Botswana Jan 2017

Tell us about your favorite 4x4 trail. Tell us how easy or difficult it was, is there escape routes for the faint hearted? Please add some photographs if you can.
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Yo-Yo
High Range 4WD
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Posts: 55
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:38 pm
Town: Boksburg
Vehicle: Hilux
Real Name: Tony
ORRA Call Sign: HC 306

Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:28 pm

An Agathokakological Botswana Adventure



Our group of excited travellers met at the Petro Port filling station early on the morning of 28th December for the start of what can only be described as one massive agathokakological tour.
Our intended route was to enter Botswana at Martins Drift, visit Kharma Rhino Sanctuary, move on through the wet Makgadikgadi Pans, stop at Kubu Island and then Planet Baobab. From there we were headed to Maun for an aircraft flip over the delta and on to the Khwai River Concession for some game viewing. We would then drive the unpopulated Sellinda Spillway, sleep at Ngepi and travel through the Caprivi Strip, stopping at Buffalo Camp and Fort Dorpies. A relaxed few days at Kasane would see us enjoying some game viewing in Chobe and a boat trip on the majestic Okavango River. To end off our trip we would negotiate the Hunters road to Elephant Sands, spending our last night at Nata Lodge.
Two Land Cruiser FJ`s, a Fortuner, four Toyota Hilux’s and two “Aussies” in a Nissan Camper van, later dubbed “the Ice Cream Truck” made up our convoy of eight vehicles.
In disbelief Kobus asked me if the Ice Cream Truck was going with. “Yes” was my reply, “and we will tow it where necessary.” Never was a truer word said in jest, and our poor Australian visitors could never have imagined what was in store for them.

At the border, two of our excited travellers realised they were not going to get through, as they did not have the required unabridged birth certificates for their youngsters. The law has changed – again. In desperation, they turned back to Ellisras at 15h00 to obtain the necessary paperwork. I waited at the border for them while the rest of the group went on ahead to Kharma Rhino Sanctuary, the first overnight stop. Just before 17h00 and proudly displaying their new permission letters, we passed through the border without further issues and arrived at the camp site at around seven that evening.
The rain was relentless, with predicted daily afternoon thunder showers.
The next day and a short 300km trip on tar brought us to the vast flat pans of Makgadikgadi – filled with water.

Up to this point, all the vehicles were behaving themselves and we made good progress. Then, 5km before Kubu Island, things started getting exciting. One by one the 4x4`s managed to get stuck in a soft bit of mud and I was about to get my first taste of towing the Ice Cream Truck, not to mention recovering another five vehicles who were all stuck in the mud.


Five hours and lots of digging and pulling later, we eventually recovered all the vehicles. There were plenty of laughs all around, and, of course, the unspoken fear of never getting out. Sadly, the sun and begun to set, and we were left imagining what Kubu Island looked like as we passed it in the dark in effort to reach our second overnight spot at Planet Baobab. This was not to be, and we spent our second night sleeping in the wild.
The next morning bright and early, our adventure seekers washed and cleaned the mud off everything, before departing for a lunch stop at Planet Baobab.
Not to be fazed, we worked our way towards Maun for the flip over the delta and our next overnight camp at the Okavango Lodge.
It was here that mechanical issues would begin to plague us. My morning’s first job was to adjust the Nissan’s aircon belt to remove that continuous screeching. As Murphy would have it, I broke the adjusting bolt and had to do some ingenious work with a hacksaw, file and new nuts to get the Nissan back on the road again.
Not long after our departure, the two-way radio came to life with Peter reporting that the alternator light was on. By this time, we were far along the road and he would have to wait until we reached Khwai River Lodge where I would have a look. Sadly, there was nothing I could do at this stage and we would just have to swop batteries between vehicles until we could reach a town. And so, twice a day for the next four days we would stop, remove the flat battery and replace it with a charged battery from one of the other vehicles. I must thank Wikus and Albert who willingly adopted this task in the effort to keep Peter’s Fortuner alive. Not happy with just an alternator failing, the Fortuner’s brake pads now also failed – metal on metal.
New Year’s Eve was a sombre and calm evening after the heavens opened and with hyena visiting our camp, we all slept with one eye open.
A game drive the next morning was not disappointing, with an abundance of antelope, hippos, elephant and amazing birdlife. We were also extremely privileged to see wild dog.


Now it was time for the treacherous Sellinda Spillway. This would be my nemeses. First the Nissan gave up the ghost with a saturated air-cleaner and smoking engine. A few modifications with a replacement seed net and we were on our way. But not for long. The motor eventually began sounding like AC-DC resulting in me and the Ice Cream Truck getting “hitched” until Ngepi in the Caprivi where a replacement camper would be made available.
After many more stops and recoveries in the thick sand the radio came to life again. It was Kobus and a terminally ill Hilux engine’s turn. Discovering water in the oil and sounding very sad, it was Bernie’s turn to get hitched and tow the Hilux the rest of the way.
With all this drama, time was against us and we had to camp along the road – again. Amazingly it was one of the nicest evenings we had, all alone in the middle of no-where, with only the sounds of lion in the distance throughout the night.
Next morning our ritual of towing the stricken Nissan and Hilux began like a “normal day at the office”, until further disaster struck. Kobus and his towed Fortuner left the tracks and struck a tree, buckling the left wheel and slamming it tight against the shock absorber. This was a nightmare as the Hilux was now totally immobile. We resorted to removing all valuables and personal items, loading Kobus and his family in the other vehicles and leaving the Fortuner in the bush for later recovery.
Soon we reached the ferry and crossed over the mighty Okavango River to check in at Drotsky Cabins in Shakawe. Here arrangements were made for the Fortuner to be recovered.


That evening, before dinner, we had an amazing hippo experience while on a boat cruise down the river.
Next morning some final arrangements were made and sadly Kobus opted to remain in Shakawe with his family, and rent a car while waiting for the recovery of his Fortuner.
With one vehicle less, we crossed the border into Caprivi and reached Ngepi to spend a relaxed day in the crocodile pool. A new camper van arrived as promised and I happily divorced the old Ice Cream Truck.


Albert and Heather had made plans to leave us here, as Mario, another friend, was travelling from Katimo Malilo to meet us. They would then extend their holiday, travelling through Namibia into Etosha etc. At 10h00 that night, news came through of yet more disaster. Mario had rolled his Land Rover and Linda was in hospital with shoulder and chest complications.

As Hannes, in the red FJ, Albert in the Yellow FJ and the Australian pair were all very close friends, they left our group to go and assist Mario in Katimo.
Our convoy was now down to only four vehicles, and after the usual battery change to Peter’s Fortuner, we moved off to Livingstone’s Camp in the Linyanti district of Caprivi. This is an amazing campsite with awesome views over the Delta.


En route we had a very welcome and unexpected sighting.

Next morning at Katimo we managed to get a set of brake pads for Peter and Dese’s Fortuner, which only took a few minutes to change (Peter! Don’t forget to get the discs skimmed!!) While on the road Peter also managed to arrange for an auto electrician to meet us in Kasane. Next morning and R1800 later, he had the alternator up and running at 100% and a new regulator fitted.
Suddenly it seemed as if a huge weight had been removed from our shoulders. We had a most enjoyable day with game drives, swimming, a sunset boat cruise and an awesome dinner, all the while missing all our other friends. After all the activities of the day, it was early to bed for all.

Leaving Kesane we headed for the old Hunters Road which splits Botswana and Zimbabwe. With a large herd of antelope and good sightings of giraffe, we worked our way down to Elephant Sands for some liquid refreshments.
From there it was on to Nata for an amazing evening in the beautiful tented camp. Arriving at Zanzibar Border Post we were met with a closed sign, as the Limpopo River was in flood and too high to cross. A short stint down to Martins Drift and we were back in South Africa.
Before heading home, we stopped at Eransa Farm to enjoy some hospitality from Wikus and Patricia. Thank you both very much and we certainly hope you had a great birthday.






A massive thank you for joining me on this very difficult adventure. I really hope that the good will be remembered long after the bad times are forgotten. You were all great sports and fun to be with, and overcoming the hurdles as we did, I will gladly travel with you again.
Linda, we wish you a speedy recovery and hope you get well soon.
Hannes and Liza – Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip to Zims.
Jason and Shannon – I am sure you will remember Africa for a long time to come.
Kobus, Louise and …………. - Tough and expensive times, but you overcame them and won.
Wikus and Patricia – You are awesome. Nothing is too much. Baie dankie vir al die hulp.
Peter, Des Adrianne and Luca – Beautiful family and awesome to travel with.
Albert and Heather – You made light of hard times, and your fun filled spirit was very welcome.


Do you want to join us on a “dry” Botswana trip? We are planning one for August -2017. Contact me if you are interested.

PS. Who of you Googled agathokakological?
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Hot and Sweaty -- Nice if you with a Lady---BAD if you in the Jungle.

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Yo-Yo
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Real Name: Tony
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Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:29 pm

A few more
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Hot and Sweaty -- Nice if you with a Lady---BAD if you in the Jungle.

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Thunder02
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Real Name: Neil
ORRA Call Sign: HC105
Location: East Rand Boksburg
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Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:41 pm

Great trip report, Thanks Tony
Not all those who wander are lost!

Scout motto:be prepared....
www.4x4direct.co.za
Email: neil@4x4direct.co.za
IFS is like a swambo, soft, sexy and expensive!

Racing snake
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Real Name: Brian

Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:33 am

Brilliant report, Tony. Sounds like it was all action.
Have wanted to do that route for a long time. What sort of costs are involved? Park fees etc. Chobe obviously. Any others. Are you running these trips as a commercial venture or are u just guiding a bunch of like minded individuals? We would be keen to join you in the dry season but are unfortunately committed for this year. :(

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Haboob
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Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:36 am

Thanks for sharing.
Most interesting trip to say the least,
But I am sure that it will be remembered by all who did this one together...
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HABOOB means "Dust Storm"

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Yo-Yo
High Range 4WD
High Range 4WD
Posts: 55
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:38 pm
Town: Boksburg
Vehicle: Hilux
Real Name: Tony
ORRA Call Sign: HC 306

Tue Feb 28, 2017 4:16 pm

Racing snake wrote:
Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:33 am
Brilliant report, Tony. Sounds like it was all action.
Have wanted to do that route for a long time. What sort of costs are involved? Park fees etc. Chobe obviously. Any others. Are you running these trips as a commercial venture or are u just guiding a bunch of like minded individuals? We would be keen to join you in the dry season but are unfortunately committed for this year. :(
Hi Racing Snake -- yes we will be doing it again 9th to 19th August (dry season, lots of animal sightings)
Its a bit of both , Commercial / Friends-- unfortunately Botswana is expensive, and if you work it out with 2 meals a day, camping fees, park fees, Game drive, Boat cruise etc. (and then my portion covered) it is easily around R800 per person per day.

Not a cheap holiday, but it is worth a visit.

Also doing a Mabuasehube -Botswana -- 27th to 31st May Self Sufficient/Camping R2 800.00 pp
Lucky to get camping spots for us.
Hot and Sweaty -- Nice if you with a Lady---BAD if you in the Jungle.

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