April 2019 - for my 60th birthday
We had always wanted to visit the Central Kalahari Game reserve in Botswana and decided, when I looked into the Ultimate Adventures tour itinerary for 2019 to book for one that fell over my 60th birthday.
Ultimate Adventures is run by a husband and wife team, Simon and Desiree Steadman and they run adventure tours. This was to be our first adventure as part of an organised tour and we were a little apprehensive as what to expect.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an extensive reserve in the Kalahari within the borders of Botswana.
Our selected tour ran from 25 April to 05 May 2019. Were were to meet the tour party at Khama Rhino Sanctuary in Botswana for the start of the tour. We decided to take it easy and spend our fitst night at Moriti Bush Camp which is on the Limpopo River at the Martins Drift border crossing from South Africa into Botswana. Moriti is truly a wonderful campsite and the owners are very friendly. The site has its own private ablution (hotel style), kitchen and also electric power. This site also has a braai area as well as a boma should you wish to make a large fire. We have stayed here a number of times and will definitely return.
The next morning we were in no real rush as we only had 182km's to travel to the tour meeting point. We had absolutely no problems at the border (but note you cannot take any meat, fruit or vegetables across the border). Our next stop was in the town of Palapye where we stopped off to stock up on all the supplies for the trip. Our trip with Ultimate Adventures had all the dinners catered for, so we onlt had to self cater for breakfast and lunch. We chose the Spar in Palapye Botswana to stock up and found everything that we required. There is also Food Lovers Market and other retailers in the town now. From Palapye it was a short drive along a very good tar road, past the town of Serowe to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
|The main entrance to Khama Rhino Sanctuary.|
|As you enter this is the first sign that you see.|
On arrival at Khama Rhino Sanctuary we were met by a very friendly reception lady and were quickly booked in and advised of the road to the camping site booked for the Ultimate Adventures group.
The road in from the reception to the campsite was very sandy and the tracks quiet deep. However that was absolutely no problem for our Trailblazer which handled the sand with easy.
On arrival at the selected campsite we found that the sites are very large and that there was loads of shade. It was already quiet warm, for April. Also, there is no electricity at any of the campsites in Khama Rhino, but that was also not a problem because we had our solar panel. Before the start of our tour I had fitted the solar controller to the battery complementary in the trailer. In effect, I had my solar panel connect to two batteries, one in the trailer and the other in the Trailblazer so both could be charged.
We were the second of the tour party to arrive and we met a couple from George in a Toyota Land Cruiser Infanta Camper when we arrived.
The rest of the tour arrived and the tour leaders also made an entry in their Lexus V8 powered Land Cruiser and camping kitchen. That evening we had a wonderful meal, cooked by Alan (the "chef" who Simon and Des had brought along for this tour). In fact, Alan owns the Black Leopard Camp and is a great cook, as well !
Also, we had the pleasure of the company of the SA 4x4 journalist,Micky Baker and his wife on our tour. They had a hired Avis 3x3 rental vehicle.
In fact, our trip featured in the June publication and if you have that issue (or can find a back issue) you will see a very nice full page picture of our red Trailblazer emerging from some overgrown twee spoor. Was great to have Micky and his wife on the trip and a pleasure making their acquaintances.
The next morning we were up early. Those that had hired vhf radios from Simon were given the package and set up the radios for easy communication.
First stop was to the reserve shop to purchase there entire supply of wood. Each evening we were treated to a lovely fire around which we all sat, shared stories and made friends.
Our rig for the trip. An absolute pleasure to drive and we had no issues at all with the sand and mud - not even one puncture.
Those that had rook racks on their vehicles and/or packing space on their trailers loaded up the wood supplies.
We were notified that there were no fuel stations that would accept credit cards on the route up to Centra Kalahari. Therefore, we had a make a stop at the nearest ATM for all those who did not carry cash to empty the ATM's. Luckily they were working and all that needed cash were able to get. In addition, there is no fuel, water or shops in any part of the Central Kalahari. Therefore all had to be totally self sufficient for fuel, drinking, bathing and dish washing water. I carried 120l of additional diesel in Jerry cans as well as a 120l water tank and three additional Jerry cans of water. So we were sorted for the trip.
Soon after turning off the tar road, we stopped to allow everyone to deflate their tyres on the vehicles and trailers.
I elected to be the last vehicle in the convoy so we were always at the back. This made it easier for me, as I did not have to worry about loosing anyone behind me (if they were slow, missed a turnoff or the like)
Soon we were in the park and the real adventure was about to begin !!!
Deception valley was our destination
On the right and below is the camp kitchen and the tour leaders roof top tent. The dome tent was the luxury accommodation of Alan,the chef.
long drop. It did have a decent seat !! And there was a sign that you could hook up to let everyone know that it was occupied. The mornings, when cooler, were the best option because as the day got longer and hotter the aroma increased. But, it was not too bad.
We used a metal (blue) water Jerry can to heat our shower water. We placed the Jerry can in the sun in the morning and by the time we wanted to shower in the afternoon we had lovely luke warm water. No problems. The one Jerry can was more than enough for us to both shower.
On the right is the "view" of our campsite from the shower.
This was the most open space in the park.
We also had sighting of wild dog and black back jackal (but too far off for photos)
One of the many lovely sunsets in the central Kalahari
People (only a few) would get quiet agitated if you changed the convoy order.
There were an abundance of game and they all had lovely green vegetation to munch on.
But its truly spectacular.
Only puzzling thing is that there was only a batch - no shower. I found that puzzling due to the fact that we were in a desert and there is a lack of water.
Anyway, the water was terribly salty and was not fit for drinking.