Monday 6th August Nata - Baine's Baobabs - Nxai Pan Left Nata Lodge at 10:00 after
filling up with fuel. Bought meat, then spent 3/4 hour trying to find a place that
sold ice - everywhere had either run out or the machine was broken! In the end we
went back to Nata Lodge and bought two bags full of ice cubes.
We then filled up again in Gweta before arriving at the Nxai Pan turn off around
1 o'clock. We decided to have lunch at Baine's Baobabs, 29km into the reserve. The
road to Nxai Pan was much improved compared to last year when it was very sandy and
Our campsite at South Camp was set apart from the rest of the campsites, surrounded
by trees, with a wooden picnic table. We found the ablutions had suffered from elephant
damage and North Camp had been closed to the public due to this. The evening was
spent preparing a meal of beef stew, rice, phalitshe, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and
onions. Distance travelled: 200km
Tuesday 7th August Nxai Pan Spent the day game viewing, washing clothes and resting
- didn't see much other than springbok, impala and jackal until the evening, when
we were more lucky - a male lion, a huge heard of springbok and elephants at the
Had a braai and ate it with chakalaka, rice and soup. Heard a male lion (presumably
the one we had seen at the waterhole) in the distance at night. Distance travelled:
Wednesday 8th August Nxai Pan - Njuca Hills Got up early again and went on a game drive.
Saw 2 honey badger, and the male lion again at the waterhole, looking very bloated.
Stayed watching the jackals, birds and springbok at the waterhole until he walked
off into the bush. Had a cup of coffee and then packed up and left Nxai Pan for Makgadikgadi
Pans, the adjoining reserve. We arrived at Makolwane gate before 1, but the receipt
book was in Gweta (!) so we agreed to pay at the other end the next day. Our camping
site was at Njuca Hills - which are no more than mounds, about 20 metres high - the
area is so flat though that even from that hight there is a good view. The campsite
is very basic, with just a pit toilet constructed of fly screen sprayed with concrete!
We filled up with water in Nxai.
There was not much wildlife around as most of the animals go to the Boteti river
in the west of the reserve in the dry season, but it was incredibly peaceful. We
made some lunch and sat around relaxing, there was absolutely no sound of anything,
very peaceful. A Yellow mongoose visited us, eating some seed we had thrown for the
birds. In the evening we cooked rice, corned beef and green beans, listening to the
sound of barking geckos. Distance travelled: 110km
Thursday 9th August Njuca Hills - Khumaga - CKGR Packed up and left for Khumaga in
the west of the park. Arrived at 10:30 and filled every water container we had (including
a cool box!) with water ready for the Central Kalahari. Very friendly park staff.
Arrived in Rakops, the last village before the Central Kalahari and bought drinks,
and filled up with petrol - at the hand pump operated filling station. The 57km to
the gate took 1hr 45 minutes on a very bumpy road. When we got to the gate we were
told they had no receipt books so we should pay on Saturday on our way out. We travelled
the next 50km to our campsite overlooking Sunday Pan, a beautiful, remote spot. All
the campsites in the CKGR have no facilities whatsoever, and the remoteness and size
of it is amazing - the size of Holland and Belgium combined.
We tried the water we got at Khumaga for taste and found it was disgusting, with
a sulphur smell. We sterilised it with Milton liquid and boiled it for 5 minutes
just in case. We then realised how hungry we were - after having had no breakfast
or lunch! We decided to wait just a bit longer without food and go on a quick drive
round the pan before sunset, which turned out to be one of the most beautiful sunsets
ever. We saw jackal, gemsbok and springbok, then noticed that the petrol cap on the
truck was missing - it must have not been fixed on properly after refuelling in Rakops.
We got back to camp and made a plan using some roofing tape I happened to have put
in the toolbox. We then cooked a big meal of macaroni, tinned pilchards, tinned veg,
fanta and pear slices. The sound of jackals calling across the pan after sunset was
brilliant. Distance travelled: 220km
Friday 10th August Sunday Pan - Deception - Piper's Pan - Deception Woke up early
and heard lion across the pan. Went on a short drive around the pan but no sign of
the lion. We then drove to Kori campsite in Deception Valley, our last camping spot.
The area was very dry, and we were amazed how the springbok and gemsbok could find
nutrition in the parched grass. It was midday and hot when we arrived and set up
camp, and I had a wash to cool down - using a bucket of water under a tree... We
cooked a quick lunch of noodles and packed a few supplies, spare vehicle parts and
a jerry can of fuel into the truck ready for a game drive into the south of the reserve.
We drove for 50 or so kilometres, stopping for springbok, gemsbok and jackal, then
we saw two cheetah sitting under a tree at Letiahau. We stayed with them for a while
but they weren't doing anything, so we decided to put a marker in a tree nearby so
we would know where they were when we drove past on the way back. We then drove another
50km to Piper Pans. It was 5 o'clock when we got to the pans, which are massive expanses
of grassland with trees every now and then, very picturesque. We had just a bit of
time to look around, then we had to go back, as we were 100km from our campsite and
the speed limit in the reserves is only 40km/h. We found the cheetah again not far
from the tree they were under, walking alongside the road. We followed them for about
20 minutes, getting quite close, it was quite special. It was fast getting dark though
and we had to get back to camp so we left them behind.
When we got back to camp we cooked a meal of rice, soup, corned beef, beans and pineapple
slices, with granadilla to drink. Distance travelled: 230km
Saturday 11th August CKGR - Rakops - Letlhakane - Palapye Went for one last game drive
in the morning, and were rewarded with two male lions after 1/2 hour. Two other vehicles
turned up after a while, one being a tour operator with guests, who drove right off
the road to get a better view. We took the registration number and reported them
to the staff at the gate, feeling quite angry about it, as the vegetation is very
sensitive to off-road driving.
We left the reserve just before 11 and got back home to Palapye at about 5 o'clock
after a couple of stops, with lots of memories and some great photos! A truly fantastic
experience - Botswana is an amazing place, so diverse, remote and wild - I feel privileged
to be sharing and experiencing its beauty and tranquility and sincerely hope that
its beauty and wildlife will be preserved for many years to come. Distance travelled