Africa trips

Botswana Around the Delta December 08 - Dawie du Plessis

Overlanding Trips

Day 10:
Drotsky’s cabins to Tsodillo Hills. (70km Traveled)
This was a nice relaxing day for us… Or that was the plan. Also our first time to Tsodillo Hills, we were pleasantly surprised by the surfaced road from the tar road. We arrived at the office, requested a guide for the afternoon and made our way to the most remote campsite, Malatso. After a relaxing mid day under big shady trees, we drove back to the office to meet our guide.

She was a young San woman who informed us that the cost of the guide is a MAXIMUM of 50 Pula. We followed her on the rhino trail and very quickly discovered why the fee was so little. I don’t think these people really have any training of guiding experience. She didn’t tell us anything that the guidebooks didn’t, but it is always nice to support community projects.

Halfway though our walk the heavens opened! An I don’t mean little English raindrops; I mean the biggest baddest thunderstorm you can imagine! The footpaths turned into torrents and the rain was so heavy that the visibility was no more that 15 meters. We asked the guide if we could hide out in a cave and wait for the storm to pass. She told us that the storm of the previous day lasted 8 hours, and we should definitely move on.

We finished the walk in the rain, got in our vehicles, made it back to our campsite and managed to make a “dry camp” with the help of the awning and an old tarpaulin. We decided to not pitch the tents until the rain subsided… Which it didn’t…

Our camp help up well and we managed to cook dinner and eat without getting wet. We pitched the tents at 9pm and went to bed in the rain. By this time we were 100% comfortable with the rain proofness of our new Featherlite tent and had a good night’s rest despite the rain.

I have to say that one should plan at least 2 nights at Tsodillo Hills to be bale to fit in all the walks. I definitely will go back there and explore more.

Day 11:
Tsodillo Hills to Sitanguga Camp (377km Traveled)
We awoke to a glorious summers day. We drove to in-between the two hills and did parts of the rhino walk again, this time being able to see where we were going.

We had a shower at their ample ablution facilities and headed out for Maun.

It’s always hard for me to turn back home. This was particularly hard as we had limited time and lots of miles to do it in. We had lunch on the way by the roadside and reached Sitatunga Camp around 15:30. When I booked the campsite, I also booked a table in their restaurant for that evening, as it was Christmas day. Because of the Vet fences, we had no meat with us, so no plan B.

At the camp were told that the restaurant was closed for the season. We were put in a campsite between 4 overland trucks I was not a happy camper. We drove into Maun, found many of the supermarkets open, and so had no trouble getting hold of food for dinner. Strangely enough, we could find no bottle store open and was told that they were all closed until after New Year. Strange that you would close a bottle store between Christmas and New Years….

We had a great dinner and relaxing evening. Problem was… The overlanders (we call them the noisies) decided to kick of their party just after 10PM. I was really pleased when I heard the guide turn the music down at 12:00, only to erupt again with what can only be described as a competition between trucks to see who could make the loudest noise. This was “enhanced” by a bunch of fireworks. We could do very little but dive into our wine supply until it was finished.

Without ranting I will simply say this:
We have to have a little tolerance for other kinds of travelers. I’ve heard that many campsites in Africa now split up overland trucks and “normal” people. However… Sitatunga camp will never see me again. I experienced it as a hole for drunken overlanders with zero respect for nature or other people, the staff was unfriendly and inefficient and when looking at my receipt, I saw that we were charged for fire wood which we never received. The ablutions were atrociously dirty and there was no hot water as advertised.

Day 12:
Sitatunga to Khama (536km Traveled)
We were all a bit tired when we left Sitatunga camp. We stopped at Riley’s for fuel and then left for Khama for our last night in Botswana. It was overcast and cool and the going was pretty easy. 40km out of Maun I noticed that the Hilux was pinging again and had less power than it should have had. Driving west and South we had to open fridges at every Vet fence, as we are all used to doing.

We pulled into Lethakane in search of wine and found a brand new Super Spar with everything you can possibly need. It had a Spar Topps bottle store…. Closed until after New Year. It is however something to remember for future travels to this area.

After a well-deserved lunch by the roadside, we reached Khama at about 15:00. We managed to get some wine in their restaurant… at restaurant prices.

We pitched camp, but decided to go for a drive in the Colt late in the afternoon. We have stayed at Khama many times before, and have done many drives. We have however never actually seen Rhino there.

This time, not expecting to see any, we saw 5 Rhino in 3 groups. NICE!!!

After dark it got very cold and we were reminded that Africa can through surprises at you all the time. We were all in long trousers, warm jackets and wooly hats. We had a great dinner with nice wine and fell sound sleep in yet another rainstorm.

Day 13:
Khama to Pretoria (551 km Traveled)
Last days are always a little sad. This was quite an efficient day for us though. We stopped in Serowe for fuel and headed for Martin’s Drift. I noticed that the Hilux was 100% happy again. It suddenly hit me that the only times I had problems was after fuelling at Riley’s. So now the question is: Do they have contaminated fuel, or do they water it down? Before this trip I always refueled at the garage by the Spar and never had a problem. I’ll obviously do that again from now on.

We reached the border early, crossed without incident and in about 35 minutes. We reached Warm Baths for lunch and spoiled ourselves with O’Hagan’s and reached home by 15:00

Some notes:
Before this trip I bought a new Featherlite tent from Frontrunner. I also got a table that slides in underneath the roof rack. I have to say, that apart from my trusty Engel 60l Combi, these are now my favorite bits of camping equipment. The tent is super comfortable and 100% waterproof even in torrential downpours. We had it completely closed on 1 or 2 nights and experienced no condensation inside it at all! It seems very easy to put up and down and definitely saves a little time.

The table is an absolute pleasure! Takes no space, takes 20 seconds to put up and 20 seconds to put down. It is big enough for 4 people to eat at and a really comfortable height.

This was my first trip with the VW carburetor in my 4Y. My average fuel consumption over the whole trip was 7.2km/l, which is almost 2km/l better than what I was used to. It should have been even better if it wasn’t for the bad fuel from Riley’s.

You have to have a little sense of humor and be well equipped to go to Botswana in the rainy season. We saw rain every single day and was in it probably half the days. We were ready and prepared for it, which made it fairly easy to cope with. However… If you’re not prepared, I think it can be a very unpleasant experience.

I am really pleased that I managed to experience Botswana for the past five years. The changes between July 2003 and April 2008 were not significant at all, however the changes from April 2008 and December 2008 were incredibly noticeable and sad. It used to be a country reserved for adventurers and nature lovers and it had many challenges of simply making your way to the next place.

Ill mannered and disrespectful people from South Africa marked this trip mostly. No wonder they don’t want us there any more. I was mostly ashamed of being South African. Botswana have built new roads which I think makes it a little too easy for non adventurers to get access to this place which once was paradise.

I wonder where next we could go without being disturbed by these hooligans! Wherever it is, I think I might keep it to myself.

 

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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