I flew out of Heathrow on 2nd January just as storm Eleanor was striking London, so the first hour of the flight was very rough. But things settled down & the rest of the flight was uneventful. I arrived in Joberg early the next day, picked up my truck & drove towards the Botswana border. I stayed the night in Groot Marico a tiny town about 80 kms from the border.
The border crossing on 4th was very straightforward & I spent all day driving, spending the night in Kang. Enjoyed a few beers & a nice meal & spent a pleasant hour video calling Karen in Doha. It was nice to hear all her news.
Nice rest stops at the side of the road.
The following day I drove north to Ganzi, finding a super lodge & campsite & enjoyed another lovely evening, again talking to Karen on the phone. It is amazing how one can be connected these days. Earlier in the day I popped into the National Parks & Wildlife office in town & to my delight they had a two night camping spot for me in Deception Valley in the Central Khalahri Game Reserve. I had always wanted to visit & so off I went early the next morning.
of this wilderness!
It is nearly 100 kms on a decent gravel road,
then 72 kms on a deep sand track which
is difficult driving! That is just to get to the gate!
Really deep sand, hard driving!
of this wilderness!
The entrance at Xade.
Big sky country here!
As one travels north, the terrain becomes
harder & easier to drive on.
This is one of the last great wildernesses in Africa!
I probably shouldn’t have done this as I was alone & driving across some of the wildest & remote semi arid terrain in Africa. The distance was 341 kms all of it off road & it proved to be a bit of a step too far. The first 100 kms was gravel road, boring but uneventful. But then things changed for the worse quickly.
The road became a deep rutted sand track, very tricky & slow driving. It took me nearly four hours to drive 70 kms _+ another hour changing my tyre after it blew up. I arrived at Xade entrance gate at mid day & the 70 kms drive to Pipers Pan proved to be difficult & slow going. Lots of patches of deep sand. Virtually no game was seen at all.
Yep! The first one!
Red billed Francolin
Common in the campsite.
I was up well before dawn. I got my tyre pump out of the truck & tried pumping up the tyre. To my surprise it started to inflate! But ever so slowing, definitely a slow puncture here! In the meantime I packed away my campsite & drove ever so slowing away. I managed 18 kms before the tyre blew out! Stuck again! I waited for a few hours a car came towards me & I asked him to take me to the gate, which he reluctantly did. Once there I arranged a flatbed truck from Maun & I waited & waited! Five hours later it arrived & I took them to my vehicle. We rolled into Maun very late & I found a bed for the night & drifted into a coma! It had been a very long day!
Attending a roadkill near Ghanzi.
Marabou Stork & White backed Vultures
Yellow billed Kite in attendance as well.
Up at the crack of dawn on the 8th. Purchased five new tyres & by 10 am I was on my way south towards Ghanzi. Arrived at my campsite & spent the afternoon lazing around & enjoyed a great chat with Karen in Doha.
Long tailed Paradise & Shaft-tailed Whydahs
Shaft tailed Whydahs
On the 9th I was on the road before dawn. I crossed the border without any problems & stopped in Gobiasis for a late 11 am breakfast & purchased a Namibian SIM card. I arrived at Dan Vijeon Game Park mid afternoon & after making camp, dived straight in the pool & enjoyed a lazy evening with Petra & Bernhard, like minded travelling souls.
The next day did a spot of birding/game viewing & spent the rest of the day in & around the pool. I was tired & needed the rest.
Tom, with a friend!
Tom in Hotel Stoffel!
Up early on 11th for a game drive, saw very little apart from a lone Gemsbok & a Black backed Jackal. Then tidied up & spent the rest of the morning reading/relaxing. Picked up Tom from the airport in the afternoon & then chatted & planned our forthcoming trip. But that is the next blog!