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​Hello fellow safari goers!


​This is the beginning of part TWO of our self-drive adventure, covering Botswana. Part ONE, covering Sossousvlei and KTP can be found here








Summary 2: Buitepos to Maun to Makgadikgadi NP to Nxai Pan NP

September 26-30

Highlights: The Boteti River flowing, huge Zebra herds, pick-nicking by the river, mating lions, ellie in campsite

Lowlights: speeding ticket, meat confiscation, bad AC

Exiting Namibia and entering Botswana is fast and easy as and we are impressed! We have to fill out a small form for both countries, show our passports, and pay a road fee for our car on the Botswana side. They also check the car "import" paper that Peter gave us with all the details about this particular Hilux.

In the first small town after the border there is a radar check and my DH has missed the 80km sign and gets a speeding ticket. (Another snag!) I try my best excuses, but to no avail. Darn it! The police car is outfitted with a CC machine that works! Unbelievable. And DH pays on the spot, receipt and all, about $65. Why can't we do this at home and circumvent all the bureaucracy?

A few kilometers later, a police officer is pulling us over at a check point and ask DH to go talk to the group of people sitting under a tree. DH has to listen to a lecture about Road Safety by an official sitting at a desk, while I can't stop laughing. This is just too ironic! My DH who is used to drive on 6 lane highways, is being lectured about tire expiration dates. When DH mentions that the biggest safety concern is cattle in the road, the official says, "We are working on it." Good to know. How many times do we have to slow down or stop when cows, donkeys or goats cross the road willy-nilly?





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After this rather comic interlude, we enter Ghanzi and make our way to the Department of Wildlife to get a National Parks permit and to pay all our fees. Their credit card machine is not working, so we go to Barclay's Bank to exchange Pula. (See what I mean by snags?)

After asking the official there, we are allowed to wait in the short line for preferred customers! Nice and it saves some time.

We pay 120 Pula per person for 14 days camping and 50 Pula per day for the vehicle. A grand total of 4060 Pula, about US$ 425 for 14 days camping in 4 different parks in Botswana. If this sounds expensive it is when compared to South Africa and Namibia, but downright cheap when compared to Tanzania, as we found out last year. (Nine days entrance fee for the Serengeti for two and one car was about US$ 1300)

The entrance fees do NOT include campsite fees, which were in three cases US$ 50 per person per night.

Tip: If you enter Botswana from the west, get your DWNP permit in Ghanzi, less of a hassle than in Maun.

Back at the DWNP office the clerk writes out the permit and I feel like I have just won the lottery. Yes! We are cleared to enter some of the best wildlife parks in the world. Very exciting.

On the way to Maun, there is a horrible banging noise under the roof in the cab. Upon checking it, it turns out that the gasket around the windshield is loose and fluttering at higher speed. (Another snag!) So we buy some duct tape and the problem is temporarily solved.

We get to Maun and, because it's relatively early, go shopping for the next few days, including enough meat for 11 days, 3 in Makgadikgadi and 8 in Moremi as I'm not sure that we will make it back to Maun before the shops close for Independence Day on September 30.

The Delta Deli next to Riley's Garage has a good selection of fresh and frozen meat and we have a big deep freezer so it's no problem to stock up.

Unfortunately, the Spar supermarket is not as well stocked as we remember it, but we find the basics and so it's fine.

We finally find Kamanga Hotel, located close to Sedia Hotel. It's small and good enough, 2 star, with strong AC which we need as it is plenty hot now. We have dinner there as well and while the service is impeccable, the food is only ok. We would not stay there again, however. Last time, we camped at Island Safari Lodge and liked the river front spot a lot better. No view at all at Kamanga Hotel.


The next morning we leave Maun on the A 3 towards Nata. And then... You guessed it? Another snag. We have forgotten about the Buffalo Fence outside of Maun. It's also called a Vet Fence where officials check for bloody beef which is not allowed across the fence, because of cattle foot and mouth disease? The official insists on checking our freezer and he rummages around in it pulling out two hamburger meat packs and says we can't take those with us. Ok, good, have a nice meal, at least you did not find the steaks!

I'm mad at myself for not remembering about this meat check point. Chicken and Pork is fine, just raw beef is the problem. If it were cooked, it would be ok as well.

Ok, then, will have to eat pasta without meat sauce.

Tip: Familiarize yourself with the location of the Vet Fences check-points in Botswana and Namibia and know what you can and can not bring across the fence, or the border.

We take the turn south towards Rapkops and after almost 50 km the turn-off to Makgadikgadi NP, Khumaga (aka Xumaga), is clearly sign-posted. There is the Boteti River... and it is flowing. Yay! Thanks to a post on the SA 4x4 Forum, I knew we had to take the ferry across, just like we did back in 2014.

There is the ferry, but no ferry man. I make a phone call to the ranger office and soon the ferryman shows up. In the meantime, DH is lowering the tire pressure as we know we will hit deep sand right off the ferry. We pay 150 Pula, same as two years ago, get a receipt, and off we go, across the river in 5 minutes time.

We check in and show our permit, then show our camping voucher at another office further ahead. Great customer service by both ladies! Site number 2 is just like we remember it with two shady camel thorn trees on the bluff above the river. Nice spot.




​Tomorrow, I will show you what you can expect to see in and around the Boteti river at the end of September.

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Canadian Robin

So, did your DH have to endure the road safety talk because he was speeding or was every driver being subjected to it?

Isn't Delta Meat Deli great? Their kudu goulash is amazing. Pity about the Spar - we found it quite good when we were there in August.

We always travel with duct tape, but I have to say that we have never had to use it on a windshield. Yikes! Was that snag #4? :angry:

A great read as always - thanks!

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So, did your DH have to endure the road safety talk because he was speeding or was every driver being subjected to it?

Isn't Delta Meat Deli great? Their kudu goulash is amazing. Pity about the Spar - we found it quite good when we were there in August.

We always travel with duct tape, but I have to say that we have never had to use it on a windshield. Yikes! Was that snag #4? :angry:

A great read as always - thanks!


There was no correlation between his earlier speeding ticket, and the road safety stop; it felt like it though, which made it so funny to me. He was a bad driver, therefore he has to go to traffic school. I'm still laughing about it! :D:D:D

We normally travel with duct tape, just not this trip! Go figure. you are right, it should be snag # ?

Let's see all the snags so far and then I could number them. :rolleyes:

1. no room at the inn (!)

2. signal doesn't work, waiting

3. No credit card machine at DWNP, waiting

4. traffic ticket

5. loose gasket

6. meat confiscated at vet fence

7. no ferry man, more waiting


Ok, up to 7 snags and we only have just arrived in Botswana.


Thanks for all the compliments, they keep me going

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We spend a full day and a half in this park and most of the time is spent game driving along the river. There is some thick and deep sand and wet areas to cross at places.

Here are a few highlights: There are massive amounts of zebra and wildebeest that come in herds of 50 or more down the bluffs to drink. They feed on the remaining grass east of the river in the morning, then come to slack their thirst between noon and 4 pm. When all these animals come to drink, it is pandemonium. Constant coming and going, kicking up dust, fighting, braying, etc. quite a show to behold. Even some "crossings" as wildebeest swim across the river.






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Edited by KaliCA
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Sorry. the edit button would not erase the mistakes above...





Edited by KaliCA
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help! Im NOT posting double, but it shows double Sorry again.

ok, im turning the machine off now :angry::angry:

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There are many elephants as well who come from far away to drink and play in the mud holes and to take dust baths, some cross the river to the other side where people and cattle live. Speaking of cattle. We have never before seen elephants drinking in the river while cows eat the green grass floating in the river just a few feet away.

We also see quite a few giraffe and try to take pictures of the S created while their heads jerk up from drinking. Kudu and Impala are there in big numbers as well. In addition, the river attracts many fish eagles, duck, geese, and herons. Sadly, we could only find one single hippo and the place called "Hippo pools" had no hippo there at all.

In the morning, we are excited to find fresh lion tracks back by the fence. Try as we might, we can not find the lions, though, but we discover a Hilux stuck in deep sand. It is a Swiss couple who take it all in stride, especially being out of the car and very close to some elephants. We offer to pull them out since we have a towing strap and they don't (!!) First try and my DH is successful at doing so. My hero, great joy on all sides abounds!

We enjoy having breakfast and lunch at the designated "Stretching Point" sign with wildebeest and zebra feeding in and around the river close by.

In summary, two nights at the Boteti River is certainly plenty of time to explore all the tracks along the river and to enjoy the spectacle of the zebra, wildebeest, and elephants visiting the only water spot around. The odd thing is that early morning and in the evening, there was hardly an animal to be found because the big herds tended to show up between noon and 4 pm.

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Campsite KK2, not cheap at US$ 50 per person per night. The second night there were donkeys and cows around!post-47216-0-34670100-1481583931_thumb.jpg

View from KK2, beats a 5* hotel.

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Make sure you are bringing a towing strap!



First it was their stretching spot...


then it was ours!



This year, maybe because of the drought, there was a lot of gunk in the air and as a result, the sunsets were hazy and fuzzy.



Edited by KaliCA
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Interesting insight into the animals of the Boteti river. Those Swiss must have been so glad to see you. We always dread getting stuck in sand!

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Interesting insight into the animals of the Boteti river. Those Swiss must have been so glad to see you. We always dread getting stuck in sand!


Yes, they were happy. The first day at the Boteti, we only ever saw two other cars, so it's so important to be self-sufficient just because you may be stuck and wait for help for a while. NEVER WALK AWAY FROM YOUR CAR TO GET HELP. There are quite a few stories of people who perished by taking off into the bush for help.


The GD's from the lodge across, I forget its name, came before and after the huge herds and come and gone. Here, it was the rule, not the exception, to see most animal traffic around noon.

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On we ride to Nxai Pan. Be prepared to get an African massage! (bet you have never heard that one before! ;)


We leave the Boteti River via the 23 km long sandy track to the Phuduhudu Gate and check out of the Makgadikgadi National Park. Then we take the A3 east for 10 km (driving slowly, because we do not re-inflate tires) before turning into the Nxai Pan road. The gate is right by the road and we check in by writing our information into the famous big ledger book. Other travelers tell us about finding lions along the Boteti River, really? And we hear about lions at Nxai Pan. Great news!


Tip: talk to fellow travelers and you may learn of a great sighting opportunity.


Then it's 35 km of white-knuckle driving. The new cut road is not very sandy but very bumpy. We make it no problem and check into the camp office. We are assigned number 1 and we like the cleared space and the privacy of it. Even before eating lunch, we just have to check out the single waterhole where all the action is happening. This pumped waterhole is again the only available water source for miles around, the Boteti being the nearest spot and that was 60 km back.

Sure enough, we spot a mating pair of lions under a tree and a muddy elephant is close by them. The male is sitting erect, but the female is lying down comatose. It is high noon and high heat, probably around 104F/40C. So we let them snooze and I told them to stay put that we would be back later. I always try and keep lions filled in of our intentions!

Back at camp, we set up the RT to find some shade under the tent platform, as the trees are still without leaves and shade is scarce.


Tip: come prepared to deal with hot temperatures: take a cold shower in bathing suit, maybe bring an awning to create shade, maybe a hammock to hang and take a nap in the afternoon, maybe sleep under a moist sarong etc. I also wear a wet bandana with squishy beads inside (that expand when wet) around my neck.





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We do camp chores and laundry in the sinks outside the elephant-proof ablution block. At 4 pm we go back to the waterhole and the mating pair appear a few minutes later. Told you it helps talking to lions!

They mate three times extremely close to the car and facing us and we can observe the fierceness of it and hear the male growl and roar. Fantastic! Impressive! Double WOW! More exclamation marks!

Both lions then make their way to drink at the waterhole and we can see that both of them are wearing collars. The attendant did not know of any collared lions in Nxai Pan, so whose lions are those?






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Then here comes the cavalry! Five ellies come marching towards the waterhole with a spring in their step. Such joy in their body language. They proceed to drink and then do their spa routine, first spray mud all over, then dust off.

We have a quiet evening and later at dusk, spot two ellies trying to get into the grey water by the ablutions. Another Ellie walks quietly by our campsite. On our way to the ablutions, we spot a scorpion in the elephant dung.




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First thing in the morning sees us back at the waterhole.

Tip: Get going at exactly gate time in order to catch the last activities of the cats before they bed down for the day, especially true during hot days.

Sure enough, more lions. Two females appear and one of them drinks for 5 minutes straight. We are the only car there for over an hour and we wonder where all the other campers are. Is there a better sighting somewhere else? Are they all Europeans who like to get up later and have a big breakfast before setting out? We will never know.

We stick with what nature presented to us, two gorgeous females in the early morning light. At one point the strong young one lies down not 6 meters from our car, that's really close, but wonderful to watch her movements. Then... The collared male from yesterday appears and slacks his thirst for a long time as well. He stares intently at his mating partner, then walks off without any further contact. He seems to say, "We are done honey, see you next season." Interesting!

We hurry back to camp to eat a late breakfast then can not resist and check the waterhole one more time. Both females are still around and keep kudu and wildebeest skittish and nervous, but a giraffe is intent on drinking even with the lionesses nearby. There are also springbok and Impala present, one of the few places where you can see both antelopes living in the same area.

Our goal is to reach South Gate campsite in Moremi, so it's really time to leave now. When we get to Maun after 1 pm, my fear comes true: most shops are already closed because it's Botswana 50th Independence Day. Delta Deli is closed as is the Spar supermarket. (This doesn’t count as a snag, as I was expecting it!) Choppies, supermarket, however, gets our business and we can buy perishables and water. Good thing we have already stocked up on meat a few days ago. Love that freezer!






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Tomorrow, we will enter Moremi Game Reserve, experience some wild camping, and I will show you some of the wildlife we found there.


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What an epic trip @@KaliCA and a splendid trip report! Brings back memories of Nxai pan and lots of Zebra there,but very little in the way of congress,mongooses? Talking of the 50th Botswana anniversary have you seen "This United kingdom" a wonderful film looking forward to your next instalment!

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What an epic trip @@KaliCA and a splendid trip report! Brings back memories of Nxai pan and lots of Zebra there,but very little in the way of congress,mongooses? Talking of the 50th Botswana anniversary have you seen "This United kingdom" a wonderful film looking forward to your next instalment!


Thanks for coming along! not sure what you are referring to with "congress and mongooses". Have not heard of this film, and will check it out!

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Summary Moremi GR, Botswana, September 30 - Oct. 6, 2016

Highlights: Xijni Lagoon pride, wild campsites with hyenas, hippo, ellies, and buffalo in camp, the solitude of being "out there", eating breakfasts and lunches next to lagoons, close to herbivores, three blond male lions

Lowlights: horrible roads/tracks, dried out lagoons, fewer animals, oppressive heat

We leave Maun and after the pavement ends, the most shockingly horrible road to Moremi starts. It's even worse than last time! It's beyond our understanding how the major access road to the most famous Game Reserve in Botswana is in such a bad, bad state. How embarrassing as this makes an awful impression on all the foreign tourists that pass through there.

We enter South Gate close to 5 pm and the attendant tells us to camp in MK 9 in the back instead of MK 6, because there would be loud music and partying going on by the staff on account of Independence Day. Ok, that is considerate and we like the last spot out there in the woods. The ablutions are in a bad state, mongoose poop all over, and no TP, so on our way to game drive, we let the same girl know. She says that most staff has gone home on account of the holiday, but she would take care of it. And she did!

Later, while preparing food in the dark, I practically run into a hyena not 3 meters away from me. I yelp and whisper "hyena" to DH, then jump up on the tailgate and shoo her away by yelling and clapping hands. she eventually trots off to the neighbors.

There is hyena whooping all night long, but we hear only faint party noises.



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The next morning we are off to the Xijni Lagoon as DH has gathered information (in the ablutions!) about a large lion pride there. I don't have much hope, but to my amazement, we find the two pride males lying erect and handsome under a bush. Across the road, along a muddy canal is the rest of the pride, four females and probably 8 cubs, many the size of big house cats. Some of the cubs are nursing and others are play- fighting and generally looking too cute. At one point, another female and a teenage male, both with huge bellies, join the pride. We are in heaven. A pride of 16 lions and the males present as well.


morning hyena


​honey badgers. A fleeting and rare sighting.


​the papas


the mamas


​the kids (some of them)

Tomorrow, I will show you more of what Moremi had to offer the intrepid travelers. Cheers!

Edited by KaliCA
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At one point the collared lead female walks off to seek shade and as lions will do, all the other females follow one by one. We call this the "lion parade." Only problem is, they leave all the cubs behind, unprotected. Bad mothers? Then the older cubs notice and start scampering after their mothers. More little lion parade. All the lions, big and small have now left, all except one baby who is sleeping in the dirt and oblivious to the fact that her family has left her behind.

We drive a little closer hoping the car engine noise will wake her up, and it does. She looks around all startled and aware of the fact that she is all alone. Then, as babies will do, she starts to meow bitterly. Luckily, upon hearing that pitiful crying, all the female lions look up alert and one starts walking back, towards her baby. The cub hears her momma cooing and scampers towards her with strong determination. When the two meet, there is head rubbing and licking and a happy reunion ensues.

We, too, are pleased that this story ended happily.


Sleeping cub left behind.


Crying for momma


Females looking back worried


Momma and cub reunited


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Because of the drought, the Black Pool area, a favorite place, is now bone-dry and the hippo pool of 2014 is a crusty pan. Very disappointing how the drought has changed the Moremi landscape. We have breakfast under a sausage tree and watch a happy elephant breeding herd running for a small lagoon with left-over water.

We then stop by the lions one last time and watch another lion parade as the females and cubs move from termite mound to a huge bush for shade, and one of the fat males moves to another bush. We say good-bye and drive north towards Xakanaka .

The roads are deep sand in places or horribly corrugated and bumpy in others. First and second bridge have no water under the bridge, but water is flowing under Third Bridge. There is fairly deep water to cross before we reach the rickety logs that form the bridge. Again, kind of romantic and adventurous for us self-drivers, but really quite embarrassing for the park service. New logs are rotting nearby.

We are happy to get XA 4, a familiar spot from two visits, and there is no double booking this time. We drop off our chairs and do a quick sunset drive to Paradise Pools, a pretty, still very wet area with many tall trees and grassy areas in between that are favored by lechwes and many water birds.

Later, when I come back from the dirty and dark ablutions, there are two green eyes staring at me from behind our car. I'm thinking "hippo" seeing we are camped right by the swamp, but no, my flashlight lights up a huge buffalo. That's a first! I quickly turn the flashlight away so as not to make him mad and he keeps on grazing peacefully.

It's not easy falling asleep at this campsite, because of all the insect and frog noises coming from the swamp. But eventually, the constant chirping is lulling us to dream land, anyway.


​Crossing rickety Third Bridge


​Xakanaka XA4 campsite




Edited by KaliCA
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Next day, we leave early and our goal is a day trip along the Bodumatau Loop. Even with the GPS in use, we get hopelessly lost around Jesse's pool which is all dry, but then we spot about 8 fish eagles finding scraps of fish to eat in the dry pan and guarding their finds from a greedy marabou. Sometimes it's worth getting lost.

Eventually, we find Xhoro road and after many kilometers passing familiar lagoons now totally dry, we wonder if we would ever find wet spots. A little later, we do and where there is water, there are animals. We find hippo, ellies, lechwes, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, many water birds, and the highlight...a big herd of sable antelopes who do not run away.

We also have breakfast and lunch along two lagoons just like in the olden days. At our lunch spot, there are zebra close by and we guess a vehicle got stuck crossing the lagoon as there is wood, tire tracks and a single license plate laying about.

We drive along this productive loop all day and then reach First Bridge again. So now we have to drive the same bad road a second time, back to Xakanaka. We have seen exactly ONE other car all day (and he was lost asking for directions!) and that's one of the reasons we love self-driving in Moremi.

We return for sunset to Paradise Pools, a favorite spot.

The night is cool with thunder and lightning and even a short rain.


Tip: Tracks4Africa was mostly great to navigate by, but some tracks have not been updated and showed water where there was none. Even with GPS, Moremi tracks, especially around Xakanaka, can be confusing, so prepare to get lost






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