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19 Days of Bliss on Self-drive Safari


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37 minutes ago, Towlersonsafari said:

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!

Believe me, @Towlersonsafari, we also had to grow into doing it a bit rough and sometimes it is scary to us still, but we try to make calculated decisions. We attempt to read animal behavior and keep a respectful distance. We also have the necessary recovery equipment, to the extent that we sometimes find ourselves over-equipped (and too heavy!). :)

Thank you kindly for reading.

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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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38 minutes ago, Geoff said:


Wow, that's outrageous. 


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

Agree totally, @Geoff

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Day 9

We had an early start as we were moving to Xakanaxa for 2 nights. We calculated that the drive there should take about 2 to 3 hours.


Entering the water to cross 3rd Bridge



Coppery-tailed Coucal



Malachite Kingfisher



Shortly after crossing 3rd Bridge, we were very excited to see the wild dogs again. Red Letchwe, Impala and Zebra were close by.




The dogs were on the move and we followed them. All of a sudden they started to chase an impala past us, but the attempt was unsuccessful and they ran off again.



We reached a Y-junction in the road that indicated Xakanaxa left and Bodumatau Loop right. On the spur of the moment we decided to do the loop first, as we had read a lot about the beautiful area and as the day was still young.


It was an extremely beautiful area and it felt like entering paradise. There were lots of water and with that an abundance of water birds.



Great Egret




African Jacana





No other fresh vehicle tracks were visible, so we gathered that the road was not used often.



After going through a long stretch of water, this little fellow (catfish) fell from the undercarriage of the vehicle.



We kept on going for about 2 hours and then when going through the final stretch of water, we got stuck...the underside of the vehicle got firmly stuck on the centre ridge (Afr. : middelmannetjie) of the 2-spoor track! :o The wheels had no traction at all.



Out came all the recovery gear. Ideal situation for an electric winch, which we unfortunately did not have :o



Exercise of the day...







And out we came! Yeah! The inflatable jack and MaxTrax sand ladders saved the day. Phew!


Oh yes, not done yet. We still had to recover the recovery gear from the water. 



Still more exercise...puff,puff.




HiLift jack bent in action.



We completed the rest of the loop to Xakanaxa without any more incidents and the show of the Okavango Delta surroundings presented itself as normal.


African Open-billed Stork



Yellow-billed Stork



African Sacred Ibis




Great White Pelican 



Hamerkop (In Afrikaans it means "Hammer head")


Xakanaka Camp #3



Campsite #1 (the one that we had booked) can be seen on the far right



Full moon rising over the reeds



Herd of buffalo passed our camp at dusk. Later we had elephant, hippo and buffalo passing close by in camp. 







Edited by Ritsgaai
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Peter Connan

Ritsgaai, looks like you guys got really stuck there! 


I would love to understand why the hi-lift bent like that. Does the nose fit into the tube protruding from the side of the rock-slider in such a way that it can't turn?


You saw some really great birds, never mind the wild dogs and the Ellies in camps!

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11 minutes ago, Peter Connan said:

I would love to understand why the hi-lift bent like that. Does the nose fit into the tube protruding from the side of the rock-slider in such a way that it can't turn?

No, the rounded extension piece did turn, but the jack was too close to the vehicle body. When we moved forward, the top of the jack hit the vehicle and caused the jack to bend. Summary - jack was not used correctly. 


You saw some really great birds, never mind the wild dogs and the Ellies in camps!



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Peter Connan

Thanks for the explanation @Ritsgaai. I hope there was no vehicle damage?


They are indeed very difficult to use. I really hate those round extensions.

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Day 10 - Xakanaxa




Our pace for the day was slow and relaxed - morning drive to the close-by Paradise Pools, afternoon nap and sunset boat cruise on the delta..



Grey Heron



Little Bee-eater



Banded Mongoose



Lesser Jacana



Waterways of the DeltaIMG_5694.thumb.JPG.1d9a9fd7d1ba029e609c891f8bf23d3f.JPG



Malachite Kingfisher




Pied Kingfisher




Tranquil ending for the day - sunset over the Okavango Delta.









Edited by Ritsgaai
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Peter Connan

Joh! You got that lesser Bee-eater beautifully! And lesser Jacana too. Never seen one myself.


Great photography, especially the birds.

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Thanks for the clarification, @Ritsgaai! You did the wise thing, IMO. Any dispute would only spoil your great journey! 


The Little Bee-eater photos are gorgeous ... have you used the same camera/lens as for other photos?

Edited by xelas
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On 11/12/2017 at 5:54 PM, Peter Connan said:

Thanks for the explanation @Ritsgaai. I hope there was no vehicle damage?


Luckily nothing serious....minor dent. 

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@Peter Connan and @xelas thank you kindly. 

I am having a great laugh about the question regarding the lens @xelas:D

I am not a great photographer like you and Peter. I do not even own a lens. Yes...it is the same camera used for every photo. ;)... a Canon bridge. The Bee-eater photo was a "vloekskoot"/fluke :rolleyes:

I am a great admirer of both your and Peter's photography.  

So the compliment means a lot B)


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Peter Connan

Well @Ritsgaai, you sure make that bridge camera sit up and do tricks. Ek dink as jy probeer gaan jy sommer koekies ook met hom kan bak!

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@Ritsgaai I completely agree with what @Peter Connan wrote in English, and probably also with what he wrote in afrikaans :huh:. I like your landscape photos also, the Motorways of Delta is one I hope to reproduce once, if lucky. You surely have an eye to capture the amazing beauties along your route.

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Day 11

This was our final morning in the Moremi.

Red-billed Hornbill



Before sunrise  we heard lions roar and as there was no hurry, we searched for them on all the surrounding roads, but with no success. 

The road towards North Gate did not produce much in terms of wildlife, but we enjoyed the track lined with beautiful trees.



Dombo Pools





Lesser Jacana




Commuters on North Gate bridge



Crossing the Khwai River has been on our minds since our little got-stuck-in-the mud experience of a few days back. There is no bridge and the only option is to drive through the river.


We decided to rather avoid this crossing and made a U-turn.



At another crossing we watched this vehicle (which was much lighter than ours) cross the river. We chickened out and looked for another crossing.




We came across 2 friendly local guys who were heading in the same direction who said we should follow them across. Piece of cake! :D


There is a network of small roads approaching the river and a number of possible crossings. The key is to determine the depth to avoid drowning your vehicle causing major damage to the engine.


It happened to these poor people from Slovenia. :o 



They had been stranded for over 2 hours in the heat. We asked how we could help and offered our Satellite phone so they could phone a mechanic. After hearing that they had enough water and food, we could do no more and left for Dizhana, a Mababe Community Camp on the Khwai river where we would spent the next 2 nights.


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4 hours ago, Ritsgaai said:

It happened to these poor people from Slovenia. :o 


Eek !!!

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Peter Connan

Yes, this crossing is notorious, and I know at least two people who have broken their engines there. In 2012, I think we went through that first spot you showed. One of my frineds did something wrong and managed to break all the blades off his engine cooling fan.


Well done on finding such a shallow crossing!

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@Ritsgaai, this is an adventure that a lot of us can only dream of having. 

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I'm really enjoying this report. Looking forward to more! :)

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Again, things one can only dream about-I can get nearly stuck getting out of our drive at home! great fun @Ritsgaai

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I have a correction to make with the identification of this bird that is shown in post #57.



It is an immature African Jacana and not a Lesser Jacana as indicated - graciously pointed out to me by @Peter Connan. Thank you and well done.:)


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Day 11 continues

Our lovely campsite right on the water edge of the Khwai river - Dizhana



View from private ablution block





Afternoon visitors viewed from camp




Early evening a couple of hippos graced close-by before entering the river while we were watching. Later we were carried off to sleep under their growls and grunts.


The next morning and early afternoon we explored the roads next to the river.



Please help with ID - Identifying raptors is not our forte



White-faced ducks



Namaqua Dove - I found it quite difficult to take a photo of them... they tend to be on the move all the time. We saw hundreds in the Moremi.




Yellow-billed Stork



Lonely elephant bull covered in mud



Southern White-crowned Shrike



An unseen branch on a lesser traveled track destroyed the front tyre. The air-jack had to come out the 2nd time on this trip.



We carried 2 spare wheels and the one on the front roof-rack had to come down and the flat one had to go up again...(hard work)




Hi-jacking Scene :angry: (Described in an earlier post) See our camping equipment that was shoved against the tree.



New campsite with non-functional facilities for our 2nd night at Dizhana



This day was definitely the lowest point of the entire trip. 



Edited by Ritsgaai
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Peter Connan

I think that is a Tawny and a juvenile bataleur (judging only by the fact that it doesn't appear to have a tail at all).


Sorry about the tire, those things are blooming expensive nowadays!

That campsite looks marvelous, pity about the hijack. I really sometimes wish I had the Hulk on speeddial...

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On 13/11/2017 at 11:04 PM, Ritsgaai said:

It happened to these poor people from Slovenia. :o 


That is so nice from you, @Ritsgaai, to help my folks! Heck, we do love to travel, but with only 2 million, crossing paths with 3 of them in far Botswana ...

I am quite surprised they have tempted the crossing as I cannot spot a "snorkel" on their car ... 


5 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

I really sometimes wish I had the Hulk on speeddial...

What is the name of the character that gets face-red and very loud in critical situations :rolleyes:?!

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