We crossed over from Zambia via the Kazangula ferry. It was typical Africa – huge queues of lorries (which we bypassed) and a closed gate with many cars and lorries inside and people milling around everywhere and the usual sharks offering Botswana Pula and a quick queue jump. Ignoring all of those, the paperwork to leave was completed (after we spent some time trying to find the scattered and unmarked buildings for immigration, customs and yet more council tax) and we got inside the compound. Just a ferry ticket to cross. Then a guy in a high vis ran to one ferry and came back saying ‘not that one, just for lorries’ and pointed at another one. We pulled in behind another car waiting. Then he talked to the guy on the boat and beckoned us forward. The other car moved as well and we both got on board. Then came the give me money line as he didn’t actually work for the shipping company, so we told him where to go. Him and his even more drunk ‘mate’ didn’t look too happy and we were cursed in English and Zambian, but hey-ho, we’re turning into seasoned Africa travellers now – watch out when we get back home! With 2 cars and one lorry on board, off we listed towards the Botswana side of the river. They are constructing a bridge across the river (paid for by Japan?), which will take the fun out of it in the future
Border crossing Africa style
The Botswana side was all quiet and serene. No Visa charge – hurrah, but a full years road tax bill – thanks. Off we go to stock up on meat, veg and the other things you’re not supposed to bring across the border (we haven’t had the car checked once in all of our crossings, but sod’s law says it will if we flout the rules).
We stayed just outside Kasane which is just outside Chobe National Park. We met a great guy from Namibia with his family and had a great chat. He asked if this was our first beer, which it was, and ran over with some Jägermeister and gave us a good shot each – down in one.
We left to get some other supplies in Kasane that we couldn’t get the day before. Then onto Chobe riverfront. We spent the late morning and afternoon driving the road roughly parallel to the river. Because of the rains (and the time of day we went in) we were unlikely to see any cats, but we did see the fairly uncommon sable as well as quite a few elephants – one with a small one and some giraffes along with the usual prey animals.
Sable and young
Apparently, if they can fit under the mothers stomach they are less than 3 months old
Do you think he’s a boxer?
It was a nice drive around and we stopped for lunch in the park at one of the unfenced toilet stops. Why they think that animals won’t come near where people are eating is a mystery to me…
The cost of staying in the park is ridiculous in Botswana. Most are $40-50 per person per night for just a campsite – no electricity or drinking water, but with flushing toilets and showers. We chose to stay in Kasane, just outside the park and had a fantastic (I think it was all you can eat ;-p ) buffet in the evening.
The following day we drove down a tar transit road that took you past the riverside route we took yesterday and headed to Savuti camp. We decided to pay the outrageous fees for one night as we’d heard there was a strong possibility of animals in camp. It was also the only way you could sensibly visit that part of the park without a very, very long day’s driving. The road there was part tar, part softish sand and good sand, oh and a bit of water. The plains in the lower part of Chobe had beautiful yellow flowers on them, which the ele’s seem to love devouring. All of the ele’s in Chobe were much more relaxed than we’d seen previously. This is almost certainly down to lowe poaching and human conflict situations. We checked in and then drove around to see what we could find.
Mice moody shot of some impending rain (I didn’t get out, it was a long selfie stick honest)
Lots of buffalo and some ele’s, zebra and antelope. We very nearly got stuck in some very soft sand on a climb, but just managed to back out and take a different route. Just to the north of the camp was an open area with loads of vultures hanging around in the trees. What are they waiting for, we asked ourselves, so pootled around so we were in between the sun and the plain and waited for a bit. Nothing – oh well – the thrill of the chase (I can’t imagine how those cameramen and women feel sitting in a hide for weeks at a time to film a kill…).
We imagined them playing cards waiting for the action to happen
Playing patience I guess…
As we pitched our tent, there was an elephant tearing at the trees about 50m away and fortunately he walked around the camp instead of getting closer. He did this for sometime in the dark which is an amazing noise to hear as you’re sat in your chair eating dinner. We had some big cat, and hyena prints going down to check out our rubbish bin in the morning, but we didn’t hear anything during the night.
Next, we headed for Moremi National Park. We’d heard it was a bit wet, but had to go and see as it’s almost on the way to Maun where we would stock up again. The road to the park is a ‘new’ gravel transit road. Except it was partially flooded and blocked by a mokoro in the road!
Remember where Clarkson et al build the bridge with the slight angle on it…
The diversion took us to a water crossing. Someone had dumped a few sandbags in it, but it wasn’t complete. Gareth walked through the water (carefully eyeing for crocs) to see which was the best route. Ang wasn’t having any of it, so we turned around to see if there was another way. We bumped into a very friendly guide and he said that water crossing was the only way and he would come and pull us out if we got stick. Through we went with a bit of a splash much to Ang’s relief. One big mud splash later and we came across a fairly narrow bridge that creaked like anything.
It’s a good job we didn’t pimp the landy with wide tyres!
Then came a final water crossing to get to the North Gate of the park. There was obviously a bridge across the river, but you had to drive through the river to get to the bridge and then again to get off it. We had been following a game drive vehicle earlier, so he must have gone across, right…? There were some locals diving off the ‘bridge’ and they were waving at us to come across, so we did. Blimey! Water on the bonnet – keep your foot down …
You can just make out the guy about to dive off the bridge.
We stopped to ask what the best way off the bridge was. Straight. OK. This was a bit deeper than the previous bit and Ang said “flippin ek, we’re not going back this way” or words to that effect. We had a round of applause from some local guys sat near the road – perhaps the game vehicle didn’t go this way after all…
We decided to stay the night in the camp near the gate rather than drive all the way back through that lot to get to the community camp. As we were cooking (in the dark again sadly), Ang heard some rustling and a hyena walked past. A flurry of slasher and basher whips was had and we never saw him again (thought we heard him on several occasions though which kept us on our toes…).
This was stuck in the tow bar even after our big water crossing.
We drove straight to the South Gate and exit in the morning as the roads around weren’t passable. Ang had some fun practicing sand and mud driving on the way. We’re going to be carrying several kilos of Africa with us when we come home at this rate.
Where’s the wheel gone
Thankfully there were no pedestrians to splash around here
Then it’s out onto a reasonable gravel and sand road, then tar to Maun, the hub for most of the national parks in the region. We’re stopping here for a few days down by the river, keeping ourselves busy catching up with the blog. We used some of the dry mud from the car to fire with our catapult at the Vervet monkeys that come into camp twice a day and try and steal anything. Their reaction to the catapult is brilliant. If you shout at them they ignore you but as soon as they see the catapult they do a runner. There are also lots of birds in camp, including the very gregarious and inquisitive hornbills. This one took a particular fancy to our car, tapping at the window, mirror and paintwork!
Nosy (and noisy) Southern Red-billed Hornbill
The plan is now to head for the Central Kalahari Game Reserve as it’s not wet there and we’ve heard stories about lots of lions around the waterholes