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Some great sightings Lars, would have loved to find Sable in Khwai myself, well done! Hey, nothing wrong with a bit of comfort, and the lodge looks very nice indeed.

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Kwai area looks more drier then it was 2 months before. Great trip with excellent sightings. Which was the rental car company?

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Thanks @lmonmm, @Alexander33, @colbol, @Atravelynn, @gatoratlarge and @michael-ibk for your kind words and support & understanding :)  It was a wise decision, because the camping trip continued and I'm sure we enjoyed it better because of this one night in luxury.


Also the facilities at the Third Bridge campsite played a role in it. Third Bridge has an ablution block, which meant a really nice shower at the end of the day. At the campsite there was a tap for water. We had a water tank in the car, but the water was a bit greasy from it. This was way better. And there was a barbecue, which worked better then the ground bbq of our camping equipment (or at least I could handle it better). Seems like small upgrades, but that shower and tap, it made all the difference for us (and being more relaxed ofcourse).


Our overall experience was amazing and whenever I see the opening picture of the 4x4 car, I only have good memories. Also, I'm already thinking of going on a trip like this again. We now know what to expect and how to prepare. But I'm also deifnitely going on more luxurious trips in the future, because I really appreciate a bit of pampering as well!



On 6/13/2019 at 1:38 AM, Alexander33 said:



Well done, especially on the wild dogs and sable. 


I’m impressed with your gumption to have tried out this style of trip. I’d never have the courage or patience for it, so kudos to you two!


The courage part actually was the easiest. Only the first night we were a bit unsure when it got dark. After it, we felt at ease in the bush, even with all wildlife around and closeby.



On 6/13/2019 at 3:30 AM, colbol said:

Lars cant blame you for looking for comfortable accommodation/showers etc have done so ourselves for a mind break as much as anything. But always found that after camping - I couldn’t sleep in a bed -weird aye.

looks like a nice camp and surrounding area . Cheers Colbol 


Sleeping in a bed was something I really enjoyed afterwards, but can imagine that's something you miss afterwards. I really missed the 'just be' factor of the camping trip, if you know what I mean. I was so switched off of normal life, it was amazing. But once back in Maun, that feeling disappeared faster than I liked.



On 6/13/2019 at 5:45 AM, Atravelynn said:

That hyena looks like it wants to join you.  If you are embarrassed about spending the last night in less rustic conditions, then I am a complete weenie for never having done even 1 minute of self drive safari in Africa.


Don't worry, you're absolutely not a weenie ;)



18 hours ago, gatoratlarge said:

Wow!  I'm not sure I'd have the guts or the chutzpah to self drive Africa --- for one, I think I'd fear I'd miss spotting wildlife while concentrating on not driving into a hole but you really did it!  Any successful sighting of wild dogs is a great victory and you saw them three times already!  Amazing!


Close encounters with elephants....sable...fantastic!


Chutzpah, I really like that word! We've been to 4 nights selfdrive in Kruger and considered us pretty good at wildlife spotting when driving ourself. The roads weren't too bad, so I had enough time to have a look in the bush as well. Wildlife was amazing indeed!



18 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

Some great sightings Lars, would have loved to find Sable in Khwai myself, well done! Hey, nothing wrong with a bit of comfort, and the lodge looks very nice indeed.


Not sure if sable are common there. I don't think so as we had short sightings of them. Our neighbours didn't see them at all, not even after we gave them directions to the area we found them. We were lucky.



15 hours ago, xelas said:

Kwai area looks more drier then it was 2 months before. Great trip with excellent sightings. Which was the rental car company?


We were just at the beginning the dry season, so might have changed quick. We rented the car at Travel Adventures Botswana. Based on my experience I would recommend them and probably book a car with them for a possible trip in the future.

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After a great night of sleep at the lodge, it was time to leave already. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast, the drive to Third Bridge would take several hours. The service from Sango Safari Camp was fantastic: they filled up our watertank completely and also cleaned the windows. So nice!


We drove through Khwai village. There's actually a shop, although I understood availability of items isn't something you should count on.




We had more than enough food en drinks, especially now we would be camping one night less than planned, so we just drove through the village. So strange to see how people live here in the middle of where you do your gamedrives.




Time to head in to Moremi Game Reserve.




To reach it, we had to cross the Khwai River Bridge. At this time we thought that this bridge was challenging. Little did we know...




After a look on this very handy map, we planned our route to camp. ;) 




At the park office we had to do some paperwork, but there were no other cars so we were good to go within 10 minutes. Time to go through the gate.




The drive to Third Bridge was a long drive through the bush on sandy roads, some thicker bush, some areas more open. The deeper we drove into Moremi, the looser the sand would become. I enjoyed driving through the loose sand a lot. Very impressed by how smoothly the landcruiser would drive through the sand.


Two pictures, just to show the road conditions






Whenever we met oncoming traffic, somebody had to make way for the other. In some areas the sandroads were quite deep and the roadside about 50cm higher. That was the area I really like to leave the road and let the other car pass. It was quite a challenge to get out of the deep sand of the road into deep sand in the roadside and back. But the car did an amazing job again and although you get shuffled quite a lot inside the car, I liked it a lot.



Ofcourse there was wildlife to be seen on our drive. Although admittedly we didn't see that much. We were probably a bit spoiled by all the great sightings at Khwai and the enormous amount of elephants we spotted there. Still we had some very nice wildlife sightings and overall a great day in the bush.


This bird of prey, although I have to owe you the name. I trust some of you will know the name.




A herd of impala's



This one is really posing for the camera:






A brief sighting with a kudu, who ran off as soon as we stopped the car.




We went for a stop at Dombo Hippo Pool. There's a hide where we spent some time enjoying the views over the water.


Stairway to te hide:




And the views




As the name says, there were hippos in it.






Another impala, striking an iconic pose:




Soon after zebras made our spotting list of the day, feeding on the grass and strengthening the social ties.








An unsual long and many-legged zebra ;) 




A more rare sighting was seen next to the road. There was a wet crossing that we stopped for as. We determined how deep the water was and that gave us the opportunity to spot this monitor just before he would disappear in the bush.





We visited another pool on our route. More zebras who were having a drink on the other side.








We were almost at Third Bridge now. Only one hurdle to take before arriving at the campsite. The third bridge. This was a more challenging bridge than the one at Khwai North Gate. it's a bit hard to see, but that dark part between the wooden poles and the light sand on the other side is actually water. The bridge was 10 metres too short :)  As it was the access to camp we trusted it blindly. Therefore it was a bit scary driving into the water. Coming from the wooden poles it felt like you dived in the water as that was the deepest part. Another experience that added up to our adventure.




It actually by now was already late in the afternoon. We checked in at the office, booked a boat trip for the next day and made ourself at home at our new campsite. As it was pretty quiet at the last part of the drive in terms of wildlife, we took the opportunity to take some nice sunset pictures and had a true camping night with a barbecue, beers and marshmallows on the campfire. Jackals were running around in the dark, waiting for us to go to sleep and search for leftovers.


There was one huge scary moment halfway the evening. We were sitting in our chairs enjoying a beer and suddenly a huge bang out of nowhere! We were really scared. Was it a monkey jumping on our car? Or an elephant vandalising the car? Or, something else? Something else might sound the scarier option, but it was the best one. A sausage from the sausage tree fell out and straight on the rooftop of the car. Can you imagine our hearts bumping in our chest?




Also, we took the opportunity of taking some Moremi sunset pictures.











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Everything was going smooth now and next morning we were just as relaxed as when we left Sango Safari Camp. We had a good night of sleep and were excited to go on another gamedrive. It didn't take long for us to find a group of giraffes. It was a bit of a puzzle to find the road that brought us close to them, but we got our car in the best position possible. No other cars were around and this was all ours. There's more than an hour between our first and last photo. We watched them patiently come closer to us and eventually cross the roads in front and behind our car. Lovely moments with these beauties!





















After it we drove back to the main road to drive a little faster to Paradise Pools. The name alone should be worth a visit. But before we would be there, we made a very wise decision. We drove into a dead end (yes, on purpose). We wanted to check out Mugwevhlana Lagoon. When we left the main road, we noticed no other cars went in to this road, including cars of guides. When we realized that, we thought of turning. But then decided to continue as it was only 1 or 2 kilometers max.


We knew it paid off when we saw there was one other car around the corner. We joined them and shared our excitement over this sighting: 15-17 wild dogs! Out in the open for just 2 selfdriving cars and no others. What a joy! In all other safaris trips combined we had only one other wild dog sighting. In fact, until 4 months before this trip, we had never seen them. And now, our fourth wild dog encounter!






















They might have had a kill closeby as we also spotted a few vultures. But at the same time, the vultures stayed in the tree when the dogs moved away. So may be they were just there.






Towards Xanaka gate there were a few other nice sightings, like lechwes:








And two warthogs:



Then we arrived at Xanaka gate and proudly wrote down our wild dog sighting on the sightings board: L&A :) 



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For those of you who had eye for detail on the sightings board, you might have guessed why we wanted to go all the way to Paradise Pools. The sighting of a lioness with cub. Would we be able to find it? Would she still be there with her cub?


Driving along an old air strip, we first found two ellies:






By the time we arrived at Paradise Pools, our first sighting was a herd of impalas who looked pretty relaxed. So far our hope for finding a lion.




But the Paradise Pools consist of many roads, almost like a maze. We really tried to find them, tried to explore all the roads there. Which wasn't easy as you can be driving in loops and end somewhere else then you expected. Other selfdrivers couldn't find them either. Some were already leaving the area. Should we go somewhere else? Or one last try? Ok, one last try.


We found a way into another area. The roads became less clear and we then met a guide. Had he seen the lioness with cub?




But he was going to the spot he had seen them last. We asked if we could follow him and that was not a problem.


It was a real maze to go to the spot where they had been seen before. The area was really wet, the roads were sometimes too wet to cross and we had to make a few detours. But then, in the middle of the swampy area. We found them! We were over the moon and thanked the guide multiple times. We actually stayed longer then him, making the way back a bit tricky, but we managed to get out following the tracks and remembering the obstacles.


How much we enjoyed this sighting? This many photos, that's how much!





















































Really worth it to drive all the way to Paradise Pools. At Xakanaka gate we picknicked for lunch. And wrote down another great sighting, with gps coördinates to help other drivers.





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We still had to drive back to camp, but went the quickest way possible. Only sighting was this elephant who just had a bath.








Arriving on the campsite, an old acquaintance was already waiting for us. Would it be the same red billed hornbill from the Khwai campsite?



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Fantastic! Wild dogs AGAIN! One female seems in early stages of pregnancy, when was this trip?

I would have loved to be a (non-stinging) fly in your car and observe your enthusiasm about everything! The animals, the camping, the driving, you're telling it in a very enthusiastic way!


Btw, the bird in the previous post: juvenile bateleur.

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After setting up camp, we were met by our boat driver for our afternoon boat trip. With just the two of us as guests, it was a really nice private trip on the waterways. From smaller canals to wide open water. The landscape (or waterscape) and tranquility was stunning!










Ofcourse we wanted to see some wildlife as well. The first sighting was impossible to capture on camera. An otter made a few quick appearances. But he constantly popped up somewhere else then we expected. We saw him, but no photo to prove it.


A little later we found a few elephants on an island. Sitting in the boat it was hard to see due to the grass. But when our guide the front of the boat on the shore, we were allowed to standup and stand actually pretty close to the ellies.






The ellies paid more attention to the grass and than to us, This tree was also way more interesting.






We would have expected to get to see some hippos, but they were actually hard to find. We heard them a lot, but couldn't find or reach them. Until in the wide open water there were two, although they weren't amused by our presence so we didn't came to close.








The sunset looked very nice from the water.




On the way back we went pretty fast and if we would have opened our mouth, we surely would have had dinner so many bugs were flying around. I felt them bumping in to my face. Luckily this campsite had some good showers. One problem only: elephants in our campsite.


What a nice problem! :)


The boat driver couldn't leave either, so we looked the ellies and talked for a while until it was safe to walk around again.






One elephant came really close to our car.






They were very relaxed, so it was a moment only to enjoy.



After showering and dinner, I tried some night photography. As you can see from this picture, it really didn't work out. I think the full moon made it difficult or it wasn't dark enough yet. I don't know. The picture is bad and if there wasn't a little story, I wouldn't have posted it.


I spent about half an hour trying to find the right settings, which was hard as I hadn't done this before. Also the trees were not helping much. I walked around in the dark a little bit, never too far from the car, trying to find a good spot. That night, I wasn't too worried at all. Next morning, I had some second thoughts. One of our neighbours came by and asked if we also had seen the leopard in the tree last night. Apparantly there was a leopard in the tree between our campsites! And I was just walking around trying to make a few pictures. Our neighbours watched him all night untill they went to bed. We were within 50 metres and had absolutely no idea.




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15 minutes ago, ForWildlife said:

Fantastic! Wild dogs AGAIN! One female seems in early stages of pregnancy, when was this trip?

I would have loved to be a (non-stinging) fly in your car and observe your enthusiasm about everything! The animals, the camping, the driving, you're telling it in a very enthusiastic way!


Btw, the bird in the previous post: juvenile bateleur.

Thanks @ForWildlife! This trip was end of May last year. So who know if she had a pup and how the pup's doing now.


As we were just with the two of us, there was plenty of room for an extra fly ;) 


Thanks for ID-ing the bird. Another juvenile bateleur, just as in my TR from Kruger. Then I also wondered what kind of bird it was. Should have learned from it, although on that sighting he was next to an adult so easier to guess if it was a juvenile.

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May makes sense, they usually have their litters around June. And they don't really have one pup, an average wild dog litter is 9-10 pups. The week before they have their litter a pregnant female looks like she will explode.

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10 minutes ago, ForWildlife said:

May makes sense, they usually have their litters around June. And they don't really have one pup, an average wild dog litter is 9-10 pups. The week before they have their litter a pregnant female looks like she will explode.

Yes, ofcourse the have more than ons pup, what was I thinking? But 9-10  really a lot! And still it's hard for them to grow in population.

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I think the record is more than double that...

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Wow, a perfect Wild Dog sighting in the mornign light, and then such an intimate Lion encounter - beautiful! I´m sure that Leopard was wondering what you were doing there. B)

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18 hours ago, ForWildlife said:

I think the record is more than double that...


Sometimes more than one female has pups - for example, in the Khwai Pack last year. However, the alpha female took over the other female's pups as well



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20 hours ago, LarsS said:

Yes, ofcourse the have more than ons pup, what was I thinking? But 9-10  really a lot! And still it's hard for them to grow in population.


Multiple problems: many times the entire litter gets wiped out or killed, be it by other predators or by deseases, contracted from humans or domestic dogs

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We're nearing the end of our camping trip. The drive from Third Bridge to Maun would start with a long gamedrive before returning to Maun. Would there be a last day bonus on what's already a great trip?


We wanted to make the most of the drive since it was the last opportunity to spot some wildlife. One thing that we were definitely not going to do: speeding. We left early in the morning and only arrived in Maun around 17.00 in the afternoon.





The morning started with these nice birds




The next sighting we could see from far and was also about birds. Less pretty, but more impressive. Vultures. Not one, not two, not ten. I estimate a total of around 200 vultures, but wouldn't be surpised if it were 300. They were litterally everywhere. On the ground left of the round, on the ground right of the road. Up in a tree. On a branch. And... on a carcass. Obivously something had to be there for this many vultures being around. A dead hippo was what lured so many vultures and also some marabous. What an incredible sighting at the start of the day!


















Some of them crossed the road flying in front of our car. What an amazing sight!








And here's the unfortunate hippo. My wife's favourite animal, so she was a bit reluctant to take pictures of it. It looked like to have died a natural death or a disease maybe. The carcass was almost in tact, so not likely a predator would have killed it.






@michael-ibk you mentioned in your TR you were relieved to see so many of them. I think you will pleased by the pictures above as well. :) 


Our drive continued with a good number of wildebeest.










Slowly we started thinking of what the last animal we would spot before we left Moremi behind us. We were convinced it would be an elephant. But would we be right?


Moremi first delivered us some ostriches. One we were really happy with, as we hadn't seen them on this trip yet.






A few tsessebes






And ofcourse we saw a herd of zebras as well.






These two were having a quarrel










This zebra was more relaxed and just watched her offspring resting in the dry grass




Then a member of the Big 5 showed up. There were actually more, but they looked nervous and only this one came through the bush to have a look at us. Another new species on this trip.






No sign of elephants though. not even dung. Would it become a last day on safari without my favourite animal?


It really started to look like it, as the next sighting were a few ostriches again.











Surely this was our last sighting. We were almost at South Gate and on the drive from Maun to Khwai we didn't see wildlife along the main road.


We passed through South Gate, from here it's not too long to Maun anymore. But hey, what's that behind the trees? Elephants!


This proved the be the last wildlife sighting as we hoped for!








Time to say goodbye to Moremi and the African bush.


The veterinary gate was the first real sign of civilization. A friendly guy checked our car and asked if we may be had some toilet paper we didn't need anymore. Ofcourse we had and we were happy to give it to him. That got us thinking, we had so much more we didn't use on our camping trip. Would he and his family a bit further down from the road be interested in water, food and whatever we had? We unpacked half of the car and made them very happy we lots of water, biscuits, potatoes and some firewood.







And then it said Welcome to Maun on the boards.


What an incredible trip we had, a true adventure for us! Thinking back at it, I know I'll definitely go on a trip like this again! Just being with the two of us, in the middle of the bush among wildlife and amazing sightings. An experience I'll cherish forever!

Botswana 2018 (724).JPG

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Absolutley brilliant report Lars -thank you for sharing your adventure. It gives me quiet an insight as  to travelling through this area.

Nice to see the lioness and cub as well as more wild dogs.

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Some last contemplations on this trip. I think I can say on this trip I felt more alive then ever before. For all kinds of reasons:


- my senses were so alert: I already mentioned my hearing of all the sounds in the bush, but I can recall the smell of several food we made in the bush. I mean, we all know how an onion smells, but there I really smelt an onion, if you understand what I mean.

- no thinking: everyday we did what we had to do, went out to explore the bush and enjoyed it a lot. Nothing to worry about, nothing to think about, really living in the moment.

- no internet: at home I work as an online marketeer, meaning working on a laptop all day and internet is what it's all about. But no cell phone signal meant that from day 2 I didn't touch my phone. I put it somewhere in my backpack and didn't think of it for the whole trip. It felt liberating and we tried to hold on to that feeling back in Maun, only allowing ourself a few internet moments at the beginning and end of the day. At home, regular life took over as expected. But I treasure that feeling.

- the outside air: basically every minute of this camping trip was spent in the outside air (apart from the night at Sango). We slept with the flaps open, so basically there was no inside during our trip. So much oxygen and day/sunlight, my energy levels were really high. I felt fit and never tired, apart from the good tired feeling after a wonderful day.



Would i recommend it? Yes. But I also think you do have to want it as it's also a bit of an effort. I know I will go on a trip like this again and I think I can even enjoy it better now I know what to expect. It also helps if you don't have specific wildlife wishes. We just wanted to be there and see whatever we would see. If you're really keen on some species, it can be hard to find them on your own.


A guided mobile camping trip can be a very good alternative where you probably have the same wildlife experience, but you don't have to do everything yourself. I never really thought of that kind of safaris before, but will keep it in mind for future trips.




The very last photo of this trip: a palm tree. I enjoyed reading @safarigirl.se's Botswana TR a lot and that made me look even more forward to our Bots trip. You started your TR with this one, I'll end it with it as we drove past some of these trees on the last day.


Thank you Botswana!





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I really loved your TR!  It’s one I know I’ll never make but I felt like I was there enjoying it too!

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Peter Connan

Great trip report Lars!


Self-driving does have disadvantages, but the advantages surely make up for it in spades!

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Excellent adventure, @LarsS, and excellent trip report. Thank you!

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Thanks so much for sharing Lars, this was a really great trip - and report. It was fun comparing our similar routes, and very interesting to see several familiar places from our own safari in a different season. I really admire your courage, Botswana is definitely not the country I would pick for a first-time self-drive experience. And you did so well! You had great sighting all the way, and I´m glad it was such a positive experience for you.


One thing I was wondering, why none of your staple video diaries for this report?

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2 hours ago, Peter Connan said:

Great trip report Lars!


Self-driving does have disadvantages, but the advantages surely make up for it in spades!


Thanks @Peter Connan! Yes, it was a bit of a rough start, but it surely turned out to be an amazing adventure.


1 hour ago, xelas said:

Excellent adventure, @LarsS, and excellent trip report. Thank you!


Thanks @xelas, glad you liked it!


1 hour ago, michael-ibk said:

Thanks so much for sharing Lars, this was a really great trip - and report. It was fun comparing our similar routes, and very interesting to see several familiar places from our own safari in a different season. I really admire your courage, Botswana is definitely not the country I would pick for a first-time self-drive experience. And you did so well! You had great sighting all the way, and I´m glad it was such a positive experience for you.


One thing I was wondering, why none of your staple video diaries for this report?


I couldn't agree more with you. I really like your report as well. Also interesting to see the differences in landscape and sightings.


Funny you mention not picking Botswana for a first time self drive. Where would you have been going then? I wondered if there are other places you can get this experience.

By the way, we did drive ourselves through SA and Namibia before, but not the camping part of the trip. Always with SUV from accommodation to accommodation.


I expected that question about videos. Happy to hear you missed it. I did started it on the day of departure. But was so busy getting used to the camping experience and doing everything ourself, I forgot about it or what I did didn't make a lot of sense. May be I'll go through my footage some day and figure out a way to make a nice video of it. Will be more of a compilation than the ones I've made so far.

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