Southern Africa 2004 - The Safari
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The safari started 12th of July 2004 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and ended at the same place 14 days later, the 26th of July. It was called "Brush in the wild. Botswana, Namibia & Zimbabwe" by the safari company African Getaway Tours & Safaris, which arranged the tour:

"This photographic camping safari introduces you to an astonishing diversity of wildlife. An action packed adventure with several activities exploring these comparatively unknown wilderness area"

And an adventure it surely was, with both positive and negative aspects, luckily most of the first. After about 5000 km on mainly good roads, spectacular areas like the Kalahari bushweld and Makgadikgadi Pans, the Okavango Delta, Namibia's Caprivi Strip, Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia were experienced. But we also had some less good experiences, like getting stuck in the sand time and again and loosing out on several planned game drives.

This page shows a number of photos taken during the trip, and includes some thoughts and impressions of selected destinations.

   
 

At the Makgadikgadi Pan in the Kalahari desert, Botswana

Waiting for evening dinner. With the guide, the french family, the dutch lady and me

 

Limpopo River on the border between South Africa and Botswana

Akasia trees in Moremi Game Reserve

     
 

Oh no, don't say we are stuck in the Kalahari sand again!

Sandstuck in Moremi...

 

Botswana outback

Khwai River in the Moremi Game Reserve

The Okavango Delta, known as the Jewel of the Kalahari, how was it like?

We spent six days in the delta, or more precisely, two days in Moremi Game Reserve, two days at Guma Lagoon Camp and two days at Drotsky's Cabin. Moremi was a typical game reserve, where we saw a lot of wildlife. And where the spotted hyenas were sniffing on our tents just after we had gone to bed. And the hyena was screaming through the night. Very exciting, in other words! But it was also where we first got stuck, and had to dig the car out of the sand. Strangely, it turned out the safari company didn't bring a spade. Overall, Moremi was a great experience. The next two days we spent in a place called Guma Lagoon Camp, next to one of the permanent lagoons in the delta. We had to get towed into camp, as we got stuck in the sand on our way to the campsite some 11 km from the highway. The trailer simply was too heavy for the car, and the whole of Botswana is made up of sand, a recipe for trouble... The next day we spent on a very nice mokoro trip in the delta. The mokoro is a shallow dugout canoe traditionally hewn from an ebony or sausage tree, that is propelled by a poler who stands at the back of the canoe with a ngashi - a pole made from the mogonono tree. Each mokoro takes two passengers, and one manages to get very close to the wildlife on this kind of trips. A nice experience indeed. Drotsky's Cabin next to the Okavango River was a very pleasant campsite, with a fine bar, but also with excellent possibilities for boat cruises on the river. One of the days at Drotsky's we traveled to the Tsodilo Hills, some 100 km away, to see the ancient bushmen (San) paintings, dating back more than 1000 years. We hired a charming San woman as a guide, who when asked suggested that the paintings were millions of years. She obviously didn't have any conception of time.

 

Locals carrying firewood, next to the Guma Lagoon Camp

Sunset at Guma Lagoon

 

Mokoro boat trip in the Okavango Delta

The poler

 

Papyrus, Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta

 

Hugging a big tree in the Okavango Delta

Baobab and palm trees

 

Okavango Delta

Catch of the day. Okavango Delta fish

 

Okavango Delta swamps

Guma Lagoon Camp along the Okavango River

 

Guma Lagoon Camp

Old San paintings in Tsodilo Hills, Eastern Botswana

 

Old San paintings in Tsodilo Hills

Old San paintings in Tsodilo Hills

 

Giant bug, Tsodilo Hills

Old bushman paintings, Tsodilo Hills

 

Local san guide

Campsite at Drotsky's Cabin

 

A drink in the bar at Drotsky's Cabin, Okavango Delta

Water lily

 

Shopping in Namibia's Caprivi Strip, just north of the Botswanian border

Poached crocodile in Mudumu National Park, Namibia. It was about 4.5 meters long - a nice beast

 

Yeah! Say no more

Tsetse fly trap

 

Greater kudu

Okavango Delta crocodile

 

African sunset at the Nambwa campsite

Vervet monkey

Namibia's Caprivi Strip

During the trip we spent two days in Namibia north of Botswana, in an area called the Caprivi Strip. This is a narrow finger of Namibian territory that juts deeply eastward into central Africa. The corridor divides Angola and Zambia from Botswana and runs all the way to the Zambezi River just upstream of Victoria Falls. One night was spent at Nambwa campsite next to the the Kwando River in Mudumu National Park and the other night at Kalizo Lodge situated next to the one of the largest rivers in Africa, the Zambezi River. The first place we got stuck in the sand, and lost the game drive to my growing irritation. At Kalizo Lodge we spent an afternoon on a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River, observing birds like African skimmers and annoyed hippos. We also managed to get ashore in Zambia on the opposite riverside, without any visa, to be able to brag about having been also to that country.

 

Sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River

On shore in Zambia, illegal...

 

On the border between Namibia and Botswana

Chobe riverfront with large herds of elephants

 

Elephant in the Chobe River

Nile monitor in the Chobe River

 

Chobe elephant

Chobe elephants

 

Chobe National Park

Hippos in Chobe National Park

Chobe National Park

Crossing the border from Namibia to Botswana, we immediately arrived in the Chobe National Park. This 11,700 square kilometers park in the northeastern corner of Botswana is famous for its rich wildlife. With tens of thousands of elephants, this is the best place in Africa to view huge herds of the largest land-living creature on earth. We were driving the 15 km stretch of Chobe River from Kasane town to the Serondela campsite several times. The Chobe River area contains an interesting variety of habitats and is rich in plant life, with mopane woodland, mixed combretum, sandveld, floodplain, grasslands and riverine woodland. Many trees have suffered considerable damage from the high numbers of elephants, who push them over and rip off the bark - and some woods have been totally denuded. We also made a sundowner trip on the river and saw lots of hippos, crocodiles and buffalos. Both hippos and elephants epitomize this park more than any other animals and are often featured on the cover of brochures to the area. The only subject more photographed in Chobe is the exquisite sanguine sunsets sinking slowly over the water. All in all, Chobe was a great experience.

 

Victoria Falls seen from the Zimbabwean side

Dr. Livingstone and Dr. Olsvik...

Victoria Falls and Zimbabwe

The border crossing on our way to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls from Kasane in Botswana went surprisingly smooth, and it took less than one hour for all six of us to fill in all the forms and to pay for our visas. A one-day visa (valid for 90 days) to Zimbabwe costs $30. From the border it was about one hour drive to the falls. There we had to pay an additional $20 to get into the Victoria Falls National Park surrounding the famous waterfall. Vic Falls is today considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. A network of tracks in the park leads through lush vegetation. We went to the Danger Point, and saw straight into the gorge. And got wet, of course, as cascades of spray is thrown into the air where the water hits the bottom of the gorge. Victoria Falls, or Vic falls as it is called, is 1.7 km wide and 108 meters high. And having seen both falls, I must say that Vic Falls beats Niagara Falls on the USA - Canada border by a good margin. Both places are dazzling, but it is more the huge amounts of water than the height in itself that is impressive. The famous Dr. Livingstone was very impressed by the falls, and he has now got his own statue there.

Zimbabwe is becoming more and more dangerous the more missteps president Mugabe does. Expelling white farmers is one thing, but tearing up and destroying farms that is responsible for most of the country's income creates more poor people and increases crime. The planned stop at Motobo National Park in Zimbabwe therefore had to be cancelled. We had to drive through Botswana to get back to South Africa instead.

 

Zambezi River upstream of the falls seen from the helicopter

Vic Falls seen from the helicopter

 

Dinner in Zimbabwe with some drumming

Vic Falls

 

We drove north from Johannesberg through Pretoria up highway N1 before heading toward the botswanian border along N11, and cossed into Botswana over the Limpopo River. Continuing along A14 into Botswana, before arriving at Khama Rhino Sanctuary for the first camp site. It was unexpectedly cold the first night, with freezing temperatures. We saw white rhino here. The second day we drove A14 to the Kalahari Salt Pans and Makgadikgadi Pans N.P.. Here we stay at the Xwaraga Campsite. Here I paid extra for a nice night safari drive at Xwaraga. The third day we continued along A14 and A3 to Maun, before heading north to Moremi Game Researve and the Khwai campsite, where we spent 2 nights. After Moremi, we returned to Maun, and headed east and north toward the Okavango Delta. We spent 2 days in Guma Lagoon Camp and 2 days at Drotsky's Cabins.

We crossed into Nanibia and the Caprivi strip after the delta, where we visited first Mudumu and then Mamille. At Kalizo Logde the next day we had a nice sundowner cruise on the Zambezi River. We actually went ashore on the Zambian side, for a brief stopover in another country. Thereafter we crossed back into Botswana and Kasene, and the impressive Chobe National Park. Chobe was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The next day we crossed into Zimbabwe, and went to Victoria Falls. Here I took a nice helicopter flight above the falls. The last planned stop, at a park in Zimbabwe, had to be cancelled due to the dangerous situation in that unruly country. The last night we spent at a lodge on the Botswna-South Africa border, before driving back to Johannesberg.

Below is an overview of the itinerary. Unfortunately, many of the planned wildlife viewing activities (marked in red) were cancelled due to delay.

Destination 

Accommodation 

Activities (included) 

Activities (own cost) 

1. Kalahari  Khama Rhino Sanctuary  Game drive 
2. Makgadikgadi Plains  Xwaraga  Game walk  Night drive 
3. Moremi  Khwai  Game drive 
4. Moremi  Khwai  Game drive 
5. Etsha-6  Guma Lagoon Camp Boat Trip 
6. Etsha-6  Guma Lagoon Camp Game walk + Mokoro trip 
7. Shakawe  Drotsky's Cabins  Boat Trip 
8. Shakawe  Drotsky's Cabins  Tsodilo Hills Sundowner cruise 
9. Mudumu  Nambwa  Game Drive 
10. Nkasa Rupara (formerly Mamili) National Park  Lianduru Game Drive
11. Katima Mulilo Kalizo Lodge Sundowner cruise
12. Kasane Toro Game drive Sundowner cruise
13. Vic Falls Zambezi NP Sundowner cruise Heli trip
14. Limpopo River Kokomori Birding walks along river