Botswana trip plan August 2012





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  1. #1
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    Default Botswana trip plan August 2012

    We are 3 couples who would like to visit Botswana during August/September 2012. This will be our first visit to Botswana and we will be camping. We are driving a Fortuner 3.0 diesel, Colt 2.8 diesel and a Mitsubishi Triton 3.2TDi (all 4 x 4’s) and I am an unexperienced 4 x 4 driver. My trip has been based on previous reports from this forum and Veronica Roodt’s book/map.
    I would welcome any advice or any tips on our trip plan, what to do/not to do, etc. Please also refer to my questions below.
    Trip plan:
    1. Cape Town to Keetmanshoop - 1 day
    2. Keetmanshoop to Buitepos (Mamuno) - 1 day
    3. Buitepos (Mamuno) to Maun – 2 days (supplies, flight over delta and permits)
    4. Maun to 3rd bridge – 3 days at 3rd bridge (take boat trip at Xakanaxa)
    5. 3rd d bridge to Khwai – 3 days at Khwai Community camp
    6. Khwai camp to Savuti – 3 days at Savuti
    7. Savuti to Kasane – 2 days at Kasane (boat trip and visit to Vic falls)
    8. Kasane to Ihaha Public campsite – 3 days at Ihaha
    9. Ihaha to Ngoma (border post) to Ngepi - 2 days at Ngepi
    10. Ngepi to Buitepos (Mamuno) – 1 day
    11. Buitepos (Mamuno) to Noordoewer – 1 day
    12. Noordoewer to Cape Town – 1 day

    I have the following questions or need advice on the following:
    1. Should I stay over for a night or two at Linyati? Got some positive feedback from forum re Linyati.
    2. How do I travel from Savute to Kasene, via Linyati or straight to Kasane?
    3. What diesel consumption can I expect from South Gate to Kasane? Moremi and Savuti’s sand roads.
    4. How many km’s does one travel daily while in the Moremi or Savute game parks?
    5. How much additional diesel should I take with me (trip from Maun to Kasane)?
    6. Do I need to attach a “snorkel” to the Fortuner?
    7. The main reason why I want to go this time of the year is to avoid water crossings in Moremi or to limit them as far as possible. Someone on the forum mention that the water levels increase from June. Do I need to postpone my trip with a month?
    Appreciate your feedback or comments!

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forum........

    1/ I loved Linyanti, but it isn't for everyone. We didn't do a game drive as all the animals came to us in camp........amazing place.

    2/ Either.

    3/ There is some deep sand......it's more uncomfortable than treacherous. You can do quite a bit of bouncing around. You'll be in lower gears so will burn some extra fuel, but the biggest danger is overheating.

    4/ Allow for between 30 & 50 miles per day.....50 to 80 Km

    5/ You should have 175 litres capacity min. to be comfortable with fuel for the entire trip from Maun to Kasane, inc all your game drives.

    6/ Yes. You might get away without it, but really that is one of the first things to do to your car.

    7/ By August September there are very clear tracks everywhere. You will cross water, but it will be only half way up your tyres, and you will turn around at occasional deeper crossings. This will only be on game viewing tracks.......the main routes between camps will all be clear and passable, unless the rains in Angola are exceptional. Stick with your current plan.

    Incidentally, I think this is an excellent plan. You are allowing plenty of time, and aren't rushing. August/ Sept is a great time to be visiting the area, but remember it can be chilly at night.

    Mike
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    Mike is spot on with his remarks, and your plan is fine. I would however take a day extra to travel North and pass through Cederberg instead of boring N7.
    As for the water crossings, I have a few reservations with "halfway up the tyres" (sorry Mike) as the waters are reaching the south of the delta only by end of June / early July. This meaning we reach the highest levels around the time when you travel and they will stay until October. So for peace of mind, fix that snorkel and wade through (I just changed my engine for water inhalation at R 60K)
    [River crossing in early October in Khwai]
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    Walter.......in a "normal" year all the main routes between the camps will be accessible by September without having to wade anything serious, wouldn't they? I'll admit that my trips there have always been in normal or dry-ish years. We've had to turn around a few times because of deep water, but only on the game viewing tracks. Or have I just been lucky?

    Mike
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    With the amount of rain this year that, as I understand it, succeedes 2009, I doubt if the Kwai river route will be passable. When we did our trip last year August, we could not go via the river road as the water was too deep and we were travelling solo.
    "If you don't care where you are, you ain't lost"

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    Mike, that is right, but since 2009 the water in the delta has not recessed as in previous years and lots of last years masses is still laying in the swamps. (same situation we had in 2010).
    Now this year was again extremely wet and the notorious water crossings get deeper with wash-outs with every vehicle passing.
    The result: In 2009 the crossing between North gate and Hippo Pool was about 600 mm at it's deepest point, it was possible to avoid the tracks and find some elevations in the water so 400-500mm were the result.
    Last year crossing the same point I waded through and my shorts got wet. I mean I am 1.90 m tall (6ft4") so we had 800 mm at the shallowest.
    We crossed anyway but with a bow wave onto the windscreen and I feared for the guest's vehicle which disappeared under the wave and slowly emerged just short of stalling.
    Lucky we were then, but 45 minutes later my rig was wrecked on the next one.

    (Standard wading depth for non mod rigs are between 500 and 700 mm - this helps if you know how to wade the vehicle)

    I expect the same situation this year but now my rigs are equipped. It will however still raise my heart rate, due to earlier experience.

    The problem is that when you face that crossing you have made your route decision about an hour earlier, so the only alternative is retract and try the next one.
    Walter Rene Gygax
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    OK, I see now. Two or three wet years in a row mean the water is slow getting out of the delta, which backs next years water up behind it.

    That'll be a nervous first water crossing, Walter!!!

    Mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAG View Post
    OK, I see now. Two or three wet years in a row mean the water is slow getting out of the delta, which backs next years water up behind it.

    That'll be a nervous first water crossing, Walter!!!

    Mike
    It will - indeed.
    I need to build up confidence again, it's just like going back to square 1.
    Walter Rene Gygax
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    Oh my word it looks like we will have an experience and a half this coming June 2011.
    I have never done any wading through river crossings and will have to be very carefull.
    Mike and Kalahari Safari could you offer some technical tips on how to approuch such crossings and what to look out for please?
    Riaan (Rambo) - Today should always be our most wonderful day!

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    First thing to look out for is other people doing the crossing. If nervous, or in doubt, either turn around and go somewhere else, or sit and wait for someone else to come along. Always walk the hazard, taking one or two long sticks with you which you can use to probe the bottom for holes, tyres tracks, rocks etc, and can poke into the bottom to mark obstacles, or your route if it isn't straight across. Remember that you will never be the first to do a crossing. These are all well-used tracks.

    So, watch the other guy go through, and note what happens to him. See where it gets deep, and where he turns. Get him to wait on the far bank for you, and tie a tow-rope to your front recovery points and loop it onto a bull-bar or somewhere else handy before you get into the water. This saves fiddling about under water trying to tie it on if you get stuck. Then 2nd low range, high revs, low speed, and at walking pace just ease yourself across............never change gear or touch the clutch. The aim is to push a gentle bow-wave in front of you, rather than produce a big splash. The bow wave will keep the amount of water in the engine compartment to a minimum. Even better if you have some sort of canvas cover for your radiator.

    Your snorkel is your comfort, but engine electronics are then your biggest nightmare. This is one of the reasons I don't have any......

    Mike
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    Mike,
    You should offer some 4x4 training or publish an handbook - spot on!
    I only add that I walk the crossing with bare feet so I can feel the ground and the consistency. Avoid muddy patches or soft ground whenever possible and stick to firm sandy surfaces if possible. The chances of getting stuck in soft mud are about 10 times higher than on sand.
    If you don't see through the water (murky or so) walk every meter you intend to drive and remove loose obstacles to avoid catching on your suspension.

    Never rush it, take your time and observe!
    Water crossings: As slow as possible - as fast as necessary !!
    meaning: No jump and splash (that's just for movies) - don't allow water filling the engine compartment from below by being too slow - keep the wave in front.

    Then of course, in game reserves, watch out for animal action and don't allow your passengers to stroll all over the place.

    Any chance to get into a "dry - run" over a week-end somewhere in your neighborhood?
    It would help to do it a few times without all the gear in the car - just in case/
    Walter Rene Gygax
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    Thanx Guys, i appreciate your help. Guess i will have to go and look for some rivers to cross around Jhb. Actually we are going to the Waterberge in April and will try it there.

    While asking questions: meat and dairy products from SA to Botswana will that be a problem? I have read alot of the info on the forum but it seems to differ alot. I know east to west yes and south to north yes. (According to forum threads). But i dont want to purchase meat ect. here in SA and have to rid of it at Parchals boder post when entering from SA to Bots?
    What is your take on this please?
    Riaan (Rambo) - Today should always be our most wonderful day!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalahari Safari View Post
    If you don't see through the water (murky or so) walk every meter you intend to drive and remove loose obstacles to avoid catching on your suspension.
    Walk out along one tyre line, and back along the other, to achieve this.

    Sorry, I can't help with the meat question.

    Mike
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    I posted this some time back in the Overland section and thought it had been made a sticky. I wrote this for Out There magazine in the late 1990s, so it applies to vehicles that don't have too many electronics:

    DEEP water river crossings are among the most dangerous of all off road driving hazards. If you have any doubt about a river crossing, don't do it. Find an alternative route, or wait for another vehicle to come along. Solo crossings are very dangerous. And, when crossing a river, always prepare yourself for the worst possible scenario.

    You MUST walk the route before driving it. If a river is flowing strongly enough to make you lose your footing, then it will be dangerous for your vehicle. Check for big boulders, holes, tree stumps and other obstacles. If necessary, remove boulders. Mark obstacles with stakes, or have a passenger stand by them.

    If the river you are approaching is in flood because of a recent rain storm, sit back, brew up some tea, and wait it out. River levels drop very quickly in most parts of Africa after rain, and a raging torrent in the morning may be a few drying up puddles in the afternoon. Mark the high water mark with a stick or stone, and watch the rate at which the water level drops -- this will give you a good idea of whether or not it is worth waiting out the flood waters. If necessary, camp the night well above the flood mark.

    Make sure that the exit point on the opposite bank is driveable, and if not, repair it.

    VEHICLE PREPARATIONS

    There are two danger points on petrol engines: The air intake and the high voltage ignition system, starting with the coil, which kicks out an intermittent, very high voltage, low amperage charge through the distributor, or electronic ignition, to the spark plugs.

    This is a “Loskop” charge and is easily side tracked, short circuited or even drowned: Even a light splash is enough to cause misfiring, or total cutout.

    On diesel engines, with no high voltage system, there is no danger of drowning the electrics: But this is what makes diesels susceptible to catastrophic water damage -- the engine will be happily ticking over and water will suddenly enter the air intake, and get sucked into the ignition/compression system, causing irreversible damage.

    On both petrol and diesel engines then, it is the air filter intakes which are the real danger points for engine damage. On "professional" petrol 4X4s, the air intake is always higher than the ignition system, providing a safety cutout system. A diesel engine fitted with an extension wading "snorkel" can often go so deep through the water that the biggest danger is that the driver starts floating and can no longer reach the pedals.

    Damage can also be caused by water leakage through oil dip sticks, oil filter breathers, and breathers on axles, diffs and drain plugs on clutch bell housings.

    BEFORE ENTERING THE WATER:

    1 Loosen or remove the fan belt: This stops water being thrown into the electrical system, and prevents fan blades from being driven into the radiator core by water pressure.

    2 Seal all electrics on petrol engines with rubber boots (this should be standard equipment). If you don't have the necessary boots, use thick plastic bags. A greased rubber surgical glove with the tips of the fingers cut off can be used for four cylinder engines. Greased condoms with their tips cut off and secured with elastic bands also work. Coat the battery terminals with loads of grease.

    3 Spray all electrical components with Q-20, WD40 or other water dispersant or grease them. Keep the Q-20 can handy.

    4 Secure a sack or canvas sheet across the bull bar or radiator grille.

    5 Make sure your rescue equipment is close at hand -- tow cables, shackles, spanners, tools. If the water flow is strong, you may want to consider securing a long tow rope to the front or rear of the vehicle. As you drive, a passenger feeds out or pulls in the rope, using a tree as an anchor. Then, if the vehicle rolls over or the engine is drowned, the rope can quickly be lashed around the tree to prevent total loss of the vehicle.

    On extreme crossings, and if you have the equipment, you can consider stringing a wire cable upstream of the vehicle, with shorter running cables connected to the front and rear of the vehicle with D-shackles.

    6 If you have two vehicles, connect with a tow rope, so the one on dry land can tow the other out of difficulty. If one of the vehicles is fitted with a winch, attach the winch cable of the rear vehicle to the one attempting the crossing. Pay the cable out carefully as the lead vehicle crosses, ready for a crisis. Once they are across, they can return the favour.

    7 Seal your axle breathers. If your clutch bell housing has a drain hole, seal it. (Some vehicles come equipped with a clutch plug). If the engine has a turbo charger, allow it to cool off before attempting to wade.

    8 If the bottom is sandy or muddy, deflate your tyres.

    9 Finally, before entering the water, remove everything off the floor and seats that could be damaged by water. If the water is very deep, you may have to unpack the vehicle and carry goods which could be damaged -- clothes, cameras, dry food stocks -- across by hand.

    CROSSING:

    If the water is above the bottom of your door frames, you must open two doors for the crossing. This allows the water to flow through the vehicle, rather than turn the vehicle into a floating box which will lift the wheels off the bottom, and make you run the risk of turning turtle because of an unbalanced vehicle.

    Unless you elect to go through at high speed, DO NOT wear a safety belt: Should the vehicle roll over, you run the risk of drowning if you are strapped in.

    Slow and steady is the motto. DO NOT CHANGE GEAR ONCE IN THE WATER: WATER WILL ENTER THE CLUTCH PLATE AND CAUSE THE CLUTCH TO SLIP LEADING TO POTENTIALLY DISASTROUS LOSS OF TRACTION. Select your gear in advance -- low range second or first are probably your best options, depending on the severity of the crossing.

    Proceed at a steady, fast walking pace -- this sets up a bow wave in front of the vehicle, accentuated by your canvas sheet or sack, pushing the water to the side. Once you are up and running, there is no stopping, steady momentum is essential. If you are lucky enough, the wake will catch up with you at just the right moment to give you an extra bump from the rear to shove you out of the water onto the far bank.

    If for any reason you should lose power by hitting an obstacle, spinning the wheels or dropping into a hole, and the bow wave overtakes you, you don't have a second to lose:

    If there is any danger of the water rising to the level of the engine air intake or manifold, immediately switch off the engine, even before momentum is lost. Isolate the batteries. If this is not done, a short circuit in the starter motor can cause the engine to turn over and suck water into the cylinders. Do not attempt to restart the engine unless you are certain no water has been sucked into the cylinders. If the water has risen higher than the inlet and exhaust valves or if your air intake is wet, then you have to assume water has got into the combustion chambers.

    If you can recover the vehicle without restarting the engine, then do so, rather than risk the possibility of damaging the engine.

    Hopefully, you will make it safely to the other side, secure the fan belt and remove any temporary shielding you may have attached. If the water was very deep, you will need to check all your transmission oils for water contamination, and change them if necessary. If the water leakage is limited, it is possible to tap off the water, as oil will float on top of the water. If your engine oil is a greyish, milky colour, you will have to change it completely. Dry out your brakes by applying repeated gentle pressure while driving slowly.

    RECOVERING A DROWNED VEHICLE:
    ®MDBU¯®MDNM¯
    We sincerely hope you will never need to use this advice.

    Get the vehicle out of the water as soon as possible by towing or winching. Place rocks behind the wheels, release the hand brake and engage neutral, open all doors and windows and unpack the vehicle, checking for water damage.

    You might as well set up camp. Let the vehicle stand for an hour or two for the oils to settle.

    Check the sump, diffs and transmission oils (and turbocharger, if fitted) for contamination by loosening the drain plugs and allowing the water to drip out (oil floats on water). If the oil is milky, then it has emulsified with the oil. Leave the oil to stand in the vehicle for a couple of hours, then drain it and leave the oil and water standing to separate out. If it does not lose its milkiness, replace with fresh oil.

    Check all your fuel tanks for water by loosening the drain plugs and draining off water until pure fuel emerges. If there is water in any of the fuel tanks, check all filters, lines and pumps for contamination. In diesels, carefully check the primary sediment bowl.

    Remove and thoroughly drain and dry all electrical motors and check all electrical fittings for water. On petrol engines, remove and dry out the distributor cap and internal components.

    Dry out the air filter. If any moisture is found in the air intake, you have to assume there is water in the cylinders. Even a very small amount can be enough to damage a high performance engine. If your filter is an oil-bath type, change the oil if it is milky. If it is a paper element filter, change the filter if it is wet.

    Dry out everything you can: Combustion chamber passages, HT leads, battery compartments etc.

    If you have even the slightest suspicion that water has entered the cylinders, you must continue with the following procedures: These are rough guidelines, and may differ for different makes of vehicles, so carefully check your own workshop manual for any specific references. The procedures are different for diesel and petrol:

    PETROL ENGINES:

    Take out all the spark plugs, and if the electrics are dry, reconnect and turn the engine in short bursts of not more than two revolutions at a time (literally a split second crank). If the electrics are still wet, use a crank handle, or jack up the back wheels, and turn one of the wheels while in second gear.

    As the engine cranks, water will shoot out of the plug holes. Carry on doing this until all the water is out, then replace all the dried out components, reconnect the electrics and start the engine. Leave it running until warm and listen carefully for strange noises -- and keep sniffing the air for weird smells.

    DIESEL ENGINES:

    WARNING: Keep your face clear of the engine when following this procedure, as any diesel or water expelled will come out under high pressure.

    Remove all the fuel lines and injectors. Place them clear of dirt, in such a way as to drain any water out. Do not tamper with the injectors -- that's a job for professionals. Turn the engine as for petrol engines until no more water comes out of the chambers.

    Dry the injector ports and replace them, carefully following workshop manual specs on seating and torque, bleed the fuel system, refit air filters and intakes, connect electrics and start up. Listen for strange noises, and check for leaks around all the joints and bleed screws.

    As soon as possible, get your vehicle to qualified service personnel for a complete checkup, oil and hydraulic fluid change and an all-round flush and clean of fuel and hydraulic lines.

    It's very complicated, so rather just park off on the bank of the river and do some birding and wait for the river to drop. It's much more fun than trying to salvage a drowned vehicle.
    -------------------------

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    Ihave relatives

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    Quote Originally Posted by alancal View Post
    Ihave relatives
    A feature shared by every human who has ever lived

    Mike
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    I have relatives who live on the Okavango near Seronga, and last week they told me that the water is considerably higher than last year this time.
    Which means there could be a lot of fun and games at water crossings.
    If you have no experience with this type of driving why not consider revising your plans?
    Why ruin your holiday by drowning one of your vehicles and spoiling your first trip into Botswana?
    That my two cents worth!
    Alan

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    Quote Originally Posted by alancal View Post
    I have relatives who live on the Okavango near Seronga, and last week they told me that the water is considerably higher than last year this time.
    Which means there could be a lot of fun and games at water crossings.
    If you have no experience with this type of driving why not consider revising your plans?
    Why ruin your holiday by drowning one of your vehicles and spoiling your first trip into Botswana?
    That my two cents worth!
    Alan
    Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the Bard said (or maybe it was Churchill, or Madiba, or Cicero). Whatever, there's nothing like a tough trip to dish up a lifetime of memories. Go for it, just be careful on the water crossings. If in doubt, turn back and come back another day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    Hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the Bard said (or maybe it was Churchill, or Madiba, or Cicero).
    Way hay!! I can out-quote Tony Weaver for once!!!!

    It was Chaucer, from "Troilus and Criseyde". Long term memory still works.............just can't remember why I walked upstairs.......

    Mike
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeAG View Post
    Way hay!! I can out-quote Tony Weaver for once!!!!
    It was Chaucer, from "Troilus and Criseyde". Long term memory still works.............just can't remember why I walked upstairs.......
    Mike
    No Mike, it was Procol Harum, as in:

    We skipped the light fandango
    Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
    I was feeling kinda seasick
    But the crowd called out for more
    The room was humming harder
    As the ceiling flew away
    When we called out for another drink
    The waiter brought a tray

    And so it was that later
    As the miller told his tale
    That her face, at first just ghostly,
    Turned a whiter shade of pale

    She said, 'There is no reason
    And the truth is plain to see.'
    But I wandered through my playing cards
    And would not let her be
    One of sixteen vestal virgins
    Who were leaving for the coast
    And although my eyes were open
    They might have just as well've been closed

    And so it was that later
    As the miller told his tale
    That her face, at first just ghostly,
    Turned a whiter shade of pale

    And so it was that later...

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