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Offline D man

Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« on: June 28, 2011, 09:36:32 pm »
A little more than a year ago, I went on bmad’s trip to Malawi (see Flaming Nyanja trip ride report) and was so smitten by the adventure and sense of freedom that I vowed to do another one sooner rather than later.

And so it was that towards the end of last year, I started chatting to africanSky about a trip through Botswana.  I put together a proposal for a trip in April and that soon became June when we decided that, on balance, some cold nights in the pans were preferable to a lot of water.

Some changes had been made to the bikes – africanSky now had a KTM690 and whilst I still had the KLR, I had done all the recommended upgrades i.e. doohickey, front springs, bash plate, crash bars etc. (thanks DocKLR) Some changes africanSky made included a Corbin seat, additional fuel tanks, crash bars, pannier racks and some others that escape me right now.


Day 1 (Thursday) – Khama Rhino Sanctuary - 644 km

africanSky and I eventually left on the trip on Thursday morning 16 June. 


That's africanSky on the left and me on the right.



We met in Rivonia at 06h30 on Thursday and headed off in the direction of Harties and through to Sun City.  We were taken by africanSky’s Garmin Zumo on the M1 towards Pretoria and for a lark, decided to follow the route that it suggested.  We left the M1 at Olifantsfontein and wound our way past Diepsloot and Hennops River through to Harties and then on the familiar road to Sun City.  It was surprisingly cold on this section, especially that area where the ‘cricket team’ does their fund raising.

The plan for the first day was to cross the border at Sikwane and then head to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary, just past Serowe.  It promised to be a fairly hectic day of about 650 kilometres including a border crossing and some unknown, dirt roads from Sun City to Sikwane but interesting nevertheless.

We were the 9th and 10th people through a surprisingly efficient border post that day and soon were buying some pula from a dodgy little container just past the border area.





The route from here up through Mahalapye was flat and pretty uninteresting and we were relieved when at last we reached Palapye, where we bought some provisions at the local Spar.  We turned off the A1 towards Serowe and some 30 kms outside of Serowe, on the road to Orapa, turned into the welcoming gate of the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.  We were allocated camp site number 7, situated at the end of a 2.5 km track through some of thickest sand imaginable.

We were not there to see rhino’s and so set up camp under a large Mokongwa tree and got the braai going.








Day 2 (Friday) – Khama Rhino Sanctuary to Kubu Island – 271 km

We woke up to two disconcerting things, namely a temperature of -2.7° and Cat Stephen’s rendition of “Morning has broken” blaring out loudly from the camp site to our left. It was pretty surreal to have the solitude of a morning in the bush disturbed in this way.  It was seemingly this strange person’s signature bush move, a song with a morning theme played loudly before the sun had risen.  We were a little further away from the same bunch of people at Kubu Island the next morning and he did the same thing there. 

The thick sand from the camp site to the main entrance soon claimed its first victim – me. No big deal, I wasn’t going fast but my right foot was pinned under the bike and there was no africanSky to help me out.  After about 5 minutes on lying in the road, I wriggled out and ….still no africanSky.  He obviously had no desire to go back through the sand and so I was left waiting.  After about 30 minutes, a party of about 5 4x4’s came long and the occupants of the first vehicle helped me pick the bike up.  At this point, africanSky made his appearance – I’m sure in time I will be able to forgive him.

We set off for Letlhakane and along the way I noticed an array of lights behind africanSky.  It looked like a convoy of cars that accompany an opinionated government minister.  Then I remembered that we were not in SA and it soon became evident that it was a group of motor bikes – 3 BMW1200’s and 3 Ducati’s .  They swept past me as if I was looking for parking and soon disappeared into the distance, leaving me wistfully watching their effortless progress.  We met up with them at the next petrol station – they were on their way to Rundu. They were not Dogs. 

We bought some provisions at the local Spar once again and set off for Kubu Island.  Initially, the road was fine and then, just past the famous Kubu Island sign, the fun started.  Sand, sand, ‘king sand – it made the rhino sanctuary look like a Sunday school picnic.  Twice more I put the KLR down and for me, the day became an endurance event.  There was no dignity or style to my approach in getting through the sand, first or second gear, legs out, ready to paddle at the first opportunity.







africanSky was his normal irritatingly unflappable self, no problems for him and he enjoyed himself immensely – every time we stopped, he was grinning like a race horse.  He did have a very scary moment but thanks to the biking gods, managed to avoid the indignity of dropping the bike.

Eventually, the sand relented and we were on the pans. 







We arrived at Kubu Island and found a camp site where we set up camp.   Kubu Island resembled Plettenberg Bay in December – we were expecting to find it fairly deserted but sadly, it was busy!








After setting up camp, africanSky ventured back onto the pans to view the sunset.  These stunning pictures are his and need no further words from me apart from this - he is clearly very much in love with his KTM!












The other bikes were all from DocKLR’s crowd. (Walkerville Rangers / Pathfinders)



Day 3 to follow in due course!
A man's nature and way of life are his fate and that which he calls his fate is but his disposition.
 

Offline edgy

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2011, 09:41:00 pm »
 :thumleft:
www.astonesthrow.co.za

 BEER..."I drink it when I`m happy or when I`m sad. I drink it when I`m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. Trifle with it if I`m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it - unless I`m thirsty"
 

Offline africanSky

Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 08:23:13 am »
Very nice D-man!
 

Offline RobC

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 08:24:44 am »
Lekker! :thumleft:
 

Offline Wheelman

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 08:39:44 am »
Nice RR DMan,  :happy1: thanks for posting.....
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Offline neil123

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2011, 08:57:35 am »
 :thumleft: :laughing4:
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Offline Pistol

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2011, 10:02:40 am »
Keep it coming DMan, lets see what we missed :thumleft:
 

Offline bmad

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 12:03:23 pm »
Awesome stuff Dman,

I am still bummed by the fact that i could not make, these pics do not help either... :biggrin:
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Offline eSKaPe

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2011, 03:30:25 pm »
Well done there chuck its a great start - keep it coming...
 

Offline GRUNT

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2011, 04:40:30 pm »
D man, met you at Kubu, I was with Doc and the other reprobates, those Ducatis and beemers you saw pulled into Karma as we were leaving, they all went down in a big way in that sand! :biggrin: It was left to Cracker and myself to pick up the bikes 'cause after the third or fourth off they were just to exhausted to do it themselves. Great pics, keep it coming :thumleft:
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Offline D man

Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2011, 04:45:13 pm »
Before I continue with day 3 – here are some more stunning photograph’s from the africanSky collection.









Day 3 (Saturday) – Kubu Island to Maun – 320 km

This morning’s temperature was 6.7 degrees.

The first part of the trip from Kubu to Gweta was uneventful - here are a few photographs.






Somehow, we managed to get completely lost once we had negotiated the pans.  We eventually asked for directions and were sent on a wild goose chase of probably 20 kms at least.  We were soon following ‘tracks’ through the bush that seemed to lead nowhere although we were always heading in the right direction.  Of course, the thick, relentless sand never let up.  I lost my sense of humour, lost the GarminC60 that I was using and doubted whether we would ever get through to Gweta


It all went wrong from this point.




But we did, Gweta magically appeared out of the bush and we had made it!



We had taken 4 and a half hours to do the 100 odd kms from Kubu to Gweta. Our original plan called for beers at Planet Baobab but I prevailed upon africanSky to laugh that off and head directly to Maun.  This was about 200 kms and what a pleasure to be driving on tar again. 

We arrived in Maun and headed for Crocodile Camp, 12 kms out of Maun on the Moremi road, where we booked in for two nights. After setting up camp, we celebrated getting through a difficult day with some beers at the deck overlooking the Thamalakane river.  What a stunning setting, some hippos were grunting away to the right and it was a perfect end to the day. 







Supper that night was at the local Nando’s, a welcome respite from the poor fare that we had cooked since leaving home.



A man's nature and way of life are his fate and that which he calls his fate is but his disposition.
 

Offline goingnowherequickly

Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2011, 06:05:49 pm »
Nice one :thumleft:
 

Offline SheBangGu

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2011, 07:10:07 pm »
 :thumleft:
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Offline D man

Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #13 on: June 29, 2011, 07:54:39 pm »
Day 4 (Sunday) – day’s rest in Maun.

Morning temperature – 5.0 degrees.

We booked a full day mokoro trip with the company Dumela Botswana - at $95, it was well worth it – another tick on the bucket list! After an initial mishap with the transfer, we were re-directed some 200 metres up the road to Okavango River Lodge where we took the boat transfer to the mokoro launching site

What a gem the Okavango River Lodge was.  The campsites were on the river; it had a vibrant atmosphere and was clearly a preferred watering hole for the local, hard drinking, chain smoking expatriate crowd.  We were left rueing our decision to stay at Crocodile Camp.  So if you’re ever in the Maun area, look no further than this place.


View from Okavango River Lodge.

We were pleasantly surprised to have some company on the trip, a second mokoro with two blonde Norwegian girls in it. They were pretty quiet, the one especially so, didn’t say more than a few words the entire day.  It was probably due to africanSky’s creepy expression and roving eye.  (Just joking!  :biggrin:)  We agreed that they were easier on the eye than bmad and eSKaPe would have been.

Here's a selection of photographs from the many taken.























This was a stunning, stunning day – thanks to africanSky for the idea and making it happen. 

We returned to the Okavango River Lodge later that night for supper.
A man's nature and way of life are his fate and that which he calls his fate is but his disposition.
 

Offline D man

Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2011, 08:12:58 pm »
And, while I'm on a roll,


Day 5 (Monday) – Around the Delta to Ngepi Camp (Namibia) – 410 km

Morning temperature – 6.1 degrees.

This was going to be a day that neither of us was looking forward to.  It seemed as if it was going to be a slog through featureless landscape.  Yet it turned into a thoroughly enjoyable day, it was just so chilled, there was no rush to get anywhere.

Somewhere on the western side of the Delta.




This picture is from the Namibian side, just after the border crossing.


We crossed into Namibia at Mohembo and thereafter it was about 20 kms to Ngepi Camp, which is about 6 kms off the main road and that includes some thick sand.  After getting over the initial panic attacks, I managed to get through without any issues.

We were allocated camp site 4, nestled in the riverine forest and overlooking the Okavango River, a stunning setting.  This camp is well run, ablution facilities are great and the staff friendly and welcoming.

Some pictures of Ngepe Camp













And of course, the iconic loo.


Day 6 to follow soon.
A man's nature and way of life are his fate and that which he calls his fate is but his disposition.
 

Offline bmad

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2011, 07:11:49 am »
Yeah, of course there were young, hot Norwegian chicks....


.... that why there are so many photo's of them in your ride report...      ...not.  :pot:

I think the sand has gotten to you Dman >:D
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Offline Misty

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2011, 07:38:53 am »
"grinning like a race horse" !  :D

Great stuff Dman - Okavango River Lodge looks stunning - another must on the list! (... the sand would make me a little insane too though) ;)

And hey, gotta disagree - eSKaPe and those shades are way hotter than Norwegian chicks... where's that pic again...  :biggrin:
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Offline onderbroek

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2011, 08:54:09 am »
 :thumleft:
hak vrystaat
 

Offline Lourens ツ

Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #18 on: June 30, 2011, 09:02:04 am »
Very nice RR!  :thumleft:

I must say, that KTM690 makes a pretty picture.  :mwink:
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Offline Kaboef

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Re: Sand, bush, elephants and tigers
« Reply #19 on: June 30, 2011, 11:35:46 am »
Nice!

I'm very jealous right now. Looks like an awesome getaway!   
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