Botswana

The first half of our self-drive safari was spent in the country of Botswana. We really enjoyed our time in the country, and thought we’d share some observations about the places we visited.

Safari Night 2: Khama Rhino Sanctuary, outside Serowe

Our first stop was at the campground at this haven for rhinos and other game.

Getting There

We were still adjusting to camping rhythms, and we left from our previous night’s camp in South Africa later than we should have. Crossing the border took a long time as well, with multiple lines to wait in. We were still a little way away from the site as the sun was getting pretty low in the sky, so we were getting nervous. Luckily, we made it to the site before it got dark.

Campsite

Nice and secluded with a sandy base. Each site has its own nice big tree.

Ablutions

They felt a bit rustic, but the water was nice and warm

Activities

You can do a game drive within the sanctuary with hopes of seeing the rhinos,but we arrived too late at night to do this. Instead, we woke up early the next morning and drove around the park. We didn’t see the rhinos but did get our first views of some other game.

 

Safari Night 3: Khumaga Campsite, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Getting There

We left early enough from the Rhino Sanctuary that we were able to make it here a little earlier. What we didn’t realize until we got there was that to actually get to the campsite you have to take a ferry across a river! This ferry costs 130 pula (almost $15) per one-way trip too!

Campsite

More out in the open than we would have liked, with a lot of exposure to other camps,

Ablutions

The first of what we learned was the standard model in Botswana parks. Nice interior furnishings. Only so-so for hot water.

Activities

We had time to do an evening game drive, but boy were we not prepared, This was our first introduction to sandy roads, and there was a big learning curve for figuring out how to navigate them. We gave up after almost getting stuck a couple of times, so we can’t really comment about what you will see! (We later figured some things out that we’ll put in a separate post)

Safari Night 4 & 5: Third Bridge Campsite, Moremi Game Reserve

Getting There

We had to cross back over on the ferry to leave Khumaga, then we had to drive through the town of Maun. Here we wanted to see if we could modify our reservations to get extra nights at some camps inside the park – we hadn’t been able to reserve these ahead of times. However, this got confusing because Botswana has privatized its campsites inside the parks, so you have to visit a different office than the National Parks Office (where we had to pay park fees). To make it even more confusing, different campsites are run by different companies! So, in Maun, we visited: the parks office (to figure out what to do), Xomae Camps, SKL Camps and then back to the parks office (because we couldn’t pay our fees until we had proof of our sites). Phew!

The road to Moremi itself switched to gravel, and then in the park back to sand. Uh oh we thought! But we deflated our tires (a big key) and switched into H4 and had no troubles.

Campsite

We stayed here two nights and actually stayed in two different sites. The first night we had to share a sight because of some confusion in the office (even at $100 a night they rely on paper records…). Luckily, the three guys (a South African, Namibian and Englishman) we ended up sharing with the first night turned out to be very helpful. They shared their fire with us and provided a lot of valuable advice about the different parks and route. It was almost sad to move to our own site the next day.

The sites themselves had nice shade trees over a sandy base. The edge of the sites was the water of the Okavongo Delta, so at night you would hear hippos pretty close to the tent.

Ablutions

The standard Botswana parks setup.We followed our neighbor’s advice and tried the showers in the middle of the day (the water is heated by solar), and it was pretty warm.

Activities

You are in the middle of Moremi, so go on a game drive! If you are brave enough to cross the “bridge” the site is named after…

Safari Night 6: Khwai Campsite, Moremi Game Reserve

Getting There

From Third Bridge to Khwai is basically a game drive in itself. A must-stop along the way was the hippo pools.

Campsite

The site itself was a little less nice than Third Bridge in terms of layout. There was a road right through the site basically but luckily no one ever drove down it. This was where we had a late night visitor. The back of the site was the Khwai River, so we also heard hippos again.

Ablutions

Standard Botswana parks setup again. Our shower was pretty hot here.

Activities

You could do a game drive in the area, but since we had driven from Third Bridge we didn’t partake.

Safari Night 7: Savuti Camp, Chobe National Park

Getting There

The drive from Khwai to Savuti was for the most part the standard sandy roads. There was one tricky water crossing to get out of Khwai Village, but someone was kind enough to show us the way.

Campsite

Our site itself was pretty paltry – just a patch of sand with a tree (but we were afraid to get too close to the tree because we were told an elephant might come through and they like those trees). There was a small store in the camp where we purchased a couple of cold beers while we relaxed in the afternoon.

Ablutions

The building was the standard setup, but what was unique here was that the building was surrounded by a reinforced circular fence with a gate. We think this was for the elephant worry mentioned before.

Activities

We did an afternoon game drive and saw our first lion of the trip! There were plenty of other places to explore that we didn’t get around to.

Safari Night 8, 9, 10: Chobe Safari Lodge, Kasane

Getting There

The drive to Kasane was boring… for the most part. We knew it was going to switch to a hard “tar” road at some point, so when it got to be hard gravel we decided to re-inflate the tires. Of course then it turned back to sand around the next corner so we re-deflated.

Then, when we knew we were almost to the tar road, we came upon a hill with deep sand… and got stuck! We were trying to figure out how to use the rubber mats and shovel when a truck of safari drivers came by. One hopped in the car, put it in L4 reverse, and got out. We were definitely grateful!

The tar road was a nice relief after multiple days of sandy roads.

Campsite

This campsite was attached to a fancy lodge, so we were definitely impressed with the reception desk and the lodge itself. The campsite… didn’t have that much going for it. Our space was a patch of dirt just wide enough for our truck, surrounded by thornbushes. The sites were packed pretty tightly together. The one saving grace was that within 100 feet they had a bar overlooking the river, where we spent multiple afternoons drinking beers and watching elephants graze.

Ablutions

Substandard, for sure. Felt outdated. Water for the shower could barely be called warm.

Activities

As this was a lodge, you could pay to do all sorts of things. Kasane itself is a town full of potential activities. This was the base for our Victoria Falls trip. We also paid to take one of the lodge’s morning game drives through the riverfront section of Chobe.

 

Final Thoughts

We definitely enjoyed our time in Botswana and all of the game-watching opportunities it provided. The people of the country were all very kind and also very proud of the country. We did get a little frustrated by how expensive everything associated with the parks seemed to be – park fees, campsite rates, and so on. But that didn’t keep us from having a great time!

5 thoughts on “Botswana

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