Botswana 2006: Kalahari/Tsau Hill/Savuti/Chobe

May 5th - 14th 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


3.500 km round-trip.
Joburg - Central Kalahari - Tsau - Savuti - Chobe - Joburg

4 on the trip, none of whom got eaten.
Faff Ratio: 1.05 (10 day average)


Exiting the Central Kalahari from the west, we needed a reliable vehicle that could carry lots of diesel and water. Conventional prejudice has it that Landcruisers tend to break down, and their occupants get eaten.
So we went for a Landrover Defender 110 TD5.

Long-range fuel tank, inbuilt water tank, sand tracks, enough firewood, a few cases of Windhoek, sufficient biltong, good company...what more does one need? Biltong. One always needs more biltong.

Ralph Lazar: Head of Anecdotes.

David Jammy: Chief Well-being Officer.

Oren Kaplan: Head of Anthropology.

Errol Damelin: Chief Pyrotechnician.

Days 2/3: Mopipi/Rakops

JHB - Martin's Drift (450km - 5 hrs).
Martin's Drift - Khama Rhino Sanctuary (150 km - 2 hrs).
Khama Rhino Sanctuary - Rakops (300km - 5 hrs).
Rakops - Deception (100km - 3 hrs).
Final foot & mouth gate between Orapa and Mopipi.
Mopipi is last stop for pumped diesel and meat.
Rakops is last stop for beer, water, firewood and handpumped diesel (sporadic).

Mopipi after the rain...

Final refuelling before entering the Kalahari
(130L below and 80 on the roof).

Final stop for beer in Rakops...

Days 3/4/5: Central Kalahari

...and the final 40L of drinking-water on the roof.
(Game scout office has fire hydrant - but safer to get water in Rakops)

Arrival in Deception Valley.

6am, the sun is coming up, and all four alpha males are panicking...

The crappola run (lions very near).
Please note that Dave is carrying the spade that we bought in Potgietersrus for 56 ront.

Deception Pan.

The first of many, many cheetah.

Lousy with game. Gemsbok and springbok and jackals everywhere.

Cheetah on the road: a mommy and 4 teenagers.

The first of many, many lion...

Single file (girls first)...
Deception pan was full of game: Gemsbok, springbok and jackals everywhere - scattered wildebeest, giraffe, steenbok, lion & cheetah. Lots of ostrich, korhaan, blacksmith plovers and lilac breasted rollers.

Days 5/6: Tsau Hill

Deception - Tsau Hill (160km - 6 hrs)

We left the Central Kalahari at around midday, heading west towards Sunday Pan and Passarge Pan...

..the road went about as westwards as any road can go...

Without our GPS and a couple of Windhoeks we would have got lost and then eaten. Definitely.
At Passarge we headed north and after 60kms west again. Eventually we found the southbound cutline, with our destination, Tsau Hill, far in the distance. No-one, for hundreds of kilometers...
If you click on the photo below, you'll see Tsao Hill up ahead.

Tsau hill looming closer.

We climbed the hill to watch the sunset. 20 minutes of bundu-bashing upwards. Looking back towards our little campsite....
If you click on the photo below, you'll see the Landy with the roof-tent up. The cutline heads south for a few hundred kilometres. To the east (left), is the vast expanse of the Central Kalahari, the second-largest national park on earth. The track on the right (heading west), winds it's way back after about 70kms to the Ghanzi-Maun road.

View from atop; Pimple Hill to the west, and hundreds of kilometers of Kalahari to east. A very special place.

Is there a better campsite?

Days 6/7/8: Savuti

Tsao Hill - Maun ( 230 km - 4 hrs)
Maun - Savuti ( 210 km - 5 hrs [dry-season])

We arrived in Maun and mercifully our vehicle was dirty enough to be allowed to refuel at the legendary Riley's Garage. The butchery was located. Biltong was purchased.

On leaving Maun, we stopped at Shorobe to buy wood, and 5 hours later, after some fairly deep sand drifts and bumpy roads, we arrived at Savuti marsh. Below, probably the best campsite in Savuti; Pleasant shade, nice deep sand, a hyena-spotting vista, no-one else around...

Probably the best Ellie in Savuti.

Wood for three nights...

Do we have enough water this time?
(please note Potgietersrus spade leaning casually against rear left wheel)

3 men and a landy.
Savuti delivered as per usual: Hyenas in the campsite, ellies everywhere, lion, cheetah, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest, impala, giraffe, kudu, bat-eared foxes, jackal...

Day 9: Kachikau Village

Halfway between Savuti and Ngoma Gate, we came upon the tranquil town of Kachikau, nestling on the banks of the Chobe River.

Day 9: Chobe/Ihaha

Savuti - Ihaha (150km - 4-5 hrs)

It appears that a woodchuck can indeed chuck wood.

In Ihaha, we camped on the water's edge. Just across the river, Namibia, the Caprivi Strip.

The verdant Chobe river: Ellies, fish-eagles, hippos, crocs, lily-trotters, kingfishers, lechwe, puku, leguaans, kudu, impala and buffalo.

The last night, and a purple moon.
10 days, way too short. We'll be back.

Acknowledgements & Credits:
Design by Touboub Communications Inc. Priscilla appears courtesy of Kachikau Artist Management International. Rendering by Marufti Productions UK Ltd. Net oversold forward position of SARB unverified. Chap in Red Hilux Twin cab remains unaccounted for. Radio Communications kindly sponsored by Damelin Associates. JOS1 would like to apologies to JOS3 for jackal incident. SA-CV4, CKK2/3, IH-C1

Previous Trips:

Jan/Feb/March 2012
Feb 2010
July 2008
Feb 2008
March 2007
May 2006