Rossi Pools, Gonarezhou National Park Zimbabwe to Johannesburg South Africa

We stayed 2 nights at Rossi Pools. It was a good campsite with a lapa (shelter) looking down into the river bed maybe 20m below. There was an island of crocs, some large ones. A few other animals, but not a lot of animals compared to other areas of Gonarezhou.

We got going in the morning heading out towards the highway where we thought we could camp at a motel. We left the park through one of the gates after a bit of delay checking paperwork, and we headed west. The road deteriorated,  we only passed a couple of cars. We then drove through Gezani, which had a few shops, and not many cars. Then about 10km out of Gezani our Tracks4Africa app had us taking an even smaller track west. We went along this track about 1km, but there was no sign anyone had driven this road for months. There was 80km more of this track to the highway. We decided we needed to abandon this track and head back to Gezani and then head south. Once we got through Gezani we headed south and then west along a road that followed the Limpopo river a few kilometres north of it. The road would vary. Sometimes good, then deteriorate to a 4wd track, then get better again. We knew we would have to wild camp, and started looking about 4:30pm. A bit after 5pm, we drove through some scrub, squeezing between bushes and getting under a Baobab tree. With our battery powered reciprocating saw, we cleared more bush away for a campsite, and settled down for the night.

We had hardly seen any vehicles on the road during the day, but after dark, probably 10 vehicles drove past. Most were buses driving on a very, very corrugated road. We were far enough into the bush that I didn’t think anyone could see us. However late in the night three donkey carts drove past. I am not so sure that they wouldn’t have seen us, but if they did, they didn’t stop.

The next morning we cut our way out of the bush, cutting more bushes, making it easier to reverse. Then it was still another 35km of very corrugated road to the highway. We made the highway, after several hundred kilometres of dirt tracks, to find a brand new highway in perfect condition.

It was 20km drive to Beitbridge, a border crossing that we had heard many bad things about. The Zimbabwe side is very fancy, with multiple brand new buildings, lots of electronic systems. I wandered from place to place handing over TIP forms until eventually we both went to the immigration building. There we paid $USD28 for a new building fee, and $USD9 for a bridge toll. Then we went back to the carpark to find our rego on a big sign that meant we were allowed to leave. We drove out, handed over our fancy gate pass and headed to South Africa.  We couldn’t help think of the hundreds of kilometres of roads we had travelled on that desperately needed grading, while instead the money had been spent on a fancy new border post.

The South African side while organised was very slow. We queued for an hour or so to get our passports stamped. Then the thing I thought was difficult, the TIP (temporary  import permit) was easy, and only took a few minutes. We passed the police checkpoint, and we were out and back in South Africa.

We aimed to get around 375km south along the N1 to a campground at Modimolle before dark. A couple of stops for food, lots of stops at toll plazas, and we made it to Modimolle ten minutes before sunset.

Next morning we had made arrangements to meet Lilli  in Pretoria who I had last seen 5 years ago at Christas place near the Mozambique border. Lillis HJ60 Landcruiser had recently not had a good time. She had rebuilt her 2H diesel engine about 2 years ago, and it needed yet another rebuild. Lilli was in good cheer, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of Africa, from the experience of her many many trips.

After lunch we headed of towards Marion and Davids place at Airport en Route. It was good to be stationary, and in familiar surrounds.

Looking down into Rossi Pools from the lapa
Karen working in her office
Overlooking the river 20m below
Balancing the solar panels on top of the cliff
One of the buses we passed on the road back to the highway
Its a pretty poor area of Zimbabwe
Another collapsed bridge in Zimbabwe, never repaired
the early morning after our wild camp, the very corrugated road
There were lots of large Baobabs along the road to the Beitbridge Highway
Another really large Boabab
And we hit the brand new Beitbridge to Harare highway
Our rego appears on the big screen, meaning we can leave
The footbridge over the Limpopo between Zim and South Africa
The truck queue south of Beitbridge
A very nicely designed bridge south of Beitbridge
Clancy and Toyo together again. Toyo is just missing an engine.

Kameel South Africa to wild camp North of Kokotsha, Botswana

Two nights stay in Kameel. I walked up to the NW co-op store to get some more bits and pieces. I added outside lights and checked a few more things. Patrick provided his customary loaf of freshly baked bread.

I left Tuesday morning for the 205km drive to Bray the border crossing to Botswana. Bray is out of the way, but its small size and remoteness mean I have less hassles crossing the border. I drove first to Stella, then headed north-west. The road was pretty good at the start. About 100km in, it deteriorated down to a single sandy track, but still was not too difficult. I passed two trucks and six cars, so it wasn’t exactly busy.

I got to the border, to be slightly surprised there were two police there. Last crossing there was no-one but the immigration person. The police looked at the vehicle, but were mostly interested in whether I had any “drinks”. I didn’t have any drinks, but I have had on previous border crossings, so I must remember to be more organised next time. I eventually felt sorry for them and gave them 100Rand to buy “drinks”.

I met a woman at the border who worked at the medical centre and was just crossing the border into Botswana to get fuel. She did it sometimes as often as once a week.

I got to the Botswana side and got my road tax and passport stamped. I applied what I had learnt from a guide at a previous Botswana border crossing. When they ask how long you are going to be in Botswana tell them much longer than you intend to be. if something goes wrong and you need to stay in Botswana longer, it is very difficult and time consuming to get an extension.

I got a Mascom sim at the general store on the Botswana side. They used a special scanner to scan my passport to register my sim, but it failed after three attempts. So I headed off with no internet towards Werda.  The road from the border to Werda is fairly corrugated. I stopped once, but when I got to Werda I kept going hoping to make a wild camp on a cutline about 50km north. I turned off at the cutline, which is a sort of boundary firebreak between districts. I drove about a kilometre along the cutline until I met another cutline heading north, and I went up that. I stopped to have a look at the surrounding scrub when I suddenly found that part of the camper had broken. The rear box had separated from the camper and was hanging on by only one side.  I knew I would have to be doing some fibreglass repairs that night. I pulled of the cutline into the scrub and made camp.

I emptied the box, and it seemed like I had not lost any equipment. I suspect I had driven at least 50km with this break. I used two jacks to jack the box back in line, then proceeded to fibreglass it back together. It took me a couple of hours sanding and applying glass tape and epoxy in the dark. I hoped it would be enough to hold the box in place, so that I could fibreglass it more next day. I knew it wouldn’t hold any weight initially.

It was a quiet night after that. Just the sound of cattle wandering past, and occasional cars on the highway a km away.

Camped at Kameel
Patrick’s wonderful home made bread
The road from Stella to Bray in South Africa
The broken fibreglass storage box
I never noticed it in my side mirror it was too low
It was full of recovery gear
Looking underneath
Camped at sunset getting to work on fixing things
Jacking up the box ready to fibreglass it back in place

 

 

 

Johannesburg to Kameel – North West

I arrived at Johannesburg  on the 31st May 2024. I had -as usual- things to fix. However the big problem was my broken solar panel on the roof. About a week before I had left Australia, I put in an order to Takealot, the big online retailer in South Africa. One of those items was a replacement solar panel of the correct size to replace the one on the roof. Takealot was the only place I could see a solar panel of the same size. Unfortunately Takealot wasn’t going to deliver until later in the week.

So I installed an inverter I had brought from Australia. This was my second attempt at installing an inverter. My previous attempt brought only smoke. I went shopping gathering up food that would be difficult to get in Botswana and Zimbabwe (like Barley).

One day I drove out to a bike shop to get a couple of inner tubes for my bike. I got pulled over by the police for ten minutes or so. The cop was OK, but my previous experiences with police in Joberg make me wary.

It was warm the first couple of days in Joberg, but then it got cold. Several days there was ice outside in the morning. Some days it was only 14C with a biting wind. Eventually on Friday I got my delivery from Takealot, however missing the solar panel. On Saturday I finally got the solar panel, but it was not the size panel as per the description, and would not fit. So I decided it was time to give up on the solar panel and head off. I left Sunday morning at 7:30am. It was another icy morning, with me trying to get the ice of the windscreen, so I could see.

The 410km drive to Kaleem, was uneventful. I left on Sunday morning to minimise the number of Police roadblocks I might go through. I did drive through two, but they were both engaged with other vehicles.

Arriving at Kemeel is so relaxing. Its rural. Patrick is such a great host, and Kemeel is a friendly rural town.

Starting up Clancy after about 10 months of storage.
Parked in my usual spot. It gets sun in the morning.
Inverter installed. So far so good.
Several icy morning with ice on the camper and storage boxes outside
The solar panel arrives, but is the wrong size
Ready to leave for Kameel Sunday morning.

 

 

Thorn Tree Safaris Zambia to Johannesburg South Africa

I left Karen at Livingstone airport, and drove back into Livingstone, and then headed south. I got to the Zambian border, with the fixers trying to stop me at the beginning of the bridge at Kazungula. Over the bridge, into the combined border crossing on the Botswana side. It was about 15 minutes, paid my bridge toll to the Botswana customs, and had my vehicle checked, then I was out to Kazungula. I went to the supermarket, then headed south towards Nata.

I saw an elephant and baby not far south, and a few giraffes. However it was all pretty dry compared to when I had travelled south a bit more than a year ago. At the wild camp, which I had camped at a year ago, 200km down the road, I stopped about 30 minutes before sunset.

I had a quiet night, but even though I was 500m from the Nata road, I could still hear the traffic.

Next morning I got going about 7:30am.  I stopped at Nata for more fuel. Then continued south. The road south of Nata is a bit narrow with broken edges, so I wasn’t going fast, maybe 65kph. Eventually I got to Francistown, which was busy. I thought about headed to the shopping mall on the main street, but it was way too busy, and jammed with cars, so I continued on south. I was going to stay at a campsite at Palapye, but the latest iOverlander review said someone had got robbed their. So I decided to turn off earlier and head to an iOverlander wild camp, east of Palapye, that had got good reviews. I got to the quarry just before dusk, and it was a great quiet place to camp.

Up and going at 6:30am I headed for the border at Martins Drift. I tried to get fuel at the servo near the border, but their network was down, and they couldn’t take a credit card. I cleared the Botswana border, and then managed to weave through the trucks on the South African side. I managed this time to get a TIP (temporary import permit), after about 30 minutes of waiting. Then old though the Police check at the exit to the border crossing. I stopped amongst the dozens of trucks on the South African side and put up the starlink dish, and added data to my Vodacom sim, and then heade south-east. I got more fuel, and kept driving until I got to the Weesgerus campsite near Modimolle. I was jammed in with lots of other caravans, because it was school holidays.

Its an OK campground, and the next morning I got going around 7:30am. It was 10km to the N1, where I hit a police checkpoint. I managed to get though that and worked my way down the N1 for 180km to Johannesburg.  I arrived at Airport en Route around 1pm in the afternoon. Total trip around 5,000km.

stopped on the Nata road
First wild camp, around 200km south of Kazungula
Camped at the quarry east of Palapye
Weesgerus campsite near Modimolle

 

Kameel (South Africa) to Cornwall Safari Lodge (Botswana)

We left Kameel after 3 days. Karen was working. I changed the diff oil. Built a 12v power supply for Karen’s laptop, and replaced the hose that had lasted for four years, pumping water up to the hot water system on the roof. Kameel was a great place to stay.

We headed to Vyburg, because the road was better that way, although 45km longer. The border post was only open until 4pm, but we thought we had plenty of time. We stopped in Vyburg for fuel, and at a PnP for more fruit and veg. As we headed out of Vyburg I programmed the GPS for the target of Bray. It showed we would arrive at 3:05pm, which was not optimal. The road was good until about 40km from Bray, when it turned to rough dirt. We arrived in Bray at about 3:20pm, and then got slightly lost finding the border post. Arriving at the border post at 3:30pm was not good. If the South African side was slow we would never make it to the Botswana side.  However the South African side was pretty fast, never asking anything about the vehicle, which yet again did not have a TIP (temporary import permit). The Botswana side was efficent, and at ten minutes to closing time we drove into Botswana. We found a supermarket where we could get cash out on a credit card, at a fee of 10%. Then we got a Botswana sim card, and filled up with fuel at the Service station. It was a 31km drive to Cornwall Safari Lodge. The camping there was OK. There was power and hot showers (although not very good ones). We got the Starlink dish up and running and had internet for the evening.

Better than a “beware of dog” sign
Camped just before sunset
A rising red full moon that the camera does not capture

 

Johannesburg to Kameel – North West

Only 15 days fixing Clancy in Benoni this time! I arrived Friday morning 18th August at 7am. David from Airport en Route – the campsite where Clancy is stored – picked me up at the airport. The first problem is that I had taken the camper key home with me last trip. I had lost the key, and for the second time was arriving in Joberg with no key to the camper. I managed to break in last time, but this time I was stumped. David suggested I get the locksmith from Oakfields shopping centre. Instead I drove down to the locksmith and in about 30 seconds he had it unlocked. For the next week I organised things to fix. I got the front seats reupholstered in rip-stop canvas for a cheap $200A. I got two new mattresses made for the bed, total cost $170A. New tyres, which required the old tyres to be removed, and the split rims derusted and painted, and the the new tyres mounted. I also set up the Starlink dish with a mount on the front of the camper.

Karen joined me on the Friday a week after I had arrived. Karen had been working up in Pretoria on a meeting with her new project. I had off-loaded some stuff with Karen’s colleague Andrea the  previous Sunday at lunch. However with Karen’s great help, we culled more stuff, and rearranged boxes, and after many shopping trips, managed to pack several weeks of food for Botswana in the camper.  We were aiming to leave Saturday morning, but on Friday night we realised we were nowhere near ready. On Sunday morning we left at 8am, on one of the coldest mornings we had in Joberg, probably around 2C.

It was 405km to Kameel, so leaving early on Sunday morning was good. We had a good run, plodding along at 75kph. Only one Police stop, with no problems. After refueling with Diesel in Delareyville, we arrived at Kameel around 3:30pm. It is a great campsite. The campsite hosts Patrick and Hercules are renowned for their home made bread delivered to campsites. We will stay here at least two days, as Karen has to be the digital nomad and do some remote work.

Assembling the split rim tyres, requires jumping on the split rim to get it back in
Karen working in the shelter
Camped with Bart at Airport en Route. Bart was from Holland, and has spent 13 years over many trips exploring Africa, and was great company.
Starlink dish fitted to the roof. 3d printed mount with 12v to 48v power supply.

 

The new mattresses fitted
Re-upholstered front seats with rip-stop canvas
Almost ready to leave, Friday night.
Despite high unemployment in South Africa, there is construction everywhere in Joberg
It was about 2C when we left Joberg. Clancy does not have a heater, so gloves are required for driving.
Roadside Goats
Informal Settlements
More informal Settlements
Seller at intersection selling oranges and peanuts
Roadside seller setting up selling brooms
The road south of Kameel
Some of the many Silos in Kameel. There are more Silos than people in Kameel.
Camped at Kameel

 

 

 

 

Bela Bela to Johannesburg

I packed up at the strange campground of Marula Oase, leaving all these Caravans jammed together. I headed south back on the N1. I had found an inverter repairer at Sandton. It was Saturday, so I didn’t rate my chances that they were there, but I had to try and see if I could get my inverter fixed.

The N1 was pretty busy. It dawns on you after travelling in so much of Africa, that Johannesburg is so enormous and so rich.

I eventually got to the inverter repairer, and with amazing luck a worker was there to do some cleaning, and I left my inverter with them. Then it was a 60km drive from that part of Johannesburg to another part of Johannesburg the campground at Benoni. At about 2:45pm I pulled in to the campground getting back to where I had started. I had four days until I flew out, so time to do some repairs, and get Clancy ready for at least 6 months of storage.

Palapye Botswana to Bela Bela South Africa

A long and eventful day. I was going out of Palapye by 8:30am. I had 350km and a border crossing to get to the caravan park at Modimolle. I could bail at the Big Fig campground near the border, if the border crossing went bad.

So down the A1 turn off towards Martins Drift. Its a 100km fairly straightforward drive. I get close to the Botswana border post, and the trucks start piling up. I get past the trucks, and the Botswana border post is nearly empty. So ten minutes and I am out. Then its across the single lane bridge that crosses the Limpopo and can be jammed with trucks. However I am in luck and I get straight across, then I hit the truck traffic jam at the RSA border. There seems to be no gate guard, different from last time. I have done this border post I think 4 times, and its always different. I manage to squeeze past the trucks to the car parking area. I go to immigration, and ask a truck driver if we have to show our vax certificates at a different building, but he says they don’t care about the vax certificates anymore.  I go to the immigration window, and explain to the immigration guy that I just need a transit visa of 7 days because I am flying out. He gives me a month, (I think) its hard to read.

Then off to the Customs window for a Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for Clancy. I can see the book through the window with all the previous TIP’s written in the book, so I know I am at the right place. Eventually a woman comes in and opens the window. I pass over my rego papers and say I want a TIP. She asks where is the vehicle registered, I answer Australia. She says you don’t need one and waves me on. I am totally confused. Is this Customs laziness? or have the rules changed? or are Australian cars unlikely to be imported into RSA or what? So I enter South Africa, without a TIP.

I manage to squeeze myself into the truck queue, which is being held up by the Police inspection point further up. I have been through this inspection point before. I have no idea what the Police and looking for. I open up some flaps they have a cursory look and wave me on. This Police inspection point clags up the whole border post, for I don’t know what benefit.

I must also point out I crossed a whole country, namely Botswana, without once being stopped by the Police. Although there were police doing checks, they just didn’t check me.

So I stopped after the border post to get my MTN sim working and hit the road. I stopped at Mokopane (after getting caught in a 30minute traffic jam out of town) at a PnP to get some more supplies. Then onto the N1. I had 100km to get to Modimolle, on the N1, should be easy.

I went through one toll booth, then the second. The second toll plaza, had lots of traffic, and I was weaving around trying to get into the right queue when someone called out, and eventually I realised I had a flat tyre. So changing a tyre in the middle of a toll plaza with dozens of cars wizzing around. I shifted to a toll lane that was out of use. I got my safety triangles out, and my Hi-viz vest and got to work. It was close to dusk, but in 20 minutes I had it changed and got going. I went through the toll both, and out the other side. I turned on my lights, and the engine started cutting out. If I turned my lights off the engine was fine. I couldn’t understand what was wrong. Then down the road I stop at a service station, I measure battery voltages and try to figure out what is going on, but I can’t figure it out. I leave the servo, head south and then realise in all the confusion I had missed the turnoff to Modimolle, and I was stuck on the N1 heading south with an engine that was cutting in and out. I eventually got off the N1 at the turn-off to Bela Bela. I stopped at another servo, and figured out that my engine was cutting out because the oil pressure switch was momentarily turning off. This was still a voltage problem, but I knew I could disconnect the oil pressure switch, and at least drive with out the cutting out. So I drove into Bela Bela. It was 43km back to Modimolle, so I though I have to find something at Bela Bela. The options on iOverlander are not good. I try WarmBaths, a huge resort in the middle of Bela Bela. They want $A75 for a nights camping, I tell them no. I head up the road 6km to option 2. They want $A65 for a nights camping. I say no, but they so point me to a cheaper one about a km away. I am running out of options. I roll up and they open up reception for me. Its $A38, still enormous, but I don’t argue. I am camped amongst dozens of other caravans. Its all very strange.

The truck queue outside Martins Drift
Working through the queue at the RSA border
Changing a flat tyre at a Toll Plaza

 

Louis Trichardt to Nthakeni Bush camp

I was late leaving Zvakanaka Camping at 10am because I was trying to cook everything, because it was the last power I would have for I don’t know how many days. It was mostly downhill from the top of the mountain range driving on the N1. At the turn off to Pafuri I stopped at the service station, to fill up the last empty jerry can with fuel. Then it was a fairly quiet road. I plodded again at about 65kmh. I stopped for lunch on a side road, and only 2 cars drove past. Then onto Masisi. 3 years ago we got fuel at Masisi, but this time they were closed. They were having a landlord dispute, which they hoped would be solved soon, so they could open up again. Another 12km to Nthakeni Bush camp. No one camped here. They are expecting an onslaught of early school holiday people next Thursday, so I am a few days ahead of the dreaded South African school holiday rush.

Weather has been good, with most of the afternoon about 23C.

Roadside lunch spot

 

Camped under the Baobab

 

The Donkey boiler to heat up the hot water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polokwane to Louis Trichardt

I left again around 8:30am. This time it was impossible to avoid the N1, it is essentially the only road.  I plodded along again, pulling over many times to let people pass. It was only 110km to Louis Trichardt, so I was there again before lunch. I went to PnP and Checkers to get even more supplies. I am loading up as I am not expecting much in Mozambique since I am taking the inland route.  I then went to the service station and filled up the tank and four jerry cans with 115l of diesel, which cost nearly $A300 at 26 Rand per litre. After that I crawled up the big hill to Zvakanaka Camping, where we had stayed before 3 years ago. I was lucky to get in, because there is a big bicycle race tomorrow, and every other campsite is booked.