With slightly less than 300km to travel to get to Kasane there was no rush leaving Camp Kwando and we got away at about 8:30am. First stop was of course Katima Mulilo to find a craft market and a miniature Mokoro. We found the craft market but there were no Mokoros. Pippa was very disappointed so it was a fairly frosty drive for a while after that…no need for the air conditioner!
We reached the Ngoma Border post by midday. The view looking back into Namibia was beautiful. We’d enjoyed our time and drive through that lovely country even though game viewing had been below expectations.
It didn’t take long to get through the border and into Botswana. The drive along the A33 to Kasane was very pleasant and we were lucky enough to see a few Elephant, Zebra, Warthog and Duiker along the way.
We arrived at Ngina Camp in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day setting up our camp and relaxing. The staff there were very willing and friendly and the campsites were nice with plenty of shade. The facilities though were badly maintained. We were warned by folk camping next to us to turn the electrical mains off outside the ablution block before having a shower. We were also warned not to leave valuables in the car over night as there had been break-ins in the past. There was a security guard patrolling at night but we still felt a bit uneasy in our tent.
The next morning we had an early start for a much anticipated drive through Chobe. We entered at Sedudu Gate and went along the river front route into the park. A lovely drive with some stunning views of the river and flood plain.
We were lucky to see a good variety of animals and birds on our drive. Not lucky enough for Lion or Leopard though. It was a bit late in the morning by the time we got into the park and they were probably already settled under some shady bushes.
We enjoyed driving on the sandy tracks next to the river with their twists and turns. Birds were plentiful and one always felt that there was an opportunity to come across something exciting.
We’d booked a boat cruise that afternoon so we headed inland at about 11:00am to take the upper road back to Sedudu Gate. We had a few nice sightings on the way back but, as happens at that time of the day, most of the animals were being sensible and resting or browsing in the shade of the trees and bushes.
The boat crew collected us at Ngina at about 3:00pm and took us to the launching area close to Chobe Safari Lodge. Getting me from the vehicle down to the boat was interesting! We had to go down a long, steep, uneven dirt embankment. The skipper and his assistant didn’t waste time though. One of them took charge at the back of my chair and the other held the front and down we went. I had visions of ending up in a heap at the bottom but they somehow got me down in one piece. Not without a few anxious moments though. The guy in the front struggled at one stage to keep my chair tipped at the angle needed to stop me from falling forward. It was all worth it…a Chobe sunset cruise is something really special.
We were in a small boat which gave us the opportunity of getting a lot closer to animals and birds than would be the case on the larger vessels. Quite amazing how tolerant they are when approaching them on water.
Our skipper obviously had a set route on the river and managed that route in the time we had available to us. He was very good and navigated into some good positions to get decent sightings and photo opportunities. On a couple of occasions though we must have been falling behind his schedule and he’d suddenly open up the throttle, without any warning, to dash to his next viewing point. How I didn’t lose my camera or end up in Neil’s lap behind me I still don’t know! 🙂
We were very lucky to come across an Elephant crossing the river as the sun was starting to set. Beautiful light for photography!
With the sun setting it was time to head back to shore. Amazing how quickly three hours pass when you’re having such fun. Still time for a few more photos on the way though!
When we got back to shore I still faced the prospect of having to be hauled up the embankment. A bit nerve-racking at the start but the skipper and his assistant seemed to have more control going up and did a good job. I rewarded them well for their fine efforts! 🙂
It had been an excellent day!
The following morning Pippa and I went to Kazungula to have a tyre patched while Neil and Liz went to the airport to collect a turbo pipe which they’d had sent up from Johannesburg. The duct tape had worked well but it wouldn’t last on their journey home. It didn’t take him long to fit it when they got back to our camp.
That afternoon we went on a short drive down to the river between Ngina and Kasane. We were amazed to see so many Elephant down there…must have been about 50 of them and we were barely out of town! The light wasn’t good for photography and Neil was all for going around the herd to get into a better position. I didn’t think it was a good idea. Those Ellies looked a bit skittish to me and I’m afraid I chickened out. We went back to Ngina for our last night before heading home.
Pippa and I set off from Kasane at about 9:00am with Phokoje Bush Lodge outside Selebi-Phikwe as our intended over-night stop. We arrived there at about 5:00pm only to find that they were fully booked. They suggested a couple of places for us to try but warned that the town was fully booked due to the nearby mine closure. After an hour of trying to find somewhere to stay we gave up. Not a room to be had! So we decided to press on to Martin’s Drift border post. Not a nice prospect in the dark.
The 120km drive on the B151 was a nightmare. The road was terrible with potholes, donkeys and long stretches of detours where there was road construction. The dust from oncoming traffic made visibility very limited. We finally arrived at Martin’s Drift at 8:00pm. A very tiring and stressful 2 hour drive!
The border post was quiet and we were through both sides within half an hour. It didn’t take long to find a room at the Big Fig Inn. The rooms were very clean and comfortable. We had cheese and biscuits for dinner before showering and going to bed. We both slept well.
The next morning we were up early and on were the road by 7:00am. It was tempting to take the back roads to Rustenburg but after the previous day’s stresses we decided to go via Mokopane and then head south on the N1.
We arrived in Bloemfontein at about 5:00 that evening and booked in at Bains Lodge for the night. The room was basic but comfortable. We had a good dinner and a couple of drinks in their pub before going back to our room to sleep. Unfortunately sleep was hard to achieve. There was loud music coming from a venue close by and then a procession of noisy party goers finding their way back to their rooms. It was well after midnight before all the noise subsided. Not what we needed after a long day on the road!
Our final day on the road started early and we were on our way by 6:00am. It was very cold and there was thick mist as we neared Colesberg. Fortunately conditions improved quite quickly and we made good time after that, getting back home in Cape Town by about 4:00pm. It was good to get back to home comforts!
One final problem though. I’d left our travel wallet in a locked cupboard at Bains Lodge. The wallet had the keys for our trailer in it and the jockey wheel was locked in the nose cone. Oh dear! I soon found out that it didn’t take much effort to force the lock off the nose cone. One problem solved.
We phoned the hotel and fortunately the wallet was still in the cupboard. A courier collected it the next morning and delivered it to us a day later. Passports and money were all still in it.
Lessons learnt from the trip:
- Plan routes properly…Pippa is still disappointed that we didn’t get to see Ai Ais and the Fish River Canyon properly;
- When your wife wants a souvenir stop and get the first one you see. We never did find Pippa’s much wanted Mokoro;
- Don’t leave valuables in hotel cupboards!
Our Namibia 2015 accommodation summary is here.