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  1. #1
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    Default Botswana road trip report

    Hi all.
    Here is my trip report of Botswana in the month of May 2011.I am new to 4x4 world only buying my second hand 4x4 last year, but I love the outdoors and my old 1300 half ton Mazda just wasn’t cutting it any more .This is my first 4x4 overland trip and because I was travelling with only one vehicle I kept it mainly on tar.
    My trip started on the 5th May 2011 till the 18th May2011.The route in brief was; Durban- Ermelo-Pretoria-Palapye- Kasane-Vic falls- Gwete- Maun-Moremi-then back via Gwete- Palapye-Pretoria-Durban.
    Some stats, I travelled a total distance of 5070km using some 500lt of diesel at a rate of around 10lt/100km for my 30TDI Nissan Hardbody travelling at speeds of around 100km/hr. Fuel costs amounted to around R4500, Botswana fuel price was P7.30 per liter. Fuel stops were no real problem with only Nata Engen running out of fuel but the other two garages still having. Accommodation /food/tours and park entry fees for two adults came to around R 8000.So total expense comes to R12500 for two adults for two weeks. I had only booked Third bridge and Audi camp and the rest were first come first serve basis. Booking third bridge through Xomae group was way easier than suggested on this site and even the gate pass was booked and paid for by fax. The faxed gate pass was accepted with no problem. The Vet fence controls were no problem for us as we carried very little meat and stuck to pasta and sauces or just shopped on a day to day basis from either Spars or Choppies which had everything. The meat on offer in Botswana was not very good due to the strict controls so very limited choose, found it better to use chicken no controls on it. But if you could find meat, it was P60/kg for fillet not bad. The vet fences were suspect as all the people I spoke to were given the same treatment with them asking for fresh fruit, milk, cheese and even fire wood was taken away. Not sure why fire wood or fresh fruit but you try argue. I had a false floor with drawer system underneath which none asked to searched, just cooler boxes. Some people ended up cooking all the meat on the side of the road. So be careful what you take. Besides vet fences speed limit is strictly enforced with speed traps in the most deserted spots. Nice to see everyone obeying the speed limit. The weather was hot and dry with no rain while we were there, temps during the day around 30 degrees and the night about 13. Remember to drink water as I nearly dehydrated one day not realizing I how fast the dry weather sucks it out of you. We did not take any anti malaria tablets after reading all about the bad side effects so instead choose to shower twice a day in tabard /peacefully sleep and had mosquitoes braclets and coils and at night wore long sleeves and pants. We took two malaria test kits in case. Not to many mozzies around.
    Our trip started on the 5th with our wish to travel the length of the N11 to Martins drift. We got as far as Groblersdal’s before we experienced trouble with our vehicle .Pulling into Nissan agent there they convinced me I had blown my head gasket and it would cost R30000 to repair. All this because I had water spray out the radiator. To cut a long story we returned to Middleburg for second option which was a faulty thermostat and radiator cap and had to go via Pretoria Nissan for repair as they the only one having the part. With the vehicle fixed we continued on our way the following day.
    We left Pretoria at 11:00 and proceeded to Palapye via Martins drift. All the border info I gather off this site which proved very helpful and we went through with no hassles taking about 20min.At Palapye we stayed at Itumela camp site which was clean with open outdoor bathroom facilities and offering bar/dstv/pool/meals and chalets. On our return trip we had dinner here for P60 which I highly recommend, really monies worth. Because we left so late we only got here at 6pm not ideal.
    The next day we had to push on to Kasane in order to catch up the day we lost doing repairs. This leg took us if my memory is correct 8hrs.The road condition is just as good as ours all the way to Nata then there are road works for some 150km where speed is reduced to 50km/h for this stretch as you are taken on a detour. Beyond this the road slowly gets better and better and speeds of 120km/h are obtainable if you wish. Just beware of Elephants which we saw many on this stretch.
    At Kasane we stayed at Thebe river safari for three nights site 13 away from the over landers great spot. A great campsite with chalets and camping. Other facilities were bar/restaurant/pool and clean ablutions. The camp was flooded with four sites under water and the pool flooded too. They don’t take bookings for camping but we got in easy enough with still 4 sites vacant. We booked our tours on the Chobe river and our day trip to Vic falls here.Highly recommend the boat trip, I preferred this to our self-drive trip we did in the Chobe national park as all the animals come the river in the afternoon. The self-drive just proved hot.
    For all the tours you are picked up and returned to the camp. Our Vic fall trip was awesome costing $80 for a transfer or $160 for a small tour and lunch. Next time will do the transfer only. Vic falls was in full flood and proved awesome, be warned take rain coat you will get wet, rain coats can be hired for $3 but don’t really work to well. I preferred this way instead of taking my vehicle after hearing on this forum the hassles encountered. This proved true as we were through the border in record time compared to the others with own vehicles. Then on the way back the roadblock just 5km form the border proved scary with the police hassling the taxi driver and wanting to issue him a fine for not having a rubbish bin in the vehicle, of all things. Our driver kept his cool and they let us through finally. I felt sorry for those with own vehicles coming back and not having the correct stickers on the vehicles which I saw quite a bit.
    We then proceeded to Gwete Lodge on our way to Moremi. This is another nice spot with great host Carol/ken and Kirsten. This leg is easy done in one day. Gwete lodge proved nice with a small camping spot clean ablutions and facilities like pool/bar/boma and restaurant which we used on both up and down trips. For P65 you get awesome food and hospitality .The next day we reached Maun where we stayed at Audi Camp, another good site with all the same facilities as Gwete lodge. The next day we left for Third bridge camp.
    To the Southgate is about 55km and took some time over gravel road. Here we were told first and second bridge was broken and you need to go first left then right around the bridges. So my real first 4x4 begun. Lucky on route we stopped and spoke to other drivers coming out and found out that the water is deep and first bridge should be crossed rather than go around as numerous vehicles were either stuck or sucked in water. On arrival at first bridge found a big water obstacle so I chanced the bridge which did not look to bad. This proved okay with only slight difficulty. On arrival at second bridge found it totally broken and no way through accept the water route. With no snorkel and no water crossing experience I was nervous. No walking the water first here as video’s I watched suggest due to crocodiles. So with a lot of faith and my limited video knowledge I plunged in. I got the bow wave going and surged through with limited spinning of the wheels I made it across. That was enough to get my hearth going for the rest of the trip which consisted of soft sand and mud pools, but nothing as bad as the second bridge. Third bridge camp was wild with no fences but clean ablutions newly built. Here we did self-drive trips and a boat trip on the delta. At night we were visited by hippo, hyena and one Elephant which decided to eat from the tree I had parked next to. We had put all our stuff in the tent and choose to sleep in the back of the bakkie,glad we did but still nervous when the elephant is standing at the back of your bakkie eating and we only centimeters away. We stayed two nights here which I suggest to all to give you some time to experience wild camping. On leaving we had spoken to other campers and the road via Xakanaxa seemed better or though 12km longer. We came across a lot of mud pools on this route with 80% having a small detour around the mud .This mud was low due to them having no rain for two weeks prior to our arrival. So best check with locals beforehand. The delta proved fun to have a 4x4 and made good use of it here all though would of like to have a second vehicle with us.
    We then had to start making our way home via Gwete lodge and itumela camp. The border again proved easy and was out in 15min.
    In all found Botswana a lovely place with friendly people and far cleaner than Natal. All necessities are available in the towns. But be prepared to travel long distances between places with very little change in scenery of small shrubbery and flat open areas as far as the eye can see.
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  2. The Following User Says Thank You to audie For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
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    Default

    Paul congrats on your first 4x4 trip and for taking the trouble to post a report. The first of many I am sure. After all you still HAVE to see the rest of Bots., Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia etc. If you managed Second Bridge you can manage any of the forementioned.

    Start planning.
    Stan.

  4. #3
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    Nice report & pics, tx for taking the time to post!

    Well done!!!

  5. #4
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    Nice report, thanks for sharing your adventure
    2012 JEEP WRANGLER RUBICON PETROL MANUAL 3.8 litre (Smurficon)
    SWAMBO'S RIDE - 2010 Jeep Wrangler Sahara 3.8 ltr, Auto tranny (Virgin)
    Old ride - 2010 JEEP WRANGLER CRD AUTO (RIP)
    Older ride- 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Lerado diesel - The best
    2010 Jurgens Safari Xcape Van fully modified

  6. #5
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    Yes, thanks for the report. We are going in Okt, I caunt wait!!
    Pat

    Hilux 3.0 D4D 4x4

  7. #6
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    What is the Rand/Pula exhange rate now, and could you exhange in Botswana on route or is it better to do before hand?
    Pat

    Hilux 3.0 D4D 4x4

  8. #7
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    Yep, thanks for the report and info. We're off in August 5th, its going to be fantastic

  9. #8
    Join Date
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    (Home) Fishoek, (Work) Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
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    Thanks for that great report and photo's.
    Nice tips as I head off that way in September on my first 4X4 trip
    2010 Land Rover Defender Puma (Huberta), cos she too is big & has an adventurous & wandering heart.
    Lots of Bells & Whistles.

  10. #9
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    Well Done! Nice pics too!
    Peet Schultz

  11. #10
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    Hi the rate was 0.9 and I changed before hand but also changed in Maun at the same rate so up to you.Most places take rands too but Pula is best.I did have some problem with credit card machines at petrol stations off line so carry enough cash.

  12. #11
    Join Date
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    Nice report, looks like you had a blast.
    Gary
    2005 Nissan X-Trail 2.5 4x4 (SOLD)
    2006 Honda Civic 1.8 VXI (It's complicated)
    2005 Mitsubishi Pajero 3.2 Di-D GLX LWB (Yay!)

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    What would you do if you knew you could not fail

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Die Skim View Post
    What is the Rand/Pula exhange rate now, and could you exhange in Botswana on route or is it better to do before hand?
    Don't bother too much about Bureau De Change etc. The ATM's are your best source of cash at the best exchange rate, but as someone else mentioned, they can sometimes be out of order or run dry, so if you find one that dispenses cash then draw your maximum each time you need to.

  14. #13
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    PS. Gweta Lodge has to be the best kept secret in Botswana! Great little lodge.

  15. #14
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    Great report !! , pity there weren't more pics

  16. #15
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    Photos of Gweta Lodge. Great stop over for visiting Nxai Pans and Makgadigadi.
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  17. #16
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    Hey Paul

    Great report boet,halfway through reading your report I figured that we had met up with you guys in moremi and done that dreded boat trip!!
    Glad to hear the rest of the trip went well mate.
    Now all that is left is to deal with those POST TRIP BLUES!! and getting back to the grind of life without Elepants around.
    Keep well mate!
    regards Adrian & Rentia.

  18. #17
    oldbalie Guest

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    yes great report and great pictures. we will be leaving on the 25 june and returning 9 july will be going via vryburg, ghanzi, gumare,nxau-nxau for our mission work where we will be building a church and ablution block and then off to mahangu for two days relaxing after our hard work and then back to capetown. will also post report and pictures when we get back.

  19. #18
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    Default hey there

    Quote Originally Posted by k-dog View Post
    Hey Paul

    Great report boet,halfway through reading your report I figured that we had met up with you guys in moremi and done that dreded boat trip!!
    Glad to hear the rest of the trip went well mate.
    Now all that is left is to deal with those POST TRIP BLUES!! and getting back to the grind of life without Elepants around.
    Keep well mate!
    regards Adrian & Rentia.
    Hi Adrian and Rentia.
    Good to meet up again,Well all back safe and just enjoying my last days of leave and planning my next trip,bit closer this time looking at Baviaanskloof.No boat trips there LOL.
    Keep well and maybe we will meet up again on the open road
    Cheers Paul and Cari-anne

  20. #19
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    Please tell more about the "dreaded" boat trip....

  21. #20
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    Thumbs up Botswana Trip

    Hi, Well Done, It's looks like you had lots of fun: Enjoy the next one.

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