Stuck in the Mud

Moremi (June 2014): Part 2 – Kalahari Guest House to Maun

Kalahari Guest House to Cornwall Safari Lodge.

The next leg of our journey to Moremi took us up north through the Bokspits border post. From there we crossed into Botswana and then travelled east along the Molopo River road to the turnoff to Cornwall Safari Lodge near Werda, our first over-night stop. This was familiar territory for us, having done that route on our trip to Mana Pools the previous year. There was very little traffic to worry about and the views of the calcrete cliffs and red dunes along the way were as fascinating as ever.

We took the turn-off at Werda and had a 25km stretch of dirt road to get to the lodge. At first the road seemed fairly easy going so we didn’t stop to deflate tyres. It wasn’t long before Pippa suggested we do so but of course I knew best, didn’t I? We pressed on. We weren’t in any danger of getting bogged down but the road was very rough and uncomfortable. I wouldn’t admit it at the time but I should have listened to Pippa. The net result was a very uncomfortable drive for the next half an hour until we arrived at the lodge.

I was looking forward to our stay there. The internet reviews were very good. I’d also been assured by the owners that their facilities were wheelchair friendly. They were…and they weren’t.

After checking in at reception Heather (the owner’s wife) guided us back down the entrance road towards our accommodation. She’d had a section of the fence taken down so that we could park next to our room. Unfortunately though, there wasn’t enough of a turning circle in that area for me to park with the trailer. That meant we had to park next to the fence and I had to be pushed through some very deep sand and gravel to get to our room. Thank goodness it was accessible, as was the bathroom. That was a relief!

Parking next to the fence

Our parking bay next to the fence

The next problem was how we were going to get to the dinning room that evening. We needn’t have worried. Heather told us that they unfortunately wouldn’t be able to accommodate us in the dining room. They had a large party of Immigration officials staying there for a conference and there wouldn’t be room for us. Not to worry…they’d have dinner brought to our room and we could sit out at the table set up for us! We weren’t overly impressed. Being the middle of winter it gets really cold in the evening. The view from where they had placed the table (under a satellite dish!) was not particularly stimulating either. To give them credit, at least they’d tried to make our experience a good one.

Our table set up under the satellite dish.

Not the most romantic setting in the world to have our dinner!

Pippa went off a bit later in the afternoon to have a look at the lodge facilities and surrounding area. I sat marooned on a wooden board in a sea of gravel outside the room admiring the view…consisting mostly of our Land Rover and trailer. What fun!

A short while after Pippa had left for her walk a mini bus pulled up and the Immigration officials from the convention climbed out and came to greet me. In amongst them was none other than the lady from the Bokspits border post who had lent me her hot water bottle on our first trip 2 years ago. She had recognised me and brought her colleagues over to say hello. A very pleasant surprise and what a great bunch they were! We had a long chat and they seemed genuinely pleased to hear about our travels through Botswana.

i was surrounded by the delegation of Immigration officials

Having a chat with the delegation of Immigration officials

Pippa returned to find me surrounded by my new friends so there were more happy greetings and introductions. They stayed and chatted for a little while longer before heading back to their rooms for a rest before dinner.

It wasn’t long after they had left that Heather and her husband Jannie came to find out how we were getting on. They were genuinely concerned about the issues that we had encountered and were very apologetic. They were keen to hear our suggestions to improve wheelchair access. Jannie assured us that things would change. They had plans to build some new rooms and he assured us that wheelchair user needs would be met. I have no doubt that if he hasn’t already followed through, he will in due course.

During our conversation I mentioned the rough condition of the road from Werda to the lodge. Jannie asked what pressure I’d deflated our tyres to? I had to confess that I hadn’t deflated at all. I couldn’t help noticing his look of surprise but I tried hard to avoid noticing the smug smile that crept on to Pippa’s face! Jannie politely suggested that I drop the pressure to 1.5 bar before leaving the next morning.

I have to say that they are two of the nicest people one could hope to meet. Their friendliness and genuine concern washed away all my earlier frustrations. Before leaving us they asked what time we wanted to get away in the morning so that Jannie could help with our luggage and also drop off a packed breakfast.

We had dinner in our room. It wasn’t ideal but better than sitting out in the cold. Pippa told me about what she’d seen earlier when she’d wandered around the lodge. She said that the recreation area was very nice with a swimming pool and tennis court available to guests. The dinning area and outdoor entertainment area were also very pleasant with a cosy atmosphere. There were nicely paved pathways in the garden which would have given me easy access to the different recreational areas. There were also rooms next to the lodge but they weren’t accessible in a wheelchair. A pity!

A view of the swimming pool and outdoor bar and lounge area

Swimming pool and outdoor bar

A view of the thatched outdoor lounge

Thatched outdoor lounge

A view of the tennis court at Cornwall Lodge

Tennis court

A view of the Boma recreational area for outdoor entertainment

Outside Boma and recreational area

A view of a pathway leading past the luxury safari tent

Pathway leading past a luxury safari tent

Jannie arrived at our room with a packed breakfast at 7:00am the next morning, as arranged. He helped with the luggage and then started deflating my tyres. I guess he wasn’t going to take the chance of me neglecting that task? 🙂

Corwnall Safari Lodge to the Kalahari Arms in Ghanzi.

The drive back to Werda was a lot more comfortable with the softer tyres cushioning the rough road. One day I’ll learn! The only problem was that there was no service station in Werda so we had to stop and inflate the tyres with our compressor before hitting the tar roads again.

Dave sitting next to the Land Rover and inflating the tyres

Happiness is!

The road from Werda to Sekoma was a bit bumpy in patches. The Trans Kalahari Highway (A2) from there to Ghanzi was a lot wider and in good condition. In spite of a lot more traffic on the highway we made good time and we arrived at our next over-night stop, the Kalahari Arms Hotel, early in the afternoon.

We’d been booked into a double room chalet but it wasn’t suitable for wheelchair access. Fortunately they had an Executive Suite available so we were able to upgrade. The room was a lot bigger and with easy access to a large bathroom as well. It was a nice room but referring to it as an Executive Suite was perhaps over-stating the standard!

I checked the fridge and deep cycle battery in the trailer a bit later in the afternoon and noticed that the battery charge was low. That shouldn’t have been after a 7 hour drive from Cornwall Lodge. I started the car to check if a charge was coming through and sure enough…nothing. Disaster! The battery would only last another 2 days without being re-charged. That would mean no ice for my whiskey in Moremi.

So off we went to reception to ask if they knew of an electrician who could come and fix it. One of the staff there was immediately on the ‘phone to a friend and an hour later help arrived. The electrician looked at the connector plugs between the trailer and the car and then opened the bonnet and scratched around in the engine compartment. Back to the connector plugs which he separated and blew into. He then asked me to start the engine. Hey presto…it was charging again! Relief flooded through me and I thanked him profusely and asked what I owed him. He asked me to make an offer. I hate that! Anyway, I put in an opening bid which he immediately accepted. Hmmm…I suspected I’d been conned. The charger was working though so I ignored the little alarm bell and paid what we’d agreed.

We had a couple of drinks and a meal in the restaurant that evening. The atmosphere was good and the meal very acceptable.

With only 250kms to travel to get to Tshima Bush Camp outside Maun we had the luxury of a bit of a sleep-in the next morning. We had a good breakfast before leaving Ghanzi mid-morning.

Kalahari Arms Hotel to Tshima Bush Camp.

The drive to Tshima was uneventful with only a stop at a Veterinary Fence. That was cause for some amusement. We pulled up at the check point to have the wheels of the car sprayed and Pippa got out to walk across a wet mat to sterilise against foot and mouth disease. The official asked me to get out and do the same. I explained that I was ‘footless and fancy free’ and that as much as I’d like to follow instructions I wouldn’t be able to do so. I then opened the car door to demonstrate the lack of legs. He was a bit dumbfounded and called his colleague across to view this strange phenomenon. My hand controls then attracted their attention. I showed them the mechanics of the controls which elicited some excitement and big smiles! Pippa climbed back into the car and we were allowed to go. Interestingly, they didn’t ask us to run the wheelchair through the disinfectant?

We arrived at Tshima Bush Camp at 1:00pm and were shown to our tent by Michel, one of the owners. I was looking forward to our 2 night stay there after having read some great reviews. I wasn’t disappointed! The setting was beautiful and the Meru style safari tent was spotless. It was nicely furnished with an en-suite shower and toilet that was easy to access. We loved it!

A view of our campsite and luxury tent at Tshima

Beautiful campsite and luxury tent at Tshima

We spent the afternoon relaxing outside the tent. We felt totally isolated and loved the peaceful setting. There was a wide variety of birds in the trees surrounding us but, as is often the case in that type of setting, taking decent photographs proved impossible.

A female beraded Woodpecker on a tree

Female Bearded Woodpecker

Photograph of a Grey Lourie in a tree

A Grey Lourie

Another two Grey Louries in the tree

Two more Grey Louries sitting in a tree!

Michel came back later in the afternoon to deliver some wood for our evening fire and braai. We chatted a bit about how he and his partner, Rienie, had ended up moving from Amsterdam to Botswana and developing Tshima. It was a fascinating story which really hinged on their love for Africa that had evolved over many years and on numerous trips to Botswana in particular.

The sun started setting and drinks were poured. What a magical time of day! We had a lovely braai that evening. It was cool enough to need a jacket but not unpleasantly cold. We both enjoyed sitting out by the fire and soaking in that feeling of being out in the bush.

Our breakfast basket was delivered by Rienie the next morning. He asked if we were happy with everything. We of course were more than happy but I pointed out one small area for future improvement. The step up to the tent verandah was a bit high for me to manage on my own so I had to ask Pippa for help to get up. He said he would attend to it.

Later in the morning Pippa and I drove the 30km to Maun to pick up provisions needed for our 7 night stay in Moremi. We returned to Tshima in the afternoon to find that the ramp had been built. How’s that for consideration and service?

After packing away the groceries and other provisions that we’d bought in Maun we went for a wander down to the Nhabe river. The pathway was a bit sandy and I needed a shove in a few areas but it was fun. I wasn’t able to get close enough to the river to get a decent view of it but Pippa took a couple of photos to show me what it looked like.

A view of the Nhabe river river

Nhabe river

A view of the snady pathway to the river

The sandy pathway to the river

A phot of Pippa enjoying being out and about with her camera

Pippa enjoying being out and about with her camera

Back at camp we settled down for the evening and had a couple of drinks and a braai before having an early night. We were both really excited and eagerly looking forward to finally getting to Moremi the next day!

Accommodation summary here.

Part 3 – Our 7 nights in Moremi to follow.


One thought on “Moremi (June 2014): Part 2 – Kalahari Guest House to Maun

  1. Neil

    Have learnt from you two that taking time to enjoy the journey is great. In the past , due to lack of available days, we tended to rush to destinations without really noticing the places and views on the way up.
    Some of the places you visited are magnificent and we will pay more attention to that in our future planning.
    Having just acquired a place on the South Coast which needs much TLC (read money) we will have to delay our planning for some time regrettably.
    OK now onto the Moremi part.
    Cheers, Liz and Neil

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