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South Africa & Botswana, we had a blast!


MR1980

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@@MR1980

 

Also I have enjoyed your trip report, and even more your photos. Thanks for the effort; and looking forward to see more panoramas. Have you done multiple vertical or multiple horizontal shots? Handheld or tripod? Average # of shots per panorama?.

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August 26th 2012   The drive from Khama Rhino Sanctuary to Kubu Island is long but with our Garmin GPS and Tracks4Africa installed on it, it wasn’t too difficult to find our way across the pans. I r

August 28th 2012   Today would be another adventurous day with several challenges concerning transport by boat, plane & car… The 1st challenge was to get to the other side of the Boteti river! C

And so it continuous... Finally...   August 29th 2012   After a good night sleep at Discovery Bed & Breakfast we got up at about 06.30AM, had breakfast and went to Maun to get some things don

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@@xelas,

 

Good to hear! Most panoramas are handheld, sometimes I use a tripod. My camera does it fully automatic, I only have to choose wide or extra wide and move the camera from left to right or from right to left and keep it straight. Vertically also works by the way. My camera is a Sony Alpha SLT-A55V, nothing really special or expensive but I like the panorama function very much because it is so easy to do.

 

Have a good weekend!

 

Michel

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Atravelynn

I too really like your panoramas. They really show the expansive horizons.

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Your panoramas have garnered much deserved attention...I would also like to say I like the ones where I can see your shadows, as it gives the whole frame a great sense of scale. Everything looks gorgeous.

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Peter Connan

@@MR1980,thanks for the beautiful photos of Khubu

 

I love that place so much, I actually got married there!

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Thanks @@Atravelynn & @@Marks for loving my panoramas so much! They work especially well with landscape images. :)

 

@@Peter Connan wow that must have been an amazing experience and one of the best days of your life I guess?! Happy that my images remind you of that day!

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

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Atravelynn

You'll have the perfect excuse to revisit for special anniversaries, or any anniversary, @@Peter Connan!

 

Seeing your birthdate on your profile, @MR 1980, this next comment may go over your head or more appropriately in one ear and out the other. But whenever I see an attractive panorama I hum to myself, "That's a nice panorama" to the tune of "She's a Bad Mama Jama" by Carl Carlton from back in 1981. The lyrics are a bit chauvinistic I admit but it's a great funky tune!

 

Pardon this goofy aside and on with the show.

Edited by Atravelynn
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  • 1 month later...

I haven't heard about this specific song @@Atravelynn... ;) I will finally continue the story with my next post!

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Hello dear forumites,

 

Firstly, as it is my first post of 2015 I would like to wish you all a happy and healthy new year and I hope all your (safari) wishes may come true… Secondly I’m sorry it took so long for me to continue the story but I’ve been quite busy during the festive season and beyond with several things, one of them being the planning of this years unexpected but nevertheless much welcome trip to South Africa! Due to circumstances we thought we were not able to visit our beloved continent but as it seems circumstances have changed a bit so we have decided to come to Southern Africa again, and only South Africa this time to be specific. And as you know planning is a lot of fun but it’s also very time consuming… But I’ll stop talking about our next trip because we have a dedicated section on the forum for that! ;)

 

By the way, I made a typo at the start of my previous story, the date should have been August 25th

 

August 26th 2012

 

Finding our way across the pans from Kubu Island to the A3 main road between Nata and Maun wasn’t too difficult for us thanks to our GPS but nevertheless we were happy to have tarmac under our feet/tyres again. I was thinking about stopping for lunch at Planet Baobab but since it was already midday and I didn’t exactly know the condition of the road from entering the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP) to our campsite we thought it was best to just move on and reach for camp. We had no problems reaching the gate to MPNP but unfortunately they had no wood for sale so they gave us directions to a small village a little bit further down the road where they should have enough wood available.

 

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Upon arrival at the village we were welcomed by some happy looking and waving kids. We parked our car and walked towards a couple of men. By the time we had reached them it seemed as if the whole village had gathered around us and they all were very interested in why we visited their village. We explained we wanted to buy some wood and luckily this was no problem at all as they had more than enough wood available. We loaded the wood on the roof of our Hilux, paid for it and hit the road again. Back at the gate of MPNP we paid our entrance fees, lowered our tire pressure had a look at the impressive skulls and then I engaged 4x4 because I thought we would probably need it very soon anyway… :)

 

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And boy did we need it… For some stretches of very thick sand 4x4 wasn’t even enough, we even had to put it in Low 4. If I remember correctly this was how it’s called, you need it when you go through very thick sand. In Namibia and the Kgalagadi we didn’t need it so please correct me if I’m wrong. It was tough, it was rough but eventually we made it to our campsite near Khumaga without seeing much wildlife along the way. The campsite is positioned next to the heavily flowing Boteti River but unfortunately it hasn’t got a river view but none of the campsites has that so we’re happy with the site we were given. As it proved to be a rough ride in the park and a long day in general we decide we won’t go out for another drive today and just relax, clean a few things, put the tent up and eat. Fortunately we’re not the only ones at the campsite so we can have a nice braai in the dark without being too scared of being eaten, we hope the noise will keep the predators away, at least for our first night in the wilderness. At some time during the evening we here some people screaming and we fear the predators have come for us but that’s not the case as it is “only” a Honey Badger which is rading the dustbins in the camp. We’ve never seen one before so we’re very happy with this sighting and went to bed not much after it, looking forward to the next day when we’ll be exploring the park more relaxed we hope… Oh, and by the way, if anyone happens to know what kind of bird the bird on the right directly above this text is please let me know. I was thinking about a juvenile Fish Eagle but I'm not so sure about it...

 

Cheers, and till next time!

 

Michel

 

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Edited by MR1980
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Happy new year to you as well, @@MR1980! Hopefully this year's safari will be as productive as the one you're sharing now. A honey badger at the first night of a new site...sounds like a good omen.

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Happy new year to you as well, @@MR1980! Hopefully this year's safari will be as productive as the one you're sharing now. A honey badger at the first night of a new site...sounds like a good omen.

 

Thanks @@Marks, I hope so too!! I also hope I have finished this trip report before I leave for my next adventure... ;)

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  • 1 month later...

August 27th 2012

 

This day would turn out to be our worst day ever on safari…

 

On this particular morning we were woken by a strange noise above us, we didn’t know what to think of it so I opened the “front door” of our rooftop tent, looked to the right and there was this big Giraffe using our tree as breakfast!! We had a good laugh about it and when the Giraffe had enough walked away from our tree we left our rooftop tent to have a shower and a quick breakfast afterwards. Unfortunately this was all postponed as one of the rangers that was doing his rounds made us aware of the flat tire we had, but luckily he was very kind and offered to help me change the tyre so it didn’t take too long for us to have that shower and quick breakfast. We were now ready for our 1st proper game drive!!

 

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We returned to camp around 10.00 am a bit disappointed as we hadn’t seen a lot, at least not what we were hoping for… So no Lions, Leopards or scavengers like spotted Hyena but also no Elephants which really surprised me because the Boteti River is the only source of water in the area so I expected them to be around in large numbers but unfortunately this was not the case. What we did see was nothing new to us and the very thick sand in some places also made us a bit nervous so all in all we weren’t thrilled with the choice we had made to come to the Makgadikgadi. We were a bit hungry so we ate some more and were actually in doubt if we would go out for a game drive in the afternoon again when a woman came to us and said she had seen a Lioness with cubs somewhere along the fence line. She told us to head north and to follow the fence for about 10km and the Lioness and cubs would be there somewhere. This gave us new hope so we immediately packed a few things and jumped in the car in search of these Lions!

 

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There was indeed a track along the fence so we started following it and were wondering how difficult it could be? I had checked the odometer when we left camp so after about 10km we should be in the area where the Lions were spotted. But after 10km we hadn’t seen any Lions but as it’s not a zoo the Lioness and cubs could’ve gone a bit further we guessed… Or in a complete other direction away from the fence but that was something we didn’t want to think about so we pushed on a bit until I said I had enough of it. Driving along the fence wasn’t exactly easy with the thick sand and all sorts of stuff blocking the track sometimes so I felt lucky I still got the car going without getting stuck… I was mentally ready to turn the car and accept the fact that these Lions were not for us to see. But my SO thought otherwise so she convinced me to drive the car around the next corner and if there were no Lions we would go back, and so I did… Can you already guess what happened around that corner?

 

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No Lions unfortunately… Stuck to the bottom in sand so thick we hadn’t experienced before, no way we were getting out of this sand without getting out of the car… In Lion country… After some debate we decided to get out of the car to see if we could dig ourselves out. We weren’t happy when we saw the damage, we were completely stuck! From the front to the back and with no space between the bottom of the car and the track, this would mean some serious digging…Obviously we would take turns digging because one of us had to be on the lookout for dangerous animals. After digging a couple of hours without much progress we were getting a bit desperate to say the least… It was bloody hot, we were constantly nervous being in Lion country and digging went slow without much progress, actually most of the sand returned to where it came from in the first place as it was very loose. Anyone who has done this before probably knows what I mean?! We had already checked our cell phone but it received no signal but fortunately my SO persisted and walked a bit further from the car, this worked! We had a signal, not much but just enough to call the office of the Botswana department of Wildlife and National Parks in Maun! They told us they would call the ranger station in the park and that help would be on its way as soon as possible… We were so happy… It took about an hour for the troops to arrive but when they did we were out in no time. Two very friendly guys did some digging, used some wood and eventually pulled us out of the sand with their very powerful truck. All with a smile on their face and telling us not to worry, everything would be fine. The actually seemed to have a great time digging us out.

 

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When we arrived back at camp we said goodbye to them but not without thanking them big time off course… We also gave them a bottle of wine and a couple of t-shirts which they seem to like very much. Later that night they came back to ask if we had some more wine but unfortunately we didn’t. Although I doubt giving them more wine would have been the right thing to do as they were already a bit tipsy… Even today we are still wondering where we would have been without them but luckily we can now laugh about it. I know that the rangers always do their rounds in the evening to check if everyone is back at their campsite and if not they will start searching but we weren’t on a main road or something so the search could have taken some time if you know what I mean. Next time when we go to remote areas like this we would surely rent a satellite phone to be sure that we could reach someone if necessary.

 

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As if all this wasn’t bad enough I got sick during the night and had to use the toilet a couple of times. Our campsite was close to the ablution facilities but I still had to walk for 30 or 40 meters to get to it which was obviously not advised to do during the night. I remember we had a full moon that night so it wasn’t too dark so after checking our surroundings for a couple of minutes I took my chance and slowly walked to the ablutions. This happened a couple of times that night but since I am writing this trip report I have obviously also survived these toilet visits... In the morning my stomach was fine again, it was probably something I had eaten the night before. We didn’t feel the need to do another game drive so we left camp as soon as we could…

 

I will continue the story later, for now I wish you all a great day!

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

 

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Edited by MR1980
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Peter Connan

Lovely photos Michel

 

What tire pressure were you using?

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Lovely photos Michel

 

What tire pressure were you using?

 

Thank you @@Peter Connan, glad you like it! :)

 

I don't remember exactly but pretty low as we were warned to lower it on numerous occasions. Something like 1.2 I guess but again, not 100% sure...

 

Spoiler alert >>> Fortunately this was the only time we got stuck during this trip, we survived Moremi, Savuti & Chobe without getting stuck.

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

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Peter Connan

@@MR1980, for referance, 1.2 should be considered very high for soft sand.

 

On a vehicle like that, you can go down to 0.5 or 0.6 br when you start struggling. However, at such low pressures you will need to be careful not to turn too sharp/fast, and be gentle on accellerator and brakes, or you might wipe the tire off the rim.

 

You will find that this makes a massive difference.

 

Also, I realize that it is difficult in a rental vehicle, but it is deal to have a high-lift jack and large base plate in these situations. With this one can lower the tire pressures, then lift the vehicle and dumpit next to the holes it stood in, and generally just drive away...

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@@Peter Connan, it could be lower than 1.2 but I'm sure the rental company didn't say 0.5 or 0.6! ;)

 

We did have high-lift jack, but we were just so inexperienced that we didn't think about using it for this purpose I guess as the rental company said it could be used for changing a tire... Now we are more experienced and we probably won't make the same mistakes and make better use of the tools which were given to us.

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

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Peter Connan

Oh dear no Michel

 

Please DON'T EVER USE A HIGH LIFT JACK FOR CHANGING A TIRE!

 

The high lift jack is very unstable, this is both it's biggest advantage and disadvantage.

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penolva

Hi @@MR1980 really takes me back and totally understand the problem with the deep sand. We had the same. Not to worry about getting a few things 'wrong ' we all have to learn Pen

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Peter Connan

Hi @@MR1980 really takes me back and totally understand the problem with the deep sand. We had the same. Not to worry about getting a few things 'wrong ' we all have to learn Pen

Sorry if it seems as if I am criticising Michel.

 

What I am actually trying to do is to encourage him to try again, next time with less stress and more success...

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@@Peter Connan, it could be lower than 1.2 but I'm sure the rental company didn't say 0.5 or 0.6! ;)

 

We did have high-lift jack, but we were just so inexperienced that we didn't think about using it for this purpose I guess as the rental company said it could be used for changing a tire... Now we are more experienced and we probably won't make the same mistakes and make better use of the tools which were given to us.

 

Cheers,

 

Michel

I always wonder what people from overseas think when going off into the bush in Botswana without any preparation/knowledge. Every year we have a couple of incidences here with people underestimating the wilderness and getting lost, hurt or killed. People don't understand that having a breakdown in a remote area can cost you your life. The amount of people I have found in the bush with a flat tyre not knowing what to do with the high-lift jack in areas where no inexperienced person should ever go...

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penolva

Not to get into an argument here but I think we all read/learn/prepare as much as we can. We did a short 4x4 course but it's not the same as actually being there. I believe the self drivers on this forum are pretty responsible and do not go to these places to take risks. Professionals also get stuck, had to help some on our trip to Botswana. For us the only option is to go or stay at home or pay mega bucks for a guided safari/lodge. When you do this for a living you are so so lucky!

 

Off tomorrow to do it again. Pen

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Peter Connan

@@penolva (and @MR1980), please do not think that I criticise anybody who has the guts to self-drive. For sure it can be dangerous, but so is crossing the road in front of your house. And with a bit of knowledge and the application of common sense, it need be no more dangerous than that, no matter where your house is.

 

I am in the same boat, only being able to afford to self-drive, and in fact despite living is SA I probably spend less time "in the bush" than many of the overseas travellers on this forum.

 

However, the truth is that if you drive off-road, sooner or later you will get stuck. No matter how many courses you have been on. And since most self-drivers from overseas have to drive alone, they will then need some recovery knowledge, which is generally outside the scope of most "basic" courses...

 

However, this is going very OT, and perhaps we should shift this discussion to the self-driving section, and leave Michel to carry on wih his much more interesting TR?

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Hi @@MR1980 really takes me back and totally understand the problem with the deep sand. We had the same. Not to worry about getting a few things 'wrong ' we all have to learn Pen

Sorry if it seems as if I am criticising Michel.

 

What I am actually trying to do is to encourage him to try again, next time with less stress and more success...

 

Hi @@Peter Connan, no worries, I don't feel offended. Like you and others say, the more experience, the better. And as I said before, the sand around Savuti was also pretty bad but my driving skills had improved already so we didn't get stuck again. Oh I remember again, for changing tyres you use the low jack as it is far more stable am I correct?

 

Exactly @@penolva, we all have to learn! It's part of the deal if you want to explore areas like this all by yourself. Have fun on your next adventure!! But I also understand @@Orenx and I share his concerns about people not knowing anything about offroad driving and getting into a lot of trouble. Also the rental companies are more than happy to rent you a car even if they know your route and your lack of experience. They just say don't worry, everybody does it so it will work out just fine... Just like the travel agencies by the way.

Edited by MR1980
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I think just for the sake of the traveller it would make sense that either the travel agent or the rental company offers/recommends an offroad course.

In my opinion it should be the agents responsibility to make sure that their clients understand where they are going and to make sure that they are properly prepared in terms of equipment (e.g. satellite phone, spade, emergency water etc...). I have helped self drives that were stuck in the sand for 8 hours because they didn't know how to engage 4x4...

Go and explore - it is the only way to learn these things properly but make sure you inform yourself beforehand so you know how to use your equipment and don't crack your skull open with the high-lift jack handle...

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