Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

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Russ Kellermann
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Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Russ Kellermann » 26 Jun 2017 11:49

Hello guys. I'm going to post my trip report now. :redface:

I want to just apologies to all those on the forum who helped me plan this trip, and were expecting pics and words soon after my return.
To be completely honest, 3 weeks before this trip something extremely traumatic happened in my life, and i was going through a very sad and difficult time. It's only now , exactly one year later, that i've actually looked at my photo's for the first time.

Anyway, all is good again,and life is lekker. I've really enjoyed being back on the forum and apart of the Patrol Family again. :salute:

My report will not be as detailed as some, but if anyone has questions on a particular location/set up/route etc, please do post in this thread, and i'll try answer accurately.

In all the mess of it, i left my camera.... I know,....lets not even go there,.... and only had my awful old iPhone 4s at the time, so that is what my images are limited to unfortunately. So i won't be wining any medals for that. :rolleyes:

This is my Trip report.


The plan was to tour the best parts of Namibia and Botswana, traveling for almost a full month.
It was a lot of moving, typically staying 1 night in each spot, sometimes 2, and 3 at most. This wasn't a camping holiday, it was an over-landing journey (with crap loads of camping)
Total distance traveled was 8700km

Originally, my Mom and Dad were joining in their D4D DC Hilux 4wd for the Namibian half. I was to do Botswana solo. However, a week or two prior to the start, i got a call from them asking if they could join for the Botswana part. I could see that my intended route and spiked their interest, but i also knew it was out of worry, particularly after the above mentioned events leading up to this trip.

I was really happy that they had extended their trip to join, but i knew it was going to also be hard on them, as they were, in essence, doubling their trip distance, and along with it, the setting up and breaking down of camp (which they actually become extremely efficient at!). Being Transkei born and bred though, they showed resilience and embraced the challenges and every part of the journey, which at 63-65 years respectfully, was amazing to watch. My parents are super fun people, always up for adventure, so i had a feeling it would work out that way. :thumbup:

I was in my Trusty Patrol 4.2d N/A Bakkie , rocking my OZtent RV3
My folks took their Trusty Hilux D4D 2.5 turbo Diesel, along with their Howling Moon 3x3 canvas Dome

I tried to persuade my dad to lose the Dome tent as i could get him a BRAND NEW Oztent RV3 for R6000 prior to the trip..... a decision he later humorously regretted. :lol:

Final Route looked like this.

Travel from Cape Town to Namibia/Transkei to Namibia

- Ai Ais | Ais Ais Resort Camp Site
- D707 Road | Koiimasis Farm Camp site
- Sossusvlei | Oasis Camp Site
- Usakos | Friends House
- Spitzkoppe | Camp site
- Dinosaur footprints | Farm camp site
- Etosha | Okuakujo Camp site
- Etosha | Halali Camp Site
- Popa Falls | Ngepi Tree House
- Mavunje | Mashi River Camp Site
- Chobe River | Camp Chobe
- Nata | Nata River Lodge Camp Site
- Makgadikgadi Pan | Kubu Island Camp Site
- Maun | Audi Camp Site
- Kang | Kalahari Rest Camp
- Mabuasehube | Entrance Camp site
- Mabuasehube | Bosobogolo Camp site
- Kgalagadi TFP | Matopi 2 Camp Site
- Kgalagadi TFP | Nossob Camp Site
- Kgalagadi TFP | kgalagadi lodge

Travel back to Cape Town

This was my basic set up...
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So they left the Transkei and headed for Augrabies Falls and stayed for 2 nights at Kalahari Lodge, which was apparently fantastic.
A day later i left cape town and headed up the west coast road. I spent a night at my Aunties Farm in the Cedarberg, where i left my dog Angus, my Black Labrador. he was happy as a pig in poo, jolling with his old farm dog buddies and Nina, the sheep he knows very well. bloody cute seeing them cuddle up and wonder about together.
The goats had just dropped Kids, so i helped them sort out the babies at the shed, then settled into a nice Whiskey and a lit a Moer of a fire. The dogs came back with half a baboon skull,... so we went and found the jaw... incredible to be so in tact.
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Angus on the right,... with the gang,... waiting to go play with the sheep. .... weird, i know. :lol:
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I got up early the next morning and hit the road before the sun came up... it was freezing.
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I filled up in springbok and hit the border... no worries, got the green light :thumbup:
Crossed the bridge and once i was in Namibia i pulled over to get something from the back. I had also lost reception already, so i just wanted to double check my map.
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It looked like i had teleported to the fringes of Afghanistan.... i mean....
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End of Part 1.
Last edited by Russ Kellermann on 26 Jun 2017 12:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Jules » 26 Jun 2017 12:03

Looking forward to rest of this vervolgverhaal

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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Russ Kellermann » 26 Jun 2017 13:05

Part 2:

Made my way to Ai Ais. at this stage, the folk were also en route, ahead of me, and on a different track. we were to rendezvous at the camp site. It would have been about 9 months since i had seen them, so i was seriously looking forward to locking horns and just being with family.

The road to ais ais was like something i had never seen, wide, open, and the gravel almost White in color. I loved it. I didn't see another vehicle the entire length and stopped in the middle of the road to make a snadwhich on the tail gate. you don't have to pull over in NAM. :thumbup:
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The camp site was huge! so much space, and rather empty, which was great. toilets were spotless, staff helpful, fuel available (and cheap), restaurant open, and best of all, not a soul at the hot spring pool.

We were all exhausted so we went for the most incredible swim in the pool, no one else there. the water is so warm and clean. If you have kids, this is a great place to take them camping for a day or two.
Although we lit a fire for gees,We went and ate over priced steaks at the restaurant,and sipped a few beers. was lovely regardless.
I seriously knew nothing about Ai Ais, but this spot pleasantly surprised me and i'd go back any day.
There were hikers accessing the canyon and some that were returning after days of hiking. It was blister city over there, and we engaged in conversation with all sorts of folks, black, white, foreign, local, .... was really nice. everyone very friendly and respectful of the peace and quiet.
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Next part of the plan was to get to Koiimasis Farm Camp, vie the D707. the D707 is said to be one of the most beautiful roads in all of namibia, and it didn't disappoint.
(Koiimasis means "Meeting place", and thats where bushmen used to gather to discuss which direction they would hunt/move towards,... and also where other decisions would be made that would affect the tribe(s).)
First we stopped in at Canyon Road house for a coffee and a pee.
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After that, a few interesting sites including this huge communal weavers nest.
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we were on this part of the D707 and realised there was a short cut to the Farm... even though it was the middle of the day, being winter, the colors of the road and surrounds were soft Hughes of pastels and i was loving it...
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We then found the track that would short cut us to the farm camp, which was confirmed by a farm laborer i spoke to , a few km back ... it was a twin spoor track, low range 3rd, which had not seen a car in many moons.
This is the only pic i have of it, but it got SERIOUSLY rocky shortly after this photo was taken. Huge dongas and lips, the vehicles took a beating, but we were doing well.
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It was about an hour and a half later that things came to a bitter end...

End of part 2.
'07 Patrol Pickup TD42 N/A,285's KM2,3" Lift,ONCA Bars,Warn High Mount,Alu Canopy, and some other Stuff.

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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Russ Kellermann » 26 Jun 2017 16:03

We had made our way up the track which lead us over a few steep crested climbs. It was very very slow going but we were 2/3rd of the way. Being a public road, but cutting through private lands, there are a good few farm gates that need to be opened and closed as you go.... Thats when we came across (our) last gate. it was locked. with no way around it, no reception, and not wanting to break the lock as i'd have no way of reimbursing the rightful owner, .... we were forced to turn back. I was not impressed, but soon let it go and we laughed about it as we went, ..... thats overlanding in Africa. Stuff like this happens. :wink:

It was a long trek of shame, all the way back to the D707, and now hundreds of km from our camp, and many hours behind our " schedule"... but all was good.
What we thought would ruin our drive on the D707 had in fact made it rather special, as now we were there in the golden hour, the last hour or so of light in which everything turns from one beautiful color to the next. shadows fall behind mountains and the textures of the land made more pronounces by small shadows behind each tuft of grass, and each stone, big and small.With not another soul in sight, we really enjoyed this end to a tough day.

we finally found the entrance to the farm, drove up, and met the owner. A German lady who was fairly abrupt. She explained how to get to the camp site, which was still a fair way off,... it was pitch black, no moon, and couldnt see a thing.

I always make it a habit ask the owners if a place is busy, and if not, to tell me which camp site is the best/most private, and this was no different. She told me where to camp, and so it was.

We made camp, i put some meat on the fire and we crashed hard after a cuppa sweet tea. we were buggered.
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It wasn't until we woke up, that we saw where we were actually camping. It was incredible. A golden amphitheater of natural rock. we stood there Gobsmacked at just how beautiful it was . We were the only ones there. It was utterly magical.
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The ablutions were fantastic, hot showers (electric geyser), ... and clean toilets.
On our way out later, we saw the road we came in on, .... always strange when you arrive at night not knowing what your surroundings were.
A lone horse looking bewildered...
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End of part 3
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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Peter Connan » 27 Jun 2017 06:15

This has definately been worth the wait Russ!
Mag ons ons kenniskry met lekkerkry aanhoukry.

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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Chris Skinner » 27 Jun 2017 10:31

Thanks for sharing Russ, most appreciated.
That camp looks awesome indeed.

I see you have fairly sturdy looking plastic drawers at back of your vehicle - are they any good, and where did you get them?

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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Russ Kellermann » 27 Jun 2017 11:23

Thanks pete, i hope so. hahaha.

Carrying on...

We left Koiimasis and aimed our trucks for Sossusvlei. I had booked us a site at Oasis Camp Site.
The road there was hard ground, with corrugations that were very very bad in places, for many kilometers at a time.
The landscape was "lunar" and unforgiving.
We spotted many Gemsbok and Zebra along the way, some of which ran alongside my truck at great speed, for kilometers. I was careful to pay attention as i had one instance when they all of a sudden cross sides, cutting in front of the patrol, it was perfectly safe , but i didn't need an incident to spoil this trip, so i preempted this, and kept a beady eye.
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Oasis "camp" site is a large circular formation of individual structures.
Because it's circular, almost all sites look out in to the mountains/landscape. Each site is a good distance from the next, and has its own toilet, and shower, solar geyser driven. the ground is hard. I took a rake with me to use in the Kgalagadi when camping under acacia trees , kept it on the roof, but it came in handy at Oasis. Lots of small stones, with ground so hard it bends tent pegs easily. we raked up a spot on each side of the structure for our tents and lit the fire. i set up my hammock for some chill time and avie naps,... i really liked this place.
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We had small animals visit in the night, including a fox, that hung around our fire. We watched it catch insects and what may have been a small mouse/rodent. Was hard to tell.
I made sure our food stuffs were packed away, but sure as hell, a few critters came in the night and found some tomatoes and a butternut i think... strewn over the next 30 meters were the remains of said items found the next morning. I didnt bother getting up in the night as i knew it couldnt have been anything too dramatic.

From there were were to explore the area. We wanbted to see Dead Vlei, as well as a canyon, which was about 50km away (from memory), could have been closer.
I needed to get online so bought data at the garage... don't.it never worked.
Rather head to the Lodge, through the gate that take you to dead vlei. You can sit and drink beer while you check any mails that need attention. its a busy camp site, heavy sand, with lots of tour trucks/students/ travelers. I went there a few times and enjoyed it,as i could chat to people and share stories, but i was glad to be staying at Oasis as far as sleeping/camping arrangements go. just make sure you back through the gate before they close, they do not have a sense of humor, even 1 minute and they fine you/lock you in, .... i had to sweet talk the guard like my life depended on it. Seemed ridiculous but hey...

The canyon was quite interesting to see. It goes on for ages and gets deeper and eeper, eventually ends in a small deep quarry with black water., . i would have preferred to be there during morning or evening light. Being roughly mid day, it didn't have much character, and to be honest, i would have preferred to be reading in my hammock or talking to European Girls from the tour trucks at the pub. To pass the time while the folks enjoyed themselves, i kept picturing myself in a star wars film, and soon enough i was back in the patrol heading to my beer.
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I cant remember what we did after that, but the next day we were going to see Dead Vlei, the red dunes, and have a look about.
There's a speed limit in the park, but everyone still tries to get in early and get out late, as the light is so much better, which doesnt leave much leeway to make the gate times... I was feeling ill, so i took my time and left early before the best light. Not having my camera with me also left a bad taste in my mouth, but what the hell could i do but just enjoy it for myself. I only got one or two pics the whole day actually.

We stopped at a few red dunes along the way , and eventually ended up at the "1st" dead Vlei parking. Over here, you see a lot of tourist rental 4x4's and a fleet of "transit" land cruiser/land rovers ready to take people to the "2nd" parking are, from where you then walk to dead vlei.

Within the first 50 meters i saw at least 5 vehicles stuck in deep deep sand. The amount of sand tracks is on another level. you cannot see a piece of ground that doesnt have a track on it. skirting bushes and small mounds, they are everywhere.

I pulled out a Fortuner 3.0D4d and a land cruiser 79 series 4.2D with my Patrol using my 10m 12Ton pull strap. I didnt feel i needed to snatch them, and not knowing the quality of their recovery points, i wasnt going to. I always use a pull strap first,and always seems to work for me.

I could still feel that i needed to drop pressure further, so i aired down, put a smile on my face, and had the coolest little sand drive i've had in a long while.

Dodging lunatic "transit" drivers, doing huge speeds unnecessarily, irritated me , alot,... but what can i do... thats how they do it here, you just have to except it and enjoy doing things your own way. But those guys are insane. I'd hate to know the amount of damage and breakages they inflict on those land cruisers. The worst part, is that they cause HUGE DEEP sand corrugation, 30cm deep sometimes, for long distances... If they had just created a route in, and a route out, from the beginning, it would be like a railway track by now and so so easy. anyway.

My dad had no issue in the Hilux 2.5 ,besides one moment when i saw him digging in, and this vehicle amazes me more and more every time we wheel together. i think it has to do with perfect gearing. It just does what he asks of it, over and over again. Bloody great bakkie that. He dropped his pressure a tad and was good to go. At one stage we were driving parallel, meandering around different shrubs and dongas.... i looked over at him and when he looked back, he had a grin so big i'll never forget it, it was classic.

We made it to the 2nd parking spot. Packed my backpack and started walking. There seemed to be a lot of people/4x4's/tourists.... and we passed many on the way there, as they were coming back.... But as if someone had clicked their fingers,.. as we crested the last dune to drop in to dead vlei.... the last person passed us, on their way out.

We then had dead vlei all tour ourselves, the 3 of us. Not a soul around. We enjoyed bing there for well over an hour. Still no one . the quiet, the bizarre scenery,... the ancient trees... it was spectacular.
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Tree hugging mom. :lol:
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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Russ Kellermann » 27 Jun 2017 11:39

Chris Skinner wrote: I see you have fairly sturdy looking plastic drawers at back of your vehicle - are they any good, and where did you get them?
Chris,yes. Because my truck is my work truck, my surf truck, my daily drive, etc etc, i cannot have a permanent heavy drawer system in there, as i never know what i need to load (ie: timber/ tools/surf boards/dogs/etc etc)

I looked everywhere for suitable plastic drawers but they were all tapered shapes, or lost too much space using a framework. By chance i stumbled on these 1 week before i left. From Mambos. I bought two... and after realizing they stack beautifully, i shot back and got another two.

All i did was put a piece of non slip matting under them, but you could use a yoga mat too. They didnt move at all, the entire trip, nor did they stick, or break.
The are square edged, and use the maximum amount of space. They also weigh nothing. i love them!
I couldnt believe the amount of space they have, and how much i could put in.When you buy them, open the plastic wrapping, and check that they open and close without hindrance, as i found, while i was in the store, that not all of them are made "perfectly". so double check before you leave on a trip.
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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Russ Kellermann » 27 Jun 2017 12:36

Next place we were heading to was Spitzkoppe, via Usakos. My boss is from Usakos, and she openly insisted that we use her "holiday" home there, in the small town.

We hit the road, and made good time,stopping to make sweet tea on the side.
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When we got to Usakos, i was to call her sister, who had the keys to the house. I tried , but turns out, she completely forgot to tell her the dates, and her sister was in America , procuring expensive horses to bring back, as they have family that side.
In Typical small-town hospitality, she said to go to the cash and carry. Her friend owns it. Tell her i sent you, and she will take you to the house and open up. I was completely flabber-G'd to think that TRUST still exists in the world, as none of us had ever met, nor spoken before.

True as god, there, at the cash and carry, her friend greeted me with a huge hug, she locked her shop and took me down the road and pointed to the house, gave me the keys, and waved me goodbye. hahaha. How lekker is that.

Usakos looks like an old town from a western. And the house we used was once the old abattoir. Completely converted, it was now a beautiful oasis, along with swimming pool, and mulitple rooms and bathrooms , all top end stuff. They were wealthy.

We made pizzas at home,klapped the red wine,and enjoyed the views from the balcony on both sides.
Apack of dogs, at least 15 strong, reeked havoc through the streets at one stage, and watching from the top was quite entertaining.

The streets are wide enough to fit a fleet of Oshkosh's side by side,... and every building is ornate in its structure.

I wasn't sure about safety of the vehicles, plus i wanted to get both our auxiallry batteries on charge and put the fridge on 220v, so i squeezed the vehicles inside and all was good.
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We dropped the keys off at the garage, another trust situation, ... left a note with a small gift, and headed for Spitkoppe.
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Re: Trip Report - Namibia and Botswana

Post by Chris Skinner » 27 Jun 2017 17:24

Thanks Russ - I will try get myself some of those drawers. I also don't see the need for expensive, heavy, space occupying drawer systems if you only doing one or two trips a year..

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