Namibia & Botswana 2017

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)

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Longing to return to Namibia and Botswana, we decided to try travelling just after the rainy season, in the hope of filming all the young animals and capture the different scenery.


The 2017 rainy season in Botswana was exceptionally wet with many areas flooded. So we definitely captured a different scenario. The grass was long, trees in full leaf and green. The rivers were gushing and flowing, resulting in many roads being closed due to flooding or huge crater pot holes. In many cases, the roads were in such poor condition that it was safer driving off of the road, away from the huge potholes and continuous corrugations.


Packing our Land Rover Discover 4 with all of our gear was easier this time and we knew just what to do and where to pack. Removing the seats in the second row gave us more space and The Blackmagic Camera, Canon lenses, DJI Osmo and DJI Drone all had their cradles for protection and easy accessibility. The rest of the car was packed in hard plastic containers with a huge net over it to keep everything in place over the rough and bumpy roads and then the Thule box on the roof gave us the much needed extra space for camping gear. 

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


Our desert and bush adventure began with a first night stop over in Springbok at Kokerboom Motel which was conveniently situated on the N7 and we even managed to capture some drone footage of the stunning rock formations of the area.  Next stop was the incredibly beautiful Canyon Lodge. From here we visited and filmed the Fish River canyon, Quiver tree forest and the unusual rock and boulder formations in the area. The Klein-Aus Vista, Desert Horse Inn was a great stop where we filmed the Garub wild horses. This area has had a dreadful drought and so the horses were being fed and water supplied to them to ensure their survival. Staying in Luderitz at the Luderitz Nest Hotel we visited the Diaz Cross and then moved onto Sossus Dune Lodge Chalet, visiting and filming Sesriem canyon, Dune 45 and Sossusvlei. Be sure to catch the Vlei while the sun is rising, as the light is perfect and the photographic opportunities endless. Passing through Solitaire on our way to Swakopmund, we popped into McGregors Bakery in Solitaire for their famous Apple strudel and ice-cream...a really yummy treat in the middle of nowhere.


(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)

We also managed to film the mysterious Fairy circles that are circular patches on the ground varying between 2 to 15 m wide. Their origin is not certain but two theories are suggested. The one is termites clearing circles under their nests and the second explanation of the circles are explained by plants competing for water.

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


Next stop was Swakopmund, which has grown so much that we could not even recognise it. Staying at Bon Hotel, we visited and filmed the Welwitschia mirabilis plants and for the very first time saw both male and female plants in flower. Some of these plants are known to be 1500 years old. We also managed to film some of the Namibs majestic sand dunes and visited the Kristall Gallerie which had some amazing crystals on display and is well worth a visit. Our favourite restaurant was The Tug. This is a very popular restaurant, so be sure to make a booking.

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


We were also hoping to get to Spitzkoppe, but unfortunately, we had a knocking noise on our Land Rover’s back wheel, so we had to spend our time getting this seen to. On contacting the accredited Land Rover repair centre in Walvis Bay, Novel Ford, Walvis Bay. We were thrilled when Danville, their Landy technician, had a quick look and fixed the problem in a minute. It was only a hand brake cable that had jumped out of a restraining clip and was knocking on the rim of the tire. Whew!


(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)

Heading North we passed the Salt works which have a collection of salt ponds which are a birds haven. Along the side of the road, keep your eye open for huge salt crystals that one can buy on an “honesty jar” payment system. On route to Terrace Bay, we stopped and filmed the largest Cape Cross fur Seal colony, where a staggering 250 000 seals frolic in the sea and laze about on land. Please, do remember that the Skeleton Coast National park gates close at 15.00 hours.

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


Upon arrival at Terrace Bay Namibia Wild life Resort, we found that our accommodation had been upgraded to the Presidential suite/house, where President Sam Nujoma used to spend his Christmas holidays. Although we are not fishermen, being vegetarian and all, we still had so much to enjoy in the area. From the rumbling agate pebbles on the beach, the sightings of jackals, hyenas, seals, dolphins, visiting Torra Bay, the dunes, searching for the desert lions, the great food and the absolute peace that was so therapeutic, this is a great place to unwind. In the mean time, the fisherman with us, Terry, managed to catch and release 40 fish in just 9 hours of fishing. Needless to say, he had a permanent grin on his face while we were there.


On our way to the Dolomite Namibia Wildlife Resort with its wonderful rim flow pool but awful staff service, we were so fortunate to meet Dr Philip Stander who shared some insight to the Namib Desert Lion Conservation Project. So sad to hear that the last of the five Desert Lions, stars of The Vanishing Kings documentary, has recently been killed. How ironic.

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


We then stayed in Etosha for three nights. Two nights in Okaukuejo, where we managed to book the premier water hole chalet 34w. Wow, do try book this chalet as it has an unobstructed private view of the waterhole and you are sure to see the Black Rhino on his late evening visit to the waterhole. One can literally view the water hole from your private upstairs deck. We also spent one night in Namutoni. Etosha had received a lot of rain, so the bush was thick, high and green. Viewing animals was not easy. We did not see the large herds that Etosha is so well know for. In fact, we saw very little and would not return at this time of year again.


Moving on, we returned to Ngepi and stayed in our favourite Tree house chalet for two nights where we swam in the caged pool in the Cubango/Okavango River, full of Crock's and Hippo's, went for walks, listened to the hippos chuckling and leopards growling across the river.

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


Our road trip from Ngepi to Dinaka was quite stressful, with the roads in Botswana being in such poor conditions, with huge pot holes, that it was at times safer to ride off the road, on the side rather than on the road. We finally arrived after 10hrs diving (for a distance that should have taken maybe 6hrs) at Dinaka  

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


We then drove to the Khwai Community Camp area, where once again, we were treated like kings by the fantastically organised Swampland Safari Trails for 5 nights. It was a magical experience in the bush with all our meals made, tents set up, showers supplied every day, and the brilliant Game Ranger, Max, as our guide. One night we had two roaring male lions 15m away from our tents, the wild dogs ran through our camp and we even had Hyenas through our camp at night. We forgot to pack our food box back into the car one night, only to wake the following morning with evidence that the Hyenas had dragged the box away from our tent, opened it up and guess what they ate????....Ferrero Rocher Chocolates, Lindt Chocolate and long life milk sachets....they clearly have good taste. They slobbered over everything and left the crisps, biscuits and Almond nuts. Spooky to think they were just outside our tent. Do NOT leave any food outside, even if it is in a closed crate! Stupid us!

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)

The bush in the Khwai area was very thick and the grass long after the heavy rainy season that Botswana had, so this made viewing the animals and driving the roads more challenging, as we had a few rivers to cross and many of the roads were closed due to flooding. During our stay, sadly, an Elephant died next to the river. No one knew why it had died but what was amazing was how nature and animals instinctively take on their roles of getting food from the dead carcass. There is a whole system that the animals have worked out and it begins with the birds pecking at the eyes and the Hyenas taking the first meal, as they have such powerful jaws they can penetrate easily, then all the other carnivores can get stuck in.


This is a truly special area and I do hope that the Khwai community will enforce a limit to the amount of tourism that the area can take, so as to conserve this special place and its wonderful wild animals that we all so enjoy viewing. A very special thank you to Louis Milne and his team for a great safari. We will return.

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)

We then drove on to Gweta Lodge. We were warned about the very poor road conditions between Maun and Nata. The road had pot holes and was flooded either side of the road for miles on end, but we did manage to get to the lodge quite safely, passing the “Road Closed” signage and were told that the road from Gweta to Nata was the one in really bad condition, but the locals had made a secondary bypass road next to it for easier commuting. Returning to Gweta lodge on our second visit, we were so pleased to see Helen, James, Shayna and all the staff again. We were spoilt to another night sleeping on the Salt pan and we managed to get some great footage of the pans with the flooding water in the distance, the magical sun rising and some more Meerkat footage of them baking their bellies in the warm sun. Do take a drive to Planet Baobab, have a drink or a meal or a stay and see the majestic trees.


We also visited and filmed the Nxai Pan area including the huge Baines Baobab area. The roads in the pan were challenging, with ruts and poor conditions noted but we did manage to get about slowly. Do NOT access the road that runs parallel to the boundary fence road. STAY ONLY on the fence road. The other inside road, shown as the main road on their map, is in a dreadful condition and is the worst road we have ever experienced. With deep loose soft sand and even deeper ditches, this “Road” was quite a challenge, but our Disco 4 just kept ploughing on until we got back to the junction with the boundary road. We were suitably impressed by our cars abilities. Note to self, get a better cargo net system to secure all the goodies inside the car and stop them from moving around.


On our way to Lekhubu Island, we decided to stay overnight at Letlhakane, at Motswedi Hotel. We, fortunately, had a Satellite Phone from Swampland Safari Trails for safety and connectivity should we have had any major problems as we were driving Solo. We wanted to get an early start to Kubu just in case we had any road issues, therefore, decided to spend the night over in Letlhakane, the closest town to Kubu. Fortunately, we had an easy two and a half hour drive over the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan to Kubu, we pitched our tent and then set up for filming the sunset, stars, Baobabs and Makgadikgadi Salt Pan. This is a Gaing-o-communty trust run area and it is very sad to hear that people are abusing their staying at Kubu by arriving late and not paying their dues. So the area is to be fenced off to control/restrict movement of vehicles and a resort construction will start by, we were told, December 2017. I do not understand people that wish to abuse the environment or the community. So SAD. We do hope this area will be protected at all costs.

(These images are frame grabs from our 4K film Stock shot during this trip)


Having some business to tie up in Gaborone, we stayed at the Peermont Walmont at the Grand Palm for a few nights where our favourite restaurant was the Fig Tree. We were very fortunate to visit and stay with our dear friends Harold and Geraldine Hester in their lovely home and celebrated at the Mokolodi Nature reserve restaurant.


Our last stop was at Langberg Guest farm before we headed back home. Having travelled almost 10 000 km’s and visited 17 different destinations it was good to be safe and sound back home. We are thrilled at how our Land Rover Discovery 4 has preformed during our 6 weeks safari travel.


Special Thanks


Special thanks to all our friends Carol, Terry, Kathy, Martin, Reg and Shakila for their companionship and support and to Louis Milne and the Swampland team for a magical time.


Tips for Namibian trips

1. If you are close to The Namibian Wild Life Resort centre in the City centre of Cape Town, do become a NWR member with your yearly Namleisure card. Pop into this extremely well organised centre and the helpful, friendly staff will book and arrange your accommodation and your valid Namleisure cards will allow for some amazing discounts on your accommodation bookings.

2. We also made a few bookings with the Gondwana Collection of lodges, so having a SADC or Namibian Gondwana card, that is valid for 5 yrs, allows for further amazing discounts and is well worth applying for. 

3. Many fuel stations in Namibia do not have card facilities and many will ONLY accept cash. They accept payment with Namibian dollars or South African Rands.

4. At Sossus do book your accommodation within the park gates, as this gives you a heads up to getting to the tourist attractions before the crowds and buses.

5. If you are passing through Solitaire do pop into McGregors Babery in Solitaire for there famous Apple strudel and ice-cream...really yummy treat in the middle of nowhere.

6. The poor road conditions and in particular the dreadful corrugations were not pleasant and limited ones ability to maintain the suggested road speed, resulting in added time in getting to your destination.

7. Please, be aware of the varying opening and closing times of park gates, especially if your accommodation is with in the park, be sure to arrive at the gate before it closes. E.g. Skeleton Park gate closes at 15.00.

8. Novel Ford Walvis bay is an accredited Land Rover dealer and repair centre.

9.  If you plan to visit Etosha, Okaukuejo Camp, book the premier water hole chalet 34w, it has a fabulous private clear view of the waterhole from its upstairs deck.

10. Stay in your car when in game parks.


Tips for Botswana trips

1. Most fuel stations have 50pp diesel.

2. NEVER pass a fuel station without filling up, as some do run out of fuel and the next one may be out of range.

3. Remember to keep P1000 in your wallet at all times for any fines. All fines have to be paid in Pula ONLY, otherwise your passport, or more, can be held until you pay up and you will be escorted to the closest town to make payment arrangements. Many speeding traps are set up just before you are leaving Botswana on your way back to South Africa. With any luck you will return to South Africa with the P1000 still in your wallet. 

4. Always stop your vehicle dead still at all stop signs. Failure to do so may incur a fine. Specifically at makeshift Police Check points that can spring up anywhere. Stop at the Stop sign, which will be 15m or so from the Officer, wait to be summoned by the Police Officer and stop again as you get to him/her.

5. There are many veterinary fences and foot and mouth road blocks, many of which, you will have to dip ALL your shoes into the solution provided. So, keep ALL your shoes readily accessible.

6. Do NOT drive at night. There are too many wild animals, not to mention the cows, goats and donkeys on the roads that are a huge accident risk.

7. Remember to take Malaria precautions....long sleeves and trousers, insect repellent and medication.

8. Take a set of spare car keys with you and extra batteries for your keys.

9. Ensure you have sufficient tools, food and water in the event of a car breakdown.

10. Buy a local cell sim card. I recommend, B Mobile cell for the best bush and city coverage. If one is travelling alone a Satalite phone may be hired.

11. Do not leave any food outside when you are camping in the wild. Keep all food safely in your car.

12. The road between Ngepi, Shakawe, Tsau, Seithwa and Maun is in poor Condition with so many pot holes that it is at times easier to drive off the road, on the side of the road.

13. The Road between Maun and Gweta was closed but we did manage to go through it . The road stretch between Gweta and Nata is very poor but the locals have made a secondary bypass road next to it for easier commuting.

14. Do Not try and access Le Kubu Island from Nata area if there has been heavy rain. We went via Letlhakane and had no problems at all.

15. In the Nxai Pan area: The roads in the pan were challenging, with ruts and poor conditions noted but we did manage to get about slowly. Do NOT access the road that runs parallel to the road running along the fence. STAY ONLY on the fence road. The other inside road is in a dreadful condition and is the worst road we have ever experienced, with loose soft sand and very deep ditches.

16. Do contact Swampland Safari trails for all bookings and any assistance you may need. Speak to Louis Milne .

17. Road speed sighs are often missing for long stretches. Be careful as there are many speed traps

18. Use a huge net over your luggage, to keep everything in place over the rough and bumpy roads

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