So setting off from Cape Town to join our Johannesburg friends in a few days at Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Eastern Botswana we leave early to avoid the traffic for a days drive to Upington where we stay at Tshahitsi Lodge – part of the Northern Cape Famous Lodges Group
Click for website: N.C Famous Lodges
We felt that it was just too far for us to go all the way to their Molopo Lodge near Bokspits where we were to cross the border; which is where we would normally stay if going this way, but were pleased to note that they have opened a new lodge at Van Rhynsdorp called Letsatsi in the grounds of the Catholic Church adjacent to the N7. We stopped off here for breakfast in order to check it out for future reference. They have improved this area hugely and I think this will prove a popular stop over point.
Arriving in Upington, 826kms, it was warm, which was welcome after cold and damp Cape Town and for one night this place is quite ok except for it being an urban setting with traffic noise from the Jhb road.
Tshahitsi Lodge Upington
Next morning we travelled the 200 km’s to Bokspits and the border – not crossed here for quite a while – the RSA side all jacked up but everyone very friendly. The Botswanian side has a sort of prefab long hut and again all was fine & happy. I bought a double entry road tax as we would be going into Namibia and then back into Botswana during this trip – pity that Namibia does not offer this facility – As we leave the customs bloke comes out and makes me open the fridge – fortunately he only saw the small one 🙂 and gaily removes our tomatoes and apples – I had not given it a thought – bugger – wouldn’t budge on it so I took the stuff away from him and gave the “dangerous” goods to some people travelling South into RSA ! Oh well it’s Botswana what can you do.
So we travelled on what was last time a deep sand road now a really impressive tar one to just before Tshabong where we were to spend the night at Phirima Game Lodge – this a hunting lodge but we were the only camping guests that night. Turning off the road some 40kms before Tshabong you travel for about 20kms in deep sand. I had noticed that the contact telephone number on the sign had worn away – Tara-Lee from botswanafootprints in Maun had made the reservation for us so I did not have any direct contact details – what could go wrong ? Yeah right. So after 20kms we arrive at a locked gate with a sign on the other side saying office 6kms ! So I look around for where the key might be hidden – no luck – Lin reckons oh well we could easily just set up camp here – it is 40 degrees – no cell phone coverage. Sat phone to the rescue. Can’t get through to Tara in Maun phone rings no reply, long story short we manage to get our friends in Jhb to get someone at the lodge to answer the phone and people arrive at the gate to let us in. The woman tells me oh the owner has gone to town and he dropped his cell phone so not working – OK great start – they are surprised when I tell them in any event you do not have a number up on your sign back at the road. Move on paul it’s africa 🙂 Travel for the day 436Kms.
click for website: Phirima Game Ranch
Phirima Lodge nr Tsabong
The facilities here were actually very nice and in a good position, hunting not being our thing I am glad that we were the only ones there. Everyone was very helpful not a bad place at all.
Next day it’s off to Gabaronne to stay at the Mokolodi Lodge up on the hill outside town – distance 509Kms and being a Saturday I reckon that the traffic won’t be too bad. No such luck. The closer we got to Gabs the worse the traffic became in all respects. We had planned on going down into Gabs for some shopping but I had had enough by the time we reached the turn off to the Lodge so bugger that. It has to be said that the condition of the roads in Botswana has improved a huge amount since Feb 2015 when we were last in the country. They have filled the pot holes. But speed at your peril; the traffic cops are everywhere with their 60/80/120 zones with very few signs indicating what the actual limit is – I reckon they do this on purpose to catch the tourists. I never speed in Bots !
Mokolodi website click here: Mokolodi Nature Reserve
Another African Sunset !
We have stayed at Mokolodi a few times and whilst basic it serves its purpose for a night stopover out of town.
Sunday morning we headed down into town for some shopping & refuel before travelling the relatively short distance 353kms to Khama Rhino Sanctuary. Going via Serowe to refuel and buy braai wood. I thought my card had been cloned at the garage – just had a bad feeling – not paying attention – in holiday mode – so better to be safe I called the bank to put a stop on that card. Note to self wake up !
We were going to be 3 cars 6 people on this trip and one of the parties was already there when we arrived and the others came along not much later so all good. We have travelled together before so sort of know what to expect ! We spend a good first night and first thing next day pack up and head off to Kubu Island – the site of our very first ever (guided) 4×4 trip – no facilities – what an introduction that was 🙂
Khama Rhino Website: Khama Rhino Sanctuary
For all our other bookings, especially Bots Parks we used Tara-Lee at Botswana Footprints
Website: Botswana Footprints She charges a fee but makes life way easier.
Road to Kubu
Yes ! It was great to be back at Kubu but just us few this time. What a special place this has to be. However that said people do not seem to use the “facilities” that are now there so when walking up amongst the boabab trees it pays to watch your feet ! Yuck.
Braai time: specially matured, in champagne box surrounds, well travelled c2015
Morning on the pan
Bots Parks bookings (lack of) strike again and sadly we could get only one night here, a feature which was to blight us on a number of occasions and even booking through Tara-lee it made no difference. They say they are full when it is blindingly obvious that they are not. So no choice, you have to move on.
We headed up north making for Planet Boabab on the Nata – Maun cross road.
Planet Boabab – nothing a good 12 gauge couldn’t take care of !
1st time at Planet Boabab so didn’t know what to expect. The camp sites are a bit small and wanting for proper shade but there is electricity. They charge you for wi-fi so no thanks and in any event I could see that it was like watching paint dry. We had dinner in their restaurant which was adequate. One night stopover nothing special.
Planet Baobab Website: Planet Baobab
Next day we shoved off for Maun, which has become a huge town the road much better than last time, potholes mostly filled but still the inevitable donkeys – which on last count I hear the Chinese are cornering the market for as they use the donkey skin for Muti – result: value of donkeys has risen – as far as i am concerned they could clean Botswana out of this scourge – the bad look they give you when they have to move out of the way 🙂
Arriving in Maun we stocked and filled up and bought more braai wood and then exited as fast as possible off to South Gate which again was supposedly full but in fact only three sites were occupied.
Baboon Tree 🙂
We saw and followed an old lion with friend (protector?) down an overgrown route, they seemed quite nervous about the track and extremely wary of what they might be going towards.
Black Pools Area
The inevitable !
As I said: There were some interesting water crossings – he didn’t make it – turned out that the owner had gone out on a solo game drive, got himself stuck and spent the night there before walking to 3rd bridge to get help. Car beyond the beyond.
Annoyingly we again could only get one night at Xakanaka – the place whilst busy was no way full.
Sad to leave Xakanaka we headed via North gate where this greeted us at the loos
Leaving North Gate
To Kwai Community Camp “Magotho Camp” no facilities – which in fact proved to be the highlight of the trip. Firstly a wonderful setting, secondly excellent viewings and the sites spread out so that the large “international” groups that seem to have permanent camps there do not impinge on you at all. What a fantastic place.
At Magotho Camp
Elephants in Camp Site
Then Jackpot – early morning we hear the sound of a huge commotion going on in the water, literally a stones throw from our site – to see a pack of wild dogs take down an impala – quick run for cameras ! 🙂 Wow they were quick and effective.
And then the excitement was all over and the vultures arrived. Peace restored
Later in the day we go off for a game drive with low expectations after seeing the wild dogs and travel through the bush, nope not much to see.
And then………………..could the day get any better ?
Saunters across the veld without a care in the world…………………
What a day this has turned into.
We stayed two nights at Magotho; we could have stayed for a week easily – a definite go back to place.
Moving on we travel via Savute to Linyati on dreadful deep sand tracks.
Can’t see the wood for the………………………..stayed at Linyati for two nights
Crossing the border at Goma bridge into Namibia I have never seen the water so low – serious drought.We headed to Camp Chobe which is a short distance from the border post down on the river having gone past a rural village. Pleasant surroundings.
Camp Chobe from the camp site
Danger cattle Crossing !
we did the inevitable boat trip but the water is very shallow and the boat gets stuck on the sandbanks very easily.
Stuck again – skippers job………
End of a perfect day
Website Camp Chobe NAMIBIA: Camp Chobe
So travel back into Botswana and head to Senyati Safari Camp
Senyati Safari Camp Botswana with Elephant “bird” hide – can’t get much closer than this !
The eye of the beholder
Born the night before
Website: Senyati Bots:Senyati Safari Camp
So after a pleasant stay here we start the trek south and make our way to Nata Lodge and the Nata Bird Sanctuary
The road south takes you through Pandamatenga with the border crossing with Zimbabwe. This town must have the longest “rural” 60km section to no purpose in Botswana and no signs either. I had a feeling, I had a feeling: and sure enough at the far end there was the traffic cop with his radar. Speed at your peril in Bots but it has to be said they do not play fair with the lack of signs.One of our party got caught here – he was not best pleased !
Lunch at Nata Lodge and then our friends went off on their own back to Jhb whilst we stayed on here overnight. It had been an excellent time.
Website: Nata Lodge: Nata Lodge
The next day we go back to Maun and arriving at lunch time decide to make the detour up to Thamalakane Lodge for the best pepper steaks in Africa ! The very small camp site here has sadly been removed but we knew that.
A low Thamalake River at Maun
So after a great lunch we head south of Maun to Tshima Bush Lodge near Komana Village. Run by a dutch couple relatively new Residents but with Africa experience they have paid great attention to the detail and the tented camp is very nice – we had dinner with them and breakfast was included too.
Tshima Bush Lodge
The only criticism is that the site is a bit close to the Road.
Website: Tshima Bush Lodge: Tshima Bushcamp
Moving on next day the short trip 255kms Dqae Qare San Lodge Near Ghanzi
Long sand track from Main Road and a bit haphazard with poor ablutions – bit disorganised – but few campers so fine for one night.
Website: Dqae Qare San Lodge: Dqae Qare San Lodge
A small braai
Next day we cross the border at Charles Hill and head for Windhoek to our usual Guest House with dinner at Joe’s – natch ! plus buy biltong & more braai wood.
Following on we take the route south and are amazed at how Rehoboth has pulled its socks up since we last came through. Cutting across country via Maltehohe to Helminghausen for the obligatory apple tart & coffee finally down my favourite C13 to Klein Aus Vista. Piet Swieglers – our home from home for 2 glorious days.
The lodge has undergone a renovation and a pool put in ! not all of us thought that this was necessary.
almost full moon
In any event the lodge does not interest us we stay down at the Geisterschlucht – all alone in a small kloof all to ourselves. Piet is building himself a new house on the way here on the farm. Magic position.-
Overnight the heavens open – what a difference a day can make.
Website: Klein Aus Vista: Klein Aus Vista
Holiday over. Weather collapsed. Rosh Pinah – mine road down to Oranjemund and Alexander Bay. The road has been realigned and is being tarred. This is set to be a new semi major border crossing and the RSA side has already become jacked up. All very friendly but was not happy about our fruit in the fridge and said that we were not allowed to transport raw meat over the border. WTF ? Anyway did not see that and we got away.
Stayed over at Daisy Lodge in Springbok – miserable
I don’t know about this place, we have stayed here a few times for want of somewhere better out of a town but there is always something off about this place. This time we got Rommel Cottage (should have been a warning) All through the night if anyone drew off water the bore hole pump would knock in – situated on other side of cottage wall behind headboard of bed 🙁
I just think they don’t care much and are a bit slack – However there is a new Hotel not 100 yards from them now – maybe they’ll wake up.
Website: Daisy Lodge: Daisy Lodge
So home to CT down the N7, lunch at Piketberg, Saturday not much traffic and home early afternoon – all good – strip car ! 7000km trip – Nice break.
More Photos at: Photo Album