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.
It took us a while to pack up at Nunda, we had been there for four days, and we had spread ourselves out. It was 9:30am before we left. We went first to the Hardware store in Divundu and after consulting with the security guard bought a Potjie, a South African cast iron pot with legs that you place on a campfire. We had not been able to get any more gas canisters, so it was wood fires from now on. We got more supplies and drinking water from the Metro supermarket in Divundu, one of the largest supermarkets we had been to in recent weeks. Then it was off west along the strip towards Kongola. We stopped to look at an elephant wandering near the road, part way to Kongola. We got more fuel at Kongola, then headed south. We stopped at a village and bought their entire stock of firewood (about $9 worth), all the kids coming out to help with the sale.
We arrived at the entrance to Muduma Park. We had heard you couldn’t book ahead, and that camp 3 and 4 were the best. However Camp 3 and 4 were booked, so we paid for Camp 2 for one night, then would shift to Camp 4 for 3 more nights. The camps in Muduma are wild, no facilities at all, not even a pit toilet.
Camp 2 was good, if not somewhat scary. There were Hippos in the Lagoon in front of the camp, Elephant dung everywhere. We saw Zebras, warthogs ,Baboons and antelope driving in. We also knew that there might be lions around as well. There are no fences anywhere.
We lit a fire and used our Potjie for the first night, and it went well.
Next morning after a night of Hippo calling we shifted to camp 4. During the drive to camp 4 we got held up by a herd of 40+ elephants blocking the track, which we waited 30 minutes to pass. At camp 4 we jammed ourselves in a spot overlooking the lagoon, which was great for viewing the Hippos, and Elephants in the distance. We stayed four days, five nights in camp 4. We extended our stay part way though, driving back to the entrance office.
The Hippos entertained us every night. The Baboons woke us up some mornings. We had Elephants walk past on afternoon. We had Warthogs having mud baths near us, and Antelopes. Bats at night catching the bugs. It was hot weather, 39C most days, cooling to 22C overnight.
The temporary waterhole caused by the overflowing water tank had almost disappeared by the morning. We packed up and headed along the dusty road, with a fair bit of traffic on it to the A35 bitumen. Then heading north to Shakawe, where we went to the Choppies supermarket for more supplies. We then drove to three hardware stores looking for gas canisters, because we were getting low, however no luck. Then 7km south of Shakawe to Drotskys cabins. We were unenthused by Drotskys campsite, and we decided to make a run for the Namibian border and aim for Nunda River Lodge in Namibia on the Caprivi strip. So about 15km up the road we hit the border. Botswana is easy to leave, fill in a form and 30 seconds and your done. Took a bit longer on the Namibian side, but not too hard. Paid the Cross border charge for the vehicle, about $30, and we were on our way north. We arrived at Nunda and got to choose our campsite, so we choose one right next to the river, and the hippos.
The four days we spent at Nunda were hot, around 39C. We used the swimming pool a few times. I rode my bicycle into Divundu a couple of times, 16km return. I installed an external 240v power point so we can get power outside the camper when we are camped with 240v power. The hippos visited almost every night. We often had a Hippo only 3m away from our tent.
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.
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.
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.
We spent two days at Mubuasehube Pan campsite 4. There were lions growling both nights. The lions spent both nights at the neighboring campsite about 200m away. We could see the lions walking along the pan the next day. We left Mubuasehube Pan and headed north to where the Tracks4Africa map showed it intersected with the KAA cutline. However before we got far we bumped into the people from the adjacent campsite, who said the road was blocked. We turned around and headed for the Mubuasehube gate. We headed north, stopped after a while to pump up the tyres, and eventually got to the KAA cutline. We headed about 40km along, stopping at a pan that crossed the cutline. We stopped about 2pm. About 7pm that night the first vehicle that we had seen drove past, and turned into talk to us. It was a ranger from KAA camp. He was worried about lions, and that we were too far from the track. We told him we would get going the next morning. We didn’t see or hear any lions that night.
We got going early, by 7:20am. We back-tracked towards Makopong, taking shortcuts along some fences where we knew the way. We were at a gate when a Toyota Landcruiser bakkie rolled up with a South African manager on board. He had noticed our tracks the previous day. He had left the front gate, the first we encountered, unlocked, because he was off firefighting. As a result we drove in. He kindly drove back to the front gate to unlock it (it was now locked) to let us out. It was great to chat with him.
We then drove the 40km back to Makopong, and then pumped up our tyres. It was then down the road to Tsabong. We refueled at Tsabong, then got some apples at Choppies, and then headed north to Mubuasehube park. The road was not too bad, but about 40km south of Mubuasehube, it got very sandy. Lower the tyre pressures again, and continue on getting to the gate at 3:30pm. We got our permit and headed to Mubuasehube Pan and our campsite for two nights.
We left late from Cornwall Safari Lodge, we thought we had plenty of time. We headed to Werda, and got some meat at the local store. Then it was down the road to Phepeng for extra fuel. Then back 22km up the road to Makopong and the turnoff for a sandy track that headed for 120km to Mabuasehube park. It was a very sandy track, and almost immediately we had to lower our tyre pressures. We got about 50km along the sandy track when we came across a gate. The gate was unlocked so we continued on finding more and more gates. Then the track was blocked by fences, and we would have to detour along the fence, find a gate, and then rejoin the track. The track was more and more overgrown. We eventually reached a fence and a locked gate, with another fence beyond it with another locked gate. We decided that the track just wasn’t in use anymore, and we would have to turn back. We camped along side the track, with cattle sitting nearby.
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.