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 Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012

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GirlChild
Just fitted a Snorkel
Just fitted a Snorkel
GirlChild

Posts : 419
Join date : 2012-03-07
Location : In the sands of UAE

Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 Empty
PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue Apr 09, 2013 12:43 am

tuggy wrote:
i have...VERY itchy feet again....... thumbsup

Awesome!! I like to hear it!!

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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GirlChild
Just fitted a Snorkel
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GirlChild

Posts : 419
Join date : 2012-03-07
Location : In the sands of UAE

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue Apr 09, 2013 12:45 am

Tom Mc wrote:
Too late now, but may come in handy in the future - www.africanoverlanders.com

Known them for a while now, seem a great bunch.

Tom - we had planned to visit them on our way from Cape Town to Onrus. However, they were in the middle of a site move from Gordon's Bay to Stellenbosch, so we couldn't manage.

It looks like they have a fab set up, and offering some very overland focussed services. I particularly like the shipping options!

rgds
African GirlChild

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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http://www.kapp2cape.net
GirlChild
Just fitted a Snorkel
Just fitted a Snorkel
GirlChild

Posts : 419
Join date : 2012-03-07
Location : In the sands of UAE

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue Apr 09, 2013 12:49 am

Tom Mc wrote:
I see that Oyvind's DIY storage system is still intact, that's lucky! Razz

Was there ever any doubt ?!?!?!?!?!


roamingman wrote:
Tom, that's not luck, that's good workmanship, made to last.

Thanks for the vote of confidence!!! Wink

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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http://www.kapp2cape.net
GirlChild
Just fitted a Snorkel
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GirlChild

Posts : 419
Join date : 2012-03-07
Location : In the sands of UAE

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue Apr 09, 2013 1:00 am

Another update - starting to get on top of the blog!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Through new eyes, 4th April 2013

At some point it had to happen – back to Johannesburg to repack the vehicle and complete route planning.

The first time Viking Explorer visited South Africa – all those years ago – we completed this 1,500km journey from Cape Town to Johannesburg in one epic day. Not so this time … we are more like the tortoise and less like the hare, and so it took us 3 days, including stops and visits to tourist sites.

We crossed the Overberg mountains from Onrus to Worcester before joining the main national route to Joburg. We then continued our journey through the Karoo before reaching our stop for the night at Karoo National Park (see Viking Explorer’s coming blog post).

The next morning, after our 3 hour game drive at the crack of dawn, we continued our way through the Karoo to Kimberley, a historic little town which owes its existence to the discovery of diamonds. We stayed in a municipal campsite – with a rather eccentric Botswanan backpacker as a neighbour! It was very clean, neat and tidy. Even its location in the middle of the city wasn’t too noisy – although I am almost sure I heard a call to prayer at about 0530 …

Our journey via Kimberley was specifically chosen so that we could enjoy a visit to the Big Hole. Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. Not only is the hole itself impressive – the largest hand dug excavation in the world at 215 metres deep and a surface area of 17 hectares – but the Museum is very interesting. The Old Town boasts period buildings that have either been preserved or replicated in their entirety. There is a free guided tour (OK, included in the admission price) which includes a 15 minute video about the early years in Kimberley, an underground experience, a real diamond display, and an exhibition centre.

Then, back on the road to complete the journey to Johannesburg. Again, we were reminded of the caution necessary on the roads, as we passed an overturned minibus taxi.

This whole trip was completely eye opener for me. While I love my country, so of course think it is gorgeous, this time I looked at it with new eyes: the eyes of a traveller, an explorer, an adventurer.

I was blown away.

The natural beauty is astounding. After everything we saw and experienced in the first stage from Morocco to Senegal, the variety and beauty of the Cape was captivating. It has gorgeous coastlines, stunning mountain ranges and the wide open flats of the Karoo.

It really is the world in one country. There is so much to see and do, and the country is becoming more and more tourist oriented.

I am so privileged and so proud to be South African.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
More updates on the way!

rgds
African GirlChild

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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GirlChild
Just fitted a Snorkel
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GirlChild

Posts : 419
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue Apr 09, 2013 1:01 am

Hey all

Just to let you know the repacking is going really well - so far 1 crate and 2 wolf boxes will not be continuing their African adventure. We have also emptied another wolf box which we can use for souvenirs. I didn't have space for a Moroccan carpet ... won't make that mistake again.

There are other small modifications - most notably dividers in the wooden drawers and lockable storage wooden boxes. We just found that the drawers became messy without the demarkation. This will help. (Viking Explorer has rekindled his love of woodwork in all the prep. He is already scheming with other projects for the future)

We have replaced the gas bottles which we had to leave behind in Senegal when we shipped.

Route is also falling together, but this end of the African continent is waaaay more expensive than the other end! Viking Explorer and I may be eating 2 minute noodles, pap, and drinking water for the next stretch Wink

All in all, it is coming together nicely.

rgds
African GirlChild

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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http://www.kapp2cape.net
GirlChild
Just fitted a Snorkel
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GirlChild

Posts : 419
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue Apr 09, 2013 1:05 am

roamingman wrote:
Hi GirlChild, some great reading again from the 2 of you, really enjoy your trips reports.

Glad to hear it! We do really enjoy sharing all our experiences.

roamingman wrote:
I suppose we will fill up our camper with too much stuff, so we are going to check all what we what, then pick what we need. clinking teacups

Yeah - you just need so much less when you live on the road. And, you can get what you need on the road when something runs out ...

rgds
African GirlChild

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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http://www.kapp2cape.net
GirlChild
Just fitted a Snorkel
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GirlChild

Posts : 419
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Location : In the sands of UAE

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyFri Apr 12, 2013 11:25 pm

Route planning under way! Read on ...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When we left the UK – in quite a rush of packing, storing, visiting as you may remember – we hadn’t done detailed day to day route planning. We knew which countries we wanted to visit, and we had our trusty guide book. We also chatted to people along the way, about what was worth seeing, what was worth avoiding, and did some internet research when we were in locations with internet access.

It worked well for us. We had such fantastic experiences, and really enjoyed our travels and explorations. And no, we didn’t get to see nearly enough of what we wanted to see – isn’t that always the case?

This time, we are trying a slightly different tack.

We have a bit of time on our hands at the moment, and so we are looking in more detail at which countries we want to visit, what sites and what national parks are worth stopping in. With maps and magazines in hand, intermittent internet available, we have been hard at work.

The immediate realisation is that our original budget of £50 per day, that we ably managed to stick to in stage 1 for 4 months, has flown out of the window. National Parks are expensive. Eye wateringly so at times. We are trying – as much as possible – to take advantage of the multi-tiered pricing structure (country citizen / country resident / SADC resident / international) to keep costs under control. Camping is also certainly more pricy too. Fuel looks to be about the same price, but distances are further. I guess we’ll be eating pap and drinking water for the next stretch!

Our exciting news is that Kapp2Cape will be meeting up and tavelling with Global Adventures Crew (http://www.global-adventures.webs.com/) in Botswana for about 10 days. We are so excited! We met Scott at the Adventure Overland Show in the UK before we left (Oct 2012), after having been chatting online for ages. We made an agreement at the show that we would like do a trip together “at some point in the future” – little realising that it would happen within 6 months! Hopefully the first of many.

So, for this next stage, we depart Johannesburg on 27th April 2013 – ‘Freedom Day’ in South Africa. We’ll be joining Global Adventures in Botswana for 10 days, before we head into the Caprivi strip and their journey takes them southwards. Next, we’ll complete a loop in Nambia before returning to Caprivi strip. Our journey northwards then passes through the eastern part of Zambia (having done the west part a few years ago) and into Tanzania. We will take local advice on Burundi (although it is unlikely we’ll stop) and then visit Uganda and Rwanda. Anyone who’d like to sponsor our gorilla visit can drop us a note .

And that is about as far as we’ve got. We are hoping that on this stage, we’ll meet more travellers along the way and share more experiences together – so drop us a line if you’re in the area!

But, our learning from our previous stage is that everything changes once you’re on the road – so, our actual route may not resemble anything like this at all! But at least we feel we have a better list of where we’d like to go and what we’d like to see.

And now … off to buy some more maps.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

rgds
African GirlChild

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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GirlChild
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyFri Apr 12, 2013 11:26 pm

A wandering mind is a dangerous thing ... you've been warned!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Musings on village projects and co-operatives

In an overflow of the brain, musings and reflections of the stage completed and the stage about to begin are oozing.

These are my own opinions, so be warned.

I have never subscribed to the belief of handouts – anywhere in the world. To my mind, and from what we have seen, it creates a culture of dependency and in ways is demeaning to the recipients.

So, it is inspiring for me to see when people take charge of their own lives – with or without outside help – determined to empower themselves. In places, we have seen co-operatives form where members come together to provide a product or service to the market. In other places, specific projects to improve village life (schools, water pumps, electricity) receive income generated through the village providing tourism offerings.

I applaud these initiatives.

But what I do find confusing and disappointing is the slight “distortion” in pricing that sometimes has a tendency to emerge.

Case in point – a women’s co-operative charges the same price for camping as another campsite not too far away, but with a 50% surcharge for access to ‘water’ – access to the toilet (with bucket of water for flushing) and 1 bucket of water for both of us to wash. The other campsite had an ablution block with flushing toilets and proper showers, and employs numerous locals from the nearby village.

Another village initiative invites tourists (which of course we aren’t, we’re travellers) to spend a day and night in the village and experience true village life. Even with food included, the cost per person is 10 times the price of camping in a nearby campsite. And 20 times if you book through a tour company! While I’d love to support the initiative, I can’t justify even the “cheaper” rate of £50 per person per night.

And so I stand confused. I want to support these people who are taking charge of their own lives.

But I also want to walk away without a bitter taste in my mouth, and without the feeling of being ripped off.

So, we’ll continue travelling in our own way. Maybe we don’t directly support these initiatives, but by staying in the campsite of our choosing, we are contributing to employment in the area. By buying in the local markets, we are supporting the local farmers. By visiting National Parks, we are supporting the conservation efforts.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Until next time!

rgds
African GirlChild

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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SafariDude
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptySun Apr 14, 2013 6:17 am

GirlChild wrote:

I guess we’ll be eating pap and drinking water for the next stretch!


When we lived in SA I got quite a taste for pap eating

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GirlChild
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptySat Apr 20, 2013 5:48 pm

ooooh - very itchy feet!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Our time in Johannesburg has not been idle time!

With much to do, and our departure date of 27th April – at the latest – looming, we are keeping active.

Most importantly, of course, is meeting up with fellow overlanders. As I have mentioned many times, it is such a welcoming community, so generous with knowledge, and frequently you get to know people very well online. So, we were very excited that we could cross paths with Arno & Elize of Arnize go 2 Africa (arnizego2africa.wordpress.com). We have been chatting on email for a while, so it was great to finally meet up. We had a delicious braai (barbeque) one evening, and shared our adventure so far, and compared notes for the coming section – we are both heading up the east coast of Africa.

Our repacking of the vehicle is going well. We have taken everything out, and have now gone through everything. We are relieved to have been able to take out quite a lot – but have added back a few well-chosen items that will make the next stage a little smoother.

Brodie has gone for a visit to the mechanic: Jonathan, recommended by friends of ours, has been tending to our home on wheels. Of course, EVERYTHING takes longer than expected, and there are ALWAYS a few more surprises than anticipated, but we are glad that these issues are being sorted out now rather than becoming stranded in Botswana or further north. The clutch needed replacing, and we discovered the current one has worn down to the studs and was halfway burnt out. Yikes! Then, the seals for the prop shafts needed changing. This was something we needed to do in the UK before we departed, but couldn’t find anyone to do the job. Glad Jonathan is able to fix it. Next up, the mounting bracket for the gearbox was broken. No spares available in Johannesburg, so we drove to the ‘nearest’ scrapyard specialising in LandCruisers … a mere 100km away. Viking Explorer had great fun rummaging in bins and exploring the lot. Success. So now we wait for the Cruiser to return.

We have also been out doing some mountain biking. Northern Farm is a popular spot with 3 marked trails of different abilities, and only about 40 minutes drive away. It is always good to be back on the bike – and we always wish we had time to do even more riding. We had overslept and made a late start, but it turned out that played to our advantage – most people had already finished their ride and were enjoying a cuppa at the cafe when we ventured onto the trails. The weather was stunning – I mean, it is autumn and we were cycling in short sleeves! Gotta love it! Our general level of (un)fitness kept us on the shorter, less technical trails, but we still enjoyed the scenery, and being out.

In between everything, I have been writing articles for publication in print media. It has been fun to relive the early part of the adventure – particular Morocco! That country in particular brings back such great memories. Watch this space – you’ll be the first to know when there is an article on a newsstand near you!

To say our feet are itchy is an enormous understatement. We are longing to return to the road. The National Parks are calling. And autumn is rearing its head – it only reaches about 25C during the day – so definitely time to head north.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Little update:
We have the Cruiser back, and it is running like a dream!

And ... the temperature is plummeting! Cold front came through, and it has been torrential rain, about 16C .... and with no central heating, the house is freezing!

Also discovered Viking Explorer needs a visa for Rwanda that can't be arranged on the border ...

Anyway, heading north in a few days! Hooray!

rgds
African GirlChild

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African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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GirlChild
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue May 14, 2013 1:35 am

April 26, 2013

Mapungubwe National Park

It was completely dark when we reached the campsite, and the guard at the entrance to this side of the park looked at us suspiciously when we arrived. After producing park permits, camping bookings, and the receipt for the cultural walk he let us in. We proceeded to the campsite where we had to “take down” the electric fence before we could enter our stand. Dinner that evening tasted very good after a long and eventful day.

Mapungubwe National Park takes its name from the Mapungubwe settlement found in that area. Mapungubwe Hill has been excavated by the University of Pretoria, uncovering remains of settlements as far back as 1030. The area was abandoned around 1290, is believed to have housed 5,000-9,000 people, and shows signs of prosperity. The park borders on Botswana, just south of the Tuli Block. It is easily reached by car in a day from Johannesburg – the main gate being just over 500km away.

We were met at the park by friendly staff. They showed us the park maps, the self-drive options, and explained the activities on offer. On arrival, we decided to take part in the guided Cultural and Heritage Walk, taking in the sights of the park, the archaeological excavations, and the Mapungubwe Hill. Our guide for the walk was from the area, so his knowledge of the history and landscape was excellent. He also told us that he used to visit one of the tribe elders of the local Mapungubwe tribe to learn more about the history of the area. His goal is one day to write a book about all the history he has collected.

Prior to our walk we had about an hour and a half to see some of the park. We were unfortunately in the “silly hour” – the time of day where all life hides from the sun – so we did not see a lot of game. On our drive to Mapungubwe Hill, however, we came across a small herd of elephant, kudu, and impala. The elephant was very inquisitive, and lingered at the vehicle for 30 or so minutes trying to figure out our smell.

Mapungubwe National Park is divided into two halves. The main gate is in the eastern half and the campsite we had booked at is in the western half. This unfortunately means a long drive around the edge of the park to get to the campsite entrance. We don’t like driving in the park at night, but this time it was a necessity as we had partaken in one of the activities. There is also a Heritage Centre, a restaurant, and a lodge in the park. The bird hide and the tree walk-way were closed due to the floods earlier in the year.

Our campsite turned out to be really nice, with central ablutions and washing-up area, and a braai stand, fireplace, and stand-pipe per site. We packed up early the next morning to have time for a game drive before heading towards the Platjan border to Botswana. With limited time we chose to drive the loop just outside the campsite. This gave us some good animal sightings and a good variety of scenery. It also took us past a closed waterhole – this too one of the casualties from the rain and floods earlier in the year.

All in all it was a good 15 hours in the park – but as someone close to us said; “you need more than a day in Mapungubwe”.

Facts:
Mapungubwe National Park lies 520km north of Johannesburg. It is easily accessible by car (tar all the way) and the park self-drive can be driven with a standard car.
Entry is covered by the SANParks Wild Card. Otherwise it is R30pppd in conservation fees.
Camping is relatively standard at R190 per stand (1-2 people), with an additional Rcost per person for the next four.
Each stand has a braai stand, a fire plate, and a water tap. Central ablutions with h&c shower, washing up, and toilets.
Activities include game drives, walks, and the Heritage and Culture Tour and Walk.

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
Departure: Adventure Overland Show, 7th October 2012
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue May 14, 2013 1:36 am

27 April 2013

Momela Bush Camp, Botswana

Although the border crossing into Botswana had been hasslefree, the day time temperature was rising, and we were eager from some shade. Although it is autumn, the day time temperatures still reach well into the 20’s. We were eager for a bit of shade to park up and rest through “silly hour” – the early afternoon hours when no sensible man or beast wanders around.

Leaving the main road – a gravel one – we turned off and followed the signs for Momela Bush Camp. Soon, we arrived at a small hut, and were greeted by Alex and Chris, the 2 chaps looking after the camp. After completing formalities, including indemnity forms and payment, Chris took us to our campsite.

This was nothing like the demarcated campsites of Europe or South Africa. We had our own little ‘driveway’ down to the campsite – one of only 4 on the game farm – which was a little overgrown to start with, but soon opened up to the space that would be our home for the next 2 nights.

It was stunning!

The amount of space allocated to us was larger than the entire camping area we shared with other campers in Djidjack in Senegal! We could easily have fitted another 2 vehicles without feeling crowded. Shade was provided by an enormous Jackalberry tree as well as other smaller trees. We had our own shower – open to the skies – and flushing toilet. A washing up sink was available. There was also a designated place to make a bonfire, and a purpose built braai area.

Next morning, we headed off early to take a visit to Solomon’s Wall – a natural basalt dyke looming more than 15m tall. There wasn’t a lot to see along the way: an occasional herd of impala and a large ostrich farm. I suspect that most of the game must be resident in the Mashatu Game Reserve area of Tuli Block, rather than the more western ends.

We reached Solomon’s Wall, and saw more evidence of the floods from earlier in the year. The road which crosses through a gap in the Wall was no more – having been replaced by a river! While we were admiring the scenery, a Fish Eagle flew down, and skimmed the river picking up a fish, before landing in a tree to devour its prey. It would have been even more memorable if the actual catching event had not taken place behind a small river dune.

On our return to the camp site, we explored some of the designated 4×4 routes. They weren’t particularly long, nor particularly technical, but it gave us a chance to explore a bit more of the farm around Momela Bush Camp, spot a few animals, and give our Botswana bird list a good start.

That night, we made our first attempt at home baked bread on the fire. We have acquired a cast iron flat bottomed potjie pot, which doubles as an oven when used creatively. Soda bread was the bread of choice – and successfully executed it was.

All in all, a gentle introduction to Botswana and some of what it has to offer.

_________________
African GirlChild

Website: www.kapp2cape.net
Blog: www.kapp2cape-blog.net
Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
The adventure begins in October 2012!
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue May 14, 2013 1:37 am

29 April 2013

Palapye, Botswana

From Molema, we headed towards our next destination of Khama Rhino Sanctuary. Not over extending ourselves, and needing a stop for provisions and pula, we headed for Palapye, about 60km from Khama Rhino Santuary.

On the way we crossed the infamous Veterinary Control Fence – a 3,000km fence that divides Botswana into two areas – one part that is foot-and-mouth free, and the other part that isn’t. We didn’t realise it, but we were now heading in the wrong direction, and were required to declare any products that were from hoofed animals and were unprocessed. It was all done very pleasantly, and Viking Explorer had a little discussion with the officer to understand what was included. As all our meat was still in its original South African packaging, and the officer was feeling rather agreeable, he agreed to let us go our merry way.

On our way to Palapye, we passed through numerous small villages along the way. This was a sharp contrast to our time travelling in Senegal – in a most pleasant way: it was almost litter free! Now, perhaps if we hadn’t seen Senegal, we may have defined it differently, but there seemed so little rubbish strewn in and around villages. Also, the villages seemed more ‘developed’ – rather than a mish mash of corrugated iron shacks, most houses in this area were brick, plastered and roofed. Another pleasant surprise.

While we haven’t found Botswanans unfriendly, we have found them to be slightly more thoughtful. While South Africans and Senegalese both have zany senses of humour, we found that we ended up on much deeper topics with those we struck up a conversation with. From Lee who ran the internet café in Palapye, to the gentleman from Statistics Botswana who was staying next to us at Camp Itumela in Palapye, our conversations ran from the state of conservation in Botswana to the state of politics in South Africa!

Nonetheless, after filling fuel, checking email, stocking up on provisions, withdrawing money, we found our way to Camp Itumela. Slightly off the main strip, and near the train shunting yard, was this charming camp that catered to everyone: there were chalets, pitched tents and camping pitches. Also, a fully catered camping kitchen was provided, with microwaves, fridge, cooking and washing up facilities. The final charm of the camp was the assortment of turkeys, geese and chickens that wandered around.

We also met Kevin and Seriana. They are travelling through Botswana, Namibia and South Africa in a rented kitted our 4×4. We enjoyed a pleasant evening together, doing what travellers do best – swapping stories and information!

The next morning we made one last stop before heading up to Khama Rhino Sanctuary – Botswana Tourism. What a bunch of friendly people! And given how tucked away their office is, I doubt very much they have many tourists visiting. We asked them many questions, which they patiently answered, before loading us with magazines, maps and brochures and sending us on our way.




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1 May 2013

Khama Rhino Sanctuary

We saw them! The rhino. They are a rare sight these days, but fortunately there are some left. I wonder how long we will still have rhino due to the demand for their horn – and therefore the subsequent poaching – from the Far East.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary was set up to provide a safe haven for rhino. After a bit of a shaky start they are now very successful, so successful in fact that they are used as supplier of rhino to other parks and sanctuaries in Southern Africa. Measuring 8,500ha (4,300ha originally with 4,200ha recently added on in a land swap) it provides plenty of space for the rhino to roam. Fortunately for the rhino, the Botswana Army is patrolling the Sanctuary, making their presence known regularly at the waterholes.

We arrived just before lunch. The check-in procedure was efficient and friendly, so we were soon on our way to our campsite for a bite and a rest before heading out on an afternoon drive. In the car on the way to the campsite we decided that we wanted to take part in the Rhino Tracking walk the following morning – it is an opportunity too good to miss when you are there! At our campsite we were greeted by the two resident Yellow-Billed Hornbills. They took a real liking to Brodie, using the mirrors and wind screen wipers as perches. After a rest we headed out for an afternoon drive, stopping past the bird hide and one of the pans. No sightings of rhino that afternoon, but some lovely sightings of game and birds.

The campsites are large and spaced out nicely, so you are not really disturbed by the people next to you. The campsite itself is situated at one end of the sanctuary, about 3.5km from the main gate. It has shared ablution facilities, while each stand has a braai place, a fire plate, and a stand pipe. All nice and clean and in full working order. It is also clear now that we are in Botswana; there is no fence around the camp site. This of course means that all animals that are in the park, large and small, can wander through as they please. No night-visitors for us, though.

0600 the next morning Store and Ogi came to pick us up at the camp. We were clearly not on African Time, as they said 0600 and they showed up a few minutes early! The idea is to go out before other guests and the morning guided drives go out, so that we can pick up fresh tracks of rhino around the water holes. Then we follow the tracks until we find the rhino… this can take 10min, or it can take a lot longer. Our first tracks led us to a female with her calf. It was a relatively easy tracking – their spoor were clear and easy to follow, as they had stayed on the path we were following. The next tracking was a completely different story – we tracked for more than an hour before we spotted them – a mom with a youngster. This tracking was also much more difficult; we had to backtrack a few times, and we also had to rely on other signs like grass and dung to find the tracks again. It is quite special to arrive at a rhino midden (toilet) to see fresh dung and to feel that it is still hot – the rhino cannot be more than 15min away at that point. Suddenly we see them. The largest must have been about 2m at shoulder height! Enormous. We had a good look at a safe distance, and then headed back. On the way back Store mentioned that we had to pay attention when following the paths in the bush as we could easily run into other game – and around the next corner we came across another rhino. We circled at a safe distance and headed back to the vehicle. A very successful morning.

That afternoon we went out a bit early to try to reach the far end of the park from the campsite. All the roads are deep sand, so driving is slow. It was surprisingly dense when we were there, so not always easy to see game. There are, however, a number of pans to stop at where viewing is good. We had a very successful drive with sightings of kudu, impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, steenbok, springbok, and black-backed jackal, and a number of birds. The final stop at the pan also treated us to a pair of rhino coming down to drink. It is magic watching these large animals go about their daily business.

Our stay in the park ended with the final drive the following morning. Although a very enjoyable drive, we did not see any rhino on our way to the gate. We were, however, treated to a herd of zebra arriving to drink at the water hole where we had seen rhino the previous evening. As we had had some really good sightings the previous morning we felt content, and exited the sanctuary on a high note. Yes, it is a bit pricey to camp. Yes, it is a bit expensive to go in. But we have seen that the money generated from visitors is providing a safe haven for these very special animals.

Facts:
Khama Rhino Sanctuary lies about 60km from Palapye. Palapye is on the N1 between Martins Drift border crossing and Francistown.
Entry fees for us were P115 for the two of us, and P70 for the vehicle, per day.
Camping was P150 for the for the night for the two of us.
Our Rhino Tracking was P317pp. A morning walk is P200pp.
There is a restaurant and a bar in the sanctuary, and a small shop at the entrance gate selling drinks, some tinned food, and wood. The shop also has curios from the local area.




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3rd May 2013
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Magic. I’m running out of superlatives, and it is difficult not to repeat myself when writing these posts.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve lies in the middle of Botswana. It is the size of Switzerland or Denmark, and probably does not contain more than about 300 people at any given time. It has 36 campsites, and a few lodges, and nothing else. Just large areas of forest, shrub land, and sandy grass plains. There is a network of roads running through the park, with a 4×4 being essential. No running water in the park, and no stores to buy provisions. The campsites have now been slightly upgraded from what they were: they have a shower enclosure (use your own water), and a long-drop. Still, they are clean, spaced far apart (the one we stayed at was 15km from the next one), and all have good views.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_5560-448x298-300x199The access road is a sandy track that heads straight west for 40km, until you reach the gate. Sign-in done, it is then another 40km on the same sandy track until the first open pan. Although setting off early from Khama Rhino Sanctuary it was still a long day of driving. But it is worth it!
Our first campsite was at Sunday Pan. As we arrived quite late, we elected to go straight to the water hole first. It was very quiet that day, so we ventured back onto the plains to watch the herd of wildebeest graze leisurely in the afternoon glow. Back at the campsite we enjoyed a hot meal before falling asleep to the sounds of the bush.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0616-448x298-300x199Our next campsite was booked at Passarge Pan. We set off early to take advantage of the cool morning air, staring intently into the bush for animals waking up from their night sleep. A brief stop at the water hole on the way out gave us three female kudu coming in to drink, and the drive itself gave us gemsbok and springbok. For us birders, a very special sight on the drive was the melanistic form of the Gabar Goshawk. This form only accounts for 6-25% of the population.
We enjoyed lunch at the campsite in the company of a Pale Chanting Goshawk. It had captured a field mouse for lunch, and had decided that the tree at the campsite was a good place to eat. We were treated to the very rare sight of a raptor eating its prey. The mouse disappeared head, feet, fur and tail – not letting anything go to waste. After we had headed out on our afternoon drive –where we spotted a quartet of bat-eared foxes – our friends were treated to the sight of a black-backed jackal snatching one of the resident ground squirrels at our campsite. We really saw nature at play that day. In the evening, there was a lone predator of sorts wandering around the perimeter of our camp. Not quite sure of the sound, but either a lone jackal or a lone hyena.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_5581-448x298-300x199Having ventured quite far into the park, our departure the next morning was at 0630 – so that we could do the 80 or so kilometres back to the gate before 11, official park exit deadline. On the way out we spotted a honey badger before the real treat: lion coming walking down the road towards us! We were able to stop the vehicle right next to the bush where it had decided to chill for a few minutes, before it decided to move on. What a stunning sight. What a sensation to be that close to a big male lion! And we have some really good photos for our scrap-book as well. Very exciting. And a brilliant end to a lovely encounter with the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Facts:

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve lies in the middle of Botswana, on the road between Palapye and Maun. From Maun south to CKGR it is about 200km on tar before you turn off on the sandy track.
  • There are no provisions in CKGR. All you need for the duration of the stay must be brought in, including drinking water and fire wood.
  • Reservations for camping must be done before entering the park. Camping for internationals is USD50pppn. Camping for SADC residents is R250pppn.
  • Conservation fees can be bought at the offices for the national parks in the main towns (Maun, Lethlakane, Gaborone, Francistown, Kasane), or you may be able to buy them at the entrance gates. Fees are P120pppd, and P50pd for the vehicle (under 3.5t). Vehicles over 3.5t are charged at P1,000pd!
  • 4×4 is essential. You cannot get in without good ground clearance and low range. Tracks are sandy and narrow with low branches, so big trucks will have problems.

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4th May 2013
Makgadigadi Pan Game Reserve
This is elephant land! Every park we have visited has been special in its own way, and on our entry into Makgadigadi we were introduced to the large mammals who would be our constant companions in this and the next parks.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 IMG_3878-448x336-300x224The western entrance to Makgadigadi – Khumaga Gate – requires a typical African ferry crossing. Much like our experience of crossing the river in Senegal, this ferry was little more than a floating pontoon. It was only able to carry one vehicle at a time – unlikely to manage to carry anything larger than a 4×4 – across the narrow 100m width. The ferryman – Otie – was all smiles. He helped each of us in turn to cross for the requisite fee.
Makgadigadi Pans Game Reserve is a relatively small park – 3,900 sq km – which was established in early 1970s. It is complemented by Nxai Pan National Park – a further 2,500 sq km – which was combined with Makgadigadi to form one park in the early 1990s. Together, the parks protect large tracts of salt pans, palm forests, grasslands and savannahs.
As with other parks, the entry procedure was accompanied by smiles and helpful suggestions of where to drive for an afternoon self-drive. The game tends to congregate around the Boteti River in the dry season, so this was recommended for the best sightings of wildlife.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_5670-448x146-300x97We didn’t need to venture far at all – after about a kilometre we spotted a herd of 9 elephant on the water’s edge, fortunately some distance below our vantage point on the road. While “ticking off” the animals we’ve seen is part of the enjoyment of visiting parks, being able to watch their behaviour is very special. Here, we watched for half an hour as the family herd gradually made their way into the river, bathed and played. Some elephants disappeared completely under water, while others preferred to walk in until their bodies were half submerged. Hierarchy played its part – two youngsters waited a long time on the river banks until more senior members of the family had finished.
By now, the sun was high and it was time to make our way the final few kilometres to the Khumaga campsite – complete with flushing toilets, and solar heated water for showers. Bliss! We rested up under the shady trees, enjoying a relaxing lunch.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0628-448x298-300x199On our afternoon drive we kept to the sand tracks following the river route. At times, we overlooked the water from a height, at times dropping down to river level. The landscape looked somewhat apocalyptic: the trees were broken off or pushed over; they looked dead or dying. It felt desolate – except for the large amount of wildlife present. Elephants continued to be the theme, and we were amazed by the number we saw, and the evidence of many more by the numerous elephant spoor. We also saw a large herd of wildebeest on a small plain near the water’s edge, kudu, zebra, and impala.
Campsites here, too, are unfenced, and the previous evening elephant had sauntered through. That evening, our campsite was visited by honey badgers, who rustled around in the undergrowth not far from the edge of our camp. No other nocturnal visitors.
The next morning, we headed through the park to exit at the northern gate of Phuduhudu. Once we were away from the river, the landscape changed as more trees seemed to survive the onslaught of the elephants. The wildlife was also scarce – clearly staying near to the water.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0632-448x298-300x199While I enjoyed our first encounters with elephants, I could not help but wonder if the park has more than it can comfortably handle. At times, it had the feel of a UK safari park, with many roads and cars taking visitors close to the wildlife. Our subsequent visits to Moremi and Chobe certainly enforced my feelings of Makgadigadi, and so this would not be a park that I would visit again.

Facts:
• Makgadigadi Pans National Park lies between Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Maun. From Maun south to CKGR it is about 100km on tar before you turn off on the sandy track.
• There are no provisions in Makgadigadi National Park, but ablution facilities are clean and comfortable
• Reservations for camping must be done before entering the park. Camping for internationals is USD50pppn. Camping for SADC residents is R250pppn.
• Conservation fees can be bought at the offices for the national parks in the main towns (Maun, Lethlakane, Gaborone, Francistown, Kasane), or you may be able to buy them at the entrance gates. Fees are P120pppd, and P50pd for the vehicle (under 3.5t). Vehicles over 3.5t are charged at P1,000pd!
• 4×4 is essential. You cannot explore the park without good ground clearance and low range. Tracks are sandy and narrow.

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8th May 2013
Moremi Game Reserve
Elephants. Not just a few – many. Not just one herd – many.
It is funny how some places appeal to you, and some don’t. Moremi really appeals to both of us. It is a lovely mixture of forest, grass, plains, and water – both river and water holes. It is a peaceful park. Although there are other vehicles around it doesn’t feel cramped or busy. And it is teeming with life.
Moremi Game Reserve lies north of Maun. Maun is the tourist centre for Central Kalahari, Makgadigadi, Moremi, and Chobe. From Maun Moremi can be entered from the south, giving access to the middle part of the park. We entered from the west at the Maqwee Gate, giving us access to the camping areas of Third Bridge, Xakanaxa, and Khwai. Moremi was established in 1960 and encompasses 3,000 square kilometres, and is one of the best places to access the wildlife of the Okavango delta.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0685-448x298-300x199I think it took us about five hours to reach our campsite at Third Bridge once we had cleared the gate formalities. There is a “main” road (sandy) that heads relatively straight to the camp. We took the scenic route that took us closer to the Okavango – and therefore in theory closer to the animals seeking water. We were rewarded handsomely! At one spot we rounded a corner and saw a herd of elephant drinking very close to the road. We stopped the car in the shade about 200m away and just observed. They were in no rush, and I think we sat there for about 25min before they moved off. The same happened only about 5km from camp, where three successive water holes had a herd of 15+ elephants at each. We found our friends at Campsite 1 and sat down for a well deserved lunch.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0693-298x448-199x300Campsite 1 is situated so that it overlooks a small pool in the river with a pathway leading up to a grazing area for hippos. It is therefore also a destination for the guests at the other campsites, as it provides good views of hippos. We met many friendly people that afternoon, while we decided to stay put and not go out for an afternoon drive. Just before we turned in for the night we were also rewarded with two hippos coming out of the water to graze just 10m from our campsite. They knew we were there so just ambled past while grazing quietly. A superb end to a superb day.
Scott and Karl’s faces were priceless when we showed them the photo of a mokoro. There was also much giggling and banter as we all settled into the two mokoros for a two hour trip in the waters of the Okavango. Sitting so low down gives you a different perspective of the marsh lands, and you never know what is around the next corner of the maze of waterways. It was a quiet morning, and two very peaceful hours on the water.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0672-448x298-300x199Camping in the wild has its own rhythm, and it is seldom this rhythm is disturbed. Wake-up usually happens from about five, and set-off is at sunrise or just before. Mid-day is spent in the shade, and afternoon drives start from about four. Driving ends at sunset, with the camp fire coming to life about the same time. Usually, the camp is quiet at ten at the latest, sometimes as early as nine. At ten that evening we had to get up and walk over to our neighbours – a party of five vehicles from SA – that were still finishing their dinner and large amounts of beer and wine. Apparently they had booked both campsites 1 and 2, but since we were in 1 they had to cramp into 2. Their excuse was that they had arrived late, but they did turn the volume down, and about 30min later all was quiet.
From Third Bridge – which is a series of poles laid out over mud and water – we headed east towards North Gate and Khwai. As with the road in to Third Bridge, there is a “main” road and a series of tracks leading closer to water. After a few trials and errors (seasonality is badly reflected on a GPS) we found the elevated viewing platform overlooking Dombo Hippo Pool. We saw hippo, and an African Darter using the one hippo as a diving platform.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_5841-448x298-300x199North Gate campsite is just inside the park at the Khwai gate, right next to the river. Although we did not have direct view of the water, it was clear we were on a game path leading in that direction. There was elephant spoor on the ground from earlier that day, probably from the elephant we could see in the distance. A decision was made to move the car to the other side to avoid conflict later. As we were about to eat dinner we heard rustling in the bushes next to us – and a few moments later a large elephant emerged about 50m from us, using a tree as a scratching post. It is a fascinating sound – a loud, dry, rasping.
That evening gave us another treat: we were about to close the car to go to brush teeth when we heard rustling again. Big torch out, I swung it in the direction of the sound. I think the hyena and I both got an equally big fright! It was not even 10m away, its eyes shining red in the beam of my torch. It quickly hid behind a bush, observing us. When I lowered my beam it came out again. Eventually it moved off down the road, no food found at our campsite. I like ending my days with these types of experiences, and it was a very nice bonus to our stay.
Moremi is a park we will return to!
Facts:

  • Moremi National Park lies to the north west of Botswana, north of Maun. From Maun to the Maqwee Gate it is about 100km, 30km of tar and 70km of relatively firm sand.
  • There are no provisions in Moremi. All you need for the duration of the stay must be brought in, including drinking water and fire wood.
  • Reservations for camping must be done before entering the park. Camping for internationals is USD50pppn. Camping for SADC residents is R250pppn.
  • Conservation fees can be bought at the offices for the national parks in the main towns (Maun, Lethlakane, Gaborone, Francistown, Kasane), or you may be able to buy them at the entrance gates. Fees are P120pppd, and P50pd for the vehicle (under 3.5t). Vehicles over 3.5t are charged at P1,000pd!
  • 4×4 is essential. You cannot get in without good ground clearance and low range. Tracks are sandy and narrow with low branches, so big trucks will have problems.

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Overland from Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas
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10th May 2013
Chobe National Park, Botswana
This was our last stop in Botswana, the culmination of a fantastic two weeks, and with a fitting finale.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0804-448x298-300x199Our exit from Moremi National Park was followed by a 40km sandy track until we entered at Mababe Gate. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the easiest navigation, but we found our way to the entrance. Once again, we signed the necessary books and forms, and stopped to look at the little owl that was sleeping under the top of roof. Off we went on our 70km journey up to our campsite at Savute.
Chobe National Park is 11,000 sq km and claims to be home to Boswana’s most varied wildlife, with the Chobe river front and Savute marshes providing different habitats.
It was another typically hot, sunny, cloudless sky. Travelling northwards, the sun streamed in the car, making us sweaty and uncomfortable. The animals outside were doing their best to avoid the heat, and so we saw little by way of wildlife during the 3 long hours we took to reach Savute. The landscape was, however, quite different from Moremi. There seemed to be more grasslands, and open plains, with small trees and bushes. We opted for the sandridge road, rather than risk the marsh road – surely during the wet season this would be impassable.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0827-448x298-300x199Our campsite overlooked a small river, enjoying the shade of a large tree. Elephant enjoy the campsite too – there were many elephant footprints, and the ablution block had a very impressive elephant-proof wall built around it! I emerged from a trip to the ablution and headed casually down to our campsite – in my casual backward glance I noticed a large elephant sauntering from behind the ablution and heading across to one of the other campsites!
On our afternoon drive we wanted to explore the numerous tracks in the vicinity of Savute. Again, the elephant were numerous, and we rounded corners with care. One particular corner had an elephant on either side, and they were either agitated or playing with us: as we edged forwards, they edged closer to the road; as we edged back, so did they. We elected not to play the game, and took a different route. But we were spoilt with other special sightings of elephant: we watched a Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_5876-448x298-300x199lone elephant enjoying a dust bath, throwing up trunkfulls of dirt which landed on his body; we watched a small family of 5 elephant drinking at a waterhole, the youngest still small enough to fit under his mother and still learning how to use his trunk to drink; and we watched a herd of about 15 cross the river towards us where there once was a road.
We also came across a group of vehicles who were watching for 2 male lions to wake from their snooze under a tree. Try as we might, we couldn’t see them, and we found out later that they stayed sleeping and resting until sunset, when everyone returned to the campsite.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_5869-448x298-300x199We also saw a large herd of buffalo – probably more than 100 – amongst small trees. Some were grazing, some lying down, none of them concerned as we slowly drove past. Our first siting of waterbuck was also during the afternoon – the white markings on his hindquarters very distinctive. We also saw the regulars: zebra, impala.
That evening we heard the lion roaring. Many of them. They seemed so close by – just over there. But we never saw them. The elephant continued their activities into the hours of darkness, with much trumpeting.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_0833-298x448-199x300The next morning, it was back on the road, as we made our way from Savute to Ihaha campsite. This required us to leave the Chobe National Park and cross through the Chobe Forest Reserve. The sand changed in colour from almost white to a deep red. The conditions were just as sandy and just as deep.
At Kachikau, the sand turned to … tar! The Chinese have laid a beautiful tar road that leads from here all the way to Kasane – the border town where Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe all meet. We also found the first craft market since we arrived in Botswana, and managed to pick up a gorgeous wall hanging. Scott and Karl were grateful for the adjacent bottle store, and stocked up on essential supplies.
A quick 40km later and we re-entered the Chobe National Park at Ngoma Gate, and made our way along the enormous Chobe River, which feeds into the mighty Zambezi. It was breath-taking: the river stretched hundreds of metres across. On the other side: Namibia. The track followed the river with a few places to venture closer to the water for a look.
With time heading for the hottest part of the day, any active wildlife seemed to be heading to or from the water. We were spoilt with a rare siting of hippo grazing on the side of the river. We identified a few new birds and saw many of usual suspects: kudu, impala, zebra and also many giraffe.
The campsite was spectacular: although smaller than most others, it was a mere 10m from the edge of Chobe River. Up close and personal.
On our afternoon drive, we headed further east along the Chobe River. Scott and Karl would be heading this way the following morning, but we would be heading back to Ngoma gate to cross into Namibia. We saw an enormous family of giraffe – at least 40 or so, browsing quietly. There continued to be many elephant – on the whole, they were unconcerned by us, only the occasional youngster felt the need to trumpet and flap ears as we passed – but not in an aggressive way. We saw another large group of buffalo – again, more than 100 grazing among the trees. And we saw a huge crocodile swim away from a dead buffalo in the water.
Our last night in Botswana.
That evening, we enjoyed sundowners as we watched the sun set over the Chobe River. The hippos grunted and a crocodile floated past in the twilight. As the night drew in, the frogs started their serenade. Magic.
The following morning was our farewell to Scott and Karl, as they completed their Botswana adventure and we headed into Namibia. We were interrupted by a vehicle coming past: “Have you seen the lion?!” We all jumped into our vehicles and headed off in the direction of the pointing finger. After passing another car (Daniela and Niels who we had seen at Savute) who gave us more information and pointed, we continued our search with little hope as they seemed to be disappearing into the bush.
Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 DSC_5994-448x298-300x199So, we were pleasantly surprised when we saw a female and male emerging from the trees, and heading at an angle past us. Unbelievable. They stepped into the road, and made their way along for a little way before crossing over. Then, they stopped and lay down in a sunny spot each. She emitted little murmurs while he closed his eyes and dozed in the sun.
What a perfect way to end our time in Botswana. Definitely a place to visit again.

Facts:
• Chobe National Park lies between Moremi Game Reserve and the border with Namibia. It can be entered from Maun in the south, from Ngoma in the north west, or from Kasane in the north east.
• There are no provisions in Chobe National Park, but ablution facilities are clean and comfortable
• Reservations for camping must be done before entering the park. Camping for internationals is USD50pppn. Camping for SADC residents is R250pppn.
• Conservation fees can be bought at the offices for the national parks in the main towns (Maun, Lethlakane, Gaborone, Francistown, Kasane), or you may be able to buy them at the entrance gates. Fees are P120pppd, and P50pd for the vehicle (under 3.5t). Vehicles over 3.5t are charged at P1,000pd!
• 4×4 is essential. You cannot explore the park without good ground clearance and low range. Tracks are sandy and narrow.

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue May 14, 2013 6:51 am

Heaven!!! cheers1

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyTue May 14, 2013 11:10 pm

Great stuff indeed. clinking teacups
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyWed May 15, 2013 2:37 am

This all looks incredible, just re-read the last few pages, makes me want to take the trip!

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyFri May 31, 2013 5:55 am

Jas wrote:
This all looks incredible, just re-read the last few pages, makes me want to take the trip!

Jas - you'll love this part of the world! SO much to see and do ... and we haven't even reached Zim yet!!

Namibia posts to follow ...

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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyFri May 31, 2013 5:57 am

May 12th 2013

So, here we are. Already been in Namibia a few nights! Time is just flying.

After crossing the border at Ngoma, we headed up to Katima Mulilo. Here, we had a few errands to take care of: draw Namibian dollars, pay for Namibian road tax, fill fuel, buy provisions.

We knew ahead of time that South African Rands are legal tender in Namibia too – but didn’t realise how completely interchangeable they are until the ATM dispensed a mixture of Namibian dollars and Rands! That helps.

Next, paying for road tax was quick and easy. The gentleman was very friendly and helpful, and gave us his recommendations for places to visit while we are here in Namibia. It is valid for 3 months, so should be sufficient.

We also managed to find a tourist information – what a good idea to stop. We collected a number of very useful pamphlets and brochures that will be useful guides as we search for eco-friendly and community campsites.

On our way in, we stopped past a baobab tree that is supposed to serve as a public toilet – but I may have misunderstood as it was all guarded behind a barbed wire fence, and locked. Oh well.

Finally, we were on the road again to our campsite for the next 2 nights – Mazambala Lodge. This is located close to the eastern edge of the narrow part of the Caprivi Strip, and overlooks the Kwando River. The lodge itself is a boat ride away from the campsite – we didn’t manage to visit it, but I am sure it must be stunning. As for us? We just took it easy. After such hectic driving in Botswana, it was nice to have a day to start catching up with ourselves. We took it seriously easy.

The campsite was gorgeous. Not only the location, but it had lovely ablution facilities as well as washing up sinks. Very well thought out.

After 2 nights, we were back on the road for a shortish day – less than 200km on tar. All we needed to do was cross the narrow part of the strip. We decided we’d stop past Popa Falls – but when we arrived, it was closed due to the building (or renovation) of the resort. Instead, we went up to Divava Lodge and Spa and asked if we could have a coffee. They were only too pleased to invite us in – and it was stunning! The complex lies in the most beautifully manicured gardens, and the restaurant and spa treatment rooms over look the river. We had a lovely relax in such tranquil surrounds.

But, that was not our stop for the night, so we made our way the last 30km to Mobola Lodge. Again, a truly well thought out campsite. It overlooked the Chobe River with Angola across the way, and each campsite had a flat paved area, built in counter with washing up sink and braai area. Lastly, electricity to plug into and a light. The ablutions were built to match in perfectly with the surroundings. It was started only 3 years ago by Alex and his wife Maja, from Germany. A lovely evening.

rgds
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PostSubject: Re: Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012   Kapp 2 Cape: Nordkapp to Cape Agulhas starting Oct 2012 - Page 8 EmptyFri May 31, 2013 5:58 am

14th May 2013

Towards Etosha

Next day was a longish one – we needed to make it almost 300km to Roy’s Rest Camp just outside Grootfontein. We also discovered that the main part of Namibia is on a different time zone! So, turning the clocks back gave us an extra hour in the day.

On the way, we stopped in Rundu to find the “Forget-me-not Coffee shop”. It took a lot of exploring and eventually a phone call to find it. When we parked, a gentleman warned us that “tsotsis” frequent the area and we shouldn’t leave out vehicle unattended for fear of being broken into. He offered to watch it while he was waiting for a security guard to come and watch his. It was sad that we had to be made aware of petty crime, but we took up his offer and went to enjoy a quick coffee before returning with a hot chocolate for him. Then, it was time to drive to Roy’s.

Like all tarred roads in Namibia – it seems – this one too was long and straight and straight and straight … The roads are in excellent condition, but score about 1 out of 10 for maintaining interest. It can become quite hypnotic.

Roy’s Rest Camp is fantastic! It has oodles of character, and is well worth stopping by. It has an eclectic mix of art works using anything lying around – bits of cars, pieces of wood, bricks. So creative. It had an awesome little internet café tucked away under a tree – which just received wifi signal from the main farmhouse.

Each campsite had grassy patches for pitching ground tents, a braai area, and a table with bench made from stone. Also, electricity to plug into and a light. The ablutions were also tastefully done, and warm water was generated by a donkey boiler our back. Just perfect.

Viking Explorer met a fellow camper – Alex – who is a tour operator in Cape Town. He gleamed much useful information, and Alex answered numerous questions. It has given us much food for thought.

By the next morning, I had to admit to myself that after a week self-medication wasn’t working. A little niggly ear ache / sore throat had grown to the point where I woke up at 5am and took 45 minutes to slowly sip a hot drink to try and bring relief. Our very kind hosts gave us the location of pharmacy and doctor in Grootfontein – a mere 60mk drive away. After stocking up on venison for the next few days (just delicious) we were off.

Now, the entire time I have lived in the UK the doctors have treated me like I was a hypochondriac and dismissed me the few times I have gone in. I fully expected the same, but felt I just needed to see someone. This doctor treated me with such respect – and even examined me! As it turns out, my sore throat is more than just that … I have tonsillitis! At this ripe old age of … ahem … 25 I am fighting childhood diseases! But fortunately some common sense prevailed. No bedrest for me – just a pile of antibiotics, awesome pain killers and seriously strong mouthwash, I was told to go and enjoy my trip to Etosha. I like it.

But first, time to stop for coffee at a lovely little coffee shop set in gardens. Then, next stop to see the world’s largest meteorite – some 50 tons – which lies just outside Grootfontein. Then finally back on the road to reach Onguma – our campsite just outside the eastern entrance to Etosha.

Onguma Bush Camp is set in a private reserve, with no facility to self drive. The chalets and restaurant overlook a little waterhole and there is even a swimming pool! Our campsite is similarly fabulous – with our own brick ablution facility and electricity! I am getting used to the this style of camping.

So, tomorrow, we are off into Etosha. So excited. Can’t wait.



rgds
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18th May 2013

Etosha National Park

We are suffering from a bit of sensory overload after three days in Etosha. It is not easy to describe the scenery, the vegetation, the vastness of the Etosha Pan, or the animals we saw. Or the numbers of animals we saw…

Etosha National Park started out in the early 1900s as a 90,000 square kilometre park, but the last century has seen it reduced to the current size of just under 23,000 square kilometre. The park is tourist friendly, with a good network of gravel roads, natural and man made watering holes, and three nice campsites. There are also lodges in the park, and a number of private lodges and guest farms surrounding the park.

Our route took us into the park from the Von Lindequist Gate. We spent the first day in the Namutoni area, exploring the surrounding waterholes. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of animals in the herds we saw – and it was only the start. There were big herds of springbok and zebra in particular, and there were also larger herds of gemsbok than we have previously seen. There were also herds of black-faced impala. At lunch that day we picked up that our neighbour had seen lion at the Kalkheuwel waterhole, about 20km away. Unfortunately, they were not there when we arrived on our afternoon drive. We were, however, treated to about 10 giraffe drinking there, and to about 25 elephant drinking at the Koinachas waterhole on the way back to camp.

On day two we drove from Namutoni to Halali. Again, we stopped at the Kalkheuwel waterhole, just in case. Good decision! 6 lion lounging about, full tummies, still some blood left on their faces. Didn’t even bat an eyelid as we arrived and parked amongst the other vehicles. I think we sat there for an hour before they moved off. As we were heading back towards the main road, we spotted a herd of elephant heading towards the waterhole. We turned and went back, and 10 min later they arrived. The herd was about 30 strong. About 15 min later a second herd of elephant arrived, also about 30 strong. We were now watching between 50 and 60 elephant drinking less than 20m away from us! Awesome.

In between watching the elephant and the lion we were also treated to two Gabar Goshawks, a Booted Eagle, and a Pale Chanting Goshawk. They were all just in the trees around the waterhole, watching what was going on.

Our next surprise came at the Goas waterhole. As we arrived we saw a few vehicles parked, all facing and looking towards the trees – they were watching three lion dozing in the shade. As we were positioning ourselves to get a good look the one lioness took off in pursuit of a young impala ram. She did not go too far, though, and her chase did not yield any results. But it is exciting to see a lion in full hunting mode.

At Halali we went to the local waterhole for the afternoon. As we arrived there was very little life, but after about 30 min a rhino appeared. A black rhino. Wow. We sat there watching it for about 30 min while it drank – and chased two impala rams away. Later that evening I went up again for a quick look. A herd of about 20 elephant were drinking. And then another herd of about the same size came in. A bit of trumpeting and flapping of ears and all was ok. Then – and this was magic – six black rhino came out from between the trees and wanted access to the waterhole. Black rhino charge first and ask questions after – and there is no love at all between elephant and rhino. This could be interesting… The rhino mock-charged, and there was a lot of huffing and grunting, trumpeting and flapping, running around. Eventually, after the dust had settled, half the elephant had moved off back into the bush and the six rhino were drinking next to the elephant that remained. In all of this, I don’t think many noticed the spotted hyena that arrived at the waterhole just to find itself in the middle of a stand-off. It quite wisely decided to move off and come back later.

The next morning, on our way from Halali to Okakouejo we stopped past every waterhole on the map. Not much water at the first few, but at the Nebrowni waterhole there was water. And life. Probably nearer 300 springbok and 50 or so gemsbok. And a spotted hyena; the second for the day after we saw one at an earlier waterhole. This was also after we had passed a herd of more than 300 zebra. Neither of us have ever seen herds this size before – a real treat.

We were now getting tired from the heat and from three days of magic, so we decided to exit Etosha and go to our next campsite outside the park.

So long Etosha, we might very well see you again.

Facts:
Etosha National Park can be accessed from a number of gates. The Von Lindquist Gate in the east off the B1 and the Anderson Gate in the south about 100km north of Outjo are the two most used. There is also a gate in the north east, and a gate in the west. The west gate is only if you have a booking at the new lodge.
Etosha has everything if you have forgotten to stock up. There is a shop and a fuel station at each of the three main camps, plus post office and curio shop. All facilities are good, and there is electricity at the campsites.
Entry fee is N$60pppd, with a N$10 vehicle fee. Park entry is for 24hrs.
Camping is N$420 for two people per night: N$200 for the site, and N$110 per person. We prebooked through The Cardboard Box. Drop-in is possible, although it could be full in the high season.
The roads are flat and wide so are suitable for everything from a Smart-car to a DAF quad-cab truck.
Binoculars, a good camera, and a map of the park (N$37.50 at the curio shop) are essentials. Easy access to water and a snack-box is also recommended.
When you depart the park, your red meat needs to be sealed or cooked. Etosha lies inside the foot-and-mouth zone.



rgds
African GirlChild

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