Wednesday, 16 October 2019

CENTRAL KALAHARI - BOTSWANA

CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE - with Ultimate Adventures
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.


 As can be noted from the picture, there is plenty of shade. We did, however find a patch of sun to charge the batteries from the solar panel.
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.
Some were eager to clamber onto the roof racks and pack the wood.











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 was amazed that the Kalahari desert was so green. There was an abundance of tall grass and a large number of trees. In fact, in some places the twee spoor track was covered by branches, twigs and the like and the vehicles did get a little scratched. But that definitely did not deter from the adventure.


 In addition the track in was quiet sandy, in places and there had been some rain previously because in places we had some interesting puddles to drive through.






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)



We all made it safely to the entrance gate - after some hilarious sessions where people did not want to drive through a deep puddle and ended up then having to cut themselves out of thorn trees and bushes. But all good fun in the end and we all have a few good laughs.



 We were entering through the Matswere gate. It took a while to get us all booked through, but was not really a hassle.









We ended up not being at the end/back of the convoy due to those that took a detour around the puddle and had to then cut themselves out of the bush !!









Soon we were in the park and the real adventure was about to begin !!!
Deception valley was our destination

The entire tour convey made it through to deception valley campsite without any issues. Soon we had all selected our camping "location" and were settling in.

 We found a nice shady site which, in fact, gave us a nice view of the entire campsite. There was space to park the vehicle in the shade next to the trailer, in such a way that it did not obstruct anyone, or any view. The solar panel was doing its trick and we were all sorted.















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.



Luckily, at this deception valley campsite we had amenities/facilities which made everyone happy.


The picture above shows the 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.

Above and on the right is the bucket shower. This is merely a tin bucket with a hole in the bottom. Attached to that hole is (normally) a shower head with a tap. The bucket is filled with water and pulled up to above head height. Then you turn on the tap and shower, No problem.

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.


We spent a few days at deception valley campsite and during that time took some quiet extensive drives around the central Kalahari.

 Quiet  a few bird of prey were sighted.




Deception valley.
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)
Vultures were quiet active.




 Something watching out there !!

 Still there !!



 One of the many lovely sunsets in the central Kalahari

Gemsbok - we did see a lot of these in the park



Micky in his rented Avis "truck".


People (only a few) would get quiet agitated if you changed the convoy order.




Overlooking one of the pans in the park






I was surprised to see so many giraffe in the central Kalahari,

Out and about in the central Kalahari



Interesting to also watch the smaller creatures.


Looking for something to munch on !






There were an abundance of game and they all had lovely green vegetation to munch on.
Cry of the Kalahari is a good read should you wish to get an insight into the Central Kalahari.

One of the waterholes in the game reserve



The next day was my 60th birthday (30 April) and we were still wanting to see a lovely big Kalahari male lion. Not, of cause, that we had not being entertained and delighted by what we had encountered so far, but a Kalahari lion in the Kalahari, who could ask for more on your 60th birthday.

The previous day we had moved from deception valley campsite to a small campsite called Lekhubu.
Getting to the campsite was not an issue, but some of the tour party had been past the campsite the day previously and advised that the sign was leaning on a very large green bush/tree and was very easy to spot. Well, of cause it was not, it was "hidden" on the ground. As a result most ended up driving about 20km's past the campsite before realizing that we had all gone too far. 
This campsite had no facilities/amenities. So no smelly long drop nor bucket showers. Therefore, if you did not have a toilet option of your own, use had to make use of the camp spade !
We, of cause, had our own shower tent as well as porta potty. (I only had to dig a hole once, and that was to berry the contents of the porta potty. Yes, I did purchase bio degradable and green "chemicals" for the porta potty).

Sue at our campsite. Was cool in the morning.

Our campsite under a lovely tree.

Our Shower tent !

The camp kitchen !!



So, early morning on the 30th I was surprised with lovely delightful treat from the chef as well as the singing of happy birthday by all of the tour party who had gathered around. It was a really special moment.

We went on a game drive that day. Nearing the end of the day, the male Kalahari lion made his appearance. What a lovely sighting it was !!


Truly stunning !

He walked in the road for quiet a while and each vehicle was able to "swap" places to get a good view.

Just minding his own business.


Hw was happy just plodding along the road.







But then he had enough of being followed. A few loud roars


Stop following me !!!!




It was starting to get dark, so we headed back to camp.





However, the next morning we were in store for another group of young lions. These were literally 300 meters from our camping trailer and just at the entrance to the campsite. It was another truly fantastic start to the day.



 Im watching you !!!

 They strolled down the road for quiet awhile.

 Past Simon and Des in the Ultimate Adventures fancy Land Cruiser
The next day was a move to another campsite. We were all excited as that campsite had facilities. Yes, of cause the usual long drop and bucket shower !!


 Driving through the bush (on a twee spoor of cause) in the central Kalahari.

Piece and quite
Stopping along the way for a quick bite of lunch.

Another quick drinks stop.
 The camp kitchen.


 Our site at the last campsite that we were staying at in the Central Kalahari
View from our campsite. Really lovely.

Waterhole near the campsite. We left just before an elephant arrived, so missed that sighting.


But its truly spectacular.
w



Ground squirrel - a few of them around in the park

 Giraffe having a drink. Amazing how they get down to drink.

Then, it was the last day, packing up and heading out of the central Kalahari.
But the adventure was not yet over.
Our next campsite was lovely and we were treated to a walk with the local bushmen. I really enjoy the interesting experience.  The man and his wife showed us the plants that you can eat, drink and survive from. They also included a demonstration of how to light a fire from using two pieces of wood.

Out campsite was at Tautona Lodge  and it was a lovely site. Shade, but of cause no  grass. There was also electric power, decent (ordinary) toilets and hot showers.


 Nice and shady.

After that night we were to make our last night of the ultimate adventure at Kalahari Rest Lodge. I decided, seem it was the last night, to book a chalet here. Others on the tour also booked chalets while some chose to camp.



 The chalet was very nice.
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.



The braai - fire - pit at the chalet.



 Lots of sand.



The next day was homeward bound.
For us, it was a truly ultimate adventure and a big thank you to Des, Simon and chef Alan.
Will we join them again, yes, of cause when the opportunity arises on another of their tours.





CENTRAL KALAHARI - BOTSWANA

CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE - with Ultimate Adventures April 2019 - for my 60th birthday We had always wanted to visit the Central Ka...