From the north-western Botswana in
Diary 1, we head into the
flooded Okavango Delta and then right through the Kalahari
the lack of sleep, we are ready for the deep exploration
of the Okavango Delta in the early morning. The 40
kilometres to the next check-point; Xakanaxa Gate, is
scatted with wildlife spotting - and deep pools.
Accordantly to the ranger at our camp, the road might be
closed further out due to flooding, and the canoe trips
cancelled due to drought. We heard it before, and it does
not stop a pair of determined explorers like us.
We head out of the loose sandy road in a rather high
speed for a game-drive. Unfortunately, that is the way
to negotiate the loose sand. The road soon narrows down
to two wheel tracks with grass - or lots of water -
in-between. Lakes are filled with birds like geese,
egrets, ibis', storks, herons, beach-birds and others.
We reach the landmark; Fourth Bridge, and it turns out
to be two wooden
bridges, grossing a river. The first is made up by old
rafts, the second by new telephone poles. It does make a
lot of noise, while we crosses it, but it lasts. I think
it does look like someone has been
driving this road some days ago, but the rangers had no
information of its state.
We reach what most of all look like a neglected golf
course. Here are lots of wildlife like Blue Wildebeests,
Impalas, Zebras, and a new species; Red Lechwe. It is
another small gazelle, quite like the Impala, but more
furry and lacking the M on the bud. Here are also a new species of
storks; The Spoon Billed.
After two hours, we reach Third
Bridge, which is a combination of a wooden,
bridge and a deep lake, which we have to cross. Here, we
sign in for our campsite - seven kilometres further out.
We were told to book the Mokoro canoes here, but they
don't have a clue. Maybe the road is flooded? It is only
fifteen kilometres further out in the Delta, and we give
it a try.
The first part is just like a Danish Beach-forest in
May. One with a real loose sandy soil, that is. Then we
reach another type of area, and it is surely flooded.
Here are geese and even a crocodile in one of the pools,
crossing the road. We do a bit of off-road driving to
get around the biggest, unknowingly deep pools. Somehow,
I can't get the co-driver to walk through it first, as
co-drivers are supposed
The wildlife does not disappoint at all. Huge groups of
giraffes, wildebeests, some zebras, numerous Impalas and
some Red Lechwe. Here are also elephants, and quite
frankly; I can do without. They tend to hide in the
dense bushes, and have a real attitude against us, when
we try to follow the road through. They even seem to
trap us in, and having a laugh. Or at least a loud
fanfare. Personally, I don't like sitting on a narrow
road with trees on both sides and ear-flapping elephants
both at front and rear.
One road pool has some beautiful cranes. We are forced
to drive rather close to them, but they don't seem to
bother at all. The next obstacle of a pool, make us drive
right through a herd of giraffes and zebras, relaxing in
the shadows. They let us by without noticing at all. Why
can't elephants do the same?
We reach the island of Mboma, from
where the Mokoro allegedly should start. A Rasta-guy
turns op, and is eager to give us a tour. First, we make
our selves a bit of lunch and put on some sunscreen.
The Mokoro canoe was originally made from one large
it takes a 100 years old tree, and it only last for five
years. Now, it is glass fibre, but the design exactly the
We sit on tiny chairs in the front, while our poler provides
the energy. The sides of the canal is made up from
mainly one meter tall reed and ferns. The surface
of the water is spotted with water lilies and other
flooding plants, but far from crowded. It is easy to
see the golden, sandy bottom a meter down.
In many places, the hippos landing sites are clear: They
really tear up the turf. We glide effortless out through
one canal after the other. Warblers are everywhere, a
cormorant sits in one of the few trees, on one of the rare
islands in this flooding world. An Open Billed Stork
passes over our heads, unknown birds voices accompanies
the poles silent braking of the surface.
We make a break on a tiny island with a little hill,
offering a view over a larger area. The sky is
fantastic, and it mirrors into the water's surface. We see a two
meter crocodile swimming submerged right next to the Mokoro,
and many fish, mainly cichlids, are everywhere.
Dragonflies and other insects use the Mokoro for
landing-site, as we go even deeper into the huge
As we reach a bigger canal. the water occasionally
out, and hippos rests here. One of the tiny Malachite
Kingfisher sits in a bush near to us, and I wished I had
a proper camera - again. We watch the hippos, and they
watch us. When the hippos are gathering
too much interest for us, we start the tour homewards.
We are back on solid ground after two hours, way too
long for us to be in the sun - but worth it!
We drive slowly back, trying to see
even more wildlife. More big groups of giraffes and
always Impalas. Hammer Head Herons, refusing to leave
their flooded wheel track, zebras posing, warthogs
bathing, large herds of wildebeests relaxing, and
elephants too close. Great Élans are right next to the
road too, taking their way more relaxed.
The wooden bridges are not that nerve wrecking this time,
but they still complain loudly. We update the rangers
on the road, and drive on. Just outside Xakanaxa Gate,
we see a huge hippo walking thought the forest along
with the road. Then it crosses it, right in front of us,
and give a wide open mouth-greeting towards us. Just
before we turn into the campsite, we pass two huge
buffalos in a pond. When they move, it looks like smoke,
but it is thousands of flies. No wonder they always look
We are the only residences, and in stead for the
reserved spot, way out in the marshes, we park right
next to the toilet building. The elephant dung within
the camp kind of indicate nightly adventures might be a
bad idea. The mattress is placed in the sun, and I try to
connect the fridge with some electricity through the
rusty and smashed-up plug. The dancing 40 kilo High-Jack is not
the most gentle neighbour.
While we prepare dinner, some small, spotted antelopes
passes right through our camp. A small walk around reveals all
kind of animal tracks - big ones. God thing we got the
mosquito net to protect us....
27/1 We are woken during the
night by a violent storm, but in the morning, everything
is quiet again. We feared a thunderstorm could have
filled the pools on the road, trapping us out here. We
finish fast, and set out to Paradise Pools. Already on
the way, we have a close encounter with three African
Dogs, using the same trail as us.
The area is dominated by numerous shallow pools and huge
trees. The wildlife is fantastic, and we see all the
familiar faces and even some new ones. Here are huge
groups of Impalas, many zebras, Red Lechwe, giraffes and
hippos. And the birdlife is teeming too. The blue
starlings are bigger than the one we usually see, and
they have a black face. Holy Ibis, Spoon Storks,
cormorants, weavers in numbers like leaves, small brown
ducks, cuckoos and so much more.
The trails are flooded - or are the trails just leading
right through the pools?
Anyway, our great truck seems
unstoppable. A singe game drive from a lodge crosses our path, but beside from that, we have it all to our selves.
We investigate and enjoy the area for a couple of hours,
and then return to South Gate and Maun. We have been
driving 400 kilometres within the Okavango Delta, and
they have been great.
The rich wildlife continues outside the park. We pass a
large group of elephants, few metres from the road. When
we loop back, they cross the road right in front of
us, and continues along the road on the other side.
On the way back, we pass once more the Foot and Mouth Disease check
sterilisation station. An officer checks that we have no raw
meat in the fridge, and we are asked to step in to a
slightly moist pan.
The tires are not sterilized here,
neither are the five kilos of mud on the car. But they
have a big, double fence, dividing the area from some
other area. It would have been just as efficient it they
just took a photo of the two of us.
Back in Maun, we do some shopping for
the Kalahari expedition, gas the car and clean the
windows. It is now a brown car we got, completely
covered in mud.
The last of the afternoon is spent in
the restaurant, catching up on emails, watching our
videos and: Scary; finding 310 photos from the Victoria Falls
and Zambezi National Park, which I have missed. Thunder
is rolling in, and perhaps the call for a house was the
Sunset at the restaurant, overlooking the Okavango River, munching on crumple cake with
cheese-topping and ice crème. Could be worse...
early start on the day to plan the route, work and do
Then we drive down to
in the central Botswana. From here, a narrow sandy trail
leads into Central Kalahari Desert National Park. As we
enter the trail, we are checked for meat products, and
the soles of our sandals are sterilized. The road is
marked from the rain last week, and huge pools have to
be navigated. In some places, it is dense, green bushes,
other places have
scattered grass in sandy soil. In one stretch, some
fantastic flowering bulbs are found in large numbers.
Numerous cattle, goats and donkeys are crossing the road
time and time again. Small rondawels with huge bomas are
found along the road, but the cattle are proper marked
with yellow plastic tags. 50 kilometres in, the entrance
to the park is found. On the way there, we see two
ostriches crossing the road. The road is just two
wheel-tracks in real loose sand. Here is elephant dung,
but we fail to see the origin. Flowers, on the other
numerous in some areas.
At the entrance, we have to explain, we have no reservation due to Bigfoot's
negligence. They don't answer their phone, they don't
reply to emails, their website is last updated in 2013
and their mail-form bounces. The helpful officer tells us,
they have a representative at the site, and he even gets
her. We are told; we are in luck, they do have
campsites for us at the wanted locations. It is a bit
step; 200 pula per head per night. Must be luxury sites,
it is more than a rondawel with kitchen in South Africa
for a single!
They have a board with sightings of Lions, Leopards,
Cheetahs and Wild Dogs, and it have a lot of pins
for this months. Especially lions and cheetahs are
We clean the windows, which have been
covered in mud that refuses to be washed off with the
window-wipers. The beginning of the park is way more
green than I had expected. On the other hand; the park
is just as big as the entire Denmark, and I guess, it
will change while we drive through.
The plan is to go from the middle east to the north-west
today. We keep a fairly good speed, but the deep pools
on the road slow us down. Here are only little sign of
other animals than birds and some Steinboks. Then we see
a few Springboks and a Cow Antelope, but nothing else. Here are several
interesting plants, some of them are a species of bulbs,
found in huge numbers, resembling Dutch tulip fields.
A few Large Trappe/Buzzard are seen on the open areas,
and then the Oryx turns up. They are my favourites, and
I wished we could spend more time with them.
Unfortunately, we have only managed to drive 36
kilometres within two hours, and the campsite is 120
kilometres away, and it gets dark half past six - in two
We start what best can be describes as The Dakar Race
meet safari. 60-80 km/t on winding, loos sand, mud pools
and mole-hills are not for the faint hearted. The last
120 kilometres of road has not been driven since last
weeks rain, but it sure has been walked! Other places
look like a riverbed or a sandy beach.
We don't get to see many animals, but several groups of
giraffes are blocking the way, and we have to sneak
slowly by. Another time, it is two large tortoises,
romancing on the road. One time, I have to stop at
what might be a flowering Raphionacme.
We reach the Motopi Waterhole half past
six, and see some Oryxs, a jackal and some ducks. The
camp is close - we thought, and we will check-in. Here
are only three sites in the entire camp, located several
kilometres apart. No staff, no water, just a hole in the
ground and a fireplace - for 400 pula! Not even a fence
to protect us from the numerous lions and other big
cats, found exactly here. We had kind of hoped for an
restaurant and alike...
We drive back to the waterhole to get the last sightings
in the dusk. As we drive off our campsite, a big cat
jumps off. It looked most of all as a puma, but it is
most likely a female lion. The waterhole is disappointing. Ox-egrets and
ducks are all we find here. Further out on the savannah,
Springboks, Oryx and wildebeests can be seen, but they
On the way back to camp, we see a group of ostriches in
the dusk. Then a big owl crosses the road, right in
front of us. We put up the tent and get some cold
dinner. I try to work, but despite I have only the light
from the screen, I am covered in all kinds of insects
real fast, and the temperature goes up above my comfort
within the car.
During the night, we hear lions roaring in all
directions. It sound like it is close, and it probably
29/1 Just as I'm about to
leave the "safety" of the tent, a
cough-like sound is heard, right outside. It turns out
to be a Giant Élan, which come running right across
camp. I am real careful and aware, when I climb down,
but it seems we are free of predators for now. Here is only a few big,
black beetles. Why they make the camp in bushes, I can't
figure. I rather prefer under trees or in the plain
We prepare snacks and water for the day, and polish the
windows. The dirt from yesterday is like expensive
paint: Can be thinned time and time again, without being
We are driving right through the Central Kalahari today,
but way less than yesterday's 450 kilometres. We start
at the local waterhole, and here, Oryxs, Springboks and
a few Blue Wildebeests are gathered. The tiny ducks are
swimming while the egrets sit on the shore. A Big
Buzzard has lost some feathers, and they are huge!
Bigger than the wing-feather of a swan.
The next area we meet has a lot of flowering
Ipomoea bolusiana. A large flock of ostriches are
gathered near the road, but slowly head into the area.
Ground Squirrels are plentiful in some areas, digging up
white stones. They seem to ignore the car, but
disappears when a door is opened.
A duck-sized bird, could be a Small Buzzard, is making a
lot of noise, and flying up, just to fall down again -
Different quails hide or run in front of the car - as
they always do. The sightings of the magnificent Oryxs
are more and more plentiful. Some are found in herds of
50 animals, some young ones in-between.
A single Cow Antelope can be seen near the Oryxs or near
the Springboks. Some groups of Springboks numbers 75 or
The areas we drive through are big,
but clearly divided. Some are low but dense bushes, some
sparse grass, some barren pans, some taller bushes. The
surface of the road changes with the vegetation. Some
are deep, loose sand, some washingboard-like, some
smooth clay-like. Only a few places during today's stint,
We see significantly more animals in the open areas, but
they might be scattered evenly. The large groups of
Oryx, ostriches and Springboks seem to be everywhere.
Some of the ostriches' have chicks, and the groups
number 30 or more.
area has a lot of the nice,
red-flowering bulb. Some with buds, some with flowers
and some with new bulblets.
The road starts to be scattered with rather fresh
elephant dung. Bushes are ripped up along the road, and
deep holes are dug. Elephants are bullies and destroyers
in this world.
Just before four, we reach the road, leading to our
private camp. We have not seen any fresh wheel-tracks
the entire day, and it feels like we have an area the
size of Denmark to our selves. Nice as long as the car
behaves, else it will be long walk!
Within the last few kilometres to the camp, we find two
cheetahs in the shadow on a little tree, in a huge open
pan. We drive under ten metres from them, and they
slowly walk to some bushes, 25 metres away.
The camp is located next to the Piper Waterhole and the
huge Piper Pan. Some great looking bushes with thick,
red-brownish and fat stems are everywhere, and we even
find a pair of small Acacias to park under.
I catch up with yesterdays photos, while Gry prepare
dinner. I rather finish up before dark, knowing which
insect-soup will be here after dark.
The camp is just like the other one: A hole in the
ground, and a shower from a bucket - if you brought
water yourself. After dinner, we drive a short evening
tour in the last light. We see two red foxes and some
real dark clouds, coming our way. Definitely not good, us
being 100 kilometres out on a pan! We just manage to
put up the tent, before the drizzle starts.
30/1 The rain remained a
threat and we wake
up to a dry and sunny day at Piper Pan. I botanize a bit
around camp, and find some interesting bulbs. After
breakfast, we do a little loop in the pan before heading
out of Central Kalahari. Here is lots of Springboks,
Oryx and a few Blue Wildebeests.
We drive slowly out of the park, and look for big cats.
Despite we have heard them, we fail to see them. It is a
tricky trail; either deep, loose sand, washing board or
short stretches with smooth surface. The first two
demand a speed over 40 km/t, the last can be driven
The elephants don't keep to destroying the wilderness,
they also spoil the road. Trees and bushes are scattered
across the trail, and half meter deep holes mark where
they have dug up roots. Their dung is everywhere, some
real fresh. I fear meeting them on the sandy trail,
flanked by dense bushes. We are in luck, and meet one
group, which has visit from a huge bull in musk, in an
open area. They are feeding comfortable long away from our trail, and we get bye. A
big tortoise is ignoring them, and minds its own
business. The big bull do not ignore us; we get the
salute and big ears.
After 80 kilometres, we reach the
exit, and with that, another campsite. They have bathrooms
WITH water, although cold, and we decide we are deserving
a bath. Then we check out of the park and report our sightings.
It turns out we were the only people in the park,
including rangers. From
here, it is a double sandy trail for the next 100
kilometres. Many times, I'm forced down in first, low
and 4x4 in the loose sand.
we are half way, and a firm surface calls for a brake.
At the same time, the first car in three days is approaching us. He drives in our track,
and I can't figure how to pass him, if it wasn't for the
firm surface here. It makes up way less than one percent
of the entire stretch.
After the snack-break, my hands can move again, and my
shoulders have loosened up a bit. We were told, the
surface will improve after 40 kilometres, and I can't
We meet another gravelroad at New Xade, and do a loop in
the town. The advertised souvenir shop is closed, but we
see all the traditional San people rondawels and
grass-huts, found in bomas. Back on the road, we are met by a rather good washing board road for the next 80
kilometres. If it wasn't for the potholes, I would have
enjoyed it. The last 40 kilometres to Gantsi/Gantzi/Ghanzi
are sealed and a joy! We have managed to cross the
Kalahari in a big Z, and it was worth it.
We find the only hotel with a restaurant - only one in
town - but I think 800 pula for a rondawel is too steep,
and we go for a 60 pula campsite. It is within the
hotel's compound, and kind of cosy - when the man
with the lawnmower is done. It is, by the way, a perfect kept lawn. We ask for a place to buy souvenirs, but are
told; the shop in town is closed.
A bit of relaxation at camp, updating diary and studding
the next stint. The plan is to head for the true
desert in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The only road
leading into the park is across the South African
border, and back.
However, we have 400
kilometres of - hopefully - sealed road to cross first.
While we sit in the campground at five, we are drained
by mosquitoes. They use to stay away till after seven -
I wonder what will happen then?
In an attempt to find a postcard and a souvenir, we head
down town in the late afternoon. We are truly in the
homeland of the San People, but far from in tourist
country. Besides from some banks, a Shell station and
three supermarkets, there are only small street shops,
selling plastic and candy.
Back at camp, we check emails, and I try to upload
Zimbabwe photos. We have two hours, but the connection is
not good, and too many files fail to be uploaded. The hotel's
restaurant opens at seven, and we are so ready. We wait a
real long time for the food, but it is quite good when
it finally turns up. Back to work a bit in the steamy
car, watching the mosquitoes outside.
31/1 After a slow start on the
day, we head first towards Kang, 270 kilometres south. A
rather long stop at the local Shell station reveals the
thirst even a car can get, in the deep sands of the
Kalahari, know as Land of Thirst. It is a perfect road with only a few big
trucks. The wide shoulders of the road are a fantastic
flowerbed, almost excludible with yellow flowers from
around five species.
We see a few Steinboks, some horses and donkeys and a
lot of cows. It seems like the entire stretch is through
cattle country, and if someone is living here, it is way
out in the dense bushes. The first 250 kilometres are
bushes and trees with green grass underneath. Then it is
some other bushes and trees with sand under.
We pass a single roadkill, feeding 20 vultures. Huge
dung beetles crawl and fly over the road, and
unfortunately, we hit close to ten. I feel bad about it,
but at least, they don't spill their guts over the
Kang is a bit off the route, and a drive through it, only
reveal a few supermarkets, a gas station and a Sunday
closed post office. After a short break, we head on
towards Hukuntsi, only 110 kilometres further
South-West. Same good road, no traffic at all. We pass
the roads for the two other satellite towns of Tshane
Hukuntsi seems to be one supermarket, one gas station
and one appreciated hotel - town.
We get a nice room for 550 pula, and enjoy the
air-condition while we do a bit of laundry and diary.
Then we do the big loop in town - which lasts for ten
minutes. Gry catch up on African soap-operas, I on the
expenses accountancies involved in an expedition like
The sign say they have a restaurant, but when I ask for
it, it seems like it only serves breakfast.
1/2 Another slow start on the day,
but we only have 160 kilometres to Kgalagadi Transfrontier
Park. The first ten are sealed road, which end at the strange,
little town of Lokgwabe. It must originate from diamond
mining; modern houses scattered around a barren desert,
and not a shop.
From here, it is a wide, well maintained sandy road,
which unfortunately has some long, real soft parts. It is actually that soft,
are making hills across it, even in the firmer parts. A
few times, I'm in first, low gear 4x4, and struggling.
We pass Wildlife
Management Area KD 12 and Mabuasehube Game Reserve on
the route towards Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
The entire road most of all reminds of a wildlife park,
except from a few cattle in the first part. As with the
other parks, Mabuasehube Game Reserve expect us to book campsites in advance,
then we can only buy the permit at an office in one of the big towns.
Again, the officer at the gate just fills out the form,
and because we don't plan to spend the night here, we
only pay 44 pula. We are told, some of the lions were
seen yesterday at a specific pan; flat, barren area, and
we head that way.
Inside, the grass is yellow and in many places, the
red, yellow, beige and white sand are barren. At the
pan, we only see vultures, Springboks and Blue
Wildebeests. When we drive further into the desert, some
fine looking white and large flowers of bulbs are found
in confined areas. Some other small herbs are flowering
too, but it looks so dry!
Here are quails and the noisy strange bird, we have seen
so often in the
A few new small birds fly from Acacia to Acacia, and the
huge shadows from passing vultures passes the sand. A
few Oryxs crosses the road, and what appears as greyish
Steinboks stand in the shade of the bushes.
In another pan, some ostriches walk around in the open
space. A group of Blue Wildebeests are way more relaxed
than those we have encountered before, and even I get a
few good photos. The park is not as dry, nor as flat as
I had expected, but it is great to see the colourful
sand and green bushes.
After four hours, we have done the
loops in this part,
given up on mid-day lions and head on towards the border-city of Tsbong. It is
another 150 kilometres on sandy road, and I try to
maintain 80 km/t. It requires a firm grip on the
steering wheel, and a cool co-driver. Several times, we
loos momentum, and have to start from first, low. Only
when we reach a firm surface, we can accelerate again. A
small tornado crosses the road right in front of us, and
it is in no hurry, heading on.
Tsbong is just like the other small
towns we have passed; one gas station, one supermarket
and one hotel along with a few, real small shops. We get
a rondawel, but only because someone cancelled. They
admit, they never been this busy before. Despite we have
a complete kitchen, we head out for a pizza. Then it is
the usual doings for the rest of the evening. Well, and
the Simpsons Movie.
2/2 We don't have much of a
plan for the day, just spending our last pula, then
cross the South African border, 25 kilometres south of
here. We spend the morning enjoying the nice and big
rondawel. Then a bright idea come in play; considering
how dull this part of South Africa is: Why not spend a
few days in Lesotho, only 100 kilometres from
Bloemfontein where Gry is leaving from?
We fill the car and spend the last pula on candy before
we head for McCarthy's Rest border. Both the Botswana
and the South African side are real nice, boths the
officers efficient and with some good laughs. Then, we
are in South Africa!
Botswana is a fantastic, real
unspoiled country, but it is efficient and has a lot of
wildlife. We have been driving 2850 kilometres, and I
have taken 1250 photos - way less than I would have
taken with a proper camera - and that might be a good
1/6 of flight
11 day 4x4