Part Two – Going up North
Part two of this trip report is posted with recognition to the author, Frans Nieman, who granted us the permission to use his trip report on our page. Frans wrote ………….
When pulling in at the Spar in Maun, after a dreadfully potholed road from Nxai, an American guy took quite an interest in the hotel. Explained the setup and he was quite impressed. Maybe someday one will be exported to the States. Mental note made – bottle stores do not open on Sundays in Botswana.
Off to Moremi, deflating once on the gravel.
The rain from the previous night was falling in Moremi as well, it was going to be fun.
Arriving safely at South Gate. I now have the off road wet and slippery towing a trailer as well.
We were allocated site 8, which I think was very nice. No complaints for not being at 3rd Bridge. We still do not know 3rd Bridge, but we enjoyed South gate camp a lot. Yes, there are other people, but still a very nice and beautiful setting. I will stay here anytime again.
Game drives were limited due to the wet conditions. We made it up the 3rd Bridge road about half way when reaching what was clearly Delta and not rain water. I wanted to see how far we can get, but Mientjie was very weary. I drove about 60 m into the water when we noticed something that we thought to be a crocodile swimming into where the clearing indicates the road is. This was the U turn mark for her. I obliged, no use in looking for trouble. Coming via Xini lake (I think) to here we had a brief lion sighting and good Lechwe sightings. This was a first for Mientjie.
Found this guy looking for a bite in the mud holes. Moremi was wet, but from observation it must have been a lot worse after Feb.
Returning to camp I took the main road. I came up to huge mud hole and did not notice a path around as with so many others. I proceeded to squeeze past the trees on the very edge, but the front wheel started dipping too much to me liking, so I backed up. Still not noticing a bypass, I decided to take it head on.
Down to low gear third. Crept in to test the depth. BIG MISTAKE. When I realised that the depth is okay, I should have backed up and came with some momentum. NOOOO, clever just floored it inside the hole. I will never forget the look on Mientjie`s face when I offered: “ Liefie ons sit vas”. My interpretation was, so who`s problem is that OR wtf have you done. Either way a plan had to be devised. We had seen one other vehicle the whole day hours ago, it was around lunch time so don’t expect others, no sat phone….. Okay let’s see if those new flimsy sand tracks will do the trick. It was right in the back
of the car, so the option of getting out onto the door, onto the roof rack and down the ladder at the back was going to be easy. I cannot walk around, I will be full of mud. Look at the level here.
Going down the ladder at the back did not work out as planned. As I slipped my only thought was if you don’t hang on you are falling in the mud. I later learned that this was apparently very funny after the realisation that no injury was sustained, dangling like a puppet apparently. I managed to hang on. Sand tracks out, how will you get it under the wheels without stepping in the mud dummy. Off with the shoes, already full of mud anyway, into a bag onto the roof. This must be handled barefoot. Sand tracks in, let’s see. No, not working. Start praying that the winch works. I knew it should have been tested before the trip, but wasn’t. Onto the bonnet armed with a winch remote. I had to lay flat and slide quite far forward to reach the hook that was only just above mud level. So, I pressed the winch out button, nothing. Oops. Check the remote, still switched off. Try again with switched on remote. I cannot describe the relief I felt at this point. Getting off enough slack so I could jump from the bonnet to dry ground, proofed to be quite difficult, but in the end I managed. After doing a serious ballet on the edge of the mud, I managed to regain my balance. This is where I caught my beloved wife sitting high and dry inside the Landy, laughing at me. The instruction went out not to sit and laugh, but rather capture this fiasco for everyone else to laugh at.
We were out. Both of us smiling from ear to ear, very, very relieved. On the way back, we decided to see how much of the Black Pools loop we can manage. Some good sightings along this route.
The next day we went up the Xakanaka road. What a beautiful part of Moremi this is.
And then we stumbled onto this. Very special, and in all our history of this species, the best one yet. They were initially very relaxed and just hanging around before hitting the road.
The rest of the road up to Xakanaka was rather quiet, just the odd sighting here and there. Our first ever view of the Delta made quite an impression.
Some sightings at Paradise Pools returning to South Camp. By now everything has dried out considerably.
Moremi has now added to CKGR, Khumaga`s & Nxai`s colouring of the Landy.
After 4 nights at South Gate, with hyena calls every night and spoor in the camp, it was time to move on. Next stop was Savuti. I was advised by gate officials and fellow travellers that access via Kwai was not possible, so had to backtrack and travel via Mababe.
Just before Mababe village there was a significant detour due to flooding of the road still.
Breakfast on the road after Mababe village.
Arriving at Mababe gate.
I was hoping to use the Marsh road, but that idea went out the window in March already. Here the official also advised to use the Sandridge road, so Sandridge it was. I think this advice is pretty much standard practice. I found this road to be no worse than many other roads we have travelled so far. Really not that bad. Getting closer to the Marsh area, the mud holes became more and more, then this sight for sore eyes popped up. Really beautiful.
Just as the up and overs were becoming really boring, we joined the Marsh road. Some game was spotted again, and then we were at the Savuti gate.
Booked in and proceeded to Paradise campsite. I believe this is the nicest site in Savuti. Setting up camp was by now a breeze, ran like a well-oiled machine the 2 of us.
The channel was dry.
The first sunset at Savuti. 2 More of these to come.
Leg stretch at the Boabab.
The next 3 days were most enjoyable. Savuti now counts as one of our favourite places and we hope to be back some day. The beer is just seriously expensive. Here are some of the sightings at Savuti.
We encountered a mating pair. I stuffed up a bit with the sun. Always a special sighting. Mrs having a rest.
Suppose we must go at it again.
Mrs approaching for another round.
Now I can go rest a bit again.
Don’t run away now.
This sure taps the energy.
What are you looking at, we have to create more for your kids to come look at?
Down the Marsh road. Further down to the south one could see the Marsh road was not being used for a long time. At times I lost the track totally. The Blonde assisted. Had some nice sightings down south.
From Savuti the plans lead us to Chobe. Upon arriving at Savuti, I noticed some oil on the steering protection bar under the Landy. (This is where all the Appliance owners may start giggling.) All along the trip I have been monitoring oil & water levels, and all were fine all the way. It still was, so there was no big concern yet. I kept this from my companion in order not to cause you know what. Here I was worried about the deep sand (not that I was not in some other areas before this). Must remember the stops at the control point. I was sad to leave Savuti, but new experiences await. Leaving the park, there was no water, so the veld it was, AGAIN.
On the Chobe forest drive we came across a Discovery with a fuel leak, but the driver declared he was on top of it, so we moved on. Getting onto the cutline toward Chobe the sand was easier and we could speed up a bit. Some sections were still pretty rough. We made good time and were soon on tar again. We were able to get milk and some fresh buns in the village of Kachikau. When coming out of the shop I noticed that the towing wires have been pulled right out of the plug. The laptop with the drawing was not at hand, so I nervously continued. At this point the left tail light on the Land yaws also dead. I kept thinking about the many tickets that I read about issued at the Ngoma junction.
The area around Mwandi View looking out onto the Salambala Conservancy is really spectacular.
Entering Chobe at Ngoma gate. Ticketless, very lucky. Moving on a Sunday finally had some advantage.
First view of the Chobe river, left us almost speechless.
The road into Ihaha was really rough, not sand, but flood damage. Some repairs were done, but is was still pretty bad. Arrived at Ihaha, booked in and set up at no 3. If ever at Ihaha, choose any site but 3.
Anyway, we are here now, and it grew on us. Eventually we enjoyed it. I am not going to say much about Chobe apart from that I think it is seriously overrated. Don’t get me wrong, we did enjoy it. The wires were repaired on the caravan tail lights as per drawing I had, or so I thought.
And then this is just breathtakingly beautiful.
Time was up in Chobe. I decided to take the upper road out in the hope of a leopard sighting. I knew that this would entail some hard work for the Landy, but oil levels were still fine and the leak is not getting worse. On the thick sand uphill sections were the first time the Landy needed low gear and had to work really hard. Used low gear before out of precaution only, except for the mud hole booboo in Moremi, and climbing a sandbank a Prado could not manage in CKGR. Oops, there, I said it. The rest of the time was pure precaution. Feel obliged to add that the first on back in CKGR that did manage the sandbank was also a Prado.
Part three to follow.
Frans & Mientjie Nieman