Trip report: Vic Falls - Botswana - Namibia (1st part)





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    Default Trip report: Vic Falls - Botswana - Namibia (1st part)

    Thanks to this forum and his members we had a memorable and safe trip. So, the less I can do is to tell a bit about it…
    After our first trip in 2008 (a classical Namibian tour with just a detour into Botswana to Tsodilo Hills and back to Namibia through Dobe border post) we had a big envy to see more from Botswana. And also to explore remote Kaokoland.
    One contact on a travel forum with another French family looking for companions to Kaokoland. Here we go !
    After that, friends of us have been interested travelling Botswana with us before they head Sesriem and Walvis Bay that we already know.
    So, it's a three parts itinerary :
    - Ten days from Victoria Falls to Ghanzu through Chobe and Moremi.
    6 adults, 8 children, 3 Hilux.
    - A little week, just us four to cross a part of Namibia
    - One week in remote Kaokoland. Where Himbas don’t see tourists very often.
    4 adultes, 4 children, 2 Hilux.

    Apologise, for my English, it's actually not my mother language…

    Saturday, July 17th
    Victoria Falls airport !

    A little old airport, nothing mechanical for the luggage. All is done by hand. We pay the visas : USD30 for adults, free for children.
    Bad luck, a bag is missing : neither clothes nor toilet things for parents :-(
    The complaint is made on an antic PC runing MS-DOS ! It’s been a long time I didn’t see these little green letters on black background … We cross our fingers.
    30 km in a very old taxi and we arrive in Gerties Lodge. Quite rustic, but with a nice garden.

    BBQ dinner at the lodge tonight. Good, but expensive : 25 USD ! And the children pay the same price !
    Sunday, July 18th
    Today, we’ll finally discover these falls we have only heard until now.
    The lodge is 3 km away. We decide to walk. Lilian, our hostess is quite surprised. While walking, we will see her twice coming by car and stopping near us. She was saying she was going shopping, but I guess she wanted rather be sure that all were running well for us.
    However, the place doesn’t look so worrying. Few baboons along the roads. Some guys trying to sell trinkets or old banknotes with values in billions, trillions, Hundred of trillions Zimbawean dollars ! When they abandonned their own currency to use US Dollar as official one, the change on black market was 2 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 ZWD for 1 USD! Crazy!
    Policemen take care of us and protect us from the street pedlars. It should reassure us, but in opposite, it’s rather worrying some of us (the women I must say…). But no problem at all walking in the town finally.

    Falls are there! We pay the park fees (High ! USD30 for adults, half price for children).
    There are raincoats for rent. We wonder why… We are not namby-pambies! Here we go !
    Devil’s cataract, Main Fall… We are totally wet and we start to understand why the raincoats ! And why the small rain forest.


    OK, we are wet… So let’s go ! Horseshoe Falls, Rainbow Falls, Danger Point (warning, very slippery !) up to the bridge from which courageous (crazy?) guys are bungee jumping.
    Some antelopes are looking at us when we walk back to the gate.

    We stop for lunch on a terrace downtown. It’s long, expensive, nothing to remember (must say we were 14 coming unexpectedly !)
    Woww, what a beautiful white Hilux going past the restaurant! It’s ours that is coming!
    Back at the lodge, Lilian calls British Airways again and again about our missing bag, but ne answer… We start to imagine how and when we will have to buy new things in Kasane. :-(
    Our 4x4 is at the lodge indeed, but what about both others. They should have been there at 3pm but they still are not at 5pm.
    Several phone calls later, we learn that they are stucked at the border because the drivers have not enough money to pay the taxes into Zimbabwe. First my friends are asked to pay these taxes, but no way! Things where not planned like this, they’ve already paid the pick up fees!
    Finally, I don’t know exactely how, somebody sends the money to the drivers. Both cars must be at the lodge tomorrow morning. To be continued…
    Tonight we test our 4x4 taking pizzas from Pizza Bistro ! Not really typical, but the children are happy (and the adults as well!).
    Monday, July 19th
    We spend the morning waiting for the cars… that finally come at 10:30 ! Time to check all, to realise that one has 7 chairs but no table. We are almost ready at about noon.
    Lilian keeps on phoning to British Airways (thanks to her for her obligingness) et finally she get news from the bag ! It has been to Harare and should come at Vic Falls airport in the afternoon.
    So we go to the airport and… Hurra ! The aircraft with our bag is there plus or less at the scheduled time !
    Finally, we go !

    This year, I won’t use too much the screen wipers insted of the indicators as we usually do, European drivers: the indicators failed the first day! Happily this will be the only failure of the car during the whole trip.
    Our idea to drive the road along the Zambezi is now over. Too late. So we drive the tar road to Botswana border. Good and fast road.
    We are now in Kasane, on a campsite of Chobe Safari Lodge. Too late for a game drive along Chobe river today. Blast it!
    OK… We change cash, full up the fridges to be ready tomorrow morning.
    Tonight, it’s our first braii with our friends ! With a good bottle of South-African cabernet sauvignon. It’s happiness!
    The night was quiet. In opposite to what I could read, we found Chobe Safari camp very clean and nice. Maybe just one thing our site was a bit small, but 3 cars and 14 people…
    Tuesday, July 20th
    After the first toasts on wood fire, we are heading Chobe and Sedudu Gate. Finally !

    Children in a school trip !

    After having paid the fees for Chobe and Moremi for the next days, we are on a sand track heading the river.

    Our first game drive, wowww ! Impalas, crocos, hippos, kudus, giraffes, etc, etc.







    The first 4x4 stops abruptly. What’s up? A large herd of elephants crossing the road ! Calmy… Were are amazed.


    A short lunch…

    And we are on again : a large herd of buffalos along the river. With giraffes wandering among them.

    Unfortunately, we must leave the scene. We must be at the lodge at 3pm for a boat cruise on the river.
    We bargain to get a not too large boat, just for us and one more family… What a spectacle…
    An ellie shows us how one can cross the river. Very large crocs are sleeping here and there, young baboons are capering . We navigate up the a point where a leopard has killed an impala yesterday. But the big cat has gone…













    Back at sunset…



    Second night at Chobe Safari Lodge campsite with our heads full of unforgettable pictures
    Wednesday, July 21st
    A short detour downtown to find a table (unsuccessfully) and full up the tanks and we hit the tar road though Chobe park.
    Some buffalos…

    At Ngoma we turn left. Chinese are building a road up to Kachikau. Too bad for the baobads and thorn trees landscape.


    Not too good for us, but I suppose people there will appreciate this improvement of communication ways. For now they are undergoing the trucks and the permanent cloud of dust in their villages…
    Past Kachikau, here we are! A true sandy African track! Yipee!

    A nice picnic beside a waterhole just before we reach the cutline between Linyanti and Ghoha gate.

    Sand indeed, but nothing too difficult. We even didn’t deflate the tyres.
    (Maybe we were also a bit lazy to have to re-inflate later…)

    Goha Gate… Calaos welcome us.


    Some kori-bustards and giraffes later, we are now beside the Savuti Channel.



    Hard to imagine there have been no water there for dozens of year! It’s a true river, wide and with current we cross (about 40 to 50 cm deep).


    Just after the river crossing, this is Savuti camp. We have campsite number one. It’s really number one! Large and just beside the river. Perfect, but take care of mosquitos!

    End of afternoon, we head for a game drive. But not much things to see… Some elephants, some impalas, birds… tracks are narrow, we must be careful not to scratch the cars too much.
    Near Bushman Hill, several cars are grouped together: somebody has seen a leopard. Everybody’s watching out, but the cat does not appear again. Too bad!

    Back at the camp at around 6pm. There is nobody more at the gate. Booking or not, you can set the camp wherever you want. And it is far from full! Hard to understand why you need to book one year in advance!
    After the braii, honey badgers come to visit us. One of them is trying to get in one care. We chase hime away! We’ll read in our book tomorrow morning that it’s a quite agressive animale. One of the scarce ones who dares attacking a lion ! And that he never lets go off what fhe catched. Maybe we should have had more respect for them…
    Before we sleep, we go grouped alltogether to the (very average for the price) toilet, but no animal is seen.
    Thursday, July 22th
    At breakfast, looking for crumbs!

    A large piece today! We have to drive to North gate and what I read on the forum was quite worrying with the Kwa river area flooded… Thanks to the forum I’ve asked at last minute to upgrade my 4x4 to one equiped with a snorkel. Very good decision!
    First, the sandridge rood (no choice, the marsh road being flooded!). The begining is quite santy but not to bad for who likes to drive in the sand.


    Then, the track becomes less pleasant: clay, dried mud, potholes… Slow, bumpy… But finally, we reach Mababe gate. We ask to the guy at the gate about road conditions to North gate, but he has no idea !
    We take the new transit road for about 15 km kilometers and then our GPS’s with T4A tell us to leave it for a track to the left. So we do. And things become a bit harder…

    Soon the main track is full of water. And we can’t see the end. As my Hilux has a snorkel fitted, I go first. More than 1m deep, but no problem. One of both 4x4 without snorkel tries to get round. But even if the soil seemed solid, it was not! He gets totally stucked. OK, luckily, we have our kinetic ropes with us. It’s fastly towed out.
    Finally, after finding the less deep passes with the snorkel equiped car, everybody crossed with no damage.



    Further, the tracks turn into a river again! But this time, it ends in something like a lake !

    Half-turn! A guide in a vehicle we crossed earlier told us to the left, always to the left . Actually, trying a secondary track, we found the crossing. About 80 cm deep.


    After a short lunch, some detours but with no major difficulties.
    Zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, elephants, who is watching who?




    We now arrive at Khwa village. But between it and us: a (very) large waterhole! On the other side, men on an antique Land Rover shout us to start on the left and then to cross between both posts in the middle. One of us go by foot up to the posts and it seems OK.

    But what the people "forgot" to mention is that ther is a (high) step just after the posts! As usual with the snorkel, I tried first, the 4x4 front plunged down the step with water up to the windscreen. Adrenalin was high, but we finally crossed. Local people clapped their hand and laughed, laughed… What a joke!
    But no way to try this for both other Hilux without snorkels… The people say there is now other way! We are only few km of good road from the camp and we should go back now? What a pity! And no way we could reach North Gate today then.
    We were thinking about fixing an inner tube to the air intake or something like this. Local people said to fully close the air intakes. But what if the engine stalls in the middle with no air? We are a bit irritated with their "good" advices now.
    And a miracle happened: a Patrol came in front of us on the other side, turned left… and disappeared. But few minutes later, it appeared again, on our bank! So, there is a way!
    One stop to buy firewood and give clothes to children beside the road.

    Kwa River Bridge.

    And North Gate! 4 hours for 20 km!
    At the entrance, big discussion! Following the rules, it seems we are not allowed to be 3 cars on one campsite. And the campsites we have booked are not close each other. After a while, the employee gets in our car and takes us to a large campsite. Surprise! It’s the largest one and we are allowed to stay all together. I thanks and thanks him. It’s just what he wanted. He’s happy!
    The evening and the night are surprinsingly quiet. Apart of the frogs and the hippos in the river behind, nothing! No monkeys, no elephants, no hyenas, no roaring… What’s this Africa!
    Last edited by Pierre77N; 2010/09/01 at 02:20 PM.

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    Friday, 23th July
    Dawn… Everybody’s sleeping?


    This morning, there are vervet monkeys in the trees around. A lack of attention and ciao the butter pack! The thief stuffs himself on a branch. Just on the one we can’t reach! I guess he will be punished with a stomach upset…
    Few minutes later, I leave a door open, just the time to fold the tent. One rushes inside the car and steals an apple I didn’t even know it was there! How fast they are!
    Today we leave a bit later than usual (9:30). Our idea is to drive straight to Xakanaxa to know how many time it need and then organise the day knowing that we must be back at North Gate before the night… But who knows how things will go? A Safari guide tells us that there is a family of cheetahs near from there on the track to Hippo pool.
    We spend one hour watching the big cats.
    Impalas, zebras, giraffes behind… We don’t care!




    We stop a little while for a quite deep ford. There are thousands of butterflies all around. What’s a magic !


    Just arriving at Xakanaxa, there are plenty of elephants everywhere. Oldies, youngsters, males, females with babies. Some of them look quiet. Other are moving their ears a bit. It’s now time to use what we have learnt about them. Do you think this one is OK. And this one? Do we move forward? Do we wait?
    Finally, we cross all the herd without any trouble.


    Lunch on a campsite near the Okanvango and his reeds.



    In the afternoon, we head south-west. Maybe we could find lions? But after crossing waterholes and waterholes we are stopped by a lake in direction of Dead Tree Island.
    But how beautiful it is! Giraffes are juste near us. They just move few meters when we approach by foot. But we don’t move away far from the cars. Maybe there are big cats somewhere that could be watching us even if we can’t see them?





    4pm. We hve to go back now. We stop at Hippo pool, but the hippos are quite far and don’t decide to get out from water.



    It’s sunset over this big animals. We leave for the camp in a large dust cloud made by all these 4x4 that must be out before the night.
    Tonight, the camp a bit more troubled. An ellie is breaking branches less than 20 meters from us. We try to see what happens exactely. Where is it? Where is it? Be careful, he’s your lamp in his eye, he will not love this! Finally he goes without taking any care to us.
    And a bit later, a guy from the next campsite pitching by us when searching the toilet. Sure he had not be drinking only water!
    Saturday, July 24th
    We hit the road to South Gate. Wide and easy. Except when an elephant has let a tree down!


    Must be the culprit.

    Just after South Gate, an antic safari car was broken down. Battery over. We help them with our wires, but the customers were wondering if they must go into Moremi for five days with this wreck or go back to Maun… We leve them with their discussion, but I’m wonderin how much they did pay to first loose a whole day because of a wreck…
    We arrive in Maun for lunch and have our daily picnic on the little terraces in front of Maun Lodge chalets.

    We full up the fridges and the tanks at the Spar shopping center and we head to the airport where we have booked a scenic flight.
    Too bad you can’t stop the plane to gaze at the landscape! And how noisy it is!
    One thing : the pilot being at the left, he can see game at his left, so he turns left to admire. So when you are at the right of the pilot, you can see pretty less game than other passengers at the left behind!








    Nice buffet and resting night in beds at Maun Lodge.
    Just beware of the mosquitos, they are giant there.
    Sunday, 25th July
    Tar to Ghanzi. Easy to drive, but take care of the animals on the road!



    Takhadu Rest Camp for lunch. Rustic but clean and friendly. Ostriches and kudus are wandering in the camp. Plenty of birds. We loved this place.
    We book for a walk with Bushmen people at 4pm.

    Just two minutes in the bush and they dig up a root full of water. And another different one. And a third with contraceptive skills…

    We taste one of the roots (not the contraceptive one!), someting like a moist turnip. Not so bad. But it makes my daughter sick and she drags herself for the rest of the walk.





    To be continued in Namibia there: http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...ad.php?t=65490
    Last edited by Pierre77N; 2010/09/01 at 06:04 PM. Reason: 2nd part is now online

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    Pierre,
    Marvelous report, thanks so much for the effort and the compilation.
    You guys had a great time, like you said elsewhere, your fellow countrymen don't know what they miss sticking out in the Northern playgrounds.

    Looking forward to the Nam part.
    Thanks again /// Walter
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    An excellent read Pierre.

    Votre Angleis est parfait.

    I can't wait to do our trip in October - counting down the days......

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    Thank you for a very entertaining report. It is always a pleasure to hear of overseas visitors enjoying this wonderful part of the world. I am looking forward to the next part and hope to see you here again soon.

    Mike

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    Absolutely brilliant!! Loved reading your report and seeing your wonderful pictures! I am really envying your cheetah sighting Your kids are very, very lucky to experience a family trip like that! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us!

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    Awesome pictures and report , thank you for sharing !
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    Very nice , beautifull pictures, hope you enjou it.
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    Thanks guys!
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post
    thanks so much for the effort and the compilation.
    This kind of report is usual for me when a trip is memorable! What is unusual is the translation in English, quite an effort actually.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ingy View Post
    Votre Angleis est parfait.
    I can't wait to do our trip in October - counting down the days......
    Non, pas parfait. But if you can read me, it's the main thing. Your turn will come. I'd prefere your position than mine now.
    Quote Originally Posted by sprinter View Post
    Thank you for a very entertaining report. It is always a pleasure to hear of overseas visitors enjoying this wonderful part of the world. I am looking forward to the next part and hope to see you here again soon.
    Mike
    I'm pretty sure we'll come again! I must confess it's quite an obsession since we are back home! Yesterday my wife asked the kids what they would mind about living in Botswana. Crazy!
    Quote Originally Posted by cheetah80 View Post
    Absolutely brilliant!! Loved reading your report and seeing your wonderful pictures! I am really envying your cheetah sighting Your kids are very, very lucky to experience a family trip like that! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us!
    I hope you'll be happy too with the cheetahs. But my experience now is that you don't necessarily see what you expect… We were obsessed by lions but we couldn't see anyone in Etosha in 2008 and none again in Moremi this year… But we had the cheetahs…
    Not sure if our kids realise how lucky they are… They are 10 and 12 and have already visited Norway, Iceland, Italia, Tunisia, Morocco, French West Indies, Quebec, Namibia, Botswana… I hope they will keep their mind open with travel their life long.
    Last edited by Pierre77N; 2010/09/01 at 10:22 AM.

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    Smile

    Truly awesome report. Brilliant pictures and very informative. Thanks for such an in depth report.

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks so much Pierre for a truly entertaining report with great pics! You had a very good trip!

    I will trade your cheetahs for the 2 prides of lions we saw just over a week ago in Savuti and Ihaha here are some pics

    Looking forward to the Nam part too!
    Mike


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    Great report!
    We are so looking forward to our 4 week Namibia and Botswana trip next year! And we are also heading down from Kasane ;-)

    Looking forward to the second part!
    Mario

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    Very,very nice Pierre.Thanks for the great photos.Come back again one day.

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    Thanks all!
    I don't know how the five stars have been coming there. But be sure they make me happy.
    The second part is now there: http://www.4x4community.co.za/forum/...ad.php?t=65490

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    Thanx Pierre for the very informative trip report. Exactly what I wanted to see.
    Well done. :-)
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    I'm happy if it can be useful.
    Thanks to you!
    Pierre
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    What a great report Pierre, great holiday too.
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    Thanks Pierre, a beautiful report.

    Now I am going to read the Namibian part.
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    Thanks for posting, very useful!

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    Hi Pierre!
    Big, big thanks for the report! I'm hoping that we will be able to post similar report as well. We are going to Botswana w/2 other campers, our kids (22 and 7) to CKGR and Moremi June 10th...

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