Namibia – Botswana – November 2018 – The Jackal Trip
Some trips you see a lot, sometimes not, and sometimes a fair percentage of the same animal that you may not normally see. We had a Honey Badger trip not so long ago. This time it was the turn of the Jackal. We lost count of how many we saw. It was extremely hot and dry and possibly this was the reason.
2018 did not prove to be a great year for travel for us. An RSA trip up the Garden Route & surrounds in January; then we had a daughters wedding in March at Elgin with a short getaway to Calitzdorp; but then middle of the year, due to the severe drought in Cape Town, we had an exchange of wealth and thus stayed home in June to put in a 60 metre borehole – result: off the grid with 3000 litres of clear water per hour – so problem solved but garden stuffed in the process.
Our travelling friends had organized this trip earlier this year and thank goodness for that as otherwise I don’t think we would have got away. In the end all was good and we met up at Port Nolloth which for once had nice weather.
The next day it was with pleasure that we were able to take our friends over the border at Alexander Bay to Oranjemund – although for reasons best known to them they followed a coke truck into Alexander Bay instead of following the road to the border – great explorers not; – and thence across to Oranjemund which is still the same old shed. Alex Bay has become jacked up and whilst still a “quiet” crossing it is getting busier especially now that you do not need a permit to travel through what was the mine and the road has now been tarred all the way to Rosh Pinah & Aus. A new weigh bridge has just been installed just after Rosh Pinah – no way around it…. NB.
Klein Aus Vista – one of our favourite settings proved to be as good as ever and we settled into our Geisterschlucht (Hikers guide hut) in the beautiful secluded kloof on the farm.
We spent two nights here and did a run down the road towards Luderitz but the desert horses were scant in evidence. Also, the old railway is still not running yet but some progress appears to be taking place.
Moving on – gotta keep moving – we took the well-travelled road to Windhoek via Helmeringhausen where we stopped for the obligatory apple cake & coffee & across the huge Namibian plains & valleys to Kalkrand and thence into Windhoek to our usual Guesthouse De Vagebond in Klein Windhoek – always a good welcome here and excellent value for money with a fantastic breakfast to start the next day.
De Vagebond is also convenient for the famous Joe’s Steakhouse where we had the usual quality game steaks. We decided against taking the fully loaded cruisers down there despite the good security and decided to walk rather – all downhill – the three kilometers to the restaurant and take a taxi back.
Early next day up and off via Gobabis to Charles Hill and over the border into Botswana and along to Ghanzi. Sunday travelling so traffic was light.
Our friends after having looked at a deceptive website booked us for two nights into Thakadu Camp site instead of Tautoma where we would normally stay and then moan about afterwards. However, it must be said that Tautoma would have been a way better choice. Thakadu is dry and dusty and the campsites poor with little shade. Every site was festooned with warning signs about leaving things visible through your windscreen – alarm – Upon inquiring we got the usual “Oh yes we had a bit of trouble last year” – but it seems that this is not strictly true as subsequent to this a person informed our friend that they (guide & his party) had been burgled not so long ago. Sad truth is that it is no longer safe to camp at any site near a town. Thakadu was disorganized and there was a mix up over amount to pay – really the only upside was that there was lots of hot water but the “disabled” bathroom facilities (only option) were not kind on non-disabled people! Lesson – always get opinions never trust web sites.
Ghanzi proved good for stocking up and we bought some excellent fillet & sirloin steaks from the Afrikaans run butchery near the puma petrol station. We also stocked up on everything else we needed too – everything now readily available in Ghanzi – now a large spread-out town.
We entered Central Kalahari from the Kuke Vet Fence Road at Tsau Gate and headed for Motopi 1 – a somewhat different trip to our last one when we all got drowned out with a storm of note – cotton mud to the fore ! This time it was extremely hot, temps of 45 degrees plus, electric storms and I think we had about 9 drops on rain that evaporated just as they had touched the windscreen. Not much wildlife in evidence due to the lack of freely available water.
In the morning our friends discovered that the front offside wheel diff hub had simply fallen off their 4500 EFI at some stage the day before, so they went into Maun where amazingly for once Toyota had a new pair in stock and fitted them pronto which was very lucky and thus they were able to rejoin us at Sundays Pan, just missing one night.
From Motopi we went to Sundays Pan and we did a detour to see Tau Pan which is sadly closed to the public for camping due to the “smart” lodge for the fly-ins (occupancy 6 people! Pan empty) Truth is that I don’t think we will recognize the old Botswana in a few years. Places like Hukuntsi, more of which later, are now bustling towns with out of town shopping centres and all the roads are being tarred in order to make it easier for the fly-in tourists – they will never get to greet the real Africa, just the sanitized version. Rather sad really and I think the authorities will try and edge us self-drives out by imposing more and more restrictions on where we may and may not go. All about money of course – but a lodge with only 6 guests is hardly packing them in!
The Pans were all very dry and game quite scarce, some bird life however and we got lucky at Sundays Pan with a Cheetah. Plus the usual lazy hot lions.
From Sundays Pan we headed to Piper Pan which really was just as dry and the temperatures extremely hot – fridges really battling in the car.
At Xade gate we encountered some elephants near the airstrip at the dry water hole and were saddened to see on our way to our “bush camp – no facilities site” a dead Ele from thirst being devoured by some lions. Not a pleasant sight.
We left this area via the deep sand road through Xade Gate to New Xade and back into Ghanzi for shopping top up and fuel and then headed down the road to Kang and stayed overnight at the Kalahari Lodge where we would have taken a chalet with aircon due to the extreme heat but their prices for such are way out of proportion to what is on offer – rip off for the Overseas tourists – all were empty ! So we camped instead. WiFi also extremely poor.
It was only one night and thus we pushed off via the road to Hukuntsi and then the deep sand road to Mabuasehube Gate heading for Mpayathutwa Pan for two nights, then Bosobogolo Pan for another two nights.
The road from Kang to Hukuntsi is tar with some pot holes, but what a surprise arriving in what has become a small town from the deserted village that Hukuntsi was. Huge development taking place, shopping malls, new large petrol stations and tar roads being built seemingly in all directions. The GPS wanted to take us left out of town on the road to Mabuasehube, but we could not do this as it is closed whilst being reconstructed and tarred. We had to ask how to get onto a road in that direction and eventually a helpful lady pointed us in the right direction via Lokgwabe but what a circus this road is, weaving in and out towards the new road under construction but through very deep and heavy-going sand. It was quite a trek, potential vehicle breaker, which actually could be true of the whole trip due to the extreme dryness and sweltering heat.
Moving on to Mpayathutwa Pan we had the by now usual twit tourist – “German”- who tried his luck at our campsite but was very quickly evicted. He stands there talking bullshit whilst his wife is left to do all the work of packing up their things – a fact Lin made a point of bringing to his quite knowing attention! – what a piece of work.
There are two sites here and the top one has fantastic shade trees but the campers there had difficulties the previous night as they were visited by 8 lions, all after water from the shower – the facilities at this site are dreadful. We had the lower site with a nice view over the dead dry pan but the facilities were in good working order, so we invited the people from the top site to use ours.
The Jackals had taken out a bateleur by group attack – there was quite a lot of small life activity at the man-made water hole. Lots of bird life. This is a very attractive pan, I think it would be nice with cooler weather and some water.
Coming towards the end of our trip we then went onto Bosobogolo Pan which is also in a nice position but dead dry. We elected to only stay one night as we had spent the whole day driving to keep the batteries charged for the fridges and did not want to do the same again the next day; so in the morning took the road back to the Mabuasehube gate and then on what we supposed was going to be a deep sand road down to Tsabong – in the event yes there was some deep sand for a bit but most of the road is either good gravel or has been tarred – what a surprise.
Coming into a very hot Tsabong with all the noise and mess everywhere I struggled due to the heat to get the Cruiser out of centre diff lock; but with a bit of a cool down it clicked out. Re-fueled here as Diesel is about R4 Rand a litre cheaper in Botswana notwithstanding that all their fuel comes from RSA – go figure – taxes Grrr – with my large tank I knew that I could make the whole journey back to Cape Town on this “cheaper fuel”
We had wondered if we could make Bokspits by the 4.30pm border post closing time – but given that we had left Mabu early morning and had made excellent time there was no question about the border post and given the time that we arrived ditched the idea of staying at Molopo lodge but pushed onto Upington where we were unable to stay at our usual security lodge so pushed onto Keimoes to the very green Die Werf which was way better than staying in Upington – it was a mere 39 degrees here and felt chilly after Central Kalahari LOL.
Next day we again left early and went all the way to Van Rhynsdorp and stayed at the North West Famous Lodges Letsatsi – same group as Upington & Molopo – excellent value for money – excellent restaurant – excellent attention to the detail – not the first time we have stayed here but a much better option than Calvinia – with the added attraction of only 3 hours to get home the next day to Cape Town which being also a Sunday meant we encountered virtually no traffic until Malmesbury which is still a disaster all the way to the Engen Garage due to the never-ending upgrade of the N7. They need to get a move on !!!
So a trip of some 7000Kms – – other than the fridges & the effect of the very high temps, no other issues at all for us, which was fortunate to say the least. This had the potential to be a vehicle breaker. Not one of the “Great” trips but really good to be away from an over-crowded noisy town with good friends and interesting to be there when so dry in contrast to our last very wet trip – what a contrast indeed. It has to be said that we encountered an unusually large number of Vultures both in Central & Mabuasehube.
Better view full screen & more at: