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Botswana - April 2010

We decided to go on a trip in the Mabuasehube and Kalagadi areas. The first part of the trip was to be with Piet van Heerde on a trip organised by John Thomé.

John Thomé (As far as I know John is not enlisted in the German Army.)

John had posted information on the Land Cruiser web page and after lurking for some time we asked if we could join the group - John kindly agreed. Originally we thought we would do a trip before this one but after consideration decided to rather extend the trip. The idea was that this trip would be in a concession area outside the Mabuasehube area of the Kalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Major grass problems were foreseen and much debate had taken place on the web regarding seed nets to protect the radiators. As if this was not bad enough, vehicle scratching was also predicted. Long distances were also anticipated between fuel stops. In view of the aforementioned we decided to take the Hi-Lux and not the Cruiser. It is narrower and has a longer range and also is more fuel efficient at slow speed in deep sand. Werner Page of Tentco helped make special seed nets to protect the radiator and four special nets were manufactured to our specific careful calculated measurements. In addition the radiator grille was removed to allow closer fitting of the nets and cleaning of the radiator cores should they become blocked. In addition a wire coat hanger and special brush were included in the packing list. Said brush disappeared along the way but reappeared on our return home. However all of this was for nothing as there was no significant grass anywhere along the trip and one ordinary net would have been fine. (I fitted three nets.)

The people who were on the "concession" part of the route were:


Piet (guide and cook) and his son Louis van Heerde.


Piet van Heerde


Mr Man - tracker/guide


Jonathan Taylor with John Thomé (trip instigator via the Land Cruiser Club).


Hardus Geldenhuys


Aletha Geldenhuys


Hardus and Aletha Geldenhuys


Janine Heikens


Herman Heikens


Herman and Janine Heikens

Herman and Janine Heikens


Jonathan Taylor


Louwtjie Jansen van Vuren


Louwtjie Jansen van Vuren


Annemie Jansen van Vuren


Louwtjie and Annemie Jansen van Vuren


Ken and Val Brenton


Ken and Val Brenton


Friday 16 April

What the packed top layer of the vehicle looked like. I can assure you that the bottom was full too.

We set off for Red Sands near Kuruman where we intended to spend the night. Lunch was at the Wimpy in Delareyville (not an inspiring place worth making a special stop for but adequate in the provision of sustenance). We arrived ar Red Sands at 4pm and after relaxing had a lovely dinner there. The intention was to enter Botswana via the Bray border post. Well at this stage Sylvia asked how long it would take to reach the border. For some amazing reason I had just focused on how I like Red Sands and had paid little attention to the detailed route. This was a slight mistake as Bray is far far away from Kuruman and I suddenly remembered that someone had suggested another stop over place. Suddenly I knew why. Anyway that was a problem for tomorrow and we would take a few back roads as usual.

Saturday 17 April

After a leisurely breakfast around 7:30 Bray was the distant destination. The route was long and winding with me juggling the roads on the GPS.

Around midday we arrived at the Bray border and there we met Piet van Heerde and his son Lourens who were a day later than they said they would be. On the South African side we had to declare all cameras and field glasses and laptops. (Something has happened as the customs side has suddenly taken a keen fancy to paper work.) We had some Pula - but of course they had been reissued and were no good so we had to pay R160 instead of about R110 for some documentation on the Botswana side. After getting the bits stamped we went outside and asked if there was anything else and were told no so we left. Piet said that they wanted to harass us more but found that we had already escaped. (I absolutely hate border crossings - to the degree that I cannot describe politely.)

We drove on to Cornwall Ranch which I had incorrectly plotted on my GPS - but there were road signs - and we had radio contact with Piet. We arrived in the early afternoon.

Piet van Heerde getting ready for the next day - seed nets - serious seed nets!


Jan and Heather Strumpher run Cornwall Ranch where we stayed in Luxury.

Jan and Heather Strumpher


That evening Piet showed us a packet of his special Shepherd's Bush coffee which he said we would be sampling on the trip.

Piet with the aforementioned packet.


A dinner scene.


Another dinner scene.


Dinner bed and breakfast came to just over R800 for the two of us.


Sunday 18 April

The group at Cornwall Ranch (just about to depart) with the Strumpher's


Now the concession part of the trip began for which we had paid R7600 for the two of us. This fee would include dinner and guidance provided by Piet. Accompanying us was Mr Man who was to be our "tracker/guide". He traveled with Piet.

By midday we were at Kang where we filled up with diesel. A garage swap was needed before we found one that accepted credit cards - for a 5% fee of course.


The whole group at Hukuntsi

By 13:30 we met up with the rest of the group which was waiting for us at Hukuntsi. We did not take on more fuel here. After much greeting and the promise of a goetspoets or goepswoeps or something like that we set off in high spirits.

Around 16:30 we arrived at a pan where we set up camp. And then the wind came - in a sudden wet gust that threatened to blow all our unpacked possessions into the distance. Sylvia held the tent open while the wet sand rushed in as I passed possession after possession. The sandy condition of my toothbrush was mentioned after this event without consideration being given to the aforementioned storm.


Me fitting the extra seed nets in anxious anticipation of the thick grass.


Hardus delivering gifts of mangos from Louwtjie. They were really the best mangos we have ever had.


That evening.


Later that evening.


For dinner we had chicken pie, potato salad and savoury rice.

Monday 19 April


One of the track scenes - I like them so you have to bear with me as I make the page and have control over the pictures.


Cheetah in the distance. (Middle screen - you just have to accept it.)


The same kitties but this time enlarged.


Another track.


I like trees with flowers below as well.


Viewers of the game on the pan. The game pictures are hidden until later.


Different type of track.


John's campsite.

We all actually all got on quite well throughout the trip. Whether this getting on was assisted by distances kept apart or not was never fully decided as everyone tended to keep some distance apart. The lack of showers and toilets may have had something to do with this though.


This was taken with a long lens - do not believe we were as close as the picture appears to show!


During the night the many springbok and wildebeest came closer to our camp site.

We had lunch around midday on the roadside which had little shade.


Some chewing taking place in the little shade.


Then we were off to the Kaa gate at Mabuasehube - to this date I am not quite sure why we went there. Our tracker Mr Man and Piet went into the offices while we waited outside.

We set up camp around 14:00 near a pan. Everyone camped fairly far apart.


The sunset (played with a little).

Dinner was boerewors stew, pap and a mango salad made by Alet and Annemie.


Campfire and kuiering scenes below:

Mr Man looking at the fire he has made.



That night we heard lions roar far in the distance.

Tuesday 20 April

We woke to a chilly morning.

Another track - this is why I like this area so much.

Off we went into the bush with Mr Man looking for lions. This ended up into a dodgem car fiasco with Mr Man on Ken Brenton's Cruiser roof riding like some sort of demented jockey waving a stick to show where Ken should drive. The group did spot two lions but the situation was fast becoming out of hand especially with Ken's radio off and the group tearing off in all directions. Soon we stopped and left the lions in peace.

Mr Man - centre - looking for signs of lions.


Vehicles heading into the "unknown" in pursuit of aforesaid lions.


A closer look at Mr Man pointing the way from a grassy position.


Hardus checking on the spoor tracking.


Alet taking a roof view of the position.


A picture of the lion.


Tearing around in the bush after Ken.


Mr Man on Ken's roof - like a deranged jockey on a wilful horse.


Branches on our bonnet as we continue the chase. (The Hi-Lux is a lot slower than a cruiser - well much slower than our petrol Cruiser anyway.)


At this stage I regretted not having secured my seat belt as I snapped away while lurching from side to side.


Phew, roof pose at the conclusion of the chase.


The last picture I got of the lion.


The same picture of the lion enlarged.


Jonathan doing close up bits.


Lilac Breasted Roller.


After all the excitement - overheating.


Did I mention that I like the tracks?


Lots of Springbok in the distance.


Pretty grass - very fine.


Delicate flower.


Sunset lookers.


Another look at lookers.


Another delicate flower.


Around 17:00 we arrived at a pan with lots of game and parked on a substantial slope.


Sylvia at the flames.


Happy eaters.


Dinner was chicken, boiled potatoes, sweet corn and shredded beetroot.

Our campsite choice was the start of one of the worst nights I can recall. Because of the slope. At some ungodly hour. Sylvia woke me from my lovely sleep. Sylvia said the vehicle was moving. This appeared to be true. We were in the back. We were under the canopy. I reached for the steering wheel and slammed my foot on the non existent brake pedal. Good grief. Much consternation. Out I leaped. Opened the front door. Seat full of things. Pulled handbrake harder and pressed hooter with elbow at same time. Tried that twice. Sure everyone else in the up till now happy party had been woken. Unloaded half of the front seat so I could get my hoof on the brake pedal. Foot brakes are better than handbrakes on Hi-Luxes. I then grabbed my sleeping bag and sat on the driver's seat with hoof poised until daylight. Do not give advice or ask any more!

Wednesday 21 April

The repacking after the night to be forgotten.


After not much sleep we had a lovely mango for breakfast.


The pan behind the track.


We got a fleeting glance of some Eland.


That day we saw larger herds of springbok than we had ever seen before.


Mr Man removing a dead cheetah from the pan.




Shade was at a premium.


I speculated what was happening with the spade.


Three sitters at lunch time - enjoying the shade.


Jonathan doing things on his elbows.


Hanging Gemsbok Cucumber ("Acanthosicyos naudinianus" is its official name - just in case you wanted to know.)


Hundreds of animals were returning to the pan.

We had lunch at a pan further on.


The weather was hot but cool in the shade. The light was also very bright

By 16:00 we had arrived at Peach Pan and set up camp on flattish ground, far from everyone, low range, hubs locked, first gear, handbrake on.

The flat campsite.


Nice view from the flat campsite.


I had whisky and Sylvia had wine with Louwtjie and Hardus. With ice.

Dinner was lasagne, three bean salad and bread.

Thursday 22 April

We awoke to a lovely morning and there were very few animals on this pan.



Hardus and Louwtjie after a good night.


The Geldenhuys - Jansen van Vuren camp.


Annemie kindly posing next to a Shepherds Tree that I liked.


John Thomé in the morning light.


Ken and Val having breakfast. Note the big seed net. (They had found it useful earlier.)


A hug for Janine from Herman before she is sent to the roof to pack up.


Sylvia standing next to the packed vehicle - ready to go.


Me chewing mango.


A rare water hole visited by amongst other animals - lions.


The lion spoor with hand for size reference purposes.


Social spider nest.


Line up of vehicles - occupants peering at game.


The area is beautiful.


This sunset has not been tampered with.


Dinner was a poitjie, rice, olives and feta cheese.

We could see lots of lightning to the north.

Friday 23 April

It was a sunny cool morning.

We saw five spotted Hyenas on the pan running up and down to see if any other animals wanted to be eaten. We also saw a few gemsbok, one ostrich and lots of springbok in the pan.


Hardus and Alet displaying high bush fashion.


Back on the main track.


By 15:00 we arrived at a campsite where there were permanent tents erected. We set up camp outside the tents. Piet found a spot under cover.



It began to rain. Not under cover it rained raindrops. Under cover it rained beetles. Beetles fell from the thatch - they seemed tasteless in our drinks. Perhaps my whisky was too stiff.

Bread was made and the main cooking took a slow turn in the rain.

Hardus made pap. Hardus eventually took his pap away and had his own bully beef with Alet, Louwtjie and Annemie. This was ok with me as I am not really a pap fan.

Saturday 24 April

5:10 - lots of hail - still raining. I woke to think that maybe the plastic tanks on the roof might fracture. Lots of noise.

At daybreak - Piet snoring under cover in tent standing in significant pool of water. Mr Man seemed to have had a good night in fixed tent. Ken and Val were moping around in very wet tent. John fortunately had managed to fit a plastic sheet over his broken window.

Piet was the first to say goodbye.


Last photo opportunity with the Doppers.


Then everyone else left.

We remained as we were only due at Mabuasehube gate tomorrow.


Overcast conditions can give attractive light.

For lunch around midday we had bacon and french toast. (Thank you Alet for the bread and eggs.)


The rainbow - this was lovely. I could not get the complete semicircle in the frame.


For dinner at 17:00 we had curried lamb.

We reflected that we never had any sweets or shepherd's bush coffee.

Sunday 25 April

The fridge temperature was 10,3C which did not make me too happy.

We arrived at the Mabuasehube gate at 9:00. Here we took on some drinking water from the scout camp across the road from the gate.

It was overcast and we drove around a lot where we saw some pans with lots of water in them.


Our campsite at Mabuasehube. Our tent fitted nicely under the shelter.


A lovely track.


Our campsite with another lovely shepherd's Tree again.


The tracks had water in them too.


A waterhole - filled with water - and the pan behind was also very wet.


There was lots of water around.


For dinner we had sirloin steaks - they were quite thick. I am busy singeing the fat.


It was a windy rainy night.

Monday 26 April

At 7:00 the sun was shining and it was still cool with large patches of blue sky. The fridge was 7,3C while the outside temperature was 13,9C.

We had a mango for breakfast and cold sirloin steak sandwiches for lunch.

Our campsite again in the morning light.


The tracks were also wet;



Gemsbok on the pan - the day was dark and gloomy.


I have been told that a sharp eye is important.


Blue bits of sky - but that did not last long.


Two lovely ground squirrels.


Springbok below with the wet pan behind them.


A sand grouse with two chicks.


One of the sand grouse chicks.


A Cory Bustard.


For dinner we had lamb stew and rice.

Tuesday 27 April

It had rained during the night. The fridge was now 8,6C. There were a few sunny spots.

Lunch was french toast and cold sirloin with lamb shank for dinner.


Two Suricates - we saw few of these.


The grass was thick. The sky was dark. It was cold. We had warm clothes.


The only rabbit we saw.


Vulture in flight.


Hornbill posing in his beautiful clothes.


Sunset - not tampered with.


Neither was this tampered with.


This was a wonderful sunset that lasted for over half an hour after the sun had gone down.


Wednesday 28 April

The fridge was 9,2C.

It was a misty morning and a hornbill came and sat on our rooftop looking to see if he could get fed.

Then we saw a lovely large honey badger - just a good sighting but he did not pose.


There is a Hornbill begging on our roof and the weather was gloomy.


The beggar.


The Springbok even looks cold.


More scenes that I like to remember.




After that a secretary bird posed for ages - the only problem was the light. (The light was worse than I thought and the pictures are not wonderful at all.)

After driving around we saw three lions on the pan and then left for Motopi1 where we arrived by 14:40 to see a gemsbok waiting for us at the campsite.

Ox-tail was supper.

Here we used the firewood given to us by John - thank you John. We cooked butternuts and onions in tin foil on the fire while we enjoyed the blaze. It was dry but there was lightning on the horizon towards the east.

Me at the fire powered by John's wood donation.

Fortunately Sylvia got up to check the vehicle as I had left my window open and it rained hard with wind blowing to that side during the night.

Thursday 29 April

Yippee - fridge 2,7C.

It was a lovely sunrise with lovely light on our shepherd tree.


We then folded the tent. Sylvia complained that my beard made scraping noises on my sleeping bag during the night. Tough. Well we found a little mouse had started to make a nest under the tent - hence the gentle scraping noise. Happily it was not hurt. As it remained still for long enough to have a picture taken I thought perhaps it had been injured. Careful zipping ensured it did not enter the tent and get folded in. It scampered off and we bade it farewell.

The aforementioned rodent.


Our shepherd's Bush Tree and scenes on the way to Nossob.


Sylvia drove from 8:30 to 18:00. We stopped at Nossob and Sylvia assured me we did not need fuel there. We drove on - gauge plummeting faster by the kilometre. At the lower dune road there was a sign threatening anyone who dared to go on towards we Rivieren. This meant an extra detour.And I thought there had been a mistake with the booking as the form mentioned Two Rivers. Well we had at least five litres of fuel after 1440 kilometres when we arrived at Twee Rivieren. Here it was confirmed that it was again my fault - we were booked in at Rooiputs so we could have driven straight down south to our campsite. On leaving Two Rivers we went back north on a new track on the Botswana side of the closed main road. Camp was set up before dark.

Dinner was tomato lamb stew, butternuts, onions and smash.

We were visited by a Cape Fox and a Jackal - both of which got bored and left when no food was forthcoming.

Friday 30 April

More yippee - 3C

Why we took the detour first.



Tree Rat nest.


It was a lovely cool bright morning with the moon above. I chewed the remaining rusk for breakfast.

We then went to Nossob where I shaved and showered. So clean was I after this.

For lunch we had another mango.

We saw what appeared to be a pregnant lioness drinking at the waterhole on the way back.

That night we used the Cobb with its firebrick to make pizzas al la Bowman. (Thank you Wade and Celeste for the recipe. The firebrick was ready to use in short t5ime and we made four pizzas with delightful fillings - a matter of taste. One had no cheese on top - whisky problem as I was in char4ge of that. We consumed two pizzas and stored the rest for the next day.

We had a visitor who enjoyed our light. He chewed up a number of insects before retiring.


Saturday 1 May

Fridge 5,2C

Overcast and cool.

Rusks ex Nossob for breakfast - earlier Storms River variety were nicer.

Previously referred to left over pizzas for lunch.

Four lions, two cheetah, one tortoise and a wild cat together with gnus, giraffes, springbok and gemsbok.



Cheetah after the Springbok.




Even though it was cool the animals were thirsty.



If there is a shortage of water sand has to suffice.




Lioness drinking.

Dinner was beef curry with tomato cocktail starters.

It was overcast with no visible sunset.

Sunday 2 May

Happy birthday to my son Edward.

Fridge 3,2C

Wind came up at 5:15 - bright by 7:30 - packed before 8:00.

Saw the four lions again and took some pictures.


This is the best picture I managed to take of any of the lions.



Went through border post at Two Rivers and Twee Rivieren.

Decided to stop on way back - Red Sands again. Got stung on hand by bee in room. Lovely dinner.

Monday 3 May

Sylvia drove home in the rain.

On arrival at home I found my phone line was down. This was a good excuse not to begin the trip report.

4244 kilometres were traveled by us in total. According to my estimate 106 kilometres were driven in what may have been a restricted area and about 5 kilometres in an area marked private.

The route shown on a map. (Thank you to Traks4Africa which always helps immensely to make our trips more interesting. The map is theirs.)

The purple route shows the route we took from Bray via Cornwall Ranch to Kang and on to Hukuntsi then on to Kaa Gate. The larger red route shows the possible conservation area and the small red bit the track to the private tented camp. The green bit shows where we went doing dodgems after the lion. The black bits were done by us alone.

The Mabuasehube entrance fee and camping costs from April 25 to 2 May (seven nights) amounted to 728 Pula.