Botswana update

Trip Start Jan 18, 2009
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Trip End Jan 18, 2010


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Monday, March 30, 2009

Following on from the diesel leak we spent 2 nights in Upington at the Die Eiland camp site on the banks of the Orange River. 21st March we set out for Botswana to cross at Mcarthy's Rest. We stayed over at Van Zylsrus at a cabin at Madella Lodge. They didn't actually do camping but offered us the cabin with a lovely view out over the veld. Jac the owner and Petro his partner  were very pleasant & helpful and as Jac had worked in camps & overlanding in Botswana & Zambia had a load of information & contacts for us. We left on Sunday to head for the Botswana side of the Kgaligadi Park - we had stocked up on meat etc in Uppington & then remembered you cant take meat or diary produce into Bots so we had cooked the chicken, hidden some, eaten some & were going to bluff the rest!. The exit from SA was very official with the policeman doing everything by the book - bonnet up back open etc. At the Botswana entry gate we expected the same but they didn't even look out the window at the vehicle so no problem. With carnet stamped for exit & entry we were off & made Tsebong 30km north. Unlike SA there were very few campsites, just the one on Tracks4Africa 12km out of town. We got to the point were it said turn left so we did - no signs just a really rough track so we decided to let the tyres down & see were it went & if need be wild bush camp. Off we set and realised the tracks were caterpillar ones were they had constructed a new dam (reservoir) but there was no turning back. The vehicle sailed through as usual but we were a bit bounced to pieces and when we got to the other side we hit a proper track & realised the dam had been built were the track use to be - the campsite owner shook my had as being the first person to drive through the dry dam!  Had we gone on a little further we would have seen the large sign & new track - don't always believe computers!!! Anyway, as usual the owners were extremely helpful and despite being full of off-road bikers going from Cape Town to Namibia told us to find a nice tree in the bush. The next day, Monday we had to go back into Tsebong to get a permit to camp at the Mabuasehube Kgaligadi park which took ages. We also had to get cash (rejected the night before) & sort out the phone that now wasn't working - had to get a Bots SIM card. Finally sorted we set off for the park 115 km north with the last 45 being sand - what an understatement. We fell off the end of the gravel into a wide sea of deep, deep sand with many tracks but no obvious route. So tyres back down and all lockers on we went for it on the basis that everybody else had done it. 3rd  high most of the time kept up the momentum with an occasional 2nd for the extreme bits - the Land Rover & I enjoyed it but not so sure Judi did as with sand the wheels go where the ruts are which leads to much lurching and rocking. Finally got to the park & on into our allocated site (only 4 or 5 sites with 2 spots at each for the whole park). No fences and lions a distinct possibility so we put the awning side up just in case. Spent 2 nights here but stayed put the 2nd day and lazed around. On the 24th moved to another site with our nearest neighbour about a mile away - couldn't be bothered putting up the tent awning so if we do get a visit it'll be up the ladder in and orderly fashion. We leave tomorrow (Friday 27th March) going north to Kang then down to Gaborone for Monday to meet Justine & Richard on Tuesday - that Monday will be the first internet café opportunity so this update may get updated before then!
 
Sunday 29th update.
Left Kang and headed south to Gaborone. We spoke to a party from SA and as usual very friendly & helpful. (One of them was a Campbell as was my mother!) and they told us about the Angolan rains that had pushed the Chobe River very high and flooding out places we were intending going in the next fortnight so this lead to a rethink & a trip to the Tourist Board on Monday to find out what's-what. The trip down to Gab saw the Land Rover deciding to play up with an intermittent cough with the temp gauge doing funny things - it did it in Morocco but only occasionally since but seems to be getting worse so another Monday job is to visit the Land Rover garage & hope they have a diagnostic computer to identify the fault which seems to be electrical rather than fuel. We camped in Gab next to the Bull & Bush restaurant where we've dined before on previous visits. Spent most of Sunday stacking yet more things on the roof and squirreling away items somewhere to make room for Richard and/or Justine and hopefully we are nearly there - we'll find out when they arrive 9.20am Tuesday! We are booked in to Mokolodi Game reserve just outside Gab Monday night & also the following 2 nights to give them a taste of Africa. We'll then move on up heading for Kasane in the top right corner by a route yet to be determined.
 
I'll also put this on the travel blog (www.travelpod.com search for malcolmcollis)
 
Take care all
Love Malcolm & Judi (Collis)
For the benefit of the new friends we've made on the way and exchanged details, we were the UK couple in the Green Land Rover Defender 110 spending a year in Southern Africa.

30th - Latest update - been in land rover garage for new relay & oily wiring harness - hopefully fixed now but when they came to bring it out the starting motor wouldn't work & remembering Cape Town thought the worst - just a loose wire from when they jet washed the engine so back in business hopefully.
Take care
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