way from any neighbours. The facilities (for each site) comprise two thatched structures; one comprises a washing basin and ample sitting space while the second accommodates the shower and toilet. The solar and gas geyser worked 100%. Interestingly, the rates were actually decreased during Covid, but even the original rates would have been worthwhile. By far the most peaceful and luxurious site of our trip and highly recommended. During a short drive that evening, we encountered a herd of elephant which, after we switched off the car, came feeding right around us. The next day, after attending to some washing and planning a do-nothing day, we did in fact went to see what is happening in Nkasa Rupara National Park.
    We ended up spending about 4 hours driving through the park – so much for a idle day. Had a glimpse of Jackalberry Lodge – it must be the one of remotest and smallest lodge imaginable. No airstrip close-by but close to the Linyanti river. The Kwando becomes the Linyanti and the Kwando/Linyanti swamps system is the smaller cousin of the Okavango swamps as it works similarly hydrologically speaking and is relatively close to the Okavango (it is even connected in some way). It is a beautiful park and you drive most of the time along the edge between the wetlands and the more bushy ‘island’. The wetlands will be mostly under water in the wet season, and you obviously need to enquire about the accessibility of roads and sections of the park whenever you visit. We almost got stuck in a muddy patch in a pan but that is a different story. Again, the advice, when you think you're almost stuck - stop, think and do what is necessary instead of just trying brute force which will just get you really stuck.
    After two magic nights at Camp Livingstone we set out along the Zambezi region of Namibia (better known by its old name, the Caprivi strip) westwards towards Divundu, which is where the Popa Falls are located. Due to a changed schedule we lost our booking at Ngepi and were booked at Popa Falls resort - owned by NWR [Namibia Wildlife Resorts] - instead.
    Again, we were joined by an overlanding group comprising about 10 vehicles. They left the following morning, and we had the whole resort almost to ourselves, except for a church group that visited the resort. The facilities are modern. The campsites are not directly on the water but that's fine. The ‘falls’ are more rapids but still nice to experience. Boat cruises are available, but we enjoyed a rest day, preparing for a long day on the road to follow.
    At this point there is perhaps some explaining to do. I always wanted to see the Epupa Falls and a friend advised that since we are so far north and would have a bit of time, it would make sense to include the westwards trip, even though it is about 800km extra. Epupa is close to the most north-western point of Namibia, along the Kunene River, which forms the border with Angola along that stretch. So, after leaving Popa very early our first stop (after 200km) was Rundu to stock up. Got good meat at the Factory Shop next to Pick and Pay. From Rundu we took the B10 (old C45) that runs right along the Angolan border, which is formed by the Okavango River. The B10 is a good-enough tar road but serves about 200 villages along the way.
    After a long day and multiple cow-stops (and the 200 villages) we eventually arrived at Ruacana, 815km west (and slightly north) of Divundu. These northern stretches of Namibia are very rural areas but fairly densely populated, and every 500m (or less) there will be a shebeen, with interesting names, like 'The Dog is Hot'. When planning, keep in mind that the B10 to Ruacana is not touristy at all, so overnight opportunities are limited, which is why we stretched it all the way to Ruacana.
    At Ruacana we camped at Eha Lodge, which can be recommended for being a neat and safe stopover (and offers a very good breakfast). Close to the Ruacana Falls the countryside suddenly becomes hilly/mountainous and after travelling through the extremely flat Botswana and Ovamboland, it was quite a change of scenery. We hit the gravel D3700 without stopping at Ruacana Falls, so had to make a u-turn when we realised that we missed it and also that we would probably not be close to Ruacana soon, if ever. The water volumes at the falls were low or average but still worth the u-turn. A bit of an eerie feeling with the massive infrastructure all around but barely a soul in sight.
    reminder: this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with many photos and images – the link https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing
    Back to the D3700 it quickly became steep again and the road never flattened out, to put it mildly. After about an hour or more arrived at Kunene River Lodge and decided to check it out, joking about the prospects of a coffee and cheesecake. What a wonderful place! We almost decided to set up camp there but was already paid up at Epupa. Had a good tea and 'Kunene Special orange tart with ice cream'. West of Swartbooisdrift (where we stopped at the Dorsland Trekkers memorial) the road got worse and altogether we couldn't believe that it was the new upgraded road. Every 200m or so there is a ditch or riverbed and travelling with the trailer we had to be careful. We got partly stuck in a riverbed in the very loose dry sand and the local Himba watched our efforts to get going again, which fortunately were successful after some digging. Further west, to the left the Zebra mountains with its peculiar stripes were impressive, as well as the baobabs, while on the other side the Kunene with its palm tree lining and sandy beaches were even more impressive. No easy going but altogether an amazing and rewarding experience. To sum up, it took us about 5 hours to drive the 170km from Ruacana to Epupa, but you need to factor in stops along the way. It can probably be done faster, especially without a trailer, but the passengers should then take a double dose of Medazine.
    Arriving fairly late at Epupa, the Omarunga Lodge campsite proved to be a good choice and can be highly recommended in all respects. The manager, Andrew, had everything in hand. The nice pool came in handy, as the temperature was still 32° at 5pm (early in July). It was quiet with the 'white noise' sound-effect of the falls mingled with bird song. Our site was on the water's edge. The next morning, we set out to explore the photogenic falls from downstream, although the photo opportunities are probably a bit better in the late afternoon when the sun comes from the west. It was impressive enough. The next day we had a well-deserved rest day and enjoyed the pool, watched the last two games of the Wimbledon final and had a few drinks at the bar.
    From Epupa we took the road south-east to Opuwa, a road which also proved to be slow going (not as slow as the river road to Epupa, however) but interesting and scenic, passing several Himba villages. It took a bit more than 3h hours driving nevertheless. Opuwa is an interesting town, seeing the Himba visiting the Spar in traditional attire, for example, and also, in contrast, Herero ladies in smart and colourful dresses. From Opuwa the drive southwards to Palmwag was easier in terms of the road conditions (although we almost bumped into three kudu and hit a largish rock at speed). Closer to Palmwag the environment became very dry but very scenic again. We skipped Sesfontein and the Warmquelle springs due to time limits. Palmwag is an oasis with the usual Makalani palms. It is also a Gondwana resort and most of the sites are great, and the restaurant’s food good. After two nights at Palmwag we first went south for about 30km and then turned westwards via the C39 towards the Skeleton Coast roughly lining up with Torra Bay.
    It is a very scenic and fairly good road, with an abundance of Welwitschias on the left-hand side over the middle stretch. Got a permit to the Skeleton Coast Park at the gate along the way – free and no hassle. We almost got stuck on the only 5m of dune sand along the way, but that was just looking for a bit of fun that changed to a bit of work. We joined the salt road just south of Torra Bay. The rusted sign indicated ‘Henties Bay 255km’. Stopped at the bird lagoon (with a sign warning you of wandering lions), an old mine, an old oil rig and the Cape Cross seal colony. A visit for a cappucino and toasties at the Cape Cross Lodge is highly recommended, and we suddenly found ourselves sitting next to a fireplace with the mist over the waves cold outside. South of Henties we stopped at the wreck of the Zeila and joined a chat between a Belgian guy cycling south and a Dutch couple travelling north in an impressive yellow Steyr (similar to a Unimog). It was a long day but well worthwhile, experiencing the unique environment and interesting sights. The salt road along the coast was a pleasure to drive.
    Slept at a self-catering flat in Swakop, the first non-camping experience in 21 days. While it was nice, somehow the coldness outside and the nature of the enclosed concrete structure offered nothing to write home about. To be honest, we also felt as if the dust from three weeks camping settled into everything we had, and we were not completely at home. The next day we travelled via Windhoek to Mariental. The roads were busy and a bit of a shock on the system after all the travelling in very remote areas. Had to retrack a part of the almost completed ring road south of Windhoek, to find the main road going south again.
    South of Rehoboth the traffic settled down and we headed to Anib Lodge, some 20km east of Mariental on the road to Stampriet, the same road we took some three weeks ealier. The upmarket lodge offers only three sites for camping, each with its own ablution and veranda. It was great to be back in the bushveld again and set up camp. Even though the area is regarded as Kalahari there are many trees and abundant grass, feeling more like Botswana again, different to the western area of Namibia where we spent the previous few days.
    The next day we managed to get a booking at Amanzi campsite on the Orange River just west of Noordoewer. A great campsite and friendly people and highly recommended to stay a few restful days. We spent two nights there before tackling the final stretch home. However, part of the rest day included a trip to Aussenkehr and specifically through the Gamchab canyon, which again amazed us by its rugged beauty.

    PART B: SOME OVERALL IMPRESSIONS (AND THE DUSTER)
    We really enjoyed Botswana and the Caprivi (Zambezi region). Combining it with the north-western areas of Namibia that we haven’t seen before, worked out well, but you need a bit of time. It was an almost four-week trip and for us, the pace generally worked well. The key stats: 8380km over 26 days, spending 141 hours driving. The biggest issue was adapting to the abnormal working life afterwards…
    The people of Botswana we found generally very friendly and laid-back, and encountered some excellent guides. The parks themselves are beautiful but maintenance and hands-on management (and signage) can be patchy. Information on where to travel and what to see are not always readily offered, and you have to ask specific questions. Generally you need to do your own research and also have Tracks4Africa or OsmAnd loaded. All part of the fun. The accessibility of roads in the parks are obviously determined by the season, and as the dry season progresses, more and more tracks become drivable. Interestingly, the bigger rivers (and the Delta itself) have a lag time of months, so, for instance, the Boteti (southeast of Maun) has its peak around May as the waters have pushed into and through the Delta.
    When we visited the campsites (June/July 2022), most were financially bruised by Covid. Many seem to have weathered it fairly well, while others are barely surviving. Our trip started just before the main South African holiday season and occupation levels at the camps varied a lot. We generally felt safe but, in many cases, there were security guards deployed at night. We got used to that and felt that if there was to be any incident it would be petty theft at most, but in the end, we had no unpleasant experiences.
    In terms of camping, we used a light dome tent (an Oztrail Tasman4) and a small pop-up tent. Interestingly, it was clear that rooftop tents were very popular, although we ourselves were perfectly happy on the ground. That’s said, we had no night-time visitors such as hyena.
    So, how did the Duster do? Let me start with something measurable, the diesel consumption. Measured tank-to-tank it was 12,5 km/l (the trip computer indicated 7.1 l/100km for the whole trip – a bit optimistic). Considering that was pulling the trailer I am perfectly happy with that. The car completed the trip without any issues or visible wear and tear, bar some very shallow scratches perhaps (at times it felt as if the scratches from the sides would be much worse). The Duster again proved convenient whether you are travelling 20km/h or stretching it way over the speed limit. In sections of the Moremi, Nxai pans, Chobe and Mamili we certainly were scratching the undercarriage and sometimes had regular bumps felt from below. However, we got used to it fairly quickly and convinced ourselves that the vehicle could handle it. In retrospect, it proved to be the right call (thankfully!).
    Where it became too rough or the sand too deep (middelmannetjie too high) we turned around. The 4WD was essential for where we ventured and the Duster’s system worked well including the ‘lock’ feature, as well as the ability to disengage the ESC and traction control for deep sand. For an SUV, the Duster has good approach and departure angles, which also helped. In summary, we had a lot of fun exploring the limits of the Duster and its can-do ability. But, of course, you would be freer to explore the furthest reaches of the parks in a conventional 4x4. Ground clearance plays a huge role, furthermore the fact is that with a bakkie or Cruiser your lowest point (which may be higher to start off with) is probably a very solid diff casing that should be able to withstand a few hard hits. However, our objective was to explore the variety that Botswana had on offer for the first time and it worked out very well…
    PART C: SOME NOTES ON THE RIVERS AND RIVER SYSTEMS UP NORTH
    [reminder: this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with photos and images – see the link]
    Something that intrigued me was the river systems that we encountered on our trip. Firstly, we got a feel for the Boteti River southwest of Maun. The Boteti is formed by an overflow from the Okavango Delta, however the delta first runs into a river that flows through Maun, the Thamalakane, which is rather a fault line that forms a depression perpendicular to the delta, and collects the water. The Boteti eventually ends in the Makgadikgadi pans. The Okavango delta itself is fed by the Okavango River that comes from the north through Divundu (Popa Falls). The Okavango, in turn, is fed by the Cubango and the Cuito, all the way from the mid-south of Angola (Cuito Cuanavale, on the upper reaches of the Cuito, is well known for some).
    Next up is the mighty Zambezi, which meets the Chobe just east of Kasane at Kazungula (where the four countries meet) and then flows east to the Indian Ocean via Mozambique. The Zambezi accommodates the Vic Falls, the Kariba Lake and the Cabora Bassa Lake on its way to the Indian Ocean. To move to the Chobe; it actually refers to a relative short stretch of river between the Linyanti and the Zambezi. The Linyanti, in turn, is fed by the Kwando.
    Travelling west from Kasane (as we did) one would encounter the Chobe at Ngoma bridge border, then the Zambezi at Katima, then the Okavango at Popa Falls/Divundu, then follow the Kavango all the way via Rundu (to where it turns north into Angola), and then after a stretch of straight line, the westward journey meets the Kunene at Ruacana. The border, and the epic D3700, then follows the Kunene all the way to Epupa Falls. All these interesting (and complicated) rivers/wetlands are found in a narrow band close to Latitude 18° South, i.e. approximately 18 degrees south of the equator. Anyways, the river systems certainly are complex but provided an excuse to gloss again over Google maps and aerial photography of areas we visited.

    PART D: A FEW ‘WIDE-SCREEN’ PHOTOS

    [reminder: this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with photos and images – see the link to down
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Kortpad; 2022/08/15 at 07:41 PM. Reason: added easier link


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Calitzdorp
    Posts
    393
    Thanked: 1350

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Fantastic trip report. Thnx for making the effort

  3. The Following User Says Thank You to AfriqueDS For This Useful Post:


  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2021
    Location
    Knysna
    Age
    51
    Posts
    218
    Thanked: 684

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Great trip report!

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to Rudi Maritz For This Useful Post:


  6. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Secunda
    Age
    61
    Posts
    848
    Thanked: 1151

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Great report Kortpad, Thank you for sharing your experiences. Always very excited to see new reports. Cant wait for our trip coming soon, visiting some of the areas you did.
    Last edited by Frans 90; 2022/08/15 at 09:33 PM.

    "In nature, nothing is on order - appreciate what you do get to experience" - Myself
    Isuzu MU-X 3.0 TD LSE 4X4 Auto - BL Boskriek 737
    Trip Reports: Namibia 2, Namibia, Kaa Wilderness, Wildcoast, Botswana, Kgalagadi, Lesotho, Western Cape

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Secunda
    Age
    61
    Posts
    848
    Thanked: 1151

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Maybe add links in the Nam & Bots sections. More will pick up on the report.

    "In nature, nothing is on order - appreciate what you do get to experience" - Myself
    Isuzu MU-X 3.0 TD LSE 4X4 Auto - BL Boskriek 737
    Trip Reports: Namibia 2, Namibia, Kaa Wilderness, Wildcoast, Botswana, Kgalagadi, Lesotho, Western Cape

  8. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    East London
    Age
    70
    Posts
    5,401
    Thanked: 7261

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Thanks Kortpad. Truly worth the effort. Well done,

    This report will be of great value particularly for those in future, following some of your routes.
    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 https://www.4x4community.co.za/forum...-6-SLOW-DONKEY
    OR
    http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...e16?highlight= from post 315.

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to Stan Weakley For This Useful Post:


  10. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Durban
    Age
    69
    Posts
    908
    Thanked: 1455

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Excellent report and tanks for the prompt to "just go" rather than wait to have the best vehicle and equipment. Travelling 8000km od, do you think you should have stayed in some places longer?

    As I was last at Epupa in the early 2000's it is amazing that a Duster can now travel along the river and you can watch Wimbledon at the falls!

    A note on the rivers; Lake Ngami where the Nhabe R ends (it turns west where the Boteti turns east) south west of Maun and seldom mentioned has thousands of birds when there is water and, I feel, is shabbily treated by the Botswana authorities, seemingly mostly used as a rubbish dump. Sad I felt.

  11. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Durbanville
    Posts
    22
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Quote Originally Posted by mudgrubber View Post
    Excellent report and tanks for the prompt to "just go" rather than wait to have the best vehicle and equipment. Travelling 8000km od, do you think you should have stayed in some places longer?

    As I was last at Epupa in the early 2000's it is amazing that a Duster can now travel along the river and you can watch Wimbledon at the falls!

    A note on the rivers; Lake Ngami where the Nhabe R ends (it turns west where the Boteti turns east) south west of Maun and seldom mentioned has thousands of birds when there is water and, I feel, is shabbily treated by the Botswana authorities, seemingly mostly used as a rubbish dump. Sad I felt.
    Thanks Mudgrubber, appreciated... On your question regarding the distance, we were three drivers (although my wife was not so keen to drive technical or long gravel stretches), so it worked out fine in a way and it was just great to see so many new places. To be honest we would go back to almost all the places visited and spend much more time there, especially the parks.
    Also thanks for your interesting note on the Nhabe River and Lake Ngami - in our research before the trip, looking at aerial images and maps, it looked promising but as you mentioned, almost no camps or facilities. Furthermore, I must admit my interpretation of what exactly happens where the web of the delta is 'collected' by the Thamalakane River could do with the input of someone really knowledgeable on the subject.

  12. The Following User Says Thank You to Kortpad For This Useful Post:


  13. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Durbanville
    Posts
    22
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Quote Originally Posted by Frans 90 View Post
    Great report Kortpad, Thank you for sharing your experiences. Always very excited to see new reports. Cant wait for our trip coming soon, visiting some of the areas you did.
    Thanks Frans, as you picked up I'm quite new to posting on the forum and will try to implement your advice... (to create links in other sections)

  14. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Reading.UK
    Posts
    26
    Thanked: 8

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Thanks for the report - great to hear updates from a part of the world we stumbled across in 2019 and to have recent road condition insights. We will be back on the Kunene in November.

    I do pray you got up the hill to the community campsite @ Epupa (fee payable in 2019)? If not you may have missed the other 80% of the falls!?

  15. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Meyerton
    Age
    45
    Posts
    51
    Thanked: 13

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Thanks for that great write up on you trip. I think you'll convince quite a few people on the edge of deciding to do such a trip to just go!
    We might be some of those. With that I have a question as a "never before crossed a border driving" traveller, how was it crossing the different borders and what advise can you give?

  16. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Location
    Durbanville
    Posts
    22
    Thanked: 27

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Quote Originally Posted by Toeks View Post
    Thanks for that great write up on you trip. I think you'll convince quite a few people on the edge of deciding to do such a trip to just go!
    We might be some of those. With that I have a question as a "never before crossed a border driving" traveller, how was it crossing the different borders and what advise can you give?
    Thanks Toeks. On your question re border crossing; well, it is a good question as it never fails to provide some stress. It appeared to us as if the border posts are arranged for those travelling through at least on a weekly basis, so they would know exactly where to go and what to do without any good signage or whatever. I'm no expert but would recommend the following: be well prepared in terms what is required; stop a km or so before the border to orientate yourself and check that you have the documents ready; have your own pens for each person; relax and trust that you have the right stuff; keep together as a group; don't try to rush; ask for assistance - and exactly where to go next, also from fellow travelers. Hold on to the small paper you get when arriving and sometimes they write things on the back of it (if applicable). The SA border we experienced was actually very good and friendly but not the Namibian side. Botswana is slightly better than Namibia. Enjoy!

  17. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Meyerton
    Age
    45
    Posts
    51
    Thanked: 13

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Thanks Kortpad.
    Much appreciated.

    And in terms of documentation necessary etc. is it as easy as Googling it or is there a better source of information you can recommend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kortpad View Post
    Thanks Toeks. On your question re border crossing; well, it is a good question as it never fails to provide some stress. It appeared to us as if the border posts are arranged for those travelling through at least on a weekly basis, so they would know exactly where to go and what to do without any good signage or whatever. I'm no expert but would recommend the following: be well prepared in terms what is required; stop a km or so before the border to orientate yourself and check that you have the documents ready; have your own pens for each person; relax and trust that you have the right stuff; keep together as a group; don't try to rush; ask for assistance - and exactly where to go next, also from fellow travelers. Hold on to the small paper you get when arriving and sometimes they write things on the back of it (if applicable). The SA border we experienced was actually very good and friendly but not the Namibian side. Botswana is slightly better than Namibia. Enjoy!

  18. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Pretoria
    Age
    53
    Posts
    17
    Thanked: 6

    Default Re: 'trip report': Botswana and northern namibia in a renault duster - jun/jul'22

    Quote Originally Posted by Kortpad View Post
    TRIP REPORT: BOTSWANA AND NORTHERN NAMIBIA IN A SUV (RENAULT DUSTER 4WD) - JUNE/JULY 2022
    [see the report with plenty photos and images in pdf attached to this post (top or bottom)– hope it works…]
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing
    I am sharing our experiences of an almost four-week Botswana and Northern Namibia trip. Our objective was to experience Botswana for the first time. A logical part of such a trip was to include the Caprivi strip. Then, as an add-on, to utilise our position up north to travel over to Epupa Falls and also to visit a few other places in Namibia we haven’t been to before. Our mode of travel was a 2020 Renault Duster 4WD pulling along a Glider trailer, the latter which is a 6ft trailer that has proven itself over the years for its ability to soak up some punches.
    The route was roughly as follows: Cape Town, Mariental, Gobabis, Maun, Nata, Kasane, Katima, Divundu, Rundu, Ruacana, Epupa, Palmwag, Torra Bay, Swakop, Windhoek, Noordoewer, Cape Town.
    Our planning was designed in such a way that we were not necessarily forced to take high risk 4x4 routes, but that we would have a bit of flexibility to explore opportunities (and the limits of the Duster). In Botswana what you can do in the parks, even with a serious 4x4, is linked to the season. So, the plan was basically to hear from people along the way what interesting routes we can try for day trips. But we pre-booked most of the camp sites, a decision we did not regret for two reasons, a: our trip overlapped with the SA school holidays and b: it allows you to relax instead of having to do research and phoning around along the way.
    The rest of my story is divided into four parts: “A” is the main story/journal of the trip; “B” contains some general observations; “C” is a reflection on the rivers we encountered and, lastly, I added a section (D) containing a few larger ‘widescreen’ photos.
    PART A: ‘JOURNAL’
    We left Cape Town early on a Tuesday morning and headed north via Springbok and the Namibian border to Keetmanshoop. Slept in town next to the church, quite good and well-maintained. From there another long day ‘in the saddle’ to Ghanzi, crossing the Botswana border at Buitepos, east of Gobabis. We wanted to take a shortcut road via Leonardville, but on advice took another route, via Aminuis, which eventually brings you to a tar road. However, this route is not recommended, as you travel about 50km on a sub-par temporary road next to the road being constructed. The red Kalahari dunes between Stampriet and Aranos are impressive.
    After filling up, Buitepos border post went relatively smooth and we continued to Thakadu bush camp just south of Ghanzi. The 1km to campsite is quite challenging and the camp itself was struggling a bit after Covid, it appeared. Arriving at a campsite at sunset is never ideal, so much more if it is your first night camping and while things are still unorganised. That said, the first Botswana sunset was special. Then to Maun. If you’ve never been to Botswana, Maun is the ‘mystical city’, a bit like Timbuktu. To be fair, Maun was never presented as a destination on its own, but nevertheless was just a place that always intrigued me. Anyways, it is definitely an interesting and bustling town. Almost all the taxi’s are Honda Jazz/Fit models and the drivers are always in a hurry, more so than everyone and everything else in Botswana. First spent some time in town getting meat (which was good) at Shoprite.
    After Maun we set out to Drifters camp 30km SE of Maun. Drifters was a pleasant surprise. Very quiet still after covid but a beautiful setting on the Boteti River. The river is quite wide there and we went on a cruise with the manager, Cronje - a very special occasion. Beautiful sunset. Cronje explained how the Okavango delta works and how the Boteti is linked to it. Drifters is also the HQ for the Drifters Safari operations in Botswana, although operated mainly from SA. The continuous night-time choir from frogs and other small things was amazing!
    Speaking to Cronje and another lady, we were convinced to take on the Moremi for a day trip, starting very early. Travelling with the Duster, this was a slightly brave/risky decision. The road from Maun starts reasonable (tar) but then there is a very bad patch of about 20km before the road splits to Moremi. The next 30km to South Gate feels as if you are already in the park, encountering elephant, giraffe and impala. Paid our dues at the gate and were advised to keep to the southern section of Moremi around Black Pool, partly due to the probable concentration of game and partly to due to the limitations posed by the Duster.
    We had the detailed Tracks4Africa maps on my phone (the HD map downloaded at a cost of R200) and explored a few rough tracks scraping the belly and sides of the vehicle but luckily nothing serious. We encountered a lot of game and our best sight was a very large herd of giraffe, also red lechwe combined with hippo and a fish eagle but almost overwhelming was the sense of openness, remoteness, freedom and general absence of other vehicles. Also, the freedom to get out of your vehicle whenever you feel safe, though I’m not 100% sure it is official policy.

    see this report with photos and images https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing

    We had to deal with the road back to Maun and then Drifter’s in the dark, which was not a pleasure due to livestock along the roads, which is particularly difficult to pick up in the dark. The next day we picked up our daughter, who joined us for week, at Maun airport. That evening we went for an extremely nice sunset cruise from Drifters on their small but double-storeyed boat. The following morning we left Drifters behind going east to Nxai pans and Baine’s boabobs. Fortunately, we were able to leave our trailer at the entrance.
    Again, the roads were challenging but doable (only just) with the Duster. The offices at Nxai Pan were a bit dilapidated, and, as expected towards the middle of the day, we didn’t see much game. We arrived at Baine’s boababs and the abutting salt pan at a beautiful time. The sight of the baobabs and the pan was really impressive and made the trip worthwhile. We took the northern 14km route to Baines as everyone advised; apparently there were still deep ruts on the shorter route. Can’t say for sure.
    We set up camp at Planet Baobab in windy conditions. The camp was quite full; good to see. It is a wonderful facility but, although we were booked for two nights (and after chatting to co-travellers), we decided to pack up in the morning and head to Elephant Sands camp, between Nata and Kasane. The road to Nata has potholes but the very bad patch reported on forums is not so quite short, maybe 10kms. Don’t expect much at Nata, except for two filling stations and basic shops.
    Elephant Sands though was a revelation. Featuring the only borehole in a large area the elephant came and came right in front of your eyes, sitting on the lodge’s large viewing deck, even to within 4m of them. Spikes on the ground keep you safe (it may sound a bit alarming but isn’t, as the elephants know well to avoid it). The camping is rudimentary but also looks out on the borehole without any fences (or spikes!). A large overlanding group of about 12 vehicles set up camp in a lager formation next to us. That was an eye-opener in its own right and we wondered if that way of travelling would have worked for us. There are pros and cons, of course, but wouldn’t have been ideal for us.
    From Elephant Sands we headed to Kasane, picking up a fine along the way for some indicator lights of the trailer not working after all the shakes/potholes, but fortunately (!) as we did not have enough pulas, the police had a card facility to pay the fine, there in the middle of nowhere. In Kasane, actually closer to Kazungula, we were booked at Kubu Lodge for camping for two nights. While close to the river you don’t see much of the water and are warned of hippos and crocodiles. Again, it was fairly empty. Covid again.
    The next day the family went with Kalahari Safaris over the Zim border to Vic Falls. It worked very well for them. The falls were in full flood (+/- 1 July) and the service from the operators was very good. Going with them is highly recommended (as opposed to trying to go over the border by your own and with your own vehicle). I had a rest day (seen the Falls before) but took a 1.5 hour boat cruise to the confluence of the Chobe and the Zambezi, to where the four countries meet. Except for the wonderful guide, Pinoape, it was only me on the raft. The new bridge to Zambia is impressive, especially from the vantage point of the water.
    [this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with all the photos and images – the link should be at the top or bottom]
    After two nights in Kasane we packed for Muchenje camp, which is about 5km west of the Ngoma bridge border post, which, in turn, is about 50km west of Kasane. On the tar road, you travel through the Chobe Park where you can see quite a lot of animals. There are check-in and check-out points along the road and be mindful that you cannot travel after dusk. Muchenje proved to be a magic camp, with good facilities and well managed. The best of all though is the location on the wetlands of the Chobe.
    The next day was a full one. We went into the park from the Ngoma bridge side and worked our way through the riverfront section of the Chobe towards Kasane, where we were booked for the 3h river cruise. The Chobe area proved to be quite scenic and highly enjoyable as, for long sections, you drive almost on the water's edge. We ventured inland and were rewarded with sightings of two giraffe fighting and a herd of elephant with two infants falling around playfully in deep mud. The route back to the tar road comprised deep sand and we received a 'spanner warning signal ’ on the Duster’s dashboard. Fortunately, that signal disappeared the next morning. At Kalahari Safaris we were greeted by Sarefu, who first had to chase the buffalo away from the short stretch between their offices on Kasane’s main road and the river so that we could board the boat. Sarefu was a very well-trained guide and enthusiastic person who showed us everything there was to see, including an elephant wading through the river, a malachite kingfisher and a puku. A brilliant excursion. Travelled back to Muchenje, reaching the check-in point along the road just in time.
    The next day we dropped our daughter at Kasane airport and did some restocking. Had a good coffee at Chobe River Lodge. Again, we made our way back through the Chobe to Muchenje and had another great evening there.
    From there the next day it was time for crossing back into Namibia via Ngoma Bridge border post and heading to the Kwando region. First up was Katimo Mulilo to refuel and draw cash. Briefly turned off in Katimo to have a glimpse of the Zambezi river. Continued west to Kongola, which consists of not much more than a petrol station. At Kongola we turned south towards the Kwando and saw many directions signs to campsites and lodges.
    We were booked at Malyo Wilderness Camp. Coincidently we arrived at the out-of-use log pole bridge barely minutes after the only other guests for the night at the camp, all the way from Adelaide, Australia. Together we worked our way exploring a route to the campsite without getting the vehicles too wet. The campsite itself is stretched out along the edge of the Kwando river. Facilities are very basic and water was initially a problem. We haven't seen much action except hunting expeditions launching their boat. Nevertheless a nice experience, close to bush camping as its name suggested.
    Next up was Livingstone Camp which is about 30km south-east of Malyo, just before the Nkasa Rupara Park (previously known as Mamili). Again we had to use GPS to help find the camp, and the reception was a bit neglected, but arriving at our site (#5) was an amazing surprise. Firstly, it was located quite a way from any neighbours. The facilities (for each site) comprise two thatched structures; one comprises a washing basin and ample sitting space while the second accommodates the shower and toilet. The solar and gas geyser worked 100%. Interestingly, the rates were actually decreased during Covid, but even the original rates would have been worthwhile. By far the most peaceful and luxurious site of our trip and highly recommended. During a short drive that evening, we encountered a herd of elephant which, after we switched off the car, came feeding right around us. The next day, after attending to some washing and planning a do-nothing day, we did in fact went to see what is happening in Nkasa Rupara National Park.
    We ended up spending about 4 hours driving through the park – so much for a idle day. Had a glimpse of Jackalberry Lodge – it must be the one of remotest and smallest lodge imaginable. No airstrip close-by but close to the Linyanti river. The Kwando becomes the Linyanti and the Kwando/Linyanti swamps system is the smaller cousin of the Okavango swamps as it works similarly hydrologically speaking and is relatively close to the Okavango (it is even connected in some way). It is a beautiful park and you drive most of the time along the edge between the wetlands and the more bushy ‘island’. The wetlands will be mostly under water in the wet season, and you obviously need to enquire about the accessibility of roads and sections of the park whenever you visit. We almost got stuck in a muddy patch in a pan but that is a different story. Again, the advice, when you think you're almost stuck - stop, think and do what is necessary instead of just trying brute force which will just get you really stuck.
    After two magic nights at Camp Livingstone we set out along the Zambezi region of Namibia (better known by its old name, the Caprivi strip) westwards towards Divundu, which is where the Popa Falls are located. Due to a changed schedule we lost our booking at Ngepi and were booked at Popa Falls resort - owned by NWR [Namibia Wildlife Resorts] - instead.
    Again, we were joined by an overlanding group comprising about 10 vehicles. They left the following morning, and we had the whole resort almost to ourselves, except for a church group that visited the resort. The facilities are modern. The campsites are not directly on the water but that's fine. The ‘falls’ are more rapids but still nice to experience. Boat cruises are available, but we enjoyed a rest day, preparing for a long day on the road to follow.
    At this point there is perhaps some explaining to do. I always wanted to see the Epupa Falls and a friend advised that since we are so far north and would have a bit of time, it would make sense to include the westwards trip, even though it is about 800km extra. Epupa is close to the most north-western point of Namibia, along the Kunene River, which forms the border with Angola along that stretch. So, after leaving Popa very early our first stop (after 200km) was Rundu to stock up. Got good meat at the Factory Shop next to Pick and Pay. From Rundu we took the B10 (old C45) that runs right along the Angolan border, which is formed by the Okavango River. The B10 is a good-enough tar road but serves about 200 villages along the way.
    After a long day and multiple cow-stops (and the 200 villages) we eventually arrived at Ruacana, 815km west (and slightly north) of Divundu. These northern stretches of Namibia are very rural areas but fairly densely populated, and every 500m (or less) there will be a shebeen, with interesting names, like 'The Dog is Hot'. When planning, keep in mind that the B10 to Ruacana is not touristy at all, so overnight opportunities are limited, which is why we stretched it all the way to Ruacana.
    At Ruacana we camped at Eha Lodge, which can be recommended for being a neat and safe stopover (and offers a very good breakfast). Close to the Ruacana Falls the countryside suddenly becomes hilly/mountainous and after travelling through the extremely flat Botswana and Ovamboland, it was quite a change of scenery. We hit the gravel D3700 without stopping at Ruacana Falls, so had to make a u-turn when we realised that we missed it and also that we would probably not be close to Ruacana soon, if ever. The water volumes at the falls were low or average but still worth the u-turn. A bit of an eerie feeling with the massive infrastructure all around but barely a soul in sight.
    reminder: this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with many photos and images – the link https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing
    Back to the D3700 it quickly became steep again and the road never flattened out, to put it mildly. After about an hour or more arrived at Kunene River Lodge and decided to check it out, joking about the prospects of a coffee and cheesecake. What a wonderful place! We almost decided to set up camp there but was already paid up at Epupa. Had a good tea and 'Kunene Special orange tart with ice cream'. West of Swartbooisdrift (where we stopped at the Dorsland Trekkers memorial) the road got worse and altogether we couldn't believe that it was the new upgraded road. Every 200m or so there is a ditch or riverbed and travelling with the trailer we had to be careful. We got partly stuck in a riverbed in the very loose dry sand and the local Himba watched our efforts to get going again, which fortunately were successful after some digging. Further west, to the left the Zebra mountains with its peculiar stripes were impressive, as well as the baobabs, while on the other side the Kunene with its palm tree lining and sandy beaches were even more impressive. No easy going but altogether an amazing and rewarding experience. To sum up, it took us about 5 hours to drive the 170km from Ruacana to Epupa, but you need to factor in stops along the way. It can probably be done faster, especially without a trailer, but the passengers should then take a double dose of Medazine.
    Arriving fairly late at Epupa, the Omarunga Lodge campsite proved to be a good choice and can be highly recommended in all respects. The manager, Andrew, had everything in hand. The nice pool came in handy, as the temperature was still 32° at 5pm (early in July). It was quiet with the 'white noise' sound-effect of the falls mingled with bird song. Our site was on the water's edge. The next morning, we set out to explore the photogenic falls from downstream, although the photo opportunities are probably a bit better in the late afternoon when the sun comes from the west. It was impressive enough. The next day we had a well-deserved rest day and enjoyed the pool, watched the last two games of the Wimbledon final and had a few drinks at the bar.
    From Epupa we took the road south-east to Opuwa, a road which also proved to be slow going (not as slow as the river road to Epupa, however) but interesting and scenic, passing several Himba villages. It took a bit more than 3h hours driving nevertheless. Opuwa is an interesting town, seeing the Himba visiting the Spar in traditional attire, for example, and also, in contrast, Herero ladies in smart and colourful dresses. From Opuwa the drive southwards to Palmwag was easier in terms of the road conditions (although we almost bumped into three kudu and hit a largish rock at speed). Closer to Palmwag the environment became very dry but very scenic again. We skipped Sesfontein and the Warmquelle springs due to time limits. Palmwag is an oasis with the usual Makalani palms. It is also a Gondwana resort and most of the sites are great, and the restaurant’s food good. After two nights at Palmwag we first went south for about 30km and then turned westwards via the C39 towards the Skeleton Coast roughly lining up with Torra Bay.
    It is a very scenic and fairly good road, with an abundance of Welwitschias on the left-hand side over the middle stretch. Got a permit to the Skeleton Coast Park at the gate along the way – free and no hassle. We almost got stuck on the only 5m of dune sand along the way, but that was just looking for a bit of fun that changed to a bit of work. We joined the salt road just south of Torra Bay. The rusted sign indicated ‘Henties Bay 255km’. Stopped at the bird lagoon (with a sign warning you of wandering lions), an old mine, an old oil rig and the Cape Cross seal colony. A visit for a cappucino and toasties at the Cape Cross Lodge is highly recommended, and we suddenly found ourselves sitting next to a fireplace with the mist over the waves cold outside. South of Henties we stopped at the wreck of the Zeila and joined a chat between a Belgian guy cycling south and a Dutch couple travelling north in an impressive yellow Steyr (similar to a Unimog). It was a long day but well worthwhile, experiencing the unique environment and interesting sights. The salt road along the coast was a pleasure to drive.
    Slept at a self-catering flat in Swakop, the first non-camping experience in 21 days. While it was nice, somehow the coldness outside and the nature of the enclosed concrete structure offered nothing to write home about. To be honest, we also felt as if the dust from three weeks camping settled into everything we had, and we were not completely at home. The next day we travelled via Windhoek to Mariental. The roads were busy and a bit of a shock on the system after all the travelling in very remote areas. Had to retrack a part of the almost completed ring road south of Windhoek, to find the main road going south again.
    South of Rehoboth the traffic settled down and we headed to Anib Lodge, some 20km east of Mariental on the road to Stampriet, the same road we took some three weeks ealier. The upmarket lodge offers only three sites for camping, each with its own ablution and veranda. It was great to be back in the bushveld again and set up camp. Even though the area is regarded as Kalahari there are many trees and abundant grass, feeling more like Botswana again, different to the western area of Namibia where we spent the previous few days.
    The next day we managed to get a booking at Amanzi campsite on the Orange River just west of Noordoewer. A great campsite and friendly people and highly recommended to stay a few restful days. We spent two nights there before tackling the final stretch home. However, part of the rest day included a trip to Aussenkehr and specifically through the Gamchab canyon, which again amazed us by its rugged beauty.

    PART B: SOME OVERALL IMPRESSIONS (AND THE DUSTER)
    We really enjoyed Botswana and the Caprivi (Zambezi region). Combining it with the north-western areas of Namibia that we haven’t seen before, worked out well, but you need a bit of time. It was an almost four-week trip and for us, the pace generally worked well. The key stats: 8380km over 26 days, spending 141 hours driving. The biggest issue was adapting to the abnormal working life afterwards…
    The people of Botswana we found generally very friendly and laid-back, and encountered some excellent guides. The parks themselves are beautiful but maintenance and hands-on management (and signage) can be patchy. Information on where to travel and what to see are not always readily offered, and you have to ask specific questions. Generally you need to do your own research and also have Tracks4Africa or OsmAnd loaded. All part of the fun. The accessibility of roads in the parks are obviously determined by the season, and as the dry season progresses, more and more tracks become drivable. Interestingly, the bigger rivers (and the Delta itself) have a lag time of months, so, for instance, the Boteti (southeast of Maun) has its peak around May as the waters have pushed into and through the Delta.
    When we visited the campsites (June/July 2022), most were financially bruised by Covid. Many seem to have weathered it fairly well, while others are barely surviving. Our trip started just before the main South African holiday season and occupation levels at the camps varied a lot. We generally felt safe but, in many cases, there were security guards deployed at night. We got used to that and felt that if there was to be any incident it would be petty theft at most, but in the end, we had no unpleasant experiences.
    In terms of camping, we used a light dome tent (an Oztrail Tasman4) and a small pop-up tent. Interestingly, it was clear that rooftop tents were very popular, although we ourselves were perfectly happy on the ground. That’s said, we had no night-time visitors such as hyena.
    So, how did the Duster do? Let me start with something measurable, the diesel consumption. Measured tank-to-tank it was 12,5 km/l (the trip computer indicated 7.1 l/100km for the whole trip – a bit optimistic). Considering that was pulling the trailer I am perfectly happy with that. The car completed the trip without any issues or visible wear and tear, bar some very shallow scratches perhaps (at times it felt as if the scratches from the sides would be much worse). The Duster again proved convenient whether you are travelling 20km/h or stretching it way over the speed limit. In sections of the Moremi, Nxai pans, Chobe and Mamili we certainly were scratching the undercarriage and sometimes had regular bumps felt from below. However, we got used to it fairly quickly and convinced ourselves that the vehicle could handle it. In retrospect, it proved to be the right call (thankfully!).
    Where it became too rough or the sand too deep (middelmannetjie too high) we turned around. The 4WD was essential for where we ventured and the Duster’s system worked well including the ‘lock’ feature, as well as the ability to disengage the ESC and traction control for deep sand. For an SUV, the Duster has good approach and departure angles, which also helped. In summary, we had a lot of fun exploring the limits of the Duster and its can-do ability. But, of course, you would be freer to explore the furthest reaches of the parks in a conventional 4x4. Ground clearance plays a huge role, furthermore the fact is that with a bakkie or Cruiser your lowest point (which may be higher to start off with) is probably a very solid diff casing that should be able to withstand a few hard hits. However, our objective was to explore the variety that Botswana had on offer for the first time and it worked out very well…
    PART C: SOME NOTES ON THE RIVERS AND RIVER SYSTEMS UP NORTH
    [reminder: this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with photos and images – see the link]
    Something that intrigued me was the river systems that we encountered on our trip. Firstly, we got a feel for the Boteti River southwest of Maun. The Boteti is formed by an overflow from the Okavango Delta, however the delta first runs into a river that flows through Maun, the Thamalakane, which is rather a fault line that forms a depression perpendicular to the delta, and collects the water. The Boteti eventually ends in the Makgadikgadi pans. The Okavango delta itself is fed by the Okavango River that comes from the north through Divundu (Popa Falls). The Okavango, in turn, is fed by the Cubango and the Cuito, all the way from the mid-south of Angola (Cuito Cuanavale, on the upper reaches of the Cuito, is well known for some).
    Next up is the mighty Zambezi, which meets the Chobe just east of Kasane at Kazungula (where the four countries meet) and then flows east to the Indian Ocean via Mozambique. The Zambezi accommodates the Vic Falls, the Kariba Lake and the Cabora Bassa Lake on its way to the Indian Ocean. To move to the Chobe; it actually refers to a relative short stretch of river between the Linyanti and the Zambezi. The Linyanti, in turn, is fed by the Kwando.
    Travelling west from Kasane (as we did) one would encounter the Chobe at Ngoma bridge border, then the Zambezi at Katima, then the Okavango at Popa Falls/Divundu, then follow the Kavango all the way via Rundu (to where it turns north into Angola), and then after a stretch of straight line, the westward journey meets the Kunene at Ruacana. The border, and the epic D3700, then follows the Kunene all the way to Epupa Falls. All these interesting (and complicated) rivers/wetlands are found in a narrow band close to Latitude 18° South, i.e. approximately 18 degrees south of the equator. Anyways, the river systems certainly are complex but provided an excuse to gloss again over Google maps and aerial photography of areas we visited.

    PART D: A FEW ‘WIDE-SCREEN’ PHOTOS

    [reminder: this ‘report’ is available as a pdf with photos and images – see the link to down
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OT2...ew?usp=sharing
    Hi Kort pad. Thanks for a well written report. The question for me is the covid testing at the borders. Did you guys do the test or were you vaccinated.

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may post new threads
  • You may post replies
  • You may post attachments
  • You may edit your posts
  •