Part Four – The Journey Back South

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 ………….

Botswana

Time to move on. We left Senyati with heavy hearts. Got to love this place, and this meant we were now going south, towards home. After around 4 weeks now in Botswana, I grew very accustomed to the varying speed limits, and the lack of signage. Leaving Pandamatenga, it felt like I was about to hit Nata, and no 80 or 120 km/h signs. I slowly increased above 60, and later noticed 2 Cruisers from the front, flashing lights. The second one’s lady in the passenger seat was going crazy. Never thought one can be that excited see fellow SA travellers on the road. I greeted back. Yah right, they were not greeting. Hiding behind them, the lights started flashing and the blue lights were in overdrive. Pulling off to the side, I was approached by the driver of the car underneath the blue lights. You were speeding sir, you were doing 84 in a 60 zone. Come look at the video. No argument, pleading not sure what the limit was fell on death ears. Sure as hell did not do 84, but get it over with. So, what is the fine then. P580 sir. Paid, got the ticket and receipt and was upset at myself till the next day. So unnecessary.

Arriving at Elephant Sands, the campsite was empty, except for some locals who were on their way back to Pandamatenga. We could pick our place in the sun for the next 2 days anywhere we liked. We set up closest to the covered ablution on the waterhole side.

Botswana

Next day saw us going to Nata. I was running low on cash, and yesterday’s mishap did not help. Found the bank in Nata, stocked the T`s for the G, and off to Nata Bird Sanctuary. Worst 15 odd km we have been on yet in Botswana. Steep entry fees paid, we were looking forward seeing some Pelicans. Was not sure about when the Flamingos are around here. What a sight Sowa Pan was.  Did see some Pelicans, but not up close. Met an Australian guy using a buddies Landy stored in Nata.

Back at Elephant Sands, we booked for the buffet for the evening, and finished the afternoon on G&T`s and B&C`s. Stock levels were normal again. The buffet turned out quite enjoyable. I suppose anything is enjoyable after 4 weeks that you don’t have to prepare yourself. We saw Elephants on both nights, but nothing during the day, February comes to mind.

A Japanese guy was doing a trip from Ethiopia to Cape Town like this. Giving him 2 packs cup-a-soup made me feel better about the speed fine. Now I can carry on to Kubu.

We did not get going that early, as we needed to get some bread on the way to Kubu. I was very excited about this next destination. Kubu (closed until early April according to reports I read beforehand) booking was originally at start of trip. Luckily I moved to the end, and at Senyati I learned from Matt (Festus) that north and south at Kubu is fine. Thanks Matt, nice meeting you and hope you had a wonderful trip. Congrats on the marriage again.

Been a while since I had to deflate. Quick breakfast as well.

Just of the tar into the bush, beautiful.

Mmmmm, about 10 km into this road I noticed there is no speedo, fuel gauge, temp gauge, rev counter, eish. The Landy was pulling fine, idling fine and no strange noises or fluids running out. On we go.

We have experienced dust on this trip before, but nothing compared to this. At times, the Boskriek was not even visible in the rear-view mirrors. This wheel cover is actually black.

At the vet fence, a guy came running from Makgadikgadi Adventure Camp. He begged us to stay there, had no visitors for weeks. Looks quite nice, running water, flush toilets, hot showers, but it is not Kubu. Did buy some wood from him, very good price and turned out to be the best wood of the trip.

Arriving at the salt pans blew my mind. I have seen many pictures, but seeing it yourself is just beyond expectations.

We drove to the office and a very friendly official welcomed us. We were the first arrival for the day and could choose any vacant site. We settled in on 4, although 5 seemed nicer. Home for the next 2 nights.

I have heard and read many different views and opinions about Kubu. To me, these 2 days was the absolute highlight of the trip. That is also an OPINION. I found myself close to my Maker. This place was spiritual to me. Magical. Full moon as well. Some pics.

Sadly, we had to move on. This place is the highest on my priority list for a revisit.

Khama Rhino was a nice surprise. Had some good sightings, including Eland, White AND Black Rhino. We stayed 2 nights.

We were booked at site no 7. Very nice. This was the last sunset and last campfire in Botswana for this trip. We heard about the cold hitting home and could feel the chill here as well.

Due to some unfinished business, I had to make a detour via Alldays on the way home. It meant using Martinsdrift instead of Stockpoort on a Saturday. I also had to be in Alldays before 12:00. Checking maps and distances it should not be a problem, although I expected the road from the border to Alldays not to be too good. This resulted in another night added at the end of the trip. I booked at Molope 1, Blouberg Nature Reserve, not having any info on it.

Plan was to leave very early. I even arranged at the gate to be allowed out at 05:00. All hooked up, testing lights, nothing working on the Bush Lapa. I spent about an hour trying to figure out what is wrong, to no avail. If the car`s lights are on, nothing works. If the car`s lights are of, brake and indicators work. I was convinced it was connected incorrectly, tried here and there, but nothing. By now it was light enough to drive without lights, so off we go, brake and indicator lights working. I have picked up the correct wiring from the forum now, posted just a week or so ago, so now I know it was incorrectly coupled back in Chobe. Thanks again Christa.

Martins Drift was very confusing to me, but very easy to get across. Took no more than 25 min both sides.

Just after Tomburke we stopped for breakfast. Quickly back on the road, as I was a bit concerned about the time. The road was fine up to Swartwater. From here it was an absolute nightmare (R572). We made Alldays at 11:45, completed the business, and were back in relaxed mode.

Blouberg Nature Reserve was the last stop for the trip. What a surprise. Must be one of the best kept secrets in Limpopo. There is some common game, but the attraction here is the pure natural state of nature. Really something outstanding. May not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like PURE nature, this is the place.

We stayed at Molope campsite no 1. There are 5 sites, 1,2&5 most private. 4 Is the nicest, but 4&3 are right next to each other. 3 Is a bit small. 5 Is a bit uneven & sloped, but the most secluded. Ablutions with running water, flush toilets & LED lights. Hot water comes courtesy of a donkey. Will I go there again, YES. It holds up there with Kubu to me. Not many people visit here.

So, the last night of the trip was here. It was quite chilly. Had to pull the Landy upwind to sit at the last campfire, watching bush channel 1 as we have done so many times over the past 5 weeks. Tomorrow we will end the trip celebrating Mother`s day in Pretoria with the kids before heading home.

We watched it until the close of channel.

Up early and off to see the kids.

The trip to Pretoria was uneventful, and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch with the children.

From Pta home, I realised as it was getting dark that the Landy`s headlights were also not working. Very stressed we made it home safely. In the end I piggy backed a truck with hazards only, to be visible at least. Now to sort out all the booboos and mishaps.

Will I do it again? In a heartbeat.

Did we enjoy it? Best trip of our life’s.

Places I will return to? Piper 1, Khumaga, Moremi, Savuti, Senyati, Kubu, Kubu,

Kubu, Kubu.

What went well? I think the proper planning paid off, knew what to expect, stocks apart from a few days wrt B&C gave us a good variety. Booking through Botswana Footprints, having all vouchers in hand. The Bush Lapa was a joy. Little hickups, the Landy performed very well and fuel consumption was much better than expected. No punctures. Montana 600 with T4A. Friendly people of Botswana. Geyser in the Bush Lapa in CKGR.

Am I any wiser? A lot.

Biggest surprise? No Leopard sighting for 5 weeks in Botswana. Told about a sighting in Nxai, told about a sighting in Savuti, fresh spoor 4 morning in a row at Kori, fresh spoor close to Kudu koppies in Savuti, eager to find the resident one at 2nd Bridge, but alas …..

Most essential piece of equipment? Montana with T4A without a doubt.

All photographic contributions were done by these persons with the equipment in hand.

Lastly the thank you part. Thank you Lord for blessing us to complete this dream. Thank you to my wife Mientjie for your companionship, all your patients with my booboos, all the laughs, and all your love. And all the delicious meals. I love you dearly. Thanks to my two boys Altus & Franco and Luana for swimming upstream for so long without our support. Thanks for all the info you all post so freely on 4X4 Community forum. Thank you Botswana Footprints. Congrats with the award btw. A big thank you to the Blonde (sorry Luana) on the dash with the big bosom, without you I would have been screwed. After your laryngectomy, I grew quite fond of you. Thank you Bush Lapa for an outstanding product. We lived the slogan ”Experience His Beauty”.

Report courtesy of Frans & Mientjie Nieman.

Thank you for reading this report.

Greetings

Frans & Mientjie Nieman

Landrovingafrica

(Please note that all the above is based on my experiences at the time of travel. All expressions are mine and based on my opinions. Please do not crucify me for things you may not agree with. If I liked something, it does not mean you must like it. If I did not like something that you like, it is my choice. If I said something that upsets you, forget about it and move on. I am not a brand basher; some comments are meant tong in cheek. I believe a vehicle is as good as you apply it and look after it. What you own is a choice of what you like. I love Prado`s, but cannot afford it. If this report is too long, you should have stopped reading many pages ago. I have nothing against blondes, and do not think they are dumb. It just so happens that the one on my dash is blonde. You get my drift. If you read the whole thing, thank you. All of this was written from memory, no notes were taken.)

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