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Central Kalahari feb 2020, self-drive


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Xaxa - a unique place on earth - part 4

Time for the next part of our self-drive in Kalahari :)




1236188378_Screenshot2020-10-31at21_35_47.png.ce388ab5ca7cb5a01edf117868cdcea5.pngToday we packed up and left lovely Khutse and prepare us for a long drive into the real Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The drive would be 14 hours long and we would drive 214 km through thick sand, a real adventure. We would also pass by two villages where the native San people have settlements.


Before we left Khutse we got to enjoy the company of a lovely leopard tortoise filling up his water supplies from a puddle in the road.

























When we reached the thick sand roads we stopped and let the tier pressure down, the air from the tiers was burning hot and this day was the hottest on the trip! In the picture below the road was still quite hard. 




Everything started out fine and we enjoyed the nature around us but after some hours the AC seemed to be broken. We stopped for a break under some trees and we heard a bubbling sound from Tess (our car) that’s not a good sign, right? But the engine temperature display didn’t show anything wrong. We decide to fill up with some coolant and let Tess rest for a while. So far we had not met any other cars and we were a bit surprised when two cars joined us in the other direction. They told us they had been on a long safari but now they had to return to civilisation because their rear axle had broken!! We then felt quite happy with our car trouble compared to theirs. They wished us a good trip but also warned us about the roads ahead, and since Xaxa is in the middle of the Kalahari there is no quick exit to get out of the reserve, so fingers crossed that we would make it before nightfall.


We stopped at the villages of the San people, very friendly people and we had bought some sweets and cigarettes in Gaborone before we left to give them. Apparently, this is what they like the most as gifts :) We also bought some necklaces made of wood with burned in decorations that they had made. The history of the San people is very interesting and we read up on it even more after the trip and learned a lot. I had my polaroid camera with me and took some pictures of them that they could keep. The kids really liked this and posed in from of the camera with big smiles! These two villages are permanent settlements and the people living here are not nomads and they travel in and out of the Kalahari, some of the younger ones spoke English. I was amazed at how they survive in this harsh environment. I wouldn’t have lasted a week left in the bush.


The car kept on struggling and we decided we would have to pick up the pace to try to get more air flowing through the engine to keep it cool, and also turn on the heat instead of the cold on AC. Christian was still feeling a bit under the weather so we decide that he would ride with Owen in Brians's car, and Brian and I would take Tess for the last hours. All went well and when we finally took a turn to Xaxa (Great job Tess!) we were welcomed by a pride of lions! Two big male lions, lionesses, and three cubs. They were so curious of us and we could tell that these lions weren’t used to see humans so often. The cubs hid behind bushes but they were curious and popped up to have a look at the newcomers. I unfortunately don’t have any phots of the pride because they were hiding behind the bushes :(




It was soon going to be dark so we headed to camp, there is only one campsite in Xaxa and the scenery is spectacular! Located in the front of a waterhole!


Brian asked us if we would like to “sleep” outside just on the stretcher beds, we would take turns two and two to keep guard. Of course, we said, when are you ever going to sleep under the stars in Kalahari again? We parked the cars in an L-shape and laid out our beds next to each other, in front of us was the fire that we would keep burning all night, it felt very secured and cozy!


Tonight’s dinner was a barbecue on the open fire while we sipped on a chilled gin and tonic and listening to the roars of the lions. We had the best ice cubes ever, quite big ice cubes separately packed that we could place in our personal isolated cups, I have never had a sundowner that tasted that good. Another funny story is that when we opened one of the compartments for food, some eggs had broken, and because it was so hot it had turned in to scramble eggs! :lol:


When we popped into bed, we almost instantly heard a growling low sound, we turned on the flashlights to the waterhole. Two big Ellies had come down to have a drink! This was just as magical as it sounds :) Unfortunately, the weather changed quickly and the rain started to pour down and we had no other choice than to escape into the cars. We slept in the cars for the rest of the night, surprisingly it worked just fine when you tilt down the seat as low as possible.


In the morning we set off to try and find the lions again, and we had such luck! The male brothers were out on patrol and they wanted to check us out! We could identify their personalities - a pretty boy and a fighter! The pretty boy almost didn’t have any scars on his face (except for a fresh one on his nose) while the fighting brother had lot’s of scars and notches in his ears. They walked in front of us with confident steps!










Our lovely campsite in the daylight!






Xaxa is a must stop if you are going to Kalahari, but since it’s quite remote there is no “toilets or “showers” so if you don’t like it to hardcore one night is perfect. I was now looking forward to take a shower at our next stop Xade. In Xade their is a ranger post and we could fill up with water (not drinking) there is also hot showers and toilets, amazing how the little things can feel ultra luxurious!


Xaxa was the real thing, so secluded and wild, I don’t think their is a place like this anywhere else in the world :wub:  what's your favorite spot on safari? 

Edited by safarigirl.se
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  • 1 month later...

Xade and Piper Pan - part 5


After our exciting night in Xaxa, it was time to move on to the next camp - Xade. In Xade there is a ranger post and it was possible to refill water for showers and washing. There would also be hot showers that I really looked forward to! It had been very hot yesterday and we had just done a quick wash in a bucket.


Tess had had a well-deserved rest after yesterday's long drive to Xaxa but the roads were deep with sand and it was heavy driving but in the end, we arrived. While driving we listened to Jon Henrik Fjällgren, who is a Swedish-Sami singer and yoiker. It felt so powerful driving through the Kalahari with the Swedish yoik in the speakers, one origin meets the other.


When we arrived in Xaxe, Christian and I had the luxury of visiting the showers first and Brian and Owen would set up camp. But guess how disappointed we were when we realised the showers were broken! Well, well, worse things have happened, instead, we set up the tents and it was a close call,  we could see dark clouds beginning to tower in the sky. Shortly afterward, the sky opened up completely and the rain just poured down! We got an idea - when life gives you lemons .. you take a shower in the rain! :)


This was one of the highlights when we think back, outdoor shower got a whole different meaning! 




After showers, we headed out to explore Xade. The plains were quite empty, I guess the animals decided to take cover from the rain. But not this magnificent guy! We spotted him from a distance and figured he was heading to the waterhole and placed the cars on the opposite side of the waterhole and waited. 




This was a big bull and he was in musk so we kept our distance. He slowly drank and worked his way around the waterhole closer and closer to our car. Brian radioed us and said that he was probably going to do a mock charge and we should just stay still and quiet. And right Brian was, the bull flapped his ears, lifted his head up and down and made a short and to be honest not very convincing mock charge :) when he was satisfied with his performance he continued drinking. 














The plan was to stay in Xade just one night but before we left we had a lovely dinner with the only other people in the area. Manfred and Carina from Germany, they were such a cool older couple that use to self-drive in Africa for 4-6 month every year- goals! They had a special-designed car that was their own. When they are back at home they have it stored in Zimbabwe, but always ready whenever they want to head down to Africa.


The next stop, Piper Pan!



Lilac-breasted roller is always a favorite! On the right you can see Manfred and Carinas cool car!



Beautiful small but sadly dead Puff adder, (but honestly I don't think I would have enjoyed walking up to a live one :()


We arrived at Piper Pan in the evening and had the most stunning sunset!








Piper Pan was lovely but we now noticed that we were getting closer to the more “popular” and accessible areas of the Kalahari and we had some company, not many just two other cars, both photographers. One of the photographers was patiently sitting and waiting for a cheetah that stayed in the area. I was keeping my fingers crossed for a brown hyena, but my hope sank when we found a giraffe carcass, the stench was overwhelming so hyenas must have loved it! But just vultures insight.




But the most fantastic sighting was the bat-eared foxes that we got very close to this time. We spotted them in the plains and we decided to slowly walk a bit closer. They stayed completely still, watching us from a safe distance. I just love, love these little creatures! They are so cute and cozy when they curl up together in a little bundle. This was for me huge highlight so far on safari :)













Look at that stretch <3


We also had some great Oryx sightings, these horse-like antelopes are really tricky to photograph… They always ran away we approached, but this time we got close enough and they stayed :) Aren’t they just so beautiful and majestic?



Can you see the little cutie? 





These Oryx have had some hair styling during the night ;)







A lovely and loud bird we saw plenty of - Northern black korhaan or White-quilled bustard.





I love this pictures! It shows the dramatic and colourful scenery of the Kalahari!




A Yellow-billed kite, I think it looks just like our cat Smilla, Striking resemblance right? :D








Piper Pan blessed us with another dramatic sunset before we headed back to camp!


In the next part we set off to Deception Valley! :D 


Edited by safarigirl.se
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Beautiful! Experiencing rain in the dry areas is always wonderful.

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Beautiful pictures! I love Bat-Eared Foxes as well, and that was a really nice sighting - great stuff!

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  • safarigirl.se changed the title to Central Kalahari feb 2020, self-drive
On 12/4/2020 at 4:58 AM, Peter Connan said:

Beautiful! Experiencing rain in the dry areas is always wonderful.


So wonderful, and the smell! Just amazing :wub:

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On 12/5/2020 at 10:07 AM, michael-ibk said:

Beautiful pictures! I love Bat-Eared Foxes as well, and that was a really nice sighting - great stuff!


I could have stayed all day if they would have let me :D so beautiful and curious little animals! 

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Kalahari safari video, part two -Xade, Xaxa and Piper Pan


The second part of our trip to the Central Kalahari. In this video, we visit three campsites - Xade, Xaxa, and Piper Pan. We had showers in the rain, a close encounter with a black-maned lion and lovely bat eared-foxes!



Edited by safarigirl.se
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  • 4 weeks later...

@safarigirl.seThanks for this video, I enjoyed watching it very much. Video captures some aspects of wildlife sightings so much better, like the play of the bateared foxes, and the impala’s. Xaxa campsitesure looks like a great place to stay. 

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