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LarsS

 

This TR is a bit overdue, as it took place may/june 2018. Despite not having written a TR up to now, it certainly is one of my most memorable and intense safari experiences.

 

This is what adventure looks like:

 

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Change of desire
Throughout the years, my desired experience for my next safari changed constantly. From the first experience of a larger, fenced lodge to more exclusive and or open camps and actually be in the wilderness. From airconditioned rooms to tents with the flaps up. From closed vehicles to bush walks. You get the point.

 

Trip of our dreams
Last year’s trip felt like sort of the end stage of how wild we will make it on safari: a selfdrive camping safari in Botswana. No guide, no arranged camps, just the two of us and a fully equiped car in the midst of bush and wildlife.

We had been dreaming of this kind of trip for a while, but struggled a bit how to arrange it and prepare for it. We went to a specialised travel event in Amsterdam. Here we spoke with several smaller tour operators/agencies and found someone who we trusted to help book this trip. Usually we do it all by ourself, but we had a lot of questions and needed help.

 

So many questions
Questions like: What’s a good car hire company? Which vehicle do we want? What do we need to pack? In which condition are the roads? What if we get lost? What do you eat on a camping trip? How safe is it to be on your own? How much food and drinks do we need to take? How to make a fire? Will it be hot at night in the tent? Or cold? And much, much more.

 

Finding help
We’re city people, never go for camping and we usually look for comfort and sometimes spoil ourself with luxury. Despite this trip being a huge desire, I was also nervous about getting out of our comfort zone for this adventure. Therefore help and advice from someone who knew what she was talking about, was really usefull.

 

She helped arranging things and answered many of our questions. Also thanks to the members here who gave me advice and answers on our questions. Eventually all this gave us the confidence to book this trip and drive in to the bush for 6 nights with just the two of us.

 

Our itinerary
Day 1: Maun - Arrival in the afternoon
Day 2: Maun - Mokoro halfday trip
Day 3: Maun - Rental car instruction and shopping
Day 4: Maun to Khwai Communicty Camp - start of our selfdrive camping adventure
Day 5: Khwai Community Camp
Day 6: Khwai Community Camp
Day 7: Khwai Community Camp
Day 8: Khwai to Third Bridge - boat trip
Day 9: Third Bridge
Day 10: Third Bridge to Maun


We booked this trip end of January 2018, just a few months in advance. It was a bit of a puzzle with dates and availability, but we were happy getting this itinerary together.


Preparations
Before we left home, we did some preparations. We did a lot of research for what to pack and made our own pack list. It requiered some shopping. Some things we bought were really handy, like the headlights. Others were probably a boyhood thing, like the survival knife my wife questioned (used it as often as I could to prove we needed it). And some were a total miss: a solar powerbank that costed around € 100, used it once and I haven’t seen or missed it since day 2.

 

We also made a day-by-day menu. Which might sound silly, but it helped figuring out what to buy and think of easy to make meals. Decided to buy some stuff at home as we didn’t know what would be available in stores in Maun.

 

Last preparations: we did half a day 4x4 driving at home. The instructor had been to Africa himself many times, in fact he (partly) owns a lodge somewhere in SA, and he customized the route for terrains we would drive through in Botswana. It was a lot of fun, very helpful and we learned much more than we needed.

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LarsS

Our arrival in Maun didn't go as smooth as planned. Our booking for the nights in Maun was at Rivernest Cottages. We received a warm welcome with a drink, were explained about the daily routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, got instructions how and where to connect to wifi and filled in some paperworks. So far so good. We sat there and asked if we could go to our room now. That's when we were told we would not be staying with them, but at another accommodation. Really weird to hear this only when we did the whole check-in process and we were already 45mins at their place. It then took a lot of time to find somebody who could take us there.

 

Finally someone just took the car keys of somebody else's car and drove us to Kamanga Lodge & Hotel where we had to do their whole check-in ritual. Staff there was helpful to let us use their phone and call the mokoro operator and car company that our address had changed; they also helped explaining to them where we were located. So next morning we were picked up at the right place for our mokoro trip.

 

Mokoro trip

I think we drove about 1,5 hour to the mokoro station. We picked up another Dutch couple and had a nice chat together. All four of us were happy to have a small group for this trip. More cheers and smiles when we met the guides at the mokoro station. After a short explanation and preparation, off we went!

 

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The other two mokoros in front of us: one with the other couple, the other stocked with equipment and food.

 

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I really enjoyed the tranquility on the water. The beautiful environment decorated with flowers. The high reeds adding to the excitement of this trip.

 

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The first bird on our boat trip: an African darter.

 

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Somewhere we went ashore on an island. Here we were going for a bush walk and had lunch before we returned to the waterways for the way back.

 

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The walk started with the sighting of some zebras in the distance.

 

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We couldn't get very close to the zebras, although with 60x optical zoom you might have guessed otherwise based on the pictures. We tried to find a way of getting closer, but they eventually moved away.

 

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The next sighting were some girafs even further away.

 

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Forgive me for posting such a low quality picture. It's the best one we shot and we weren't allowed a lot of time for pictures. By this time, the excitement of the walk had disappeared. Because at every photo opportunity we were told to keep walking. I can't recall seeing any birds during our walk. We don't have any pictures of them either. But at this point it was clear that our guide wasn't going to point things out for us.

 

We were quite happy the walk ended as it wasn't what we expected it to be. Luckily, as all four guests being dutch, we could talk about it and made some jokes about is as well to make the most of it.

 

Time to get in the mokoro again. With good cheer we got into the canoes again and were excited. During lunch we could hear a few hippos closeby, so we really hoped we would see them.

 

They were far away and stayed beneath the surface most of the time. This boy showed up briefly though, just enough to take a picture.

 

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This time it was my turn to sit up front, enjoying the views over the open water.

 

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We took pictures of the other couple and they from us. However, we lost their emailaddress or wrote it down wrong, so we never got to exchange pictures. This picture is also the last one where we were still enjoying the trip and the last picture of this trip...

 

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On the way back it looked like the guides were making it a sort of competition. On the open water that wasn't so bad. In the small waterways it was much more tricky. Our guide missed a corner, tried to recover from his judgement error and then... THE MOKORO TURNED OVER!

 

I really thought we were falling out into the water. Water was coming in and somehow I had the awareness to grab my gear and my backpack with more gear in it, and lifted it above my head to keep it dry. Which wouldn't matter if we were falling in seconds later... luckily that didn't happen. Somehow the guide managed to balance the boat just in time.

 

Still, we were soaking wet and sitting in a pool of water. We gave our bags to the other couple and uncomfortably continued our journey. No more racing, no more talking, just the shortest way back to the station.

 

I think the worst of all was there were no apologies. No one of the guides said anything to us. Not the remaining half hour in the mokoro and not at the station. Nothing.

 

We were in contact with the lady who helped us book this trip, so we mentioned it and later that day we were met by a few people who came to apologize and offered us some wine and snacks. Which was really nice. They also told us no one had told them about the incident and they were really sorry. Apologies accepted. Overall we were mostly happy that our camera gear didn't got into the water, albeit we had other expectations about this trip. A bit of a falls start, but still some nice memories of the serenity of this beautiful landscape.

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Hads

Wow @LarsS that was one close call - not the wisest thing to do by the guides that's for sure.

I cant wait to read more of your report.

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LarsS

Next day we were met by a representative of Travel Adventures Botswana who brought us our car for the selfdrive camping trip: a Toyota Landcruiser. I don't know if all briefings are as comprehensive as theirs, but I didn't expect 1,5 hours explanation of the car. We literally practised and checked everything. Setting up the rooftop tent, doing an inventory check, setting up the shower and toilet, how to use the gas tank and adjusting the tyre pressure. Really friendly guy who made us feel really well prepared for the camping trip. Anybody needing a rental car, I can recommend this company based on my experience with them and the car.

 

The afternoon we spent doing all the neccassary shopping, which was quite a lot. It was our request to have the car delivered a day before departure and I can't see how you could have it delivered on the same day you would head out to the bush.

 

Some pictures along the way as we drove from the outskirts of Maun

 

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into more rural areas...

 

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until the road looked like this. Noting but wilderness.

 

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Completely empty roads, although busier as you think. You hardly see other cars, but once you stop, it doesn't take long before other cars pass by. Probably it's almost a one way road, where in the morning everybody is driving into the bush and in the afternoon cars are heading to Maun.

 

Navigation was easy. In the first place because there was only one road. And in the second place we had Tracks4Africa on our gps, which was setup by Travel Adventures Botswana. They made routes for us, avoiding water crossings that were tricky.

 

After a few hours a two cars were standing still, so we stopped. They missed the 3rd car of their party. We had seen the other car, which turned away from the main road at one point. That clearly wasn't making the others happy. My wife's cell phone had a signal, so we tried to reach them, but they hadn't. in the meanwhile we figured out we were actually neighbours for the coming nights. They were going to Khwai Community camp as well, spot number 4 and we had spot number 3. What a coincidence! Really friendly people that we would meet few times the next days as well.

 

We stood there for some time when a car of a lodge stopped as well. (made us compliments as we hired a car from one of the best rental companies according to him) We decided to make a plan, which involved us following the lodge car, which was quite a challenge to follow as he was a far more experienced driver than we were. Very nice of him to lead us the way to the campsite. The other cars would be waiting a little longer with one of them driving back a little bit to meet the others or to meet the other car at the place where we gathered.

 

When we arrived on our campsite, I think the others arrived only 10mins later with all three cars. But there were other 'distractions': a few elephants crossed the camping area. What a welcome!

 

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There was enough time to head out for a short afternoon gamedrive, but since it was our first day of camping and we still hardly had any idea what we were in for, we decided to take all the time to setup camp and make use of the daylight as much as possible. We didn't want to figure out everything in the dark.

 

Our campsite existed of nothing but a piece of land. We picked a spot next to a tree, which shielded us a bit from the other guests (although the closest neighbours were 300-400 metres away. Our campsite was a bit more remote compared to the others.

 

First things first: we dug a hole and setup our bush toilet.

 

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Time to setup the rooftop tent:

 

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And evenutally our camp looked like this:

 

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Meanwhile, wildlife was never far. We were the only ones at the campground, everybody else left for a drive. Wildlife just passed through the campsites of the other guests.

 

Elephants were at this point still very special and something we could not believe we witnessed so close in the campground.

 

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The impalas were around as well, although they clearly were feeling less relaxed.

 

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And when they suddenly run away, we were on high alert what caused them fleeing the scene. We didn't see anything though.

 

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Hungry after driving and setting things up, we made ourself a nice meal with hamburgers, jacket potato and some cooked veggies.

 

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We had set up camp, made ourself dinner, did the dishes and made ourself ready for bed. All finished before the end of daylight. Which resulted in us sitting there and thinking 'ok, what do we do now?'. It's too early to sleep, but it's now getting dark so what's the safest thing to do? We read a little bit sitting in a chair against the car when darkness fell.

 

During daylight I already noticed my senses were doing extra hours. I heard every little sound of the bush. Everytime it was just a bird going through some leaves, but everytime the sounds alerted me. In the dark, probaly the same was going on, but it felt different because you couldn't see things.

 

Then we remembered the answer of the guy of the car rental company on ur question: 'how safe is it too be out in the darkness of the evening?'

'Very safe', he answered. 'Sometimes you sit in front of your car and suddenly an impala runs out of the bush! And then seconds later, a lion chasing that impala!'

 

That first night, we were in bed really early. Not because we wanted to sleep, but because we felt more safe inside the tent. We had to laugh about ourself, but also thought it was a good idea to experience the first night like this so we knew what we could expect on other nights.

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Atravelynn

This is quite the adventure.  Overturned mokoro is very frightening.  Thank goodness your cameras were not ruined or worse yet, you got hurt.  No apologies is just sad.

 

Good points on what to do when the sun goes down.  I think you chose wisely.

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LarsS

We had a real good sleep in the tent and I can't recall being awake of many bush sounds. Apart from the hippos in the morning. The next morning we made ourself ready for the first gamedrive. Folding the tent back up was actually quite easy. We made some tea and had thermo mugs to take it with us on the road. We also had rusks and similar easy to go food. This made the morning routine pretty smooth. Time to find those hippos that woke us up!

 

They were not far from us, as the campsite was close to the river. There was a sort of a pool where we were just in time to see the last hippos getting back in the water.

 

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First we only looked at the hippos. After a while we noticed a few other animals around. Like this frankolin:

 

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A yellow-billed hornbill. A bird we would get very used to see in the coming days.

 

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A female kudu made a brief appearance.

 

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And a lone guinea fowl checked us out.

 

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We were off to a good start and had hardly been driving from our campsite. Ofcourse we wanted to see more, so we decided to drive along the riverfront. We had bought the Moremi Game Reserve Tourist Map, which has good detailed maps to use to navigate the area and plan the direction/area for the whole drive. I was surprised how easy it was to navigate through the bush.

 

But we weren't there to find our way, we were there to find animals. Like this zebra for example:

 

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A lone zebra didn't make sense, so we drove in his direction to see if we could find more.

 

At first no other zebras, but we did spotted this squirrel.

 

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And there was a short sighting of this banded mongoose. I don't see them that often, so a really nice sighting on the first full day.

 

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And then, we found more zebras, together with a group of wildebeest.

 

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We planned this trip before the Ulusaba safari, first time in Sabi Sands. One of the things we were really excited about, was the opportunity to see wild dogs for the first time. But Sabi Sands 'ruined' that for Khwai. But just as with other sightings, you can't see them enough. So when we saw those ears rising from the grass, we were really excited!

 

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Wild dogs! And we found them all by ourself. We were really over the moon inside the car. A wild dog sighting and we were the only car at that time.

 

How it often goes with sightings like these, at first there was only one dog to be seen. But when the first dog stood up, another dog lifted up his head. It appeared to be a pack of around 8 dogs.

 

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The guinea fowl didn't bother the dogs at all. I thought they could become a nice snack for the dogs, but they just walked between the pack.

 

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The dogs looked to have been hunting. Sometimes in the deep grass, behind a dead tree, they seemed to be eating of something small. Eventually they lay down again, but this time within our sight.

 

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When they started to lie down, other cars were coming our way. We took a few last pics and let the others enjoy the sighting.

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LarsS

Our first gamedrive was a huge success! Everything else would be a bonus from this point. The first bonus? Zebras.

 

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And then, elephants!

 

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Time for some birds, although not the best photos of this holiday. Some sort of bird of prey feeding on something up in the tree.

 

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A red billed hornbill

 

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And a Bateleur I believe.

 

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More ellies enjoying the taste of the high grass.

 

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We were slowly driving back to the campsite, but more elephants required our attention. We both could watch them all day. Driving by ourself, we not only could spend as much time as we wanted, we did spend as much time as we wanted! The joy of selfdriving, no other guests and no breakfast that was waiting for us.

 

There were a lot of ellies along the waterfront. Which also was kind of unexpected. On the drive away from camp we didn't see one elephant, driving the same route on the way back and now they were everywhere. Such fun to watch them.

 

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This one was having a bath and I've never seen an elephant enjoy it as much as this one.

 

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Some of you may recognize this one from my toilet picture from another TR ;)

 

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Best side mirror view ever! Time to say goodbye and finally get back to camp for breakfast/lunch. By the time we got back, it was already 13hr. We took our time and didn't thought of food because of all the excitement :) 

 

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LarsS

The afternoon gamedrive was much shorter in duration and not as rich with wildlife sightings as the mornings gamedrive. Nonetheless, it was great to explore the bush again. We didn't go for the waterfront this time, which might be a reason for less wildlife. We wanted to drive more through the bush.

 

Trusting our sense of direction, we left camp in another direction and drove in a totally different direction than we had in mind. 'Welcome to Chobe' says the sign. That's not where we wanted to go. How can you get in such a wrong direction within 5 minutes? Luckily it was just 5 mins, so we turned and drove the opposite direction.

 

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We visited a waterhole/pan with some hippos in it.

 

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An elephant was standing on the road. We waited till he was off the road and passed. Still, driving up to such a huge animal and pass it within metres, makes you feel vulnerable and respect these grey giants.

 

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We then recognized the area as the place where we found the wild dogs this morning. No cars around this time. Having missed out on the dogs on other safaris because they were alway moving, I didn't expect them to be here anymore.

 

But they were!

 

We were just in time. They were about to move away. We managed to attract the attention of another car, one of our neighbours, and they joined in the sighting. They crossed the road and soon were off into thicker vegetation. At some moments we just forgot to take pictures as we were completely absorbed in the moment when one dog walked metres in front of us. Amazing and beautiful creatures!

 

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This was already the end of our afternoon sightings. But not the end of our wildlife encounters. This time you'll have to do with a story though.

 

We were more comfortable in the bush compared to the first night and didn't mind having dinner in the dark. We had a lamp lighting the area in the front of the car, headlights to see what we were doing. We prepared a nice pasta meal and sat down to enjoy it despite it being dark. You can get accustomed to the circumstances quite fast.

Just having started eating, there were some sounds again. From birds going through some leaves, ofcourse. What else could it be? My wife was convinced it was something different. I just wanted to eat, so I said if she thought it was something different, she should check it out. Well, that didn't take long. One look over the shoulder made it pretty clear. A huge bull elephant visited our campsite! While we were just sitting in our chair, the elephant stood right at the other side of the car!

 

We both hold our breath for I don't know how long. The elephant didn't care a lot. Apparantly he liked to feed on the tree at our campsite. When my wife asked me what we should do, I just said: 'well, let's eat before it's cold'. We didn't move in case it would upset the elephant. After every bite we looked at the elephant, he never cared to look at us though. And suddenly, just as quiet as he walked towards us, he walked away. So big and yet so silent.

 

A meal to remember!

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Atravelynn

If those hippos were near your camp, you were wise to take to your tents at night.  Don't want to run into one of those guys in the dark when they are feeding. 

 

Your intro shot belongs on a brochure cover or commercial website for Botswana camping.

 

You got close to the eles.  Nice rear view mirror shot.  The nice light came out when the dogs appeared.  Great squirrel shot.

 

Eles in the water are always fun.  You're seeing lots on your self drive!

Edited by Atravelynn

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mopsy

Cracking start to your adventure @LarsS wild dogs in both the morning and afternoon is an outstanding way to begin!

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LarsS
6 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

If those hippos were near your camp, you were wise to take to your tents at night.  Don't want to run into one of those guys in the dark when they are feeding.

 

You definitely don't want that no. They weren't that close though, we didn't see hippo tracks near the campground. I think the grass was greener on the other side of the water.

 

6 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Your intro shot belongs on a brochure cover or commercial website for Botswana camping.

 

Thank you so much for your kind words @Atravelynn! :)  (this shot was actually taken at our campsite at Third Bridge)

 

1 hour ago, mopsy said:

Cracking start to your adventure @LarsS wild dogs in both the morning and afternoon is an outstanding way to begin!

 

Thanks @mopsy! We were so lucky with the wild dogs sightings! And the TR has only started... ;) 

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LarsS

The next morning someone expected a breakfast. Unfortunately for the red billed fellow we weren't planning on staying in our campsite for long. Get ourself ready for a gamedrive, make some tea and hop into the car to explore the bush. Eating and drinking can be done while looking for wildlife. Besides, we both have a low appetite on early mornings. Just like at home, where I usually have breakfast when I've been awake for more than 2 hours, on weekdays that is. Though we didn't give the hornbill any food, we did appreciate his presence though.

 

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The red and yellow hornbills were around our campsite everyday. A bird that we didn't see that much, was my designated favourite bird:

 

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Today we wanted to try and find some new species we hadn't seen yet. We talked to our neighbours of campsite number 4. They were very keen on finding cats, although there were no real signs of them. Ofcourse we would be interested as well, so we were also going to look and see if we could find tracks of cats.

 

The first track we found clearly belonged to someone else:

 

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Not really a surprise to find this one, as we were driving along the river. The suspected owner, or at least a companion, was spotted moments later.

 

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A little later we found this track. This looked a lot more promising, although we were not sure which animal left this print. What do you think?

 

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We checked the book and made a short list of options:

- wild dog

- leopard

 

Wild dogs were seen in the area, but as a pack. There was only a track of one animal. We checked for more footprints along the road, but none were to be found. So we crossed out the possibility of a wild dog.

 

Could it be of a leopard? We were told they like to hang around by the river. We were really on high alert, who knows if a cat was around? We drove into the direction of the footprints and thoroughly inspected the trees.

 

We first found a few giraffes in the distance. Too much water between us to get closer.

 

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It was hard to find a route through this area. Some routes were just loops, others a dead end because there was too much water to drive through. Nonetheless a beautiful landscape to explore and a real adventure to drive your car here. Not many cars had been driving this area, as the roads were less clear and the grass very tall.

 

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And where there's water, there's a.... fish eagle

 

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On the ground we spotted this group of storks.

 

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Two warthogs were enjoying the grounds around the lake. Don't they have beautiful white moustaches?

 

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We left the wetlands behind us and drove more into the bush, where we found some zebras grazing:

 

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Then, in front of us on the road something small crossed it. I stopped the car, just in time to see these mongoose crossing and taking one quick picture. When we drove up to them, they had disappeared in the tall grass.

 

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An impala all by himself

 

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Another nice sighting followed, but it was a bit far away. A few sable antelopes with youngsters:

 

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Time to get back for brunch. What better way to drive back than along the riverfront to catch a few elephants on the way back?

 

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Overall a really nice drive. A pity we couldn't follow up the tracks. Still not sure what they were about. We had a chat with our neighbours, who also hadn't seen any cats. Although there was a car that thought they might have had seen a cheetah. It sounded more like a wish than an actual sighting. But it also got us thinking if it might have been a cheetah track?

 

So, what's your opinion of this track? Is it a dog or a cat? And if it's a cat, do you think leopard or cheetah? Really curious about your opinions.

 

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Edited by LarsS

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ForWildlife

Wild dogs on the first self drive! It doesn't get much better than that!

 

The track is a hyaena track. Clear nails so no cats (also doesn't have the 3 lobes at the back). Wild dog track is narrower, but more importantly, the back of the foot is angled, which is typical for hyaenas, especially their back feet, so this would be the back left foot of a hyaena I think.

 

PS: your roan are sable!

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LarsS
1 minute ago, ForWildlife said:

Wild dogs on the first self drive! It doesn't get much better than that!

 

The track is a hyaena track. Clear nails so no cats (also doesn't have the 3 lobes at the back). Wild dog track is narrower, but more importantly, the back of the foot is angled, which is typical for hyaenas, especially their back feet, so this would be the back left foot of a hyaena I think.

 

PS: your roan are sable!

 

Oh, did I write roan? I'll correct my mistake. I do have to think about the difference for a second to know what I'm seeing, so may be that's where the confusion came from.

 

Funny, we ruled hyena out because we thought that their footprints look wider. So we applied the same logic as you did for ruling out a wild dog. But ofcourse, you do need to know what's wide and what's narrow. Knowledge of tracks is not our strong point. In our book it showed nails at a leopards print, but may be they're not out when walking? May be also the hope of finding a cat blinded us a bit. Thanks for clearing this up @ForWildlife!

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LarsS

Back at the campsite it was time for pancakes!

 

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We brought a few add water only pancake mix from home, very convenient for moments like these as it's really easy to make. Well, my wife made them...

 

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...and I ate them! :) 

 

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Tasted delicious! Energy level fully recharged, now resting a little bit and then time to head into the bush again.

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LarsS

For the afternoon gamedrive we headed out to the river again. Keen on finding some elephants. The first ellies were already in the water:

 

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And while we were watching those two, others were trying to get unnoticed to the river. Which made for another nice mirror view :) 

 

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As time passed by, it became more and more busy with ellies in the river

 

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Zebras were coming to the river as well. But the elephants or our presence made them change their mind. Probably went to a quieter spot along the river.

 

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A lechwe was lying down by the river.

 

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Time for some birds, we had a few nice sightings:

 

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Last in this series of birds, these ground hornbils, of which one had lost his red colour.

 

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Just like in the morning, we found giraffes. This time a lot closer, but we also worried a bit about them.

 

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They were with just the two of them. They looked young and really nervous. We thought they might have lost their herd. We drove in the area to find more girafs, but didn't see any. As these two were just standing still and not going anywhere, I was hoping no predators would find them. I felt sorry for the nervous girafs.

 

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A more fun sighting were these youngsters, although very briefly before they were hidden in the bush. Probably the same sables as earlier this day.

 

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With only 200 metres to drive to our camp, we spotted elephants again. A very happy calf with her mother.

 

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Time to really get back to our campsite. But the elephant sightings continued.

 

Tents look really small when an elephant is standing next to it.

 

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Then this one headed our way...

 

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Time to stop setting up the tent and just hold your breath and enjoy this moment.

 

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Thanks for an unforgettable visit, mr Elephant!

 

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Another photo-less story of the night. We had a bbq that night. Before we were done, something came running towards us from the bushes. We didn't see anything, but could hear it coming. Adrenaline was pumping through our veins A hyena run straight into the open area, about 50 metres in front of us! We looked at him, he just stood there and looked at us. It wasn't late and we still had to clean up. But there was a hyena watching us... The hyena wasn't very cheeky, lucky for us. He lay down in the grass and patiently waited for us to get in the tent. We cleaned up, every now and then shining the torchlight in his direction. The eyes lit up, but the hyena really didn't move. We sat down, had a beer and then went to bed. Seconds after we closed the tent, the hyena walked in our campsite, looking for leftovers. At one point he stood next to our car, I stared down right while he looked up. So close to wildlife, exactly the kind of experience I was hoping for on this trip!

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colbol

Hi Laars 

Loving your story - that is a big jump -(over time admittedly- )from upscale accommodation to doing what you did :D Well done for taking up the option.

Wild dogs - bathing Ellie’s - (so many Ellie’s in Botswana) and all creatures great and small - well captured. And those pic’s of the  Bateleurs are magic.

Thanks for this journeys 

Cheers Colour

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LarsS
13 hours ago, colbol said:

Hi Laars 

Loving your story - that is a big jump -(over time admittedly- )from upscale accommodation to doing what you did :D Well done for taking up the option.

Wild dogs - bathing Ellie’s - (so many Ellie’s in Botswana) and all creatures great and small - well captured. And those pic’s of the  Bateleurs are magic.

Thanks for this journeys 

Cheers Colour

 

Glad you enjoy it!

 

13 hours ago, colbol said:

that is a big jump -(over time admittedly- )from upscale accommodation to doing what you did :D Well done for taking up the option.

 

Hopefully you won't be disappointed with my next update...

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LarsS

The next morning our red-billed guest for breakfast was already waiting for us in the tree.

 

1910821264_Botswana2018(363).JPG.ab693e2d2e15f2961dd6eb9044656fac.JPG

 

Although we had one more night at the campsite, we said goodbye to our friend. Based on the above you might wonder why would you interrupt the camping trip? Well, not everything was smooth and easy during our camping trip.

 

In hindsight, I think we had too little time to relax from work and travel to be properly rested to get out of our comfort zone like this. It also was kinda cold turkey to go out to a campsite with absolutely no facilities at all. Getting up in the morning, packing everything up, the hassle of doing everything all day and the lack of comfort (especially a good shower), a bad night of sleep, it asked something from us. Those are things we remember as some inconveniences, but we cannot really recall what caused our sudden change of minds.

 

Our decision? Let's drive towards Khwai North Gate and find a place to stay for one night. Although I really stand behind our decision (after all, it's our holiday), I also feel a bit embarrassed we didn't stay that last night and went searching for more luxury. Hopefuully you're not disappointed with us now @colbol, as you just gave a compliment on choosing this option.

 

Anyway, we had packed everything and were about to leave this beautiful campsite, but in the hope not to return. We were not sure ofcourse, because no availability at a lodge would mean another night camping.

 

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We took the mainroad, but still spotted some animals in our search of a lodge.

 

First sighting of the day was this Tsessebe

 

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The main road was very quiet and therefore some zebras took the opportunity to enjoy themself.

 

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Constantly on the lookout for wildlife, I noticed some movement in the bush at the side of the road and suddenly a guinea fowl made a run for it. More than enough time to stop the car and have a look at them. Only one made dared to cross the road, the others waited till we were gone.

 

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The first lodge where we stopped didn't have room, they were actually still building it, can't remember the name though. At our second stop we had more luck. Sango Safari Camp was happy to have us as their guests and we were happy to spend the night at their camp.

 

Our accommodation for the night, an elevated tent:

 

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With the luxury of a bathroom

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And a really comfortable looking bed!

 

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The main area of the camp had a restaurant

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A lounge area

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And a swimming pool

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The inconveniences were forgotten very fast. We relaxed at the lodge, enjoyed viewing wildlife in front of the lodge, which was situated along the river by the way.

 

Hippos were around all day and night and even came out of the water during the day

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Elephants enjoyed the green grass and water of the river

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A blue waxbill inspected the space underneath our tent.

 

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And we, we were feeling very relaxed as you can see by this picture of my wife :) 

 

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LarsS

In the afternoon we decided to go on a drive with the guide of the camp. No other guests were joining, so it was a private drive, which was very nice.

 

The drive started of with some zebras:

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The guide drove to an open area, way more open than areas we had seen so far. It was a bit swampy, so no surprise to see lechwes around here.

 

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And where's water, there are hippos.

 

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An African darter

 

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As we took our time, we also spotted a croc at one point. Something you could easily overlook if you would have stayed less time

 

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And there was this pretty bird making an appearance as well

 

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Driving through thicker bush, we shared the road with an elephant.

 

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Apparantly he had no faith in our guide, so the ellie showed us which way to go.

 

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There was no need to worry about the quality of our guide. A little later he spotted this owl up in the tree. Very well spotted!

 

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We had seen a hyena at our campsite at night in the dark, but this time we had a better sighting as it was lighter and we could get closer to the hyena.

 

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But it wasn't hyenas we were looking for in this area. It were dogs and we managed to find them! An excited sighting ofcourse, but the dogs were on the move and moved pretty fast. It was difficult to keep up with them and therefore we literally only took these four pictures.

 

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It was very nice to have a guide taking us and also being treated with a lovely meal back at the lodge. This was just what we needed to recharge and get back to camping and selfdriving the next day.

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lmonmm

Oh, @LarsS  you shouldn't be embarrassed at all. I was totally impressed with how you two took this trip on and you did it very well, but I'm sure it can also be a bit of work. And, as you say, you are on vacation. Personally, I love reading all the self-drive TRs, but when I'm on vacation, I like a little pampering, a bit of someone else taking care of things for me as it's a nice change from me taking care of me. I can see how this was a great re-charge for you two and kudos for recognizing it and acting on it.

 

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Alexander33

@LarsS

 

Well done, especially on the wild dogs and sable. 

 

I’m impressed with your gumption to have tried out this style of trip. I’d never have the courage or patience for it, so kudos to you two!

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colbol

Lars cant blame you for looking for comfortable accommodation/showers etc have done so ourselves for a mind break as much as anything. But always found that after camping - I couldn’t sleep in a bed -weird aye.

looks like a nice camp and surrounding area . Cheers Colbol 

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Atravelynn

That hyena looks like it wants to join you.  If you are embarrassed about spending the last night in less rustic conditions, then I am a complete weenie for never having done even 1 minute of self drive safari in Africa.

Edited by Atravelynn

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gatoratlarge

Wow!  I'm not sure I'd have the guts or the chutzpah to self drive Africa --- for one, I think I'd fear I'd miss spotting wildlife while concentrating on not driving into a hole but you really did it!  Any successful sighting of wild dogs is a great victory and you saw them three times already!  Amazing!

 

Close encounters with elephants....sable...fantastic!

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