Sunday, 27 January 2013

Kasane Botswana

The town of Kasane borders the Chobe National Park.  It is a small town, but basically everything you need can be obtained here.
The town boasts a bank, butchery, bakery, liquor store, supermarkets and specialty shops.  Fuel is available from various service stations where general repair work can be done.
Accommodation in Kasane is available at various lodges and camping sites.

Chobe Safari Lodge is a longtime established hotel, situated close to the Chobe National Park.
The hotel offers excursions which include game drives and a sunset cruise on their double-decker barge.
The grassed, shady campsite next to the river offers running water, ablution facilities and a wash basin.
The campsite is a favorite venue for fishermen, either fishing from the banks of the river or hiring fishing boats to try their luck in deeper waters.

Kubu lodge is situated 12 km from Kasane on route to Kazungula.
The lodge is nestled among large trees and overlooks the lower Chobe river.
The excellent restaurant is housed in a Swiss-styled wooden thatched building and comprises of a bar and an open veranda which offers a beautiful view of the river.

The Mowana, which means Baobab, is situated on the eastern outskirts of Kasane.
The Mowana is a luxury up-market hotel where you can expect only the best and more, which is normally offered by a five-star hotel.
An elegant cocktail lounge overlooks the Chobe from where magnificent sunsets can be observed.
The A-la-carte or buffet restaurant offers a wide variety of gourmet food which will satisfy the most particular palate.
Luxurious airconditioned rooms and suites offer you the utmost in comfort.
The pool and bar area, set amongst tropical plants, is a haven to the weary and thirsty.
While enjoying your sundowner at the bar, a local band will create the right mood to savor the sunset.

As the sun sets over Africa, we reflect on our adventure to this beautiful country - Botswana - no doubt one of Africa's last real bastions of game.
A land of contrasts - from the harsh beauty of the Central Kalahari, to the lush woodlands of the Okavango Delta.
As we bade this beautiful country goodbye, we know its image will stay with us forever - and in time - when its call beckons us again, we will return. Again and again.

Chobe National Park - Botswana

Chobe is famous for its countless herds of elephant and buffalo. In the woodlands, visitors can see kudu, Chobe bush-buck, sable antelope and zebra.  Giraffe browse the crown of acacia trees, while cheetah, leopard and lion are often seen.  More than 250 bird species inhabits the park.
Fishing conditions for barbell, bream and tiger fish are superb.
Most of the roads in the Chobe Riverfront area are in very good condition and can be negotiated with an ordinary sedan.

It is possible to observe game from your campsite as they move daily from the forest to the riverbed to quench their thirst.
Large numbers of breeding elephant herds make a spectacular view.
Warthog has made the campsite its home. Uninterested in human presence, they will carry on with their daily activities - gathering food, nursing their young, and playing around.  Never approach them.  They still remain wild and could be very dangerous.
Lion frequently visit the campsite.  They won't harm you if you stay at your campsite and not wander around after dark.  Always keep your tent zipped up and never sleep outside.
Due to the large concentration of game, the Chobe River Area is a paradise for predators.
The Chobe lion is a good example thereof.

Most of the lodges in and around Kasane offers game viewing excursions on power boats and barges on the Chobe river, allowing you to come close to the animals.
This could be very exciting and most rewarding for the keen photographer.
Late afternoon cruises are available to allow you to savor the sunset with an ice cold sun-downer among hippo and elephant.

Road condition Linyanti to Kasane - Botswana

Leaving Linyanti for the Chobe Riverfront area, it is advisable to make use of the cut line that borders the park.
Follow the river in a north-easterly direction, past the Savuti turnoff, for about 5km - turn right into the cut line and follow this for approximately 40 km where you will join the main Savuti - Kavimba road.
By making use of this cut-line, you not only cut down on distance, but the condition of the road is far better.

Leaving the Reserve temporally, we travel through the Chobe Forest Reserve.  This 40 km stretch of road can be extremely sandy and a 4 x 4 is essential.  After good rains, most part of this narrow road fills up with water that gives the impression that you are driving through a river.
Because good or bad is relative, it is difficult to classify the condition of the roads in the wild. Once again it must be stressed that with a positive attitude, common sense, a spirit of adventure and a sound equipped vehicle, you could tackle any road in Botswana.  The golden rule - always be prepared, and  don't panic.

As we enter Katchekau - where reasonably well stocked shops and liquor stores can be found - but no fuel - a good gravel road which could become badly corrugated, awaits us.
This is a good time to stop and unwind with a cold drink.  Reaching this village you have come to the end of a chapter on your wilderness adventure.  You have managed to concur the sometimes inaccessible roads of Moremi and Savuti.  You have reached civilization, and very good road conditions awaits you now.
Face the corrugation for another
40 km and you will be on tar.

At Ngoma Gate we once again enter the Chobe National Park, referred to as the Chobe Riverfront Area, where game is plentiful.
Close to this gate the Ngoma Border post with Namibia is found which links Botswana with Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi.
From here a newly tarred road runs through the park all the way to Kasane on the Zimbabwe border, close to the magnificent Victoria Waterfalls.
Kasane is also linked with an excellent tarred road with Gaborone via Nata & Francistown.

Road condition from Moremi to Savuti - Botswana

Leaving Moremi across the wooden bridge we pass through the village of Khwai.
Originally Khwai village was a small San settlement.   The village originated after the San were moved from the Xakanaxa area when the Reserve was proclaimed.
This settlement has since grown into a large community.
The San found here are different to their cousins found in the Kalahari.
They are of darker complexion and larger in posture.  They are also known as the "Water San", as their existence evolve around the wetlands.

The game parks in Botswana are not fenced, so game can roam freely between Chobe and the Moremi.  The area between North Gate, and the Chobe Park Boundary belongs to tour operators with hunting concessions, and game can be frequently seen here.  Which means you never leave the wild.
Travelling in an easterly direction alongside the Khwai River for approximately 35 km, one enters Chobe National Park and reach the Maghikwe Sand Ridge.
At times it can be difficult to cross the ridge as the sand is very loose.  After rain the sand becomes compacted and going is better.  The Magikwe Sand Ridge was once the shoreline of a magnificent inland lake.
Across the Ridge the road forks to the left and we will travel for another 15 km on the hard clayish surface of the Mababe Depression until we reach the Mababe gate and  travel on to Savuti, 58 km  further on.

Khwai Camp - North Gate Botswana

North Gate, the exit gate in the North-eastern side of the Reserve is reached through a wooden bridge that crosses the river.  Close by the pleasant shady camping site is situated.
North Gate or Khwai Campsite is a must on your itinerary, as this area probably offers the best game viewing in Botswana.
It is a beautiful campsite set amongst huge shady trees overlooking the Khwai River.
It has to be mentioned that once again the baboons and monkeys can be a nuisance, and are famous for making camp life uncomfortable.
Outwit them, and don't leave foodstuffs and utensils unattended.
Keep your tent and car windows closed

Khwai Camp is renowned for game viewing from the comfort of your camping chair. Elephant and the occasional wild dog out on hunt is, a common sight for campers.
Game drives around the Khwai flood plains can be very rewarding.
Wildebeest and antelope are in abundance.
Elephant, lion, wild dog and hyena are a common sight.
Wattle crane, saddle billed stork and other exotic birds are found on the banks of the river and is a paradise for bird lovers.

There are a couple of small shops at Khwai village just across the river from the camp site, where very basic essentials including cold drinks, ice and beer can be obtained.

Xakanaxa Moremi (Okavango) Botswana

Xakanaxa Public Camping Site is situated in probably the most beautiful part of the Moremi.  It is surrounded by beautiful pools and lagoons where game and birdlife are in abundance.
The camping spots are well secluded, situated under shady
trees, overlooking the lagoon and Kwhai River

Xakanaxa is the only developed area in Moremi.
Close to the public campsites, safari operators have set up luxurious private camps.
From here boats can be hired for cruises into the delta.
A curio shop is conveniently situated outside one of these lodges.

Third Bridge Moremi - Botswana

Third Bridge camping site is located about 50 km north-west of South Gate.
Nestled under shady trees this is a very popular campsite. 
Surrounded by swampland, game and birdlife are in abundance.

A negative aspect of camping at 3rd Bridge is the ever presence of baboons and monkeys pursuing and begging food from the tourists.
It is an unfortunate situation that has arisen, as some tourists still persist in feeding wild animals, thus discouraging them from their natural habit of gathering food.

Although the distance from 3rd Bridge to Xakanaxa is only about 20km, allow a couple of hours driving time.  There are numerous loops and scenic drives along this route.
You travel through Mopani forest and grasslands surrounded by blue lagoons on your way to Xakanaxa.  At places the road can be very sandy.  Once again it must be emphasized that the condition of these roads can change drastically, and vary from wet to dry season.
It is wise to be prepared.  Ensure that your vehicle is equipped with a jack - preferably the high-lift type and engage into the right gear when approaching loose sand or muddy pools.
Don't let the road condition stop you from exploring the wilderness.  The harder it gets to reach a destination, the more rewarding the result will be. All you need is a sound, well equipped 4 x 4 vehicle, common sense and a will to answer the beckoning call of the wild.

Moremi Game Reserve - Botswana

About 25 km from our last stop, the tar road ends at Shorobe. A good gravel road leads you up to Buffalo Fence about 15 km on.
Travelling further north for about 35km, on a sandy but scenic road, where game can already be spotted, the southern entrance of Moremi Game Reserve is reached.
The Moremi Game Reserve is situated within the Okavango Delta, and offers a landscape of lagoons, winding waterways, reeded banks, Mopani and Knob thorn forests.
Cape buffalo, lion, elephant, zebra, giraffe and other animals
live in the riverside forests, hippo laze in the shallow
lagoons,  while overhead vultures and eagles ride the thermals in search of a meal.

There are four public camping sites in Moremi, which must be booked for in advance.  Entrance and camping fees are high compared to Southern African standards, which with the new booking system,  ensures a low volume of visitors.
South Gate Campsite is situated at the Reserve entrance and is set amongst huge Mopani’s.
Like all the other campsites inside the Moremi, the ablution facilities are very basic.
Showers, running water and flush toilets are available.

Road conditions inside Moremi differs from season to season.  Sandy parts during the dry season, which becomes compact during the rainy season and good hard clay surfaces through the Mopani woodland, which could become treacherous and slippery during the wet season.
The overall road condition should not deter anybody from visiting this magnificent wilderness, though 4 x 4 is essential.

Maun Botswana

Maun - The Gateway to the Okavango.
This buzzing town is the center of the tourist industry in Botswana.
It boasts banks, supermarkets, specialized shops and take-away, where you can obtain almost anything - including ice.  At the service stations, which are well stocked with spares, qualified mechanics are available to assist you.
In case of an emergency, Maun also has a hospital, chemist and private doctors.
In and around Maun, various hotels and lodges with camping facilities can be found.

Riley’s Hotel is located in the center of Maun.  It consists of 32 air-conditioned en-suite double rooms, and 3 executive suites.
There are 2 bars, an A-la-carte restaurant and a curio shop. 
A beautiful swimming pool is situated in the garden.

Island Safari lodge is 12 km outside of Maun on the road to Moremi.
It is situated on the bank of the Thamalakane River, which is dry most time of the year.
The Okavango Delta as well as the Thamalakane River gets its water from the highlands of Angola where the rainfall is about 1500mm per year.  This water flows for about 1 300km before it enters the Delta.
Rains falling in Angola from September on, only reaches Maun between June and July. Only 3% of the water that enters the Delta, eventually reach Maun.  2% seeps into the sand and the rest is lost through transpiration and evaporation.
At the lodge a cozy bar overlooks the Thamalakane River and a sparkling pool to cool off in, is available for guests.
The accommodation consists of thatched chalets, with en-suite facilities.
The shady campsite with good ablution facilities is situated on the banks of the river.
Various activities, including Makoro trails, are available from the lodge.
The restaurant offers an a-la-cart menu.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve - Botswana

At 52 800 square km, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, referred to as CKGR, is the second largest game reserve in the world.  Larger than Lesotho and Swaziland combined.
A desert in name, the CKGR supports diverse habitats - from salt pan to savannah.  The land is home to at least 64 species of mammals and 250 types of birds.
Meandering through these great open spaces are four fossil river valleys - the most famous being Deception.
Countless pans and dunes are concentrated in the northern third of the Reserve.
The roads around Deception are in excellent condition, but could become slippery during the wet season and 4 wheel drive might be necessary.
It is here in Deception Valley where Mark and Delia Owen researched the brown hyena for 7 years.  Their book "Cry of the Kalahari" makes excellent reading.
The valley is scattered with islands of trees.   Here on one of these islands, the Owens have put up camp.
The world-renowned San people have lived in this area for perhaps 30 000 years.
Originally the reserve was set up in 1961 to protect the natural resources on which the San Hunter-gatherer-lifestyle depended.

As there is little or no surface water, the game rely on artificial water holes scattered through the park.
Other than Deception, these water holes offer good game viewing like those at Sundays Pan and Letiahau.
After good rains, the harsh landscape is transferred into a green haven for thousands of springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest.
Giraffe, cheetah, hyena, jackal and lion also roam the valley.

There are no lodges in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Camping is allowed at designated sites only.
Camp sites that can be recommended are those overlooking Deception valley. There are also good camping sites at Sundays Pan.
As camping sites are far apart, you can enjoy the wilderness experience in utmost privacy.
There is no water at the campsites.
You have to be totally self reliant.
A portable shower, a toilet stool and a spade would be very helpful and could add to the excitement of your adventure.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve ... where nature remains wild and solitude is the rule.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Road condition from Savuti to Linyanti - Botswana

Linyanti is only 40 km from Savuti but could take a couple of hours to reach as the road is very sandy at some places.
Because of these long stretches of heavy sand that must be negotiated, Linyanti is the least visited area of Chobe.
Another drawback for visiting this forgotten corner of the
Chobe Reserve is that it only offers about 7 km of riverfront drive for game viewers.
But for those who want to get away from it all, Linyanti offers you quietness and tranquility.
What makes this trip especially worthwhile is the beauty of the woodland and the Linyanti Swamp where the public campsite is set on the river bank