Wild camp east of Ralekgetho to Mokolodi Backpackers

My fibreglass repairs again were not completely dry because of the cold overnight temperatures. However I was making progress.

I got going once it had warmed up and headed the 120km to near Gaberone at Mokolodi Backpackers. I wanted to finish early so I could do more fibreglassing while it was warm in the middle of the day.

Along the way I stopped at an Engen service station. I walked past a man who was fixing something, and he said, “can I just tell you something?” . I was expecting a scam of some sort but he said “I have a friend who can get Ivory”. I told him I wasn’t interested. Is there an underground market for Ivory in Botswana?

I arrived around lunch time at Mokolodi Backpackers. A very nice place to stay at, and it seemed there was only one other guest other than me. More fibreglassing ensured.

Camped at Mokolodi Backpackers

Wild camp North of Kokotsha to wild camp east of Ralekgetho

The night was cool. The fibreglass from my repairs had mostly dried, but the temperature was not ideal. However it was strong enough to hold up without anything in it. I got going and stopped a few kms down the road for breakfast.  Then it was about 50km up the highway until Sekoma. Thats where I met up with the main highway the A2. I decided to stop near a fuel stop to ring up Mascom to get my sim card registered. However they told me to go to a post office. The nearest one was Jwaneng about 80km away.

I got to Jwaneng, found the Post Office, but there was a big queue. I asked the security guard if there was a Mascom shop, and there was. Asking someone else I eventually found it. So I sat in the queue and got someone to help me register my sim. However she couldn’t do it either. She said the IT support people were out for lunch. So I went to pick n pay, got some bananas and went back to Mascom at 2pm. She tried again, and again couldn’t get me registered. After more than an hour including multiple phone calls, she eventually got my sim registered and I was back on the internet.

I continued heading east and stopped at a wild camp suggested on iOverlander near an old quarry. Old quarries make good wild camps. I set up camp and proceeded to apply more fibreglass to repair the box.

It was quiet peaceful night, albeit cold.

Camped at the wild camp in an old quarry

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Kwalape Safari Lodge Botswana to Thorn Tree Safaris Zambia

It was another warm night. As Karen has pointed out we have had about 3 weeks of 35C+ weather.  We got everything ready for the Botswana to Zambia crossing. I knew this crossing could be difficult. When I crossed from Tanzania to Zambia last year, it took me more than 3 hours, and I had to employ a fixer to assist me.

We loaded up with fuel at Kazungula, and headed across the bridge over the Zambezi River to the combined Border facility. We had to go through the gatehouse and get a gate pass, something we didn’t expect, possibly because we have an Australian registered vehicle. We then went to the main passenger terminal building. The whole border process took 90 minutes, which was faster than I expected.

Then it was the 60km drive to Livingstone. We got to Livingstone and stopped at the Shoprite supermarket and got supplies. Then down the road to Thorn Tree Safari where I had stayed at a year earlier.  We suffered from the large number of mosquitoes at Thorn Tree overnight.

The next day Karen suggested we go to the Royal Livingstone hotel where we had drinks at the riverside deck, and could see the spray from Victoria Falls in the distance.

Then on Monday I dropped Karen at Livingstone airport, and she headed to Iringa Tanzania while I headed south towards Johannesburg.

 

Crossing the Kazungula Bridge into Zambia
Camped under the big tree at Thorn Tree
Zebras in the street in Livingstone
Royal Livingstone Hotel with the spray from Victoria Falls in the background
A Giraffe on the way out from the Royal Livingstone
The local Hippo at the Thorn Tree camp

Muduma National Park to Namwi Island Campsite to Kwalape Safari Lodge Botswana

After a great stay at Muduma National Park we headed north to Kongola. We stopped at the Metro supermarket at Kongola to buy some more water and cold drinks, as the water we had been using for the last couple of days at Muduma was not fantastic. It was then east across the strip to Katima Mulilio in a strong wind. However part way along there was a crash, and I saw something drop on the road behind us. The roof box, that I had redesigned last year with a new cover, and had travelled over 12,000km, had broken its latches, flown backwards in the wind, and smashed one of the solar panels on the back of the roof, and most of the hinge holding down the box. I managed to get a strap underneath and strap down the lid onto the box. We then continued the journey to Katima Mulilio.

Katima Mulilio was quite a large town with several shopping centres. We got more supplies at a PnP, and got some parts at a hardware to repair the roof box.

We headed 7km east of Katima to Namwi Island Campsite a shady campsite with grass and trees that we stayed at for 3 nights, giving us time to fix the roof box lid.

After that we went back into Katima to get some more supplies then headedto the Botswana border at Ngoma Bridge. We arrived at the border crossing at the same time as a bus, so it was a long queue to get processed. We were expecting the Botswana border to check our fridge for food, but they were more interested that the camper came from Australia. Then it was a drive toKasane for a nights accomadation. We tried three places before we found one with vacancies, even though it was past peak season. We camped at Kwalape Safari Lodge, which was near the road, but OK for a one night stay. We swotted up on the Zambia border crossing the next day, and the complexities involved in that.

the smashed solar panel from the roof box lid flying backwards
at PnP with a chocolate donut and more talcum powder to add to epoxy resin
Meat selection at the PnP

 

 

 

 

Guma Lagoon to Tsodilo Hills

We left Guma Lagoon early, partly so we would traverse the 10km sandy track to Etsha 13 when it was cool, making the sandy track easier to drive on. We re-inflated our tyres at Etsha 13, only to find our compressor air line had a leak, but not bad enough to stop us inflating them. We headed up the crumbling bitumen of the A35 towards the turn-off to Tsodilo Hills. The road to Tsodilo hills is a dusty track, and at its end we reached the Tsodilo Hills community campsite. We paid out dues and checked out the campsite. Then we headed up to the Museum and the guides that could take us around the rock paintings. We arrived and found several other people at the museum, including a couple of Australians who were a bit surprised to find a South Australian registered car driving around Botswana. A guide came up and introduced himself, and persuaded us not to do the whole Rhino walk, but just to the do the first half and turn around. It was a hot afternoon, and not the ideal time to be hiking around the Tsolido Hills. The paintings were interesting. Some of the descriptions of the paintings seemed a little dubious, and the age of the paintings must vary a lot because the styles are so different.

After a hot walk of a couple of hours, we finished at 3pm, and retired to our campsite, where there was an overflowing tank bringing all sorts of animals from around.

Approaching the Tsolido Hills. They dominate the landscape of flat Botswana.
the coloured Sandstone of the Tsolido Hills
Boabab
the Rhino trail

 

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Camped at the Tsolido Hills community campsite

 

the donkeys came from all around to drink at the waterhole created by an overflowing water tank.

Thakadu Bush Camp to Guma Lagoon

The never ending dust at Thakudu was getting to us after 4 days, so it was time to move north. A suggestion by Bart, and an email inquiry and we were heading north from Ghanzi to Guma Lagoon. We drove into Ghanzi, first for supplies, and for Greg to get a severe  haircut at a roadside stall for $A6. We then headed north, stopping part way to offer a touring bicycle rider some water, and hear his stories of bicycle touring Africa. We wild camped about 340km north about a kilometre off the road, never seeing anyone.  The next day we drove about 70km to Etsha 13, towns that were previously refugee camps for Angolians from the Angolian civil war. Then it was a sandy 10km drive to Guma Lagoon. We deflated the tyres and wandered amongst the many tracks, passing some elephants in the distance until we got to Guma Lagoon. We planned to stay four days at Guma Lagoon. Unfortunately there was no mains power, and we were camped under trees. So we struggled for power, and the starlink dish struggled for internet through the trees. However we went on a “night drive” in a boat out on the lagoon, seeing birds and crocodiles. Then another day we took a two hour birdwatching boat trip out on the lagoon.

Greg’s severe $6 roadside haircut

 

the sandy track to Guma Lagoon

 

Lowering tyre pressure

 

Winding our way through the tracks at Etsha 13
the view from the deck at Guma Lagoon
First campsite at Guma Lagoon. Starlink dish on the ground that sort of worked, before we had to shift campsites.
Karen with the crocodile caught by our night drive boat driver
Spotlighting on the night drive
Karen working being a digital nomad again
First successful attempt at Roosterkeok bread
Our boat driver on our two hour day drive
the lush parts of Guma Lagoon
Malachite kingfisher
Crocodile basking on log
African fishing Eagle
Sitting on the deck at Guma Lagoon

 

KAA camp to Kalahari Rest Lodge to Thakadu Bush Camp

After our interesting morning with lions we headed North East towards Hukuntsi. It was a sandy track up to Zutswa, where we paid a donation of 100pula for using the track. Then the road got better towards Hukunsi. There were some road workers in a truck just out of Zutswa who flagged us down because they needed a jump start for their truck. We tried out new battery jump-starter, not expecting it to work on a truck (with two batteries), but it started it straight away, to the surprise of the truck driver.

We continued onto Hunkunsi and stopped at the Puma to get diesel, however they were out, waiting for a delivery. This complicated things. We were going to head north out of Hukuntsi, but we didn’t have enough fuel, so this would mean we would have to drive east to Kang. We got some supplies at the supermarket, and then headed east on a nice new road to Kang. At Kang it was the same story, no diesel at the Puma, however he directed us up the road to another servo, where we obtained diesel.

It was then a 24km drive to Kalahari Rest Lodge for an overnight stop. Next morning we left a bit later for the drive up the A2 highway to Ghanzi. We shopped at the Shoprite supermarket, getting some supplies for the three days we intended to stay at Thakadu Bush Camp. Thakadu Bush Camp is 8km out of Ghanzi, 3km off the highway, and we found a good campsite there.

On the track to Zutshwa
Social weaver bird nests
more weaver bird nests
along the track to Zutswa
One of the many dead trees that litter the area
We passed several pans
Camped at Kalahari Rest Lodge
We passed many ostriches on the road to Ghanzi
Camped at Thakadu Bush Camp

KAA cut line to KAA camp

After leaving our camp on the KAA cutline, we continued North-west. After 9km we stopped to talk to three people who were surveying lions. A South African, and two Botswanan trackers. They were looking for lions so they could work out the distribution. The Botswanan trackers told us how they tracked the lions, and they showed no fear of tracking the lions quite close.

We got to the KAA gate of the  Kalahari Transfrontier Park around 1pm. The gate was surrounded by fences, all the gates closed, to keep lions out. We camped at campsite number 1, which had a toilet and a (broken) shower, and a basin with bore water. We were warned that there were lions around.

We setup overlooking the pan, there were no other campers around. We went to bed that night keeping a lookout for lions, but leaving a fair bit of stuff outside. During the night we heard lions several times. In the morning karen told me there were noises outside, so I got up and opened the camper door, to find three lions. Two of the lions were about 1.5m away taking turns to try to pull apart the folded up shower tent with their teeth and claws.

The three lions left. We didn’t see or hear any lions until four nights later, our last night at KAA campsite. We were awoken around 4:30am by two lions passing a couple of metres from the camper. We woke up again at 5:30am and drove to the nearby waterhole, but were stopped about 150m from our campsite by two male lions sitting either side of the road waiting in the dark. At dawn we followed the two lions to the waterhole, and watched them drink. Then we followed them in the camper up the road where they met up with the rest of the clan – in total 7 lions. Two males, three females and two cubs.

The two cubs who dragged the shower tent away from the camper and continued to try to rip it apart.
Mother lion looking on at the cubs
The jackel which visited camp several times
Sunset from KAA campsite
Putting out the solar panels early to get power.
One of the two lions we found waiting in the dark, about 150m from camp on the last morning
the two lions having walked up to the waterhole

 

One of the lion cubs amongst the 7 lions that we found another 100m away
Another couple of lions from the group of 7