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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 02 Jul 2017 16:35
by Peter Connan
No stress, I know how much time this takes!

Very glad it wasn't me in that mekoro!

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 04 Jul 2017 21:04
by Russ Kellermann
ok i'm back.... apologies for the delay. :thumbup:

Anyway,... the overall experience at Ngepi is unreal, and i will DEFINITELY be going back.

From Ngepi, we moved further along the Caprivi strip. i had booked us a camp site on the Kwando River, called Mavunge (T/A Mashi River safaris). The owner, an English Bloke, has a concession there in wild bush. I had only had 2 emails between us, and no deposit or any paperwork done. He had assured me, months before our arrival, that once he says we booked, ....we booked. And not to worry, that we'll sort out the payment (cash only), when i get there... I took his word for it,...

We headed for Kongola on the C49. There, we stocked up on beer, fuel, and some other bits and bobs. The place consists of a garage, and a shop, and thats about it. The shop is terrible, but we made do.

Mavunje is on a spit of land that meets the kwando river right opposite the famous Horse Shoe Bend, in the Bwabwata National Park. Its right in the pathway of moving elephant herds, as well as Lion, Hyena, wild dog, Hippo, crocs and all the buck.

We found the sign and headed down a tight twin spoor track through VERY deep Sand and acacias.
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In some places the road almost cought us out, my dad having to try twice to get through with the hulix,... but no dramas.
About 12 km later, we came to a small opening in the veld and a British man appeared. It was him.
We immediately all got along well, and his genuine hospitality, and friendly nature, made him one of the best hosts we had come across.
Turned out that his knowledge of the area, its wild life, including birds, was exceptional. He is involved in Anti Poaching units, and community projects, all in all, just a bloody good guy. He's also touch as nails. No luxury for him. He lives 50m from the camp site in a clump of trees. An ex Military Tent as his home. No doors. besides his tented bedroom. This oke is hard core. imagine living like that for 15 odd years.

There are only 3 camp sites at Mavunje,... and there was no one else there.
He built the ablutions and kitchens with his own hands and they are absolutely incredible.
He made sure the place had fire wood for us, and the site was incredible.

Each site has its own Lapa, as well as a 3 sides thatch roof eating room with a view for when its raining. The ablutions are donkey driven, and beautiful, clean and unique.

I havn't included prices of things in this report, but i think this place cost R160/night for 2 people. I mean, it's ridiculously cheap.
Anyway, there were hippos 30m from our tent, and elephant dung all around our camp site.
It felt really wild and made me realize that we were seriously among the animals now.
Fish eagle calling out and waterbuck in the distance.
We lit a moer of a fire and made a poitjie.
It was once again ice cold but the stars made up for it.
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I had arranged months before our arrival, to go on a river cruise with him, so That afternoon, we would leave the camp and head to a different part of the river, to board the boat. The reason for this was that the water levels were very low due to the trailing 3 year drought. Normally, he would have had the boats moored right at the camp site.

Anyway, no problem... at the agreed time, i hear a bang, clatter, and rattle of a vehicle approaching. Its him, in an old Hilux 4x4 single cab, 2.4 diesel, Circa 1992. We jumped on the back and he took us through som every interesting parts of the reserve. 30 minutes and some serious low range work later, we see the vessel.

I can see old repair patches to the side of the boat.... Hippo bites. :confused:

We crack a beer, trim the motors and head off. What a lekker place to be.

The reason i booked a cruise with him, and not Ngepi, is that i had read various testimonials of travellers who had stayed with him,.... and every one of them, spoke about his excited character, and his total enjoyment of showing you a good time, often doing 6 hours on the river, when you only booked and payed for 3hours... as he just gets carried away, finding all the small inlets and hippo channels between the papyrus,...

Well,.... this is exactly what happened. We ended up on the fast flowing river for over 6 hours of pure Adrenalin. Hippos EVERYWHERE... crocs, Eplephant herds in the water right next to us... it was sensational.

His knowledge of the river, every bend and sand bank, he knew. He knew which hippos to watch for and where. He tracked the elephant for us, shot down a few channels, and there they were. His knowledge on Birds was incredible and we just had the best time.

We had hippos lunching for the boat, and diving under us. Not ideal after the Okavango episode, but i felt a LOT better having a big boat between us, and a few beers. Also saw crocs, birds aplenty, lechwe, and waterbuck.

Anyway,... I highly recommend staying there and taking the boat cruise. It was unreal.

If you read my first post, you'd know by this stage, that i left my camera at home, (lets not even go there), so i was using an old iphone 4s with a dirty screen this whole time. so pics are awful. :thumbdown:
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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 05 Jul 2017 01:20
by Tinus lotz
Jo... :surprised: :surprised: on the bucket list

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 05 Jul 2017 05:52
by Peter Connan
Tinus lotz wrote:Jo... :surprised: :surprised: on the bucket list
Did you see any African Skimmers?

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 05 Jul 2017 08:02
by SCUBA Patrol
Baie mooi Russ,

Saw you driving in town turning in to Vredekloof on Monday probably on your way home :biggrin:

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 05 Jul 2017 09:29
by Rhett
Sounds absolutely amazing!

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 05 Jul 2017 21:06
by Russ Kellermann
Pete, unfortunately not, i would have loved to see one in action on that water though. But, we did see another bird which was extremely rear. I'll try get a photo and info from my dad. i remember this , as they were all VERY excited in the moment. My bird knowledge is not what it could be. i need to invest some time and patience.

Scuba,... That's Right!...was there,... unfortunately not on my way home though, ... was going to my second Set at Nazareth House. I built an exterior greek/santorini restaurant set there for the new LEVIS commercial i've been shooting (hence the lack of updates to this thread! :lol: ). I live in Lakeside,...But good spotting!

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 05 Jul 2017 23:02
by Russ Kellermann
Well after a coule days at Mavunje camp we set off, in the direction of Botswana. There's no way i could get to any camp site inside Botswana from where we were, as it would have taken too long, and didn't really fit in with our route plan and timeline, so i booked us a site at Camp Chobe,... a bloody stunning site on the Namibian bank of the Chobe River... i had also picked it as it is within 12km of the Border, so i knew the next morning, we had time to relax when getting past border control etc.

i didn't really know anything about the place but when we got there, we were VERY pleasantly surprised. A young chap came out to meet us, offered us a cold beer. After that, he pointed out the track that would take us to the camp sites, which was a VERY LOOSE sand track in.
Each site nice and private, with Huge gaps till the next one. A lovely donkey system shower for each site, and each one had its own shade cloth lapa. It was great, right there on the banks of the river.

We saw elephant in the water and on the apposing bank, and lots of other game. In the distance i could see the odd game park vehicle used by the wardens in Chobe National Park, on Bots side.

We braaied that evening. I also fished for a tiger, but only saw BIG catfish,... which i thought could actually be Vundu. Its hard to tell.

Anyway, a good time was had by all.
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We had a lekker breaky in the morning, packed up and hit the road , over the bridge, and on to Ngoma Border Post.

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 06 Jul 2017 11:58
by ricster
Russ, ..... man, What an EPIC trip !!!! All the tick boxes checked in my opinion.... just simply WOW !!

Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Posted: 06 Jul 2017 15:42
by Russ Kellermann
So upon arrival at the Border, we crossed through our first vet check tyre dip. No worries, all was good, and parked up. Everything went well at the namibia side,... paperwork done quickly, as we had snuck in before a group of about 20.

Back in the trucks, moving toward the Bots side of the border post now, dad in front of me. He pulls up to a check point guard, and told to move on.
I pull up to the same guard after he signals for me to drive up to him, he's standing about 5m in front of me, as i idle forward. He tells me i've broken the law and proceeds to inform me that i went throgh a stop sign on Botswnan land, and that the fine is xAmount... which turned out to be just over R5000.00. I think he saw a sift target, a guy travelling on his own etc...full of shit. I asked him to show me where the stop sign was, and why he reminded me that He was the one to call me over to him,.... and why was he standing far in front of the "stop" sigm (which was a line on the tar so faded even he could barely make it out).... what a joke.

Anyway, i park up, and we go to his office. There,... after listening to him explain it all for 10 minutes,... we sat looking at each other. I simply said 3 words.
" I'm not paying ".

What he didnt bank on, was all my years driving in the Transkei and getting pulled over for this and that bogus claims, since i was a young boy.
So what i did as i parked, was empty my wallet into my cubby hole, and kept R250 in my wallet, which i could then use as bribe money, on the grounds that i "was going to get bots Dollars after i enter the country".

I sat calmly and stared at him , for what must have been about 15 minutes.He tried every type of threat, jail, deportation etc etc, After which, he knew his game was up. He softened up and asked how we can sort this out, typical bribe story.

I threw my wallet on the table and told him to take what was in it. R250 .hahaha.

I told him to stamp my pass because i'm leaving.... and he did.

I drove off and met my parents, who were very worried by now.

Anyway,... all was good, and they hadn't found the meat i had hidden on my roof rack. :rolling:

We drove out of the border, and within a few km , had Elephant right off the main road.
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I also saw a huge spotted hyena on the side of the road ,... up against the bush, just standing dead still and looking out. I was creepy. :confused:

We were heading for Kubu island, ...

So we had to travel through Chobe nation park and onto Kasane, then down, to Nata.

Nata itself is a hole. Terrible place, with warm beer and expensive bread rolls. so if you plan on stocking up, do so in Kasane rather. Luckily, i had stopped there, so it was only the odd thing that my mom needed and had forgotten to get in Kasane.

The route down to Nata runs parallel to Hunters Road,... and i had wanted to jump across using a cut line so we could travers Hunters road ,as part of the enjoyment. But i knew time was not on our side, and not knowing the condition of the track, i wasn't keen on damaging my dads Hilux just before we were about to cross a massive salt pan in off season. So i had to make a judgment call based on safety and forward thinking.

We carried on, and found Nata Lodge a little way out of town.
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I dont have many pics for some reason, besides this one of a stray dog that sitting on my dads tent mat. :lol:
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But, i have never seen such a big camp site in my life.
The site are Bushy and private. Ablutions were very very clean tidy, and looked great. The lodge had a swimming pool and a nice bar,... we watched the SA rugby game there, and went back to braai. The place was very empty.

We had a bush baby in the tree right above our camp , and a few dogs visited us, including one who's eye was hanging out its head. Vom City. :left:
My mom is an animal freak, so we hoped she didnt see it, but then , in the dim light of the gas lamp, she saw this poor thing, and that was it. Snot en Trane. :rolleyes:

Shame, i must say though, secretly, my heart was sore for this poor thing, but what can you do... it was bloody awful man. Flip. The hardest thing about travelling, anywahere, is seeing animals hurt/abused/forgotten... broke my heart each time, but i would normally not say anything so to not draw attention from my mom.

Mom ended up feeding aaaallllllllll the dogs in the whole place much to the dismay of my dad. :lol: but he let her do it to ease the pain (of her mostly. :rolling: )

Anyway...we actually had a lekker stay there and we set of early the next morning... Destination... Kubu Island.