Goodbye Namibia Hallo Botswana

April 28, 2011 - Maun, Botswana

The Caprivi Strip was a mass of swollen fast moving rivers, we camped along the Okavango, the Kwando and the Zambezi. Some lodges were smiling whilst other lodges closer to the river were flooded and had to refer their business upland. This was a time of slowing down, we had time to make up before meeting Karl and Petra (friends from Cape Town) in Maun, Botswana.

From Popa Falls on the Okavango we moved onto Kongola and found the Kwando River Lodge. We had a game drive in Mudumu park, the map and signage was appalling and the roads were very overgrown. At last we got to see elephants! There were a few hairy moments, trumpeting and ears flapping. George cautiously kept his distance as it was going to be no fun reversing in a hurry on those roads! To finish off the day we took a river trip. Pierre, our skipper, was very nervous as hippos had chomped some of their boats before so he zoomed past them. We had sundowners, Pierre made us ladies lily necklaces and showed us the bird life on the Kwando river. It was lovely.

The Zambezi River Lodge was next, we camped 3 days and got to meet a great couple on a similar trip (Claire and Raymond), we’re hoping to maybe catch up with them in Malawi. It was good to stop for 3 days for a change – time for reading, laundry and getting to know people better!

Our last stop in Namibia was at Nundu Safari River Lodge, a lovely camp site on the banks of the Okavango river. Their deck was still under and more like a foot spa, this was my favourite office – a good signal for the internet and the feel of the river flowing over my feet. They had quite a few camps under and chalets closed. We camped closest to the river and could hear hippos often but did not see them. Here the river was wide so the hippos were not so aggressive although they made sport out of flipping the mokoros (the locals’ wooden canoes)! We finished with a bundu bashing 4x4 route in the Mahangu Game Reserve, this was worse than Mudumo, tree branches scraped down the sides of the landy like chalk on a blackboard making my skin crawl. There wasn’t much wild life but some good bird watching.

So it was goodbye to Namibia after 9 weeks and 8500kms. The customs officer at the Mohembo border post was so chatty that he forgot (or not?!) to stamp Paula and my passports. The royal wedding was the hot topic! We got to the Botswana side and then had to go back. Our first intended stop was close to the border but we decided to push on as setting up and sitting around in the rain would not have been fun. It turned out to be an epic journey! The GPS was full of suggestions about camps with contact numbers, none of which existed. Exhausted and many hours later we began to look for places off the main road where we could wild camp. We found a turn off to a little airstrip down a dirt road and pulled off into the bush for the night. I was a bit nervous at first that the whole village and chief would soon be arriving, irate that we could just pitch tent on their turf without permission! Our camp turned out to be a bit of a thoroughfare, several people passed emerging silently and almost invisibly from all necks of the woods but nobody seemed bothered by our presence. We gathered wood made a bonfire and had a good evening. Cows and donkeys roamed through the camp with bells clanging and the extra vigilance that comes from sleeping in a foreign place kept us awake longer. There were no camps until Maun after that.

The road to Maun was full of road kill and livestock, it was tarred but narrow, with pot holes. Donkeys were often tied with their front legs together hobbling along or livestock was paired like a cow and a donkey, or a pair of the same tied together, they looked miserable! Apparently the livestock sleep in the road at night and the goats in particular are very heavy sleepers – they don’t even hear/get up when cars come. We heard this from a family who got stuck deep in a river in the Moremi National Park. This happened after 4pm, one car came past but could not help, they lifted the mother to the next camp. She begged all the campers in their fancy 4x4’s but nobody would help, eventually she found 3 local parks board guys who took their bakkie to rescue them. She said that 8kms from the river the driver stopped the car, did something under the bonnet and then it would not start, so she was left wondering if this was some kind of set up since there seemed to be nothing wrong before. They began to walk with a high jack and shovel in the dark through the Moremi, she had one man in front, one behind and one man on her side. After some time the back guy grabbed her around her waist, the front guy backed into her and they moved her to the side whispering “shhhh!” She was terrified not knowing what was going on, a lioness with her cubs were on the side of the road. Lucky for them she was not hungry and just growled as they passed! After many prayers and a lot of adrenaline they rescued the family. The family at the river also had lion close by and the rescuers were terrified when they saw buffalo as one of their friends had recently been killed by one. They arrived back in camp at 2am and said the worst of the journey was the cows, donkeys and goats sleeping on the road! We met them the next morning and lent them a needle for all the thorns, a very long washing line and pegs as everything in the car was soaked - the water was nearly over their seats.

It seems that everyone that comes through camp has a story to share! Tonight a garbage truck (not like the ones we know!) came past towing a Landrover and 2 one and a half ton trailers which got bogged down in Savuti. The other driver could at least make it back though he was the culprit. He could not engage his 4x4 mode and kept getting stuck so the buddy decided to tow his car as well as the two trailers and burnt out his clutch! Hopefully we have learnt from all the silly mistakes of fellow travellers and will get through!

Maun has been a muddy 4x4 mecca with all the rain. We stayed at Audi camp several days and for the first time have seen many Explorer caravans and trailers coming through this bustling town. Today we fly out to Kwetsani, a 5 star lodge for 3 nights with Karl and Petra!

 

 


Pictures

1 Mokoro ride to Popa Falls, Steve and Paula
2 Flooded Kaison River Lodge - need a ferry!
3 Katima Mulilo camp gathering
4 Zambezi sunset Katima Mulilo
 
 

8 Comments

S P Schoeman:
April 28, 2011
Wow thank you for teh detailed report. It really seams as if you are having a great trip. I was in Namibia over easter weekend and my Landorver motor siezed 120 km in the sanddunes near Aus. Had a hectic time recovering the vehicle and now safe an sound in Sa.
Glad to see you are using the seednets as I suspect that this may have been a contributing cause to my Landy problems
Great photos and happy traveling, look forward to the next update.
Ellie:
April 28, 2011
Love the pics of the hippo's. Sounds liek you are having lots of fun. The rains ahve come to CT and our road was flooded on Sunday. We do enjoy it and don't make a fuss about it. Took the chilren to City Rock on Tuesday to get rid of their energy. Back at work today, but heading to Salmansdam (Cape Nature property) to camp this weekend. Take care, Ellie
brigitte parfitt:
April 28, 2011
Hi you two, just read about your adventures and those you met. Gee, I must have been extremely lucky when I did this part in about 1980. Perhaps it was simply a better time in June/July. Oh, and Botswana! Are you getting to the Okavango Swamps? We spent a night on one of the islands there. It was amazing listening at night to the sounds of nature and see during the day the fisheagles, the great amount of hippos at the hippo pool. Great memories have come up in my mind as I read your stunning report. I just heard from a special source that a huge amount of guardian angels have been sent your way!!!!! Lots of love, Brigitte and Roy
Liza:
April 28, 2011
WOW what an adventure!!! The part flying out to the 5 star lodge for 3 nights sounds best to me. We are excited! - Our daughter surprized us with a 3 day trip to the Victoria falls in Zim. We havent been there yet, and are looking forward! We wil be going there in July
Love Liza
Marcia:
April 29, 2011
Hi Alice, My husband, Randy, and I are old friends of Claire and Mark from their days in Memphis, TN! I have enjoyed your journal so much. We can't wait for the movie version!
Question - so why do you think the Mohembo customs officer forgot or not to stamp your passport?
Take care and I can't wait for the next entry. Marcia
JANNIE BOERSSEN:
May 2, 2011
Hi you two, Sorry to hear you left Namibia but also clad everything went well, It is still raining now and again hear by us on the coast and the swakop river are still running into the sea ( had a tradgig drowning in the river Berdine Potgieter 41 from swakop) this is the wettest year in Namibias history, GOD be with you on your journy futher and hope we will meet again,Love Sanmdra and Jannie
Moira Richards:
May 2, 2011
Hi you two,
so good to hear of all your exciting adventures. wonderful!I enjoy reading and picturing all you are up to, having visited most of the places you mention it is great to use my imagination and escape for a while. Dale, my sister from Chinhoyi came for 2 weeks and we had a great time, did all the tourist things and enjoyed the great autumn weather we have been having. Ruth and Eugene were in Durban so it would have been a lonely Easter if Dale hadn't come. I am looking forward to a short trip up to Kruger in June with Emma, Ruth and Eug, I need my bush fix...otherwise my life continues, am more settled into the new reality, don't like it but am getting used to it.I am seeing a psychologist,Hein Vorster,do you know him? from theophostic ministry, he is excellent and has helped me a great deal. so yay for counsellors. lots of love and prayers for a safe and excitng happy memory making, relationship building, God honouring trip!Love Moira
Carol Klumper:
May 9, 2011
Hi there u two....sounds like you are having a super holiday, with all the 'ups & downs' makes it more exciting hey...haha.
We are all fine here just getting real cold, winter is hitting us already, and its not even winter yet...but u know me, i do not like the cold - but the electic heater is working full force...even George is getting cold..haha.
Enjoy, and keep us updated, love u blog Alice, doing a sterling job.
love u both
Carol & George
(ps: spoke to mom yesterday, mothers day. she is doing all okay, was asking about you, told here you cant phone but maybe Margo can print out your journals and some photos, will ask her..)
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