Africa trips

Botswana Around the Delta December 08 - Dawie du Plessis

 

Day 3:
Kazikini to 3rd Bridge and Game Drive. (115KM traveled)
The drive to South Gate is always fantastic! We saw loads of game and drove really slowly. At the gate I noticed that all the building work was done. I asked the guard about the houses outside the gate that told me they were staff houses. We stopped in the campsite for a coffee and inspected the brand new ablution facilities. They are really nice! Well design, well built and clean and neat. Plenty of water and water pressure, but no hot water to speak of.

The drive from South Gate to 3rd Bridge was interesting. The bird life was phenomenal and the game was plenty. We saw large herds of Letchwe and found one herd with an Albino in it. I’m not sure how common this is, but I have never seen any albino animals accept for Giraffe.

The road was as wet as I have ever seen it, but not too hard to drive. We reached 3rd bridge by lunchtime.

Ranting time:
I made this booking in April of 2008 and specifically asked for a certain number campsite. When we arrived there, there was some idiot with a GP plate car camped in his Coleman hiking tent in our campsite. This really P!SSES me off! We have all camped in Botswana without prior bookings, but I thought that we all understood that you then camp in a place where there is no number, so not to STEAL someone else’s booking.

Anyway, we got the place under the big shady trees by the old ablution blocks. We managed to open our tents, dry our bedding and have some lunch. A few baboons came through camp that afternoon and although I had to chase one cocky bugger out of my canopy, they didn’t really bother us.

We left on an afternoon drive heading towards Xakanaxa’s lodges. We were told that 3 days before there had been a Buffalo killed by lions.

Although the delta’s water level seemed quite low, they had obviously had a lot of rain before we got there. The roads were very wet and we drove though mud hole after mud hole. It was not difficult driving, but obviously quite slow going.

We never found the lions or the dead buffalo, but the game and bird sightings were plenty! We took about 3 hours to drive 40km.

That night we were visited by the resident 3rd bridge Hyena and my Father in Law suddenly realized that we were not joking when we insisted that they do not walk around after dark.

Day 4:
3rd Bridge to Xakanaxa (57km traveled)
We got up early and drove to the Mboma Boat station with the intention of doing a Makoro trip. This road was fairly dry and the going easy. We saw plenty of game on the way and reached Mboma in good time.

4 years ago my wife and I did this makoro trip. It was Ok, but we didn’t really intend to do it again. With her parents though, we decided to take them there and join them. What a pleasant surprise that was! The price is Pula120 per hour per boat. The guiding seems to have been formalized. The guides now wear some uniform and they tell you about the history, the plants, the animals and the birds. Our guide was exceptional and had a lot of very scientific knowledge about everything in this environment. I would very much recommend this makoro trip to anyone!

In order not to drive the same road twice, we took the longer road back to 3rd bridge. This is obviously the road less traveled! It was quite overgrown and sometimes hard to find the track. The game viewing wasn’t that great, but the fun driving more than made up for it.

Our plan was to reach 3rd bridge again for lunch and was greeted by massive herds of game on the planes just outside of camp.

We spent a relaxing afternoon in camp and left there at about 15:00 for dead Tree Island and Xakanaxa. I asked the GPS for the shortest route, saw some warnings about water crossings, but took that road anyway. Our first obstacle was a 50-meter water crossing. I walked it, found it to be waist deep and decided to have a go. This was done with no issues. The next crossing was the same, and the next, and the next….

Some amount of water later we found the bridge to dead Tree Island which was overgrown and out of use. The road next to it was fine with a little puddle to get thorugh, but the going was easy.

Dead tree island is such a spectacular place! We saw plenty of game there and the weather was nice to us. We could see big thunderstorms all around us, but we were mostly in sunlight. I wish we had the time to spend a few more day there.

We made camp just before dark, but by this time the in laws were also very efficient in setting up camp. We were sitting next to the fire, cold beer in hand before it was dark.

Day 5:
Xakanaxa to Khwai community camp (94.7km traveled)
Our original plans were slightly changed. We were told that the river road, as well as the more Southern road to North Gate were closed. The only way to go was to get back to South Gate, then take the cutline road to North gate, adding 40km onto our planned distance.

As there are both maintained roads, we decided to let mom in Law and my wife have a go at the driving thing. My wife has loads of experience in this, so that was no issue. Mom in law simply followed her lead and with some coaching on the radio, the going was efficient and easy. The road was very wet with deep water crossings and we got water over the bonnet many times. The surface under the water seemed fine and there was no getting stuck.

We had a plan to stop for a shower at North Gate, but got there at 10:45, so we had to leave the park. We still crossed the original bridge over the Khwai River, but they were almost finished with building a brand new bridge that is much higher, and will be much smoother that the one we know.

We checked in at the community office, got GPS co-ords for our campsite and started the drive. We were a little later than planned, and drove fairly fast to try have lunch at our campsite.

On the way there, the road very wet, we found a poor soul stuck in a puddle to the chassis. This guy, and his pregnant wife had been stuck for 3 hours when we found them and although the engine wasn’t drowned, the cab of the car was flooded and the pair of them caked in mud from head to toe. It didn’t seem like they had any recovery equipment.

Fortunately we managed to winch them out fairly easily and decided to take the detour dry track rather that attempt their route.

It’s always nice to be able to help people in need and I hope that when I need help, someone will be willing and able to help me.

We reached camp at about 14:00, had some lunch, a bush shower and relaxed for a while. Our bush shower consists of water Jerry can (blue one), a 12v Coleman shower and mom in laws shower cubicle Christmas present. The jerry can spent its time on the roof and the water was already hot. We added 2l of boiling water to the mix to make it a really nice experience. We have experimented with many different ways of showering, and found this to be the best by far!

That afternoon we drove west along the river. The game was plenty, the hippos playful and the bird life unbelievable! This is by far my favorite part of Botswana.

We got back to camp before dark, set up, was about to light a fire when a few guys in a Landover stopped close to us. They told us that they saw some wild dogs close by. We quickly put down one of the Rtt’s, jumped in the colt and drove in the direction they indicated. About half a kilometer from our camp we found them. It was a small pack of 7 dogs that just killed an impala. Being careful not to blind them, I shone a spotlight on the ground in front of them and we could watch them eat away and interact. We stayed with them for about an hour, and although they were not done yet, we decided to let them be and return to our camp.

They obviously did a good job if finishing of the impala because we never heard jackal or hyena that night.

 

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This trip report was compiled by:
Dawie du Plessis
Visit his web sites at
www.photographersa.co.za
and
www.pictureafrica.co.uk