Botswana - Self Drive
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Jan 16, 2013 6:21 PM Last Post By: Dutch_Uncle
Dec 20, 2012 10:02 AM
Botswana - Self DriveHi, If I could please get some advice from more experienced travelers
I would like some advice on a self drive itinerary around 12 days in Botswana through Tule into the Pans around the Delta and into Chobe. I have recently invested in a Land Cruiser 70 series but isn't a experienced off-road driver yet and will probably not be driving in a convoy so I need the basic route with limited off-road challenges. Also I would need the camping to be not too basic i.e. hot showers and flush toilets.
My intent is to drive up from Gauteng and possibly use Mapungubwe National Park as a base before leaving and upon re-entering South Africa.
Any ideas would be great.
Dec 20, 2012 10:06 AM
Dec 21, 2012 10:57 AM
2First thing to say is that August is peak season so whatever you decide on you need to get on to bookings now especially if you want to stay in the parks.
Second observation is that you are trying to cover a lot of ground in 12 days if you are self driving. So I would be thinking about a bit of rationalisation. There is no point going to Moremi or Chobe for less than 3 day each minimum IMO. I assume the Cruiser has a big fuel capacity? Even so can you get from Maun (last fuel) to Moremi for a few days game driving then on through Savuti and to Kasane?
Tuli is not usually a self drive destination (because historically there have been quite limited self drive options) What are you planning there? You would have more time elsewhere if you went straight from Jo'burg to say Palapye the first day.
What do you mean by the pans? Kubu? Or Makgadigadi/Nxai? Or real off road pan tracks (if you are a novice I wouldn't recommend the latter). There are lots of ways to enjoy the pans ( and one is driving through on the tar road that bisects them ...).
Moremi to Chobe via Savute is quite a tough drive - some deep sand in August and maybe some water crossings depending on how you exit Moremi. Is this in your plan? It's certainly doable if you overnight at Savuti (though bookings for next August may be tricky now) though.
Dec 22, 2012 3:40 AM
3Starting from Mapungubwe at that time of the year you should be able to cross the Limpopo at Pontdrif as the river should be very low. However, it is possible that you may have to detour to either the Platjan or the Martin's Drift border posts if the river is still too full to cross. In any case it may be a good idea to head south-west within South Africa and cross at Martin's Drift, from where you could drive on to Palapye and Serowe. 25km north of Serowe (near Paje) you could spend a night or two at the Khama Rhino sanctuary, either camping or in a chalet. With the Land Cruiser you can spend a day exploring that sanctuary.
Then carry on north-west via Lethlakane and Mopipi to Rakops (fuel is usually available at all three towns) from where you can the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and camp at Deception valley (book well in advance). A day or two exploring that reserve would be well worth while.
I would not be keen on heading north-east to Moremi and Chobe without having at least one other vehicle as company. I admit I have never done that route, but by reputation I would not want to do it on my own. To go round the other way - on the western side of the Panhandle is easy enough, but you may not have enough time to enjoy it. If you can manage it a trip via Sepupa to the Tsodilo Hills and / or to Drotskies cabins and then on to Poppa Falls might be a good idea. That would bring you back along the Caprivi strip to Katima Mulilo and on to Chobe. You could then drive along the river to a camp site (book well in advance).
Alternatively you could head east from Maun and visit Nxai Pan (book well in advance) and also stop at either Planet Baobab (15km east of Gweta) or at Nata Lodge. From the former you could spend a night on the Makgadikgadi Pand and from Nata Lodge I believe you can go on an outing to the pan. I would also be hesitant to drive onto the pans by myself as it can be very dangerous if you get stuck. ("If it is white it is alright, if it is brown you go down' - or so I'm told. And if you go down you have little or no hope of recovering your vehicle).
From Nata and Francistown ( where you could overnight at the Woodlands 4x4 camp a few kilometres before you get to Francistown) you can decide whether you want to return to South Africa via Martin's Drift or whether you want to return via the Tuli block and stay at Mapungubwe.
Jan 16, 2013 6:21 PM
4I endorse the idea that a single vehicle should not go into the bush alone. The second vehicle can help pull a stuck vehicle out, and when a 4WD vehicle is stuck, it is well and truly stuck. By the way, will you bring a shovel? While I was in Botswana a well drilling team of 6 or so from the Ministry of Warter and natural Resources died from thirst
when their vehicle broke down and they were stranded. lesson learned: bring water.
I made a trip from Gaborone to the pans and back, and only used the 4WD once, when I was stuck in the Nata Lodge parking lot. On another jaunt returning from Windhoek via Maun, the 4WD was only needed for about 10 km. However, without a 4WD we would have probably have had to wait for a passing truck and then pay them to tow us through.
One strange bush sight is a 4WD with an anchor bolted to the front. This is a Danforth anchor, which can be stuck into the ground to winch the vehicle through a soft spot.
All in all, I suggest more prudent preparation. Things do indeed go bad in Africa, and there is not much of a safety net where you intend to go.
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