Botswana July 2011





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  1. #1
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    Default Botswana July 2011

    Botswana Trip July 2011
    Day 1: (720km) Home-Bela-Bela
    We left home (Amanzimtoti) at 06:00am to start our 720km trip to Bela-Bela (Warm Baths) . Everything went well, we managed to get diesel (due to the fact that there was a fuel strike on the go) all the way up and finally arrived at the campsite at around 3:00pm. Camping cost for the night was R200 for the 2 of us, which included free access to the hydro pools.
    Day 2: (720km) Bela-Bela-Nata
    Yet another early start to our day but with the temperature at a chilly 0 degrees it was a slow start. The alarm went off at about 5:30am and by the time we packed up and made coffee we were on the road by 6:15am. We had to do another 720km today but this time we had to pass through the Botswana border (Martins Drift) and the numerous vet borders on our way to Nata. Roxy (my wife) was reluctant to dip her feet in the mandatory foot dips for foot and mouth disease. After the numerous border and vet check stops the trip took us a grueling 11hrs to complete which put us in Nata Lodge at about 5:30pm. We decided to have dinner in the Lodge, which wasn’t to bad. Camping and dinner set us back R406 (Camping 124 pula and dinner 233 Pula). Border fees for 3rd party and insurance for the Toyota and trailer for dual entry, as we were exiting to Namibia then back into Botswana, was 270 pula but because we didn’t have pula we got a special Botswana welcome and it cost us R400 instead…. special rate are for those who think the rand is stronger than the pula and pay a premium exchange rate.
    Day3: (300km) Nata-Maun
    Another early start, 6:30am, to the day with a quick stop for fuel and a toasted sandwich at the Wimpy in Nata town. We have been told that Maun has no diesel so we are a little worried about our trip into Moremi. The road from Nata to Maun is a good road and was extremely quite, traffic wise, we were also lucky to spot some game in the form of giraffe, zebra, and some vultures. We also counted 24 Duiker on the side of the road. So far we have passed through quite a few Vet check points but other than the foot dips and a quick inspection of our fridges we are on our way again. The garages all seem to accept Visa cards but no garage cards are accepted and neither are rands at this stage. We arrive early in Maun and are happy to find diesel available, so this is a huge relief for us. We head straight to Audi campsite to drop off the caravan before heading out to do some shopping. As South African we receive a 20% discount to camp at Audi so for 2 of us they charge 94 Pula for a non-electrical site. We finally get some shopping done at “Tops Spar” in town, the shop fairly well stocked and their meat is of good quality. Shopping sets us back another 974 pula. We decided to exchange some rands for Pula as the rand is not being freely accepted at this stage. We get an exchange rate of 0.91 pula to the rand with no admin costs involved. We also manage to get all our park fees paid at the wild life parks office situated behind the Maun police station just off the main road. The staff there is very friendly and once again using the credit card (2030 pula) is no problem. When then head back to the camp to relax have a braai and get ready to enter the reserve early tomorrow morning through South `Gate entrance.
    Day 4: Maun- South gate
    We head out to South gate this morning a mere 60km from Maun. About half way we hit a gravel road, which will lead us to the South gate entrance. The road is very corrugated and gave the Fotuner a good rattle. We arrive at about 8;00am to be meet by the friendly park staff. They give us a quick run down on the does and don’ts and which roads we can use. After a quick Breakfast we are on our way out to drive up to Xakanaxa. The roads aren’t to bad and we pass through 1st bridge no problem. Then we arrive at 2nd bridge to find the water is fairly deep. I first walked the water and decided to give it a bash. Roxy decided to ride on the roof to film the crossing. We mad it through but only just with the water racing over the bonnet and Roxy screaming on top of the roof rack. The game viewing was on the quite ride but the drive was pleasant. We finally arrived at 3rd bridge and were informed by the park staff that the bridge was passible and the road to Xakanaxa was no problem. We took it slow and 3rd bridge was no problem. We meet up with another couple and they said there was a lot of water ahead to Xakanaxa but it was “Do-able”.
    We drove with them for a while and came across a huge herd of elephants, which was a great sighting. Then the fun started! We found a section of water that didn’t look to bad but once we started going it was deeper than we thought. Fortunately we could see the other couple in the distance and decided if they could make it so could we. We had to stop on one occasion so Roxy could gather her nerves, which by this stage were shot. After about half a kilometer of water driving with the water coming over the bonnet at times we made it out the other side. We then decided at that point to take an alternate route back to camp, which we did. Again the road back to camp was quite with only one elephant giving us a mock charge when we tried to pass by so we waited for her to move off before continuing on. We ended the day we a nice campfire hoping for a visit from the hyenas later that night.
    Day 5: (130km) South Gate- Savute
    We left 08:00am to make our way to Chobe for our first night at Savuti. The road from South gate to Mababe is badly corrugated but manageable.
    We arrived at Mbabe to be greeted by2 Male lions and one female barely 300m from the main entrance gate. We then spent the next 3 hrs driving Sandy ridge to Savuti. Without a trailer it wouldn’t be that bad but pulling an Oryx didn’t help matters. We deflated the tyres and off we went…. the Toyota handled pretty well. We arrived at the campsite set everything up only to be told that we were on the wrong site, after some choice words another couple was kind enough to offer a place on their site as it had a view of the river.After a hearty dinner we had a visit from the local ranger who came to inform us that a rogue elephant had just rampaged Savuti lodge and was heading our way. He told us not to worry the rangers would drive him away from the campsite…. needless to say we didn’t get any sleep that night. We also had a visit from a pair of honey badgers during the night, which was a pleasant surprise.
    Day 6: Savute
    After very little sleep from the night before (because of elephant stories) we made a slow start on day 6 only leaving the camp at about 7:45am. We had a nice game drive with a few of the local suspects hanging around, elephant and some ground hornbills. We then decided to go back to camp around 10:00am. As we came around the corner we saw 3 cars stopped this could only mean one thing! Leopard or `lion. We raced over to the spot to find a young leopard stalking some ginea fowl…or at least trying too.[IMG][/IMG] We spent at least 45mins with her hunting ginea fowl and she even ran under one of the ranger’s vehicle at one stage trying to get herself a meal. After some great entertainment she quietly slipped back into the bush. We then headed back to the camp for a nice breakfast and to relax for a while. After breakfast we went for a drive to the quarry but only saw a couple of elephants. We decided to head back to camp for a rest as the temperature was the around 34 degrees and was very hot in the car. We then decided to go for one more drive in the late afternoon. While looking at some more elephants one of the rangers informed us they had just spotted a leopard up the road but by the time we arrived she had slipped away and was no longer visible. Heart sore we drove back to spot we had seen the leopard early that morning but once again she was nowhere to be seen. As we where heading back to the campsite we came across another vehicle looking at something on an anthill…cheetah!! I shouted to Roxy. This was our 3rd cat species in 2 days, we were doing well. While were looking at the cheetah another ranger pulled up and told us there was another leopard down the road so after some quick photos of the cheetah we shot down the road to look for the leopard. Once again we arrived to late and she was gone. It was getting late so we headed back to our campsite to get dinner on the go.
    Day 7: Savute
    This morning we started with another early morning drive. There was nothing special on offer other than some Impala and some Wildebeest. We headed back to camp to have breakfast and some R&R. I decided to have a small nap while Roxy went to have a shower. I woke up a bit later to find Roxy outside the caravan with the car keys in her hand ready to make a break for it. Unbeknown to me while I was sleeping an elephant had passed right beside out caravan. According to Roxy she tried to wake me up when it happened but I just shooed her away hence the reason she had the car keys…she was going to leave me behind! While I was still wiping the sleep from my eyes another elephant started to approach our campsite. Panic set in and when I looked again Roxy had done the hundred meter dash in 5 seconds and was gone leaving me once again standing alone with the elephant. We decided to report the elephant to the rangers as there had been and elephant in the area terrorizing all the people and we weren’t going to take any chancers. The rangers came and drove the elephant out of the campsite saying it was one of the troublemakers. We then went on an afternoon drive at about 3:00pm, the drive started out slow. At about 5:00pm we spoke to one of the local rangers and he told us that in the morning they had seen a pride of lions down the road from where we were. In a flash we headed down the road hoping to find them. It was another hot day so we knew they wouldn’t have moved off very far. Looked like it was our lucky day we found some vehicles parked where the ranger said the lions would be. At first we could see the lions properly but we decided to sit it out as we still had a hour and a half before the gate closed at the campsite. Well actually there is no gate but you are expected at this time of the year to be back by 6:30pm. Eventually our patience paid of and the lions stood up so we could see them clearly in the long grass. The even more to our surprise they had 3 cubs with them, two 8 month olds and one 8 week old cub which was a real treat for us. We enjoyed the viewing for a while but it was getting dark so we had to race back to the camp. This bought another great day at Savute to and end and we would be getting up early tomorrow morning to drive North to Ihaha which would be home for the next 3 nights.
    Day 8: (135km) Savute-Ihaha
    This morning we woke up early again (5:15am). We packed up had some wee-bix and coffee and headed off to our next destination, Ihaha. The road from Savute to Ihaha starts off with thick sand for the first 30km. After awhile the road becomes a huge dirt road, which is not too bad for about another 15km.Then we hit the most beautiful tar road for the next 24km to Ihaha entrance gate. It is then a short 24km from the gate to the campsite, which is a mix of sand, and gravel road, which is not bad at all. We set our campsite, had a quick early lunch and refueled the car, using fuel from the jerry cans we had bought along, to get ready for an afternoon game drive. Well up to now the game viewing has been very spars but Ihaha is totally opposite. The game viewing here is second to none. In a space of 10km we must have seen 500 elephants and maybe 100 giraffes and hundreds of everything else, kudu, pigs and millions of all types of birds. While getting ready for the nights dinner a herd of elephants passes by right next to our campsite, which causes a bit of panic. They pass by quickly and the rest of the night is uneventful for us. [IMG][/IMG]
    Day 9: Ihaha
    After the first good nights sleep in the last few days we finally get out of bed around 6:30 and after Roxy makes us a quick cup of coffee we on our way for a morning drive around 7:00am. The morning starts with the locals like Kudu and a host of other game but nothing to exciting. Finally we stumble upon a game vehicle and asked them what they are looking at? He said lion…. Well Roxy grabbed the bino’s while I scramble for my camera before we even could see the lion. They are quite far off in the bush but we manage to see them quite clearly. After our fair share of lion watching we decided to head back to camp for breakfast around 09:30am. While we eating breakfast a hippo got out of the water in front of our camp to lie in the sun for a while but he didn’t bother us at all. We then headed out for our afternoon drive around 3:00pm with the `Botswana sun still baking down. We decide to head back to where we saw the lions that morning hoping they hadn’t moved off. As expected they hadn’t moved at all, so we decided to sit it out and see what they would do for the rest of the afternoon. Well the game vehicles came and went but for 2 hrs all the lions did was stretch and yawn a lot. Then as we were about to leave some Kudu walked past and the lions got up, had a look, but seemed like hunting was to much effort for these lions and they just sat back down again. It was getting late and we still had to get back to camp so we decided to leave the lions and make our way back. It was getting dark and Botswana is not the place to be driving around in the dark. We hit a small elephant tollgate and had to wait a couple minutes before they would let us go by. Finally at around 6:30pm we arrived back in the camp, with Roxy nervous already shot from the drive back in the pitch dark to find a bull buffalo in the middle of out campsite. After a while he moved off and I got the lights switched on in the caravan while Roxy hid in the car until I gave her the all clear. We were also fortunate enough to have a visit from 2-spotted genet right in our campsite, which was a nice treat for us. Then while braaing a herd of about 20 elephants passed meters from our campsite but they were calm so we just enjoyed the view as they crossed the river onto the Namibia side. After a hearty meal and an ice cold shower we were off to bed.
    Day 10: Ihaha
    After an extremely windy night we finally rise at about 7:00am this particular morning. The wind is still blowing and it is ice cold and everything is full of dust. We set out for a morning drive and see a lot of game as we have been for the last couple of days. After a short drive we decide to head back to camp and have breakfast. While Roxy is preparing breakfast I fiddle with the batteries on the trailer, which are going flat. I have to take one of the batteries out the trailer and put in the car so the dual battery system can recharge it for us. So far we haven’t had any electricity is any of the campsites. So other than topping up our water we have been self sufficient for the last 10 days. After fiddling around and have a breakfast, which we end up eating in the caravan because the dust is still flying everywhere, we head out for another drive. I must say the game here is visible all day long no matter what time you go driving. At about 1:30pm we driving a new road we haven’t driven before and as Roxy looks out her window she see’s a baby leopard.
    The leopard quickly runs for cover and I manage only one quick photo before it disappears.
    We decide to drive around to the other side of the bush to see if we could see where the little guy went and were shocked to find mommy with her other cub[IMG][/IMG]
    Sitting admiring the view of the river.
    Usually they would disappear before you could get a photo but the mother leopard was quite happy for us to sit for about 15 minutes and enjoy her company. So far this has been the highlight of trip and I think will be difficult to beat. See a leopard in the wild is a privilege but seeing her with not one but two cubs was something really special.
    Tomorrow we head out of Chobe to Kasane and down the Capri strip. Our stay in the Chobe Park has been very special and we will be sad to leave in the morning.
    Day 11: (440km) Ihaha-Mgepi
    We left Ihaha early and began to make our way to Kasane to restock our meat and supplies and to get some more fuel. When you come out the North gate of Chobe to get to the Namibian border you need to turn right but we needed to get to Kasane, which is left, and only about 10km down the road. So we headed to Kasane as planned. In Kasane you will find fuel and a KFC and a Spar, which is well stocked with anything you may need. So once our car and our tummies were full we hit the road towards the Namibian border, which is about 72km from Kasane. The border crossing was extremely quite and we were the only ones there so things went quite smoothly. You don’t pay anything at this border and there is no third party insurance available here. You will see a sign in the Namibian office side of the border telling you that road taxes must be paid at the Total garage in Katima, which is 78km up the road from the border. While Roxy ran in to pay the road taxes, R360 worth, I top up the tank on the fortuner again not knowing where the next fuel would be available on our trip down the Caprvi Strip. The fuel price was slightly cheaper than it was in SA at the time…. R9.55 per litre. Just down the road from the total garage you will find a Pick and Pay if you need to do any shopping but don’t buy their cream donuts, they suck big time. We then got back in the seat to head to our next stop, which was Ngepi campsite, which was a mere 300km down the road. Well let me tell you right know that this has to be the straightest and most boring 300km I have ever driven. I think there was only two bends in the entire road for 300km, at one stage I had the cruise control on and I considered climbing in the back seat and having a snooze. I mean I could have had an hour-long nap and the car just had to go straight. Anyway after all the shopping refueling, and border crossings the trip landed up taking us 10hrs, keeping to the speed limit at all times. Finally we arrived at Ngepi campsite and were given a lovely site right the rivers edge. We got the campsite set up in a couple of minutes booked our fishing trip for the following day, at a rate of N$240 per hour including fuel the boat and a guide, and then settled in for the night.
    Day 12:
    Got up this morning and had a nice breakfast listening to the fish eagles calling each other. We had an appointment to go fishing at 9:00am. We meet our guide at around 8:50am signed the indemnity forms, incase a hippo or crocs gets us while we are out there, and we off to go fishing. The fishing was a bit quite but we landed up with four fish between us.
    We then returned to camp after our two hours on the boat was up. We decided to take a drive and find some fuel in Divundu which is about 10km from Ngepi camp. Divundu has an Engen garage with plenty of fuel and there is also a small supermarket there. The supermarket sells everything from food to motor oil and heaps of alcohol. The campsite and toilet facilities are very unique in Ngepi and you can see by the photo’s what I mean.
    Obliviously some one with a great sense of humor runs this camp because the signage all around the camp is great here are another few examples of what you will see there.All in all Ngepi is a great camp with plenty to offer. They have loads of fire wood available at the main reception area. You can book to go fishing, as we did, or go on a game drive. We you arrive in the camp they start running a tab for you, which you settle the day you leave. Campsites 1,2,3,4 all have great views of the Kavango River. You also have your own tap on each site. You also get unbelievable sunsets free of charge.
    Day 13: (130km) Ngepi-Guma
    Originally we had planned to go to Drotsky Cabin from Ngepi but once we arrived at Drostsky we had only travelled 40km so felt it was a bit of a waste and we wanted to get a bit more mileage under our belt for the day. Once you leave Ngepi you hit a dirt road which takes you through a small park to the border post.
    The border post was fairly quite and didn’t take to long to get threw. We had decided to stay for the night at Guma lodge, which the nice guy at Drotsky had recommended to us. We called ahead and they said they had camping space and it was no problem. Guma was about 100km from Drotsky so we guessed about an hour or so but the lady told us on the phone that it would take us two hours because the last 15km or so was soft sand and some water to negotiate. The road from the tar road to Guma lodge is interesting and the sand is very thick so deflating your tires is a must, especially if you towing anything. The water crossings are well marked and are not very deep at least not at this time of the year. Arriving at the camp we greeted by the hosts and shown around. Guma is a lovely stop over so those looking for some 4x4 driving to spice things up. We had only got one night here but there are fishing charters available and it is a nice place to kick back and relax. We paid 224 pula for the two of us camping and 30 pula for a wheel burrow of firewood for the night.
    Day 14: (430km) Guma- Nata
    At a chilly -1 degree this morning when leaving Guma we started to make our way back to Nata which would be our next stop.We arrived in Maun around 11:30 and stopped to refuel and have something to eat. We also changed our Pula back to rands that we hadn’t used but kept a couple of pula for fuel on the way to the border. As I said before most of the garages accept visa but not all of them do so it is advisable to carry some pula with you. So far we had no hassles with the police but today at one of the vet checks we came across one individual who wanted to show us who was boss. He accused us of failing to stop at the first stop sign before getting to the vet point. We did not try backchat at all as that would have made matters worse. All we did is said we made mistake and told him how sorry we were. After a quick check in our fridge and satisfied we had no meat he said we could continue. It is advisable to be polite at all times and this will save you a lot of pain and suffering at this check points. I must say in general we never had any hassles at any of the vet points or border posts. We finally arrived in Nata town and top up the tanks once more before heading to the campsite. We arrived at around 3:50pm checked in and got set up. I decided to take a quick shower before the hot water disappeared and while I was in there I heard a vehicle getting stuck in the sand in the campsite. When I came out they were still stuck as the sand is very soft in certain parts in the campsite in Nata and they were towing a big trailer and only had a 2 x 4 . Feeling sorry for them, as it was getting dark, I pulled them out quickly. Tomorrow we cross the border back to SA for our final nights camping at Bela- Bela.
    Day 15: (727km) Nata-Bela-Bela
    Another mindless driving trip today taking 10.5hrs to reach our destination thanks to a taxi over turning on the freeway. The border at Groblers Bridge (Martins Drift) was quite busy but we got through fairly quickly.
    Last edited by Roxal; 2011/08/04 at 07:32 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Lovely

    Great report! Now I really look forward to our July 2012 trip.
    Francois Johnson





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  3. #3
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    Default Botswana Trip report

    Great trip report , however it would be great if some pictures could be added ,


    Would love to do Botswana some time ,
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    ROXAL! Where are the photos?? Would love to see the Mom and Cub leopards. You mentioned on your way from Nata to maun being stopped at vet fences and them checking your fridge. This is not normally the case heading north? Why were they checking fridges? Great report! Thank a lot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bush&Sea View Post
    ROXAL! Where are the photos?? Would love to see the Mom and Cub leopards. ......
    +1
    You know the rules on this forum, no pictures - it did not happpen .
    Not my wording - I borrowed them from MikeAG
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    Red face

    Hey Guys

    Sorry I had pics in the report but when i loaded it onto the form it took the pics out. I am nee to the form so if someone could kindly tell me how to load them i will do so.

    Roxal

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    Enjoyed your report.

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    Hey Guys

    Figured it out so got some pics loaded. You can see the rest on my pics on my profile pics.
    To answer the question about the meat story. They seem to be checking South to North and North to South. The search if the fridges are very brief and they do not do a very good job, or at least with us they didn't. I wouldn't stress about taken meat there is plenty of meat available in Maun and Kasane. Both Maun and Kasane have well stocked spars and there is a nice Wimpy in Maun to have lunch.

    Roxal

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    Default Trip Report

    Thx the Foto's are great !
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    Great report , and the photo's for such a long trip are a bit few I would say , more please!!!

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    Hey Guys

    Some more pics for the pic hungry folks...

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    Last edited by Roxal; 2011/08/04 at 10:19 PM.

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    Wow, very nice pics. Thanks!!!!
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    Thanks for a nice report.

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    You were so lucky with the cats, often people don't see them during many visits.
    Thanks for the pictures, great shots.

    Edit: Where was that water crossing?
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    The water crossing was on the way to Guma but was not to deep and was sandy ...no mud.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxal View Post
    The water crossing was on the way to Guma but was not to deep and was sandy ...no mud.
    Okay, I know this one, it can get quite long in high water. I did it when dry but saw the receding water marks. Sand is okay, I am very weary when it is mud.
    Thanks
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    Default Ihaha Botswana

    Hi Everyone

    Does anyone know what is happening at Ihaha about the self drives and if you are still allowed to drive yourself or are the new laws in place. Does the new Ihaha rules affect Savuti and South Gate?

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    Cool

    Hello,

    I can only report of what happened last April:

    I drove from Maun to Moremi, entered South Gate at 07h00 without any problem and spent all day (until 18h00) in Moremi.

    The day after, entered Chobe at approx 08h00, drove to Lynianti via Savuti, no remarka about restrictions...

    Then, drove out of Chobe at Lynianti, travelled via the private hunting reserve (I know, it is bad, but it was not clearly signposted - as I said to the Ranger - and I did not consider to drive back 50 k when he told me I was on private land)...re-entered Chobe at Ngoma at approx. 16h00, the only problem was making them understand that I had not to pay for an additional day, drove then the riverside road until Kasane exit, exited at approx. 18h30 without any problem. I had to wait at the exit gate approx. 30 min. for my travel mate, saw at least 10 private cars exiting duringt this time..


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vlakvarkie View Post
    Great report! Now I really look forward to our July 2012 trip.
    You not going to be alone. I will be joining you, starting 1 July for 2 weeks. Watch this space.

    P.S. I have done it twice before, nothing beats it.

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