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Botswana Botswana Explorer’s route 2018: What could possibly go wrong?


Peter Connan
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Great report! Beautifully illustrated and a real testament to your adventurous spirit.

 

Although I will add - better you then me! I’ll stick to my gravel roads and fixed accommodation 

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@Xelas, hey what about the mosquito/malaria?  Did I win the bet?

Edited by DanielBme
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After the trip: by Alex

 

So we have returned safe and sound (at least the travellers, not so much the vehicle) on April 9th evening. My flight out of JNB was scheduled for next day evening. Before the trip I had plans to go somewhere for more birding ... after the trip I was happy to just sleep long, and enjoy the garden of Sonja's and Peter's house. BTW there were some nice birds to photograph there.

 

But that is not why I am writing this post. Before going to Botswana, anti-malaria medication was a hot topic: yes or no, and if yes which one. My personal decision was not to take any, and instead of to be very vigilant with anti-mosquito spray, always keeping the tent door closed, and wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts in the mornings and in the evenings. 

 

I can say there were very few mosquito visible; almost none in CKGR and surprisingly few in the rest of our trip. Yet I have been bitten twice: once in the dusty town of Lethlakane (must fly in the vehicle through open window) and once after leaving the gas station in Shakawe (again while in the vehicle). Nothing to worry about ... until on Friday I have started to feel really bad. Next two days I have spent in the bed, having both fever (but not high) and cold. Zvezda told me I should not worry but I did worried so on Wednesday I went to test my blood. Test was negative on malaria (phew) and probably also on other possible tropical diseases as there were no calling from them. Daniel, you have lost your bet :); but since I have had only a virus or similar, and I am happy that I have not contracted malaria, I forgo to collect the betting money :D ... but a round of beer is on you, the first time we met.

 

While wearing long trousers and long sleeve shirt immediately identified me as a tourist among the locals (and much to their fun and teasing), it was a very good protection against being bitten (by mosquito or other bugs). I will test this protection again in about 6 weeks time. No malaria in Costa Rica but plenty of mosquito :huh:.

 

And probable cause of me getting down so ill?! Obviously it was not that easy of a journey as I have think while on the road; the adrenaline kept me up and going, and when back home, probably supported by a virus that is easy to get while on a plane, or waiting in many lines at various airports, the system just collapsed. I am not very happy to learn this way that my actual age is way older then my virtual age :blink:.

 

And last words: would I ever participate again on one of such journeys?  Hell YES!!! (which reminds me to contact JJ soon).

 

Edited by xelas
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A great adventure, thanks for sharing  Peter & Alex. 

So when are you guys going to come over to try it in Aus?

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Elsa Hoffmann

I wouldnt mind Aus - if I can bring my truck - but that would cost me the price of my house :P

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@Peter Connanand @xelas thank you so much for an entertaining report of a truly wild African adventure - what a great read.

 

I'm so sorry to hear that the end of the safari was marred by bad luck, Peter's vehicle and Alex's illness. Hopefully, both the vehicle and Alex will be firing on all cylinders again very soon!

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11 minutes ago, Treepol said:

Hopefully, both the vehicle and Alex will be firing on all cylinders again very soon!

 Alex was in full shape already a week after returning from Botswana :)

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Well I'm happy to hear you didn't get Malaria.  I'm happy to lose that bet and buy you a beer at some point!  Reminds me of last year in Namibia.  I was fine the whole trip then all of a sudden in Spitzkoppe I just started to feel ill.  I think in my case it was just dehydration (or maybe something I ate) as I was barely drinking any water the whole trip.  Two days later I was back to normal.

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19 minutes ago, DanielBme said:

as I was barely drinking any water the whole trip.

 

Daniel, if you hate water you can drink beer  :D; I do it all the time :lol:.

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Well that was an awesome trip report for an awesome trip, and made for a really enjoyable read.

@Peter Connan Peter, I hope you are able to complete the repairs needed for your vehicle soon and @xelas Alex, I am glad you are feeling better and it didn’t turn out to be malaria.

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@xelas, glad to hear you did not get malaria. That would've been horrible odds, considering you only got bit twice.

 

Back to CR? Where are you going this time? TR will follow, right?

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20 hours ago, Soukous said:

So when are you guys going to come over to try it in Aus?

 

Down Under?! If only the flight(s) would not be that long. Coming for less then 6 weeks is not wise, so this one will have to wait another 4 years. Yet, if you have an offer that cannot be resisted (like Peter's), and would not be longer then 4 week, in August (of any year but 2018), I am all ears (and eyes) :o.

Edited by xelas
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Wow what an adventure @Peter Connan, @xelas! Thank you so much for sharing.

 

A most emjoyable afternoon spent by me reading all about it!

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8 hours ago, xyz99 said:

Back to CR? Where are you going this time? TR will follow, right?

 

Almost all over the country, with fellow Safaritalkers, birding mostly, and yes, there will be a trip report (maybe even two :D).

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@xelas Have a great trip, can't wait to hear more about it. We're going next Feb, and still trying to decide on a 2nd location. We'll meet friends in Dominical for a few days, then maybe something closer to the airport. Selva Verde? Any idea? No roughing it :-)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks @Peter Connan and @xelas for the outstanding report!

 

Now, that's what you call a real adventure, period. So intense, so diverse and abounding with a multitude of great sightings and experiences on the way. I sooo envy you being able to take on this. From my viewpoint you really showed you had guts to try such an endavour. Kudos to all of you participating!

 

On top of the story I also very much enjoyed your illustrative narration topped up with excellent pictures. Once again, thanks and congratulations.

 

Greg

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Thanks for your kind words, @garito01! One (positive or negative) result of participating on such an event is that now I am looking after more demanding drives :wacko:; even D gravel roads are not challenging enough anymore :rolleyes:.

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Peter Connan

Thanks @garito01.

 

Finally, some notes on costs and logistics.

 

The trip cost the three of us almost exactly R30 000, including guide fees, accommodation, food and fuel.

 

This works out (using the rates of exchange at the beginning of the trip) to $71.10 or 50.32 Pounds per person per day.

This however does not include the repairs to the car. That cost about another R15 000. Even with this, I feel a cost of $106.66 or 75.48 Pounds per person per day is still pretty reasonable. 

 

On a trip like this, finding room in the car for all the stuff you need to take without overloading it completely is perhaps the most difficult part.

We had to be completely self-sufficient at times. Things like food and clothes are pretty obvious. Accommodation is a thorny issue that has filled many threads on 4x4 forums across the globe. Here in SA, most people are rather fond of roof-top tents. They have their problems, but for a trip like this, and assuming you are capable of climbing a ladder, they are probably the best option.

 

Their biggest advantage is speed. Because the mattresses are effectively built in, and because the bedding stays inside the tent when folding it, they are much faster than other options.

 

Their primary disadvantage for the able-bodied is that a roof-top tent must be folded away every time you want to go for a drive, but on this trip, that never really came into play. As for bedding, we took sleeping bags and an extra duvet, which we never used. 

 

The next thorny issue is in terms of ablutions. There are a number of "shower tents" on the market. There are also nifty swing-out shower tent/awnings which attach to a car's roof rack. These provide some privacy. We just took a short walk away from the camp instead. As for hot water, again there are numerous solutions. From portable gas geysers adapted from household models to solar bags which can be left in the sun for a while. Once again, we took the lightweight option: boiling a kettle of water. We did not shower, but washed from a bucket.

 

Another question is what type of food to take, and how much. This last also applies to water. On any trip like this, it is usually possible to re-supply at fairly regular intervals. This was also the case on this trip. Water was slightly more complicated. it was relatively easy to find non-potable water, but potable water was scarce, and we needed enough for at least five days. In terms of both food and water, I prefer to have "emergency rations" for at least three days beyond the next expected re-supply point.

Edited by Peter Connan
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Peter Connan

Tools and equipment:

 

Such a trip should not even be considered without at the very least a compressor and a tire repair kit. Despite saying that, in 8 years of travelling, I have had just two punctures, and in seperate trips. I get more punctures driving to work and back. But it many people I know have had multiple punctures on a single trip. Also, proper pressure control is critical to getting the most out of your tires and vehicle, and also the best way to make sure you don't have serious tire failures.

 

Probably the most common cause of blow-outs is overheating, which is usually caused by too low tire pressures. For this reason, I personally have a tire pressure monitoring system installed.

 

Recovery equipment is also critical. Many South African 4x4 afficionados feel that if one gets stuck, one should provide the equipment to end that situation. I have even met people who refuse to use their own recovery equipment to rescue somebody else. I don't feel that strongly about it, but the stuff is expensive and there is always a good chance that it will be damaged, so it is good manners to provide the equipment if you are the one who got stuck.

 

In any recovery situation, there are generally several methods which can get a vehicle un-stuck. Some will be more dangerous than others, and some will be easier than others. Typically, the fastest and easiest methods are also the most dangerous. Use equipment that you have training or experience with, and be prepared to make a bit more effort in return for staying safe.

 

In the group, we made sure there were at least two pretty comprehensive set of tools, but the other guys could take just basic tools.

 

Spare parts is the one thing that really caught us out, but one can't carry everything that might break. How much or how little to take depends to some extent on what car you drive and what known weak points it has, but keep in mind that, according to the universal laws of Murphy, you are normally more likely to be wrong than right.

 

 

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Peter Connan

Some other random bits:

I have a small inverter installed in my car for charging batteries. It can also power my laptop. This gives me the ability to charge batteries and backup photos. I also have a second camera battery charger that can work of both AC and 12V DC.

 

Our guide was insistent that all of us should have head-torches capable of emitting red light. This is less damaging to night vision than white light. I personally find red lights pretty useless though, and normally rather just eat by moonlight. But I do take at least two head torches, as I find them very useful.

 

We also took saws, pangas and axes for clearing overgrown roads, and needed them on occasion too.

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Elsa Hoffmann

Peter - what about packing a set of fuses  for the vehicle - how important is that? And how do you know when those need replacing? 

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