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Home -> Reviews & Tips -> Trip Reviews -> 2001 Safari

BOTSWANA SAFARI 2001

 

Monday 30th July
Palapye - Letlhakane - Rakops - Maun
Left Palapye at 11:30 a few hours behind schedule. Our original plan was to get to Moremi Game Reserve and camp at South Gate, but we hadn't long recovered from the flu so decided to go just as far as Maun. We reached Maun just before 7pm and found Audi Camp. David and Phil set up the campsite while I went back into Maun to get fuel - 173 litres at P2.22 a litre! We then had dinner in the restaurant - very nice meal, and nice location, to be recommended.
Distance travelled: 635km

Tuesday 31st July
Maun - Third Bridge - Xakanaxa

Left Maun at 8:30 and travelled the 95 km to Moremi Gate, mostly on gravel. Giraffe and impala on the way. Paid park fees and after a bit of breakfast at the gate, left for Xakanaxa. Maqwee Gate - Moremi Game ReserveOn the way we stopped at 3rd Bridge and Magwexhlana Pools. There was a lot of water in the delta and some roads were quite tricky, especially near Xakanaxa. The scenery was beautiful, with tall trees and lagoons. We reached Xakanaxa in the afternoon, seeing elephant, zebra, lechwe, warthog, giraffe, crocodiles and other game on the way.

At Xakanaxa we set up the campsite and went for a shower, the ablution block was clean, a nice change from the last time we were in Moremi. Dinner was boerewors stew with rice. Heard hyaena at sunset in the distance. Later in the evening, a wildlife truck pulled up - 3 wardens got out and told us they were out setting traps for a rogue leopard which had been destroying into tents at a private campsite not far away. Just to let us know.....! A hyaena appeared round the side of the truck but ran off when we went to investigate. Slept well - no leopard!
Distance travelled: 150km

Wednesday 1st August
Xakanaxa - Khwai
It was 9 o'clock by the time we left Xaxanaxa for our next destination - Savuti in the Chobe National Park, 200km away, via Khwai in north eastern Moremi. We had been told we couldn't use the direct road to Khwai as it was underwater - so we were delayed. We arrived at Khwai and liked it so much we decided to see if we could camp there and risk arriving a day late at Savuti. We were granted permission eventually by the warden at the gate and set up our campsite in a beautiful spot by the river Khwai. Almost immediately monkeys appeared, clambering over the truck just metres from us. After collecting firewood we cooked a meal of braaied meat, rice and stir-fried cabbage.

Toyota Hilux - Moremi Game ReserveA game drive in the afternoon produced a great variety of wildlife - elephants, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, tssessebe, impala, wildcat and to our delight, a leopard (unfortunately it was too far away to photograph). We then drove on to a lovely area called Dombo Hippo Pools. We stayed there for about 45 minutes, watching the 18 hippo we counted from the hide, then we went back to camp. We arrived to discover that we hadn't packed all our food away in the truck and monkeys had got into a container and emptied packets of custard powder everywhere! We cooked soup for tea and with the wonderful sounds of hippo, monkeys, hyaena, owls and other wildlife surrouding us.
Distance travelled: 105km

Thursday 2nd August
Khwai - Savuti
Left Khwai rather reluctantly at around 10am for Savuti. Bought cool drinks in Khwai village - picturesque village with a popultion of about 300 people - many of whom make their living from selling thatch to the lodges in the area. The road followed the river and we saw quite a lot of hippo etc. We thenSavuti Campsite Ablutions crossed the notrious area Maghwikwe sand ridge, where the 4 wheel drive was put to good use. Shortly after crossing the ridge, we stopped to check if the equipment in the back had survived the battering it had got so far and discovered the floor of the loading bay was wet with a mixture of petrol and water. After emptying everything out and found that one of the jerry cans in the crate was leaking. We emptied it into the tank and secured the other 5 jerry cans. We then re-packed everything and got off again - an hour wasted!

We arrived at the brand new Mababe gate to the Chobe National Park midday and waited 40 minutes before someone appeared! All we had to do in the end was to sign in!
It was beginning to rain by the time we reached Savuti, and there were black clouds on the horizon. We saw elephant, jackal, mongeese, wildebeest and other game - at one point we came within less than 2 metres from an elephant when we had to turn onto a track near to where he was feeding. David and Phil set up camp whileSavuti Marsh I went out in the truck to collect firewood. When I got back to camp, we made a fire and lit the gas and paraffin lamps. Then the wind suddenly got up, and blew the lamps out. It started to rain more heavily, and we made a hasty decision to take the tent down and abandon all thoughts of cooking! We bunged the wet tent and everything else into the back of the truck, and grabbed a bit of food to eat in the cab.
We were visited several times in the night by hyaena, the last time he made off with one of our saucepans which we retrieved the next morning. Just before dawn we heard lions roaring somewhere in the campground.
Distance travelled: 125km

Friday 3rd August
Savuti - Kachikau - Kasane
As soon as it was light we drove off to look for the lions we had heard. We followed some tracks for a while but didn't find them. Later on we came across two tour vehicles, they had seen a lion pride but they had retreated into the bush.

Back at the campsite we disinfected everything the hyaena had got its teeth into and had a shower in the impressive new elephant-proof ablution block. After paying for the previous day (they were busy when we arrived), we set off for the north of Chobe, planning to try to get into Ihaha, the campsite we should have stayed in the night before.

After leaving the park we drove along the Chobe Forest Reserve cutline (which is also used as a firebreak) - it was slightly longer than using the direct road but a lot quicker as the track was new and the sand hadn't yet become churned up. We joined the main road again just before Kachikau, and arrived at the Ngoma gate at 4 o'clock. The park warden was very arrogant and officious, and the fact that I had failed to stop because the barrier was up made things worse. He wouldn't let us go through because we didn't have a booking for that day, so we had to take the transit road to Kasane, 70km away and camped at Chobe Safari Lodge. We had an excellent buffet braai at the lodge, a nice rest from cooking and we had ran out of fresh meat and vegetables anyway!
Distance travelled: 190km

Vervet Monkey - Khwai, Moremi Game ReserveSaturday 4th August
Chobe river front - Kasane - Nata
We decided to wake up early and go into the park in the morning as we hadn't camped there as planned the night before. We got in at 6:00 and spent 4 hours along the Chobe riverfront. We had breakfast at 10 o'clock at Ihaha. Saw 11 lions on the way back crossing the water, also kudu, serval, impala, baboon, warthog, bushbuck and elephant of course.

The Hilux had started to develop a cranking noise in the engine and the exhuast had been blowing badly since the last day and when we got back to Kasane we discovered there was hardly any exhaust left! We had planned to leave for Nata straight after we got out of the park but we had to find a garage, the only one open being at Kazungula on the Zimbabwean border. The mechanic there agreed to fix it, and after 2 hours we were off to Nata, arriving at 8:15. We filled up with petrol and drove to Nata Lodge where we set up the tent and cooked a meal of tuna, pasta and green beans.

On Sunday we went to Francistown to attend church meetings, getting back to Nata in the evening, ready to embark on the second stage of the trip.
Distance travelled Saturday/Sunday: 800km

Stage 2 Trip Log