Botswana and Caprivi 2013 Part 1

Trip Start Jun 22, 2013
Trip End Jul 14, 2013

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Where I stayed
Mostly in my trailer top tent!
What I did
Wildlife and dust in southern africa

Flag of Botswana  , Central,
Monday, June 24, 2013

In June 2013 we travelled up from home through Namibia, spending the night in Mariental (which I will not be recommending anytime soon! Everywhere we have stayed in this dreadful town has been just that -dreadful!) Then we took a short cut up to the border, via Stampriet, on excellent gravel roads, up to Gobabis,cutting out Windhoek altogether, and came in to Botswana at Buitepos. The border crossing went smoothly and quickly, and we made very good time on Namibia's excellent road structure. We spent the second night at a lovely lodge, Thankadu Bush Camp, just outside Ghanzi. Excellent food, and a very comfortable chalet for the night, although they do have cheaper tents to hire and a camp site.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve
From the lodge, it was into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve for the first time. We had been told that this trip needs at least 2 vehicles, due to the remoteness of the place. If you run into vehicle trouble, it might be days or even weeks before another vehicle comes along. So 2 vehicles it was, a couple from Stanford, old yacht club friends joined us as well. The drive was, however, much easier than any of us thought it would be. We made excellent time, although the road was incredibly dusty, and got to the park entrance before lunch. 

From there it was an easy, slow game drive to Piper Pan (# 1 camp site is right on the edge of the pan, # 2 is not nearly as nice). We got to the watering hole at Piper pan in the mid-afternoon, and saw a myriad of game - gemsbok, kudu, springbok, zebra, giraffe, lots of vultures and black backed jackals.Got to # 1 and took a while to set up camp, with G&T in hand. We spent 2 nights over here. It was wonderful to take our chairs to the edge of the pan during the day and just watch the game come and go. The wind was blowing towards us, so the game was very relaxed, and about 100 springbok decided on the second evening that they were going to sleep in the bush all around us. Then, at about 2am, we were all woken by the distant sound of lion roars! They became closer all the time, however, until the roars were reverberating right through our bodies! We were fine, but our 2 children were sleeping in a ground tent alone! The next thing we knew the lions were upon us, the sound of a roaring lion instilling a primal terror in all of us! Our kids, however, took it in their stride, Megan pretty much slept through it all. The next morning, the lion spoor was all around our camp site. Can you imagine what those poor springbok must have felt?

We then packed up and went on to Passarge Valley, camp # 2. It is very dry there in the winter, and there are no piped watering holes. I would say that Piper is way better, as the animals all come to you due to the constant water supply.  At Passarge the camp has a great view over the valley, but there really was hardly any game here to speak of. It was quite a concept though to know that you were only people in the world within a 200km radius! We stayed here for 2 nights, and on the second day a large herd of giraffes moved across the valley, eating from the tall acacia trees in the dry riverbed. Megan had her first driving lesson here! Where else in the world are there absolutely no other vehicles to distract you?

From Passarge we travelled up to Deception Pan, where there were a great deal more people. The Deception Valley was home to Mark and Delia Owens, who wrote the book "Cry of the Kalahari". They lived here from 1974 for 7 years, with absolutely no technology, and studied the black-maned lion and the brown hyena of the Kalahari. While they were there, one of the largest wildebeest migrations in recorded hisory was happening through the Kalahari, north to permanent water supplies. The authorities had put up a massively long vet fence to stop the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, which they wrongly thought was spread by the wild animals of the Kalahari. Over a quarter of a million wildebeest died!! Thanks to the Owens couple, the government changed their policy and there is now a large section of fence which is permanently down for the game to still migrate through.

Many people have read their book and want to see for themselves what the Decepton area is like.The camp sites are quite close to each other, but after being so alone we really didn't mind the sounds of other people. That evening we were visited by a very busy honey badger. He sniffed around our camp for ages, zig zagging all over the site looking for food scraps. There must have been old bones about, because he found something that kept him happily occupied for some time. Francolins, hornbills and the honey badger also got stuck into our compost hole and enjoyed our leftover salad! There were no lions or hyena about though.

We then travelled out of the park, east to Rakops, and were amazed to see the total and complete environmental devastation that the herds of cattle have done to the landscape. Where in the park there is bush and grassland, however dry and dusty, once outside the park there is abslotuely nothing left alive! It is a dead desert landscape of dusty ground and thousands of hungry cattle. It was very sad to see.  By this stage our girls were sick and tired of all the dust and were ready to head north!
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Penny on

I so remember camping in Kalahari Gemsbok when I was pregnant with Kate ... and the lions were prowling around our tent. I don't think I have ever been that terrified in my life.
Super blog Cathy - keep going.

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