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.


Modimolle to Polokwane

Another 170km on. I left Weesgerus at 8:30am, continued to potter along the R101, got to Polokwane around lunch time. I drove to Makros and got even more supplies, spending an hour or so browsing. Then it was off to the outskirts of Polokwane, to Boma in the bush campsite. Nice campsite, I was the only one there. I spent time in the sun going through the boxes, trying to get rid of junk, and throw it in the bin.


Johannesburg to Modimolle

I left late because there was always more things to do. I avoided the N1 and drove through Pretoria, then via the R101. I was trying to avoid police road blocks, which I thought would be more frequent on the N1. However there were several police road blocks on the quieter R101. I didn’t get pulled over though. The R101 suited me better, I could plod along at a low speed. I arrived at around 4pm at Weesgerus resort 3km west of Modimolle. It was an OK caravan park. Its hard to find caravan parks close to Joberg that are not expensive and over the top resorts.

Five weeks in Joberg

58kg of luggage

I arrived back in Johannesburg on May 1st 2020, two years and two months since racing back to Australia at the start of Covid. I had 58kg of luggage. That included one change of clothes, the rest was car parts etc for fixing Clancy.


Clancy had been sitting out in the weather for those two years and had taken a bit of a beating. The good things when I arrived. The cranking battery was good having spent two years attached to a solar panel. The deep cycle batteries were good, having been totally disconnected, but still had a voltage of over 13V. I hired a car for the first 3 days and drove around Joberg getting things like epoxy resin, car parts and tools.


I spent five weeks fixing things. The list:

*Replacing the hinge of the door. I had left the door siliconed up, because the hinge broke the day before I left. This included fibreglassing the aluminum edge back on the door.

*making a new lid for the roof box. The roof box was something I made at the last minute before I drove to Sydney to load into the shipping container. The lid was badly designed and leaked when it rained, so I had to extend the lid so it fitted over the top of the roof box.

New roof box lid
  • Repaint Clancy all over. The paint had faded over two years. Partly because it was painted so badly. I was still painting it the night before I left to drive to Sydney to put it in the shipping container.
  • Derust, I used rust converter on many parts that has rusted in the weather.
  • Replace the radiator. The radiator was leaking, and I had brought a replacement radiator just before Covid, but had never installed it.
  • Replace the tie rod ends. This caused a lot of problems. I sucessfully replaced the tie rod ends, but then it needed wheel aligning. Over two days and four different wheel aligners I found no-one could do it. Either Clancy was too heavy, or too high, or the rear wheels were too covered stopping the alignment targets being attached. Eventually the last guy I spoke too told me how to do it myself. I did and it drives quite well.
    DIY wheel alignment








  • Numerous fibreglass fixes. I had many little pieces of fibreglass that needed fixing, or improving.
  • Replacing flap hinge. I needed to replace the hinge on both side flaps. I did one side, left the other side until later.
  • Replace the water pump and many valves. I am not sure what went wrong, but many of the 10mm ball valves got corroded, and the water pump died. I possibly think that because I pumped a bleach solution into the tanks before I left, and it probably sat in the lines and the pump, and corroded everything. I should have drained the water lines.
  • Installed the UV filter in line with the existing filter.  However I did not tighten it down enough, water got into the UV light and the ballast shorted, so it doesn’t work.
  • New inverter. Cabled but when I connected it up it blew all the fuses in the inverter. I pulled it apart and replaced all the fuses, reconnected it but something else blew. I have disconnected it pending further investigation.