SATURDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2013
This awesome trip started out as a thread on a forum about who wants to come along on a awesome trip through Botswana. The response was overwhelming and we had to say sorry to so many people that wanted to come with but in the end we have limited the convoy to 12 vehicles. We all met up at the Petro-Port just outside Pretoria and the convoy left 10 minutes earlier than the cut off time. The rest of the group was either in Botswana and waiting at Elephant Sands or would meet up with us at a later stage.
This was just after the turnoff to Potgietersrus and our first pit stop to stretch the legs. The sun was just about to come out and the mood was happy and everybody had their own expectations of this trip. All of us had met up on 2 previous occasions to get to know each other and to discus the route and logistics.
The next stop was at the filling station in Potties where some of the folks also filled up on “Tiger-Milk”. Strong stuff for the weary traveler. Or that was until miss H got hold of it and nobody saw it again. The next stop would be the Zanzibar Border.
Dead center in the middle of the mighty Limpopo river. In the rainy season this border post is not accessible and then you have to make use of Groblersbrug which could sometimes be an nightmare to clear and past. While we were doing our customs and immigration clearance at the Botswana side a guy arrived that cane from there and he told us that its hectic there and time for clearance was between 3 – 6 hours and that’s why he opted to drive the 80km to this post after being there.
We stopped in no-mans land between the 2 borders to have our famous padkos that everybody bragged about. The eggs were cooked to perfection and Swartkat aka Nico was the only one brave enough to face them with me. We had chicken wings, frikadelle, mini sausage rolls, cheese-buns and sosaties for breakfast. The peace and tranquility of knowing we are actually on leave and heading into Botswana is indescribable and only the ones that has done it before would know what I’m talking about. With all our meat, veggies and other “contraband’ still intact we made our way to the Botswana side to do the clearance and customs formalities.
We were all done in less than 30 minutes but less a packet of tomatoes that Sven offered up for the greater good of us all because no other vehicle were searched or anything was taken. The officials at the Bots side were very friendly and hospitable and even offered us free camping on their lawn on our return trip if we could not make it to the post on time. The hours for this border post is 8 – 4. They had a small braai of their own going in the back where they live. I have always used this post in the past and the extra 50km you have to drive is a small price to pay for the easy and convenient way of crossing borders.
After the formalities we were on our way to Francistown where some of the group wanted to do last minute shopping. We started seeing the most beautiful Baobabs and the landscape changed dramatically. The number of donkeys on the road also increased and we saw why its so dangerous to drive in Botswana at night. They have a lot of live stock wandering on the road.
We stopped at this beautiful old Baobab just before Selibi Pikwe to take some pics. Everybody had a chance to park his vehicle next to the tree. On my way back I saw some fluid dripping from the engine of Malans vehicle. At first we thought it to be a gasket leak and luckily for him I saw it before the vehicle overheated. After filling it up and everybody taking pictures we proceed to Selebi Pikwe and we stopped every 30km or so to top up the water of his truck preventing it from overheating.
The boys playing in the big Baobab
The girls making use of every ocasion to have a go at the “Tiger Milk” In this picture is “Baby Jane” aka Marlene and “Het” aka Nadine.
In Selebi Pikwe we filled all the tanks and Jerry cans with the cheaper Botswana fuel. We also tried some stop leak in the radiator for Malans vehicle which were unsuccessful. In the picture above we were doing the last water top up before Francistown where Malan would stay behind to have the leak fixed the next day. We encountered another problem when Bernard’s Combi did not want to start. After everything was tried with no success he was towed the last part to Francistown.
The girls did their shopping and we bought something to eat in Francistown after which we said goodbye to Malan, Johan and Bernard who opted to stay at Woodlands to try and sort out the mechanical problems the Monday.
This was between Nata and Francistown where we stopped to buy some. At 10 Pula a bunch for kameeldoring it was a bargain and we cleaned shop. This wood lasted us until the last night on the Hunters road where we left some of it for the people lucky enough to visit this spot after us. The rest of the trip was uneventful except for the accident just before Nata where a local had struck 2 cattle with his Toyota. Nobody was injured but the score Toyota 2 – Cattle 0 was not a pretty picture.
We arrived at Elephant Sands after dark and oom Piet was extremely happy to see us after waiting the whole day for our arrival and we were greeted in fashion with Jagemeifter. Def not the last for the trip. Everybody was tired and we immediately started pitching camp. The guys with the OZ tents made it look so easy but in a flash camp was pitched and we had a few cold ones to wash away the sweat, dust and struggles of the day. We all went to bed early that night.
SUNDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2013
Oom Piet, Mary-Ann, Bulletjie (green shirt) and me (red shirt) chatting at our tent with Sven next door.
Above is the Prosecutor, Judge, Jury and Executioner
The High Court in session…..
The rest of the day were used as a rest day and we took the opportunity to hold our first High Court sitting. Cases were brought before the Honorable Judge (Me) which included spillage, not smiling, driving of certain vehicle brands, not drinking fast enough, back chatting etc etc etc. I was very fair in my judgement’s and even gave all the defendants a chance to plea for lesser sentences with no luck on their sides though. The penalties ranged from nice Cookies and Cream liqueur to Stroh Rum for the more serious offences and when a death penalty were issued a mixture of Mampoer and Stroh Rum were at the order of the day. Needless to say that everybody had a lot of respect for the death penalty. We had some insane laughs at some comments and face pulling when taking the shots. Some called on their fathers and some on their moeders for moral support after swallowing the penalty juice.
Later that afternoon we took a self guided game drive on oom Bens property to a dry pan. Some of the guys took this opportunity to teach their children some driving skills.
Taking some pictures and sun-downers. Awesome place with some awesome people
Favorite place for my kids
Magical moments. We returned back to Elephand Sands to start our Potjie and to have another sitting of the court. Stories were shared and we had a lekker kuier in the lapa.
MONDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2013
The bar and pool area at Elephant Sands where we braaied, held court, made potjie and relaxed. All this for only 85 Pula per day per person and children half price. Elephants are coming and going through out the day and night and its a very special feeling being so close to real wild elephants.
Any boys dream playground with such an back drop.
True love at Elephant Sands
The Monday we headed into the concession that is out of bounds for the public but with the help of oom Ben from Elephant Sands we got permission and with a guide and game drive vehicle to accompany us we set of into this part that not a lot of people are privileged to see. We had some minor set backs when we crossed the vet line and luckily I inquired about all of our meat in our fridges when we will be returning later that day. Under no circumstances would they allow us to re-enter the southern part with the meat we had so we had to drive the 8 km back to Elephant Sands to unload our fridges. Upon returning to the vet control point we found our guide to be missing, the guy that was with our group but also not took it on himself to hi-jack our guide for his own advantage to enter the concession. We decided to chance it and to enter on our own. Luckily for us we found the guide en-route and he explained that this person told him we will not be returning and that he must take him in. The guide took us to a place called “The Seep” which we would not have found without him. This is where the water table is close to the ground and the elephants come in drought to dug massive holes to get to the water. We saw some Kudu, Impala and Ellies here.
There are a few dead animals to be seen at The Seep like this intact Ellie skeleton.
This buffalo most probably met his maker by the claws and teeth of a very large pride of lions. Unfortunately we did not get to see them but their tracks is all over the place.
This heyana also met the same fate as the buffalo and the bite marks on his dried out hide were clearly visible. What an awesome and truly wild place this is and I feel privileged to have seen it. I will definitely do an overnight stay here on my next trip. Animals from far and wide come here to drink being the only water for miles so lion and heyana sighting here is guaranteed.
The kids enjoyed the ride on the game drive vehicle, as well as some of the adults… Mmmmmmmm
After driving a circle route we ended up back at The Seep to have a braai and few sun-downers. We pulled up in a semi circle because this is big lion country and we did not want to take chances with the kids among us, they were not allowed to play outside the circle.
Just relaxing and taking in the surroundings.
Braai time !! The meat lovers of South Africa’s favorite past time and this was the first of 2 helpings on the coals. With this we had a few cold ones and the setting was perfect.
We said goodbye to the sun after a wonderful day in the African bush and this would be our last day at Elephant Sands and surroundings. The next day would be Hunters Road.
TUESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 2013
Today was Hunters Road day. The one day we were all looking forward to. For many this was their first trip on this magical road. We all agreed to leave at 9:00 but just as we were checking out and paying our bills word came through that Malan and Johan were on their way and that the water leak problem were solved. We had to postpone our departure to 11:30 which gave us some time to eat a nice breakfast in the restaurant after which Bulletjie aka Rulof and Ray helped oom Ben fixing a Electric problem on the water purifier plant.
The guys in heavy discussion about what to do….
With Malan and Johan joining up from Francistown we fell in the road. This is where we stopped to try and access the Hunters Road but due to recent earth moving and dam building this access road were no longer available and we had to drive further north to reach a cut line.
Another pit stop to replenish drinks and cold ones from the back fridges. This was the last stop before we reached the thick sand.
Sand driving at its best. This is what we came for and we enjoyed every minute of it.
There were the odd recovery or too to be made.
Time to let out a little more air.
It was hot… Damn hot. After reaching the Hunters Road T junction I had to saddle up and go back in to the sand to do some recoveries. All part of the fun and games.
Drinking some play to boost the energy levels….. The hard part through the thick sand was over and the start of the Hunters Road lay ahead of us. The Hunters Road is situated on the borders of Zimbabwe and Botswana. It stretches just north of Nata right up to Kasana and is only accessible in the the dry months. The border post of Pandamatenga is roughly the halfway mark.
The only flat tire for the whole trip.
Just another pit-stop to take in the beauty and surroundings of this wonderful piece of land. This gave the convoy time to catch up. With Wange National Park in Zimbabwe on our right and Sibuyu Forest reserve on the left we continued our journey to look for a nice place to pitch camp.
Some parts of this road felt like driving on some of South Africa’s best 4 lane highways. Smooth riding……..
This is where we pitched camp for the night. What a awesome place surrounded with big old Baobab’s. There were so many wildlife around this campsite which included big herds of Ellies, Zebra’s, Roan, Impala and even a troop of baboons which chose the Baobab right next to us for making their home for the night which I’m sure they later regretted that night. We accidentally (or not) flashed a green laser in their tree and all hell broke loose. I can just imagine what went through those baboon brains. It was funny to hear them freak out at the new green monster in their tree. This was the most beautiful campsite and setting of the whole trip. Situated on top of a small hill we could see right around us. The kids picked up a dead heyana tail. Its seems that where ever we stop theres a dead heyana.
My famous upright ribbetjie braai. It just tastes better this way. We kept this fire going till late that night. The sunset was spectacular and the night sounds would make even the worst insomniac sleepy. Lions were heard in the early morning hours but they were very far off. We had a Lion or some kind of a beast in camp as well by the name of Toyota Eater. He’s snoring is scary enough to keep the whole of Botswana lion free.
Wednesday 25 September 2013
Some of us were up early the next morning to catch the sun and this is some of the pics I got.
The rest of the camp awoke little by little and the first cup of coffee were already brewing. There are no words to describe the serenity and peace you experience in a place like this. The surroundings, views and atmosphere is magical and this particular place more than the others. Its with awe that you wonder about all the scenarios that have played of in the shades of these majestically Old Timers.
After coffee and breakfast consisting of the previous nights leftovers it was time to once again pack up and move out. Next stop for camp would be Senyati near Kasane. The second part of the Hunters Road would take us past Pandamatenga Border post to Kazuma pan and Kazuma Forest reserve and through the Seleko Plains and further on to the Kasane Forest reserve.
The pit-stop in Kazuma pan, bone dry but lots of animal activity still.
Next up was the elephant riddled tracks in the dried up black mud of Seloko plains. This was the only “bumpy” part of the trip. This part of the Hunters Road is absolutely un-accessible in the rainy season. The rest of the trip to the thorn tree forest near Kasane were uneventful.
Boys enjoying every stop to the max.
Dry and dusty but still an awesome place for a pit-stop and leg stretching.
The same place December 2012
After the boys had something to eat and the older folks something to drink we moved on to the last part of our Hunters Road trip to Kasane for feull, food, ice and beer. The landscape again changed dramaticaly to almost thick forest. We saw a lot of wildlife which included Kudu, Giraffe, Roan, Sable, Impala, Zebra, Baboons and Ellies.
After fueling up, pumping tires and regrouping some of us decided to go have a swim and some cold beers at Chobe Safari Lodge while the rest opted to go directly to Senyati.
Got this picture in Kasane of a Conquest with a spare-wheel carrier like the ones we use on our 4×4’s.
Washed away the dust and dirt from the previous 2 days on Hunters Road. What an awesome feeling. I think we enjoyed it more than the boys. Me and Swartkat with our boys.
The waterfront view from the Chobe Safari Lodge deck. Lekker to have cold beers with this view. Priceless…
Some of us could not get enough of the pool.
The entrance to Chobe Safari River Lodge.
Before leaving for Senyati we went to the entrance gate of Chobe National park to buy our permits for the following day after receiving a tip from Andre that we met there. If not done like this you wait in a long line to gain entrance to the park because of all the tour operators with their game drive vehicles in-front of you. With permits in hand we proceeded to Senyati.
Just another Toyota team effort to safe a stranded Landy. After winching it out the cruiser of oom Piet hooked the caravan and towed it the last bit to Senyati.
The cruiser ready to do its bit.
Room with en-suite shower
Arriving at Senyati reception was a horrible experience which I wish upon no traveler. The woman at reception was rude and very disorganized. She could not trace any proof of payments and bookings were chopped and changed to her liking. She shouted at some of the people in our group and we all got scattered all over the camp. From the initial 6 campsite grouping came nothing and some of our group got placed with total strangers. This was totally unacceptable but she could not care less. The group got separated and nobody knew where the others were. This woman harassed us everyday asking the same things over and over again. This is definitely not the same place anymore that we visited last year December. It has gone down the drain and the whole Senyati vibe has changed. I would strongly recommend you not to visit as long as she is there. It seems that a lot of other people are experiencing the same problems with her as we did.
Everybody unpacked and made camp where they got a place to be. Some only temporarily because they had to move the next day. The rest of the night were uneventful and almost everybody went to bet early because we had to leave at 5:30 for Chobe to enter the park when the gates open at 6:00
Thursday 26 September 2013
This day would see us doing a game drive in Chobe along the rivers edge and a booze cruise later on. By doing this you get double your money’s worth for the permit you bought to enter the park.
We arrived at the gate at 6:00 and being first in line with already bought permits passing through was quick and easy. We took the first road to the right down to the river and the scene that greeted us were picture perfect. The road were covered with cat tracks but we were not fortunate enough to see any.
Big and small cat tracks
Just after taking this pic I got a moerse uitkak from a ranger wannabe trying to look good in-front of his guests about this park not being Kruger and being irresponsible. Hahahahaha shame. Driving other people around on a Safari vehicle and he thinks he’s the shit.
Following are just some of the wildlife we saw….
At about 9:00 we came across this site where we had a pit-stop and the kids could play. The sand was very similar to that of sea sand, almost felt like a day at the beach.
We found nice picnic spot to have brunch which consisted of mainly leftovers from the braai the night before.
After stuffing ourselves we continued driving around until tracks for Africa showed up a elephant graveyard. Wow we thought until we reached it. I think there were 7 elephant bones in total. We all had grand visions of hundreds of ellie skeletons like in Lion King. We made a u-turn and on our merry way to the main road we stumbled into a fly camp setup for very rich oversees tourists. The look on their faces when we drove into their secluded camp was priceless. Jaw dropping stares all around. All we could do was giggle and wave, they did not think that we were funny.
We found our way back to Chobe Safari Lodge for lunch and a quick dive in the pool. While the rest were cooling of and relaxing Marlene and myself drove back to Senyati to ask who else would like to join us on the booze cruise I have arranged with a local. I heckled with him to bring down his prize from 190 Pula to 120 Pula and kids half prize. Upon returning to Chobe Safari Lodge we had time for a quick Burger (one of the best I ever had) and a ice cold beer.
After lunch we headed of to Spar to get some ice and snacks for our cruise which would start at 3:00.
Armed with cooler boxes and cameras we made our way to the jetty to board our boat. It was a 20 seater and it just makes the whole trip more personal than on one of those big booze cruise boats.
The cruise was def one of my trip highlights and to get so close to the Ellies, Hippos, Crocs and other wildlife was awesome. The sunset over the Chobe river were exceptional and we got a few nice pics.
And so came another day to an end. After the cruise we all headed for Senyati to have oom Piet and “Mary-Anns” farewell cause they were leaving early the next morning.
Eventually Mary-Ann came to fetch oom Piet after Swartkat pulled a disappearing trick which he got severely penalized for at the next High Court sitting.
FRIDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2013
Another rest day after we decided to skip the Vic Falls trip. We slowly started packing, washing and cleaning all we could. The day was spent sleeping, reading, sitting around in the bar and sorting out shit with Lulu from Senyati. by this time we got so used to her incompetence that it did not phase us anymore. The boys tried to catch a Elephant with an milk crate according to Lulu. Cant stop wondering what they would have done with it if they got to catch it. This in itself was the cause of another heavy shit storm.
We all had a braai at Bulletjie’s mansion that night while poor Marlene and that’s not miss H but Bulletjie’s wife took it upon her to make 66 dozen Jafels. She deserved a medal for it. Ours was made for padkos the next day. We had a few drinks and the High Court was in session. Luckily for them the Judge was in a good mood and the penalties he handed out was so good that some people even charged themselves to get punished. Everybody headed to bed quite early because we faced a long and unknown road the next day.
SATURDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2013
We left Senyati about 5:30 to be at Sedudu gate entering Chobe National park at 6:00. The road we were taking was unknown to all of us and all we knew about it was that it had patches of thick sand and not even the rangers at Sedudu could tell us anything about it. The looks we got from them after asking about the road were that “are you crazy” kinda look. All we knew was that we had to leave Chobe at Poha. All our trust in Tracks 4 Africa we soldiered on. Not long after leaving the tar road the sand started and we all stopped to let out some air in the tires.
After deflating the tires we continued our journey into the unknown. Not a lot of wildlife were observed but the road was covered in tracks. The first Jafel did not make it far and it tasted good. If you dont have the right map sets and GPS software you could easily get lost here because there are a lot of side roads and intersections. Looking at the road you could see that its not used often.
We continued until we reached Poha Gate which looks like an abandoned gate and there was nobody in sight. This took us on to another cut line and driving on this was insane good. The EFS suspension worked like a charm and was worth every penny. See the video below….
It was round about this time that I picked up a lot of chatter on the radio about appointing a new judge and that I was not fit to be the judge anymore. This mutiny had to be stopped immediately and I rallied my Generals to sniff out all parties for this new move. The battle lines were drawn and swift action was taken at the next stop.
We almost had Kentucky Fried Ostrich Botswana style.
We turned right into the Nata – Kasane tar road after jungle justice were given to those who deserved it and we continued our journey to Elephant Sands where we stopped for a quick swim and cold beer.
After the quick pit-stop we headed further south to Kubu Island or better known as Le Khubu. We stopped in Nata for fuel and ice after which we took the first dirt road leading to Kubu.
The dirt track turned into a 4 lane dirt highway and what a pleasure it was to drive on this. The dust was insane and under no circumstances would it be possible to drive in a close convoy. I opted for us to drive 2 vehicles next to each other. This made for beautiful pics.
We now have entered the great Sau Pan which form part of the greater Makgadigadi Pans. The vastness of this landscape is indescribable. You are left with awe and the mind can not comprehend the greatness of this piece of open space.
At some point the road just disappear and you are now driving on old tracks with the help of the GPS and tracks 4 Africa. This is where the playing starts. “Doughnuts” and handbrake turns were to good to pass on and we played to our hearts contend.
Time was ticking and we had to move along. Kubu was not that far from where we played but I knew there was a Vet fence somewhere that we had to go around. Driving in the pan is a strange feeling with nothing to guide you. The look of this enormous dust cloud forming behind you and wide open space in front of you is something to be experienced. Words can never describe the awe of it.
Speaking of the Vet fence…. With our arrival at it I saw that its just loosely tied to the pole. Someone before us have used this “gap” to pass on to Kubu which you could see in the distance by now. I asked the group what to do, either drive the very bad road around the fence (30 km) or go straight through (10 km) with an evil grin on my face cause I knew which option I would be taking. Upon seeing the smile on my face Sven just said I know that smile and it means trouble. After a quick discussion Myself, Sven, Nico and Bulletjie decided to take the short route and Ray the long one. We reached Kubu in 10 minutes and camp was already pitched and we were having the 3rd cold one when Ray eventually pitched up with news of a very bad road. That made us appreciate our decision. We paid our camp fees at a reduced rate organised for us by oom Piet the previous week and bought wood. Thanx to Tinus who made it there earlier than us, he secured a very nice camping spot.
SUNDAY29 SEPTEMBER 2013
This morning we were rudely awakened by Sven with the words wake-up wake-up a big storm is coming. We saw some lightning in the far distance but nobody gave any thought to it until 3 drops fell on some of the campers faces and all hell broke loose. People were packing up, giving orders and within 20 minutes we were packed and ready to go with NO rain in sight. Luckily this gave us the opportunity to take some nice pics with early morning light of the island and its majestic Baobabs.
It was time to hit the road on our last stretch home. The road we took to Palapye was in bad shape but nothing the Toyota could not handle.