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19 Days of Bliss on Self-drive Safari


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Day 5

Early morning visitor in camp. Please help with ID,



After breakfast and breaking camp we headed once again to the nearby waterhole before leaving the park and were not disappointed.

One after the other big herds of blue wildebeest, kudu, ostrich and springbok arrived. The herd of springbok was impressive and we estimated it was between 400 - 500 strong.



Dancing ostriches - splendid!






After all this dancing we earned a drink...



The blue wildebeest were very jumpy and gave us a great show



2 Black-backed jackal came for a drink.



Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk



Crowned LapwingIMG_4071.thumb.JPG.ff7e8f29507177a4c9fc568a2fe82417.JPG





Kori Bustard




In the end we spent another 3 hours at the waterhole before making our way to the gate to exit the park. We concluded that the 40 km track was one of the deepest sand roads we have ever encountered (apart from driving in the Namib Desert) and excited the park after 90 minutes. The tyres we inflated before starting the 100 kilometers on the badly potholed tarred road to Maun.


We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the banks of the Boteti river at Drifters, buying more fire wood for the week ahead in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve.



Edited by Ritsgaai
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A sincere and big thank you to everybody reading the TR and showing your interest.    From Lekhubu/Kubu Island we followed the track across the pans in a north-westerly directions as indicat

The next booked stop was in Nxai Pan National Park. We decided to visit Lekhubu Island en-route en then approach Nxai Pan NP via the track crossing the Makgadigadi  Pans southeast of the park. We

The afternoon drive through Khama Rhino Sanctuary was very productive and we counted 12 white rhinos - the only rhino sightings for the entire trip.    These were also spotted - the wa

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I think your early morning visitor is probably a Bearded Scrub-Robin. Great sightings in Nxai Pan!

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@Ritsgaai, what an adventure, the camp out on the Pan is very special and also the nighttime Elephants wandering past you. 

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8 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

I think your early morning visitor is probably a Bearded Scrub-Robin. Great sightings in Nxai Pan!

Thank you for the ID, @michael-ibk. It is great to know now. Seems it is rare for this area. 


Thank you @elefromoz.

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Hm, on second thought I have to reconsider, Nxai Pan is a bit more South than the the distribution map shows for Bearded - not much though. I had excluded White-Browed Scrub-Robin because they have a streaked breast, but then I read there´s the subspecies ovamboensis (Namibia to NW-Zim) which has an unstriped buffy breast and "could be confused with Bearded" according to the book. So that´s probably the better guess.

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1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

Hm, on second thought I have to reconsider, Nxai Pan is a bit more South than the the distribution map shows for Bearded - not much though. I had excluded White-Browed Scrub-Robin because they have a streaked breast, but then I read there´s the subspecies ovamboensis (Namibia to NW-Zim) which has an unstriped buffy breast and "could be confused with Bearded" according to the book. So that´s probably the better guess.

Wow, that is very interesting @michael-ibk. I googled the subspecies now and read about it from the book called "Birds of Botswana". Do you use this book yourself? I use " Sasol Birds of Southern Africa" which is probably not the best. Thanks again.

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I have the "Birds of Southern Africa" app but also the Princeton book, and the Princeton Photographic Field guide.

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Day 6

We boarded a small Cessna plane at 8h00 in Maun for a 1 hour flight over the Okavango Delta. With the limited time available, we only saw a small portion of the Delta but with the advantage of a bird's eye-view, the vastness of the area became apparent. 



After the flight we had breakfast at a local restaurant, replenished some fresh fruit, vegetables and drinks, picked up our camping vouchers from Botswana Footprints (who did an excellent job with our bookings) and filled the 225 liter diesel tank of the vehicle to the brim. The next fuel would only be available at Kasane. We calculated that we would have enough fuel for the next 11 days for the deep sand tracks and multiple water crossings ahead. By 11h30 we were on our way to South Gate, entrance to Moremi Wildlife Reserve.




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Our planning was to stay 1 night at South Gate in order to allow us some time to explore the Black Pools area. We reached camp just after 13h00 and headed for Black Pools after a bit of rest and snacks. We quickly realized we have arrived in a totally different environment compared to the first 5 days of the trip and it was an abundance of water that made all the difference.


 Herd of Buffalo in the background






Saddle-billed Stork





We found 4 lionesses in total, but only 3 shown here.


We returned to camp just before closing time at 18h30. An afternoon well spent. :D






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On 11/5/2017 at 0:01 AM, Ritsgaai said:

I hope I am doing this right. Please let me know if I do something in the wrong way. It is my first TR here.



It's your TR. Do it the way you want. 

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Peter Connan

I am not one of those guys who focus on the big 5. In fact, it has been said that I will sit and photograph birds at a leopard sighting, and there may evn be some truth in such assertions.


However, even I must admit that there are few things more exciting than one of the big guys right up close to your tent!


That flight over the Moremi is perhaps still the best thing I have done while travelling, even though I got completely airsick.


And I completely agree, the Moremi is a welcome shock to one's system after the semi-desert parks like CKGR and Nxai pans.

Edited by Peter Connan
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Self-driving in Botswana ... an adventure for sure, specially if doing it on your own! Nice vehicle you have @Ritsgaai, I specially like the RTT after our recent experience with classical ones.

@Peter Connan will we do any of those roads also? What about the baobab tree, will we pass by?? @Ritsgaai where can I read about the Peter's wedding?!

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Thank you @Geoffand @Peter Connan 

Thank you @xelas. You will find Peter's wedding report in the trip report section.  I'm sure Peter will be able to give you the link.

I gather you two are having a nice trip coming up :)




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Day 7

The next 2 nights were booked at Third Bridge.

We left early from South Gate Camp, although Third Bridge was just a couple of hours away. We decided to go back via Black Pools and also explore Xini Pools along the way.

After coffee and rusks we were ready to go.



Black Pools did not disappoint. Although we hoped to see the lions from the previous day again, they were nowhere to be found. The landscape is really very beautiful, teeming with wildlife and birds.






Here we decided to rather make a U-turn :unsure:







Lunchtime and stretching  in the Moremi 





1st and 2nd Bridge



By the time we arrived at our booked camp site at Third Bridge, we discovered it already occupied!!! 

To be continued... 







Edited by Ritsgaai
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I am really curious to read how one can deal with "intruders". 

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20 hours ago, Ritsgaai said:



By the time we arrived at our booked camp site at Third Bridge, we discovered it already occupied!!! 

To be continued... 


Hopefully the intruders were wildlife,  not rude people!!  What a wonderful set-up you have for camping in the wild. Thank you for sharing with us!


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Day 7 Continues


The "hijackers" were only a few of the locals around...but be careful! They are giants, although in our case, gentle giants. :D

A breeding herd of elephants all over the campsites and around the ablution block, slowly enjoying the grass and leaves from the trees around.







They were in no hurry, so we took out our chairs and watched them for over an hour.




They were very much aware of our presence and kept a fair distance form us most of the time, but eventually 1 started to come closer and closer and we moved inside the vehicle. She was after the leaves and came helping herself within a few meters from the window!



Close encounters of the elephant kind...a precious experience we will always remember. 


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On 11/11/2017 at 8:09 AM, xelas said:

I am really curious to read how one can deal with "intruders". 

@xelas We had 2 occasions where we found other people on our booked campsite.

When we arrived at Xakanaxa, we found a young couple from Switzerland on our booked campsite #1. We chose this specific campsite for the privacy and booked #1 more than a year in advance. The  young couple were very polite and explained that they had booked #4 over a year ago and discovered other people on their campsite when they arrived and they were obviously very disappointed. They went back to the office and the lady official explained that the campers that wrongly occupied their campsite, asked her earlier to give them #4 as they liked it more...and she did!!!! Then she gave the Swiss couple our campsite #1. A sure recipe for continuing chaos!

So when we arrived shortly thereafter, it was a total mix-up. The young couple said we could share with them or, more accurately, they would share with us. :huh: But we liked them and realize we were both in the same position. The official then offered us #3. It was not as private and secluded as #1, but we decided not to spoil our time there with more unpleasantness. In the end we befriended the Swiss couple and spent good times together.


About the other incident, I do not want to say too much as we experienced very, very rude and ill-mannered people at Dishana (Mabebe) who took over our campsite after we have already been there from the day before. After a game drive, we found them camped all around and on top of our belongings that we left there. Pure intimidation! We couldn't believe our own eyes! Not even the (young) camp official could get them to move. We packed up our camping gear and moved to an unofficial camping spot for the night. The whole incident left a very bad taste in our mouths. :wacko::angry:


Yes, we could have stayed put, but those people were so rude and unpleasant, that we felt at the time that we would rather camp in peace on our own than to face them (a group of 6) for the rest of the day and evening. Many friends and family said we should have damaged their vehicle or push it aside with the vehicle bull bar, but an act like that would be totally against our nature as we are not aggressive people.

On both occasions we lost our campsite, but not our dignity and integrity. :)


In general, when a campsite is in dispute, we ask  the "hijackers" for written proof of their campsite booking. If they cannot produce it, we show them ours and ask them to leave. Sometimes (often!) they do, which normally means that the site was double-booked. If there is an official nearby, we then ask for an alternative campsite for ourselves. The challenge is when the other party is clearly in the wrong, an official is not nearby and they refuse to move. Our policy is to appeal to their integrity and if that does not work, to be humble and be the least. In our case, because we are self-sufficient, we can camp at any spot.

Edited by Ritsgaai
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Day 7 continues

A short afternoon game drive from 3rd bridge to 4th bridge.


Approach to 3rd bridge...water up to the bonnet.



Zebra gatheringIMG_5129.thumb.JPG.386719a632672a1c002c84c8c52fe4bb.JPG


Pied Kingfisher



New 4th Bridge



Old 4th bridge



Giraffe crossing through water



Back in camp by sunset


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What a splendid trip @Ritsgaai I love reading about trips that I would not have the skill or courage-or wife who would let me as she knows I lack the above- to do myself! and what lovely elephant encounters!

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4 hours ago, Ritsgaai said:

Yes, we could have stayed put, but those people were so rude and unpleasant


Wow, that's outrageous. 


I'd much rather share my campsite with the elephants.

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Day 8


Early morning there was a commotion behind the ablution block. Four Wild Dogs were gathered the other side of the bridge and it seemed that they wanted to cross over, but were then distracted by 2 game drive vehicles approaching from behind. They turned around and ran off.



Immediately we got into the vehicle to follow them, but didn't see them again.


For the rest of the day, we explored the bigger surrounding area. We tried to visit Dead Tree Island, but had to turn around on every approach road  due to deep water. 


Blue Waxbill



African Spoonbill





Wattled Crane with young



Saddle billed Stork



Imm. Little Egret






Jesse's PoolIMG_5367.thumb.JPG.041898fdcae0f293c988dc3b8a32b252.JPGIMG_5360.thumb.JPG.d67f52486d5a2584c6fcb3eea536037c.JPGIMG_5366.thumb.JPG.cd597e71e7559e58dba8ae38f272ad2a.JPG





Bushbuck back in camp. This Chobe variant has the vertical white stripes on the sides.






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