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

 

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

 

Tsodilo Hills Botswana to Nunda River Lodge Namibia

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.

Sitting at the bar watching the Okavango River
Nandu campsite
getting ready to ride into Divundu
A hippo just below our tent

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.

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

Mubuasehube Pan to 60km along the KAA cut line

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.

Sunset at Mubuasehube Pan campsite 4
Mubuasehube Pan campsite 4
Our Australian flag tyre cover, coated with dust.
Lion footprints we saw leaving camp
Mubuasehube Pan from the North
overlooking Mubuasehube Pan
Hornbills at Mubuasehube Pan campsite 4
Hornbill at Mubuasehube Pan campsite 4
Karen doing her digital nomad thing working.
Sunset from Mubuasehube Pan campsite 4
Ground squirrel
Pea hen

 

Camped on the KAA cutline

50km west of Makopong to Mubuasehube Pan

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.

 

 

Damage to the fibreglass from a piece of wood that jammed itself in

Our rescuer from getting lost on the track

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