The onset of winter in Southern Africa brings on a wanderlust for the bush. We had some ‘unfinished business’ in Botswana after our trundle in December. The immense amount of ground water in the Magadikgadi meant that we didn’t get around to exploring the Pans and most importantly Natalie didn’t get to see Baines Baobabs.
Our departure date was set, our SatNav “Veronica” was programmed, and we headed out of smoky wintery, Gauteng on Friday July 9th Our aim was to make it across the border at Martins Drift/Goblersbrug and then go an hour or so further onto Serowe.
Serowe Hotel is a decent overnight stop, approx 7 hrs (LandRover Defender time) driving and an old style hotel awaits you. Try and avoid the Friday night “braai night” if you are seeking a good nights rest, the bar (close to the rooms) was a wee bit noisy for our liking. But it was World Cup month so we ignored the bar and enjoyed a reasonable meal anyway.
Up early, we set off for Planet Baobab (8hrs drive) in Gweta. Sat Nav “Veronica” plotted a course that was to take us over what has always been referred to as the ‘dry’ Boteti River. We should have realised something was afoot when we saw a local carrying two large, obviously just caught, Vundu. A short distance down the road it became apparent we wouldn’t be crossing the river… There has been SO much water coming down that the Boteti is no longer dry but flowing and WIDE.
We had stayed at the stunning Planet Baobab lodge in December and had vowed to return for the ambiance and a full day safari into the famous Nxai Pans, featuring Nats must see Baines Baobabs. By co-incidence the SWC Final was being show that night in the bar which was frequented by a group of overlanders from The Netherlands. Sorry for them, Spain took the honours, making for a glum group of Dutchies the following day.
Don’t expect great cuisine at PB, the offerings are expensive. For example R60 for a side salad is the going rate and other than the toasted cheese and tomato and the home made chips which are delicious, the food quality is average. This is a pity as the lodge is the most chilled and funky place to spend a few nights. We recommend braaing your own food in the PB campsite. (Take some Woolies salads too!)
Baines Baobabs was our destination the next day where we set up a “bush breakfast” and chilled for a couple of hours in the shade of these giant sentinels greeting a few fellow travellers who wandered to our special spot.
Our family has two very different points of view on Baines Baobabs...
Chris: To be honest I found them slightly smaller than compared to what I had built up in my mind. They are nevertheless spectacular but not what you would expect after years of looking at other traveller’s pics of them.
Natalie: I have wanted to visit Baines Baobabs for years. When you see them from afar they appear small and perhaps insignificant in context with the surrounding landscape which is vast and open. Up close they are impressive. They stand sentry at the edge of a Pan and while I have seen bigger baobabs (Like at Planet Baobab) they are a wondrous natural monument of historical significance.
Our next destination saw us making our way to Maun for a quick pit-stop and then onto Mogotlha Bush Camp adjacent to the magnificent Moremi National Park. This camp is run on a self drive/catered basis which allows one to drive your own 4x4 around their concession - no guides, no hassles. Do your own thing and just enjoy. Three nights were spent doing our own game drives, bush breakfasts, fly fishing and chilling on the deck. Perfect! The camp is well run and the food is fantastic, best steak for a long while, well done Aussie Judy!
Every trip has it’s big moment and this one was no exception. The drive from Mogotlha to Sango was only one hour but….there are two tricky river crossings involved which can be hazardous to Land Rovers (note not River Rovers!). These proved to be reasonably easy even though the water went over the bonnet and the doors allowed some of the Kwhai River to seep through and wet our toes. Sadly for the Toyota boxer dog, a Hilux “drowned” while we were there so just goes to prove, it has to be a Landy!
The Moremi is wet, wet, wet. There is a lot of ground water everywhere. Travellers going to the Moremi should be mindful of this as it limits where you can travel within the park
Sango Camp is stunning. Brand new and a great self drive, catered destination from which to explore the massive Khwai concession or the Moremi National Park. We did both and as the following pics will show, the game viewing is great….
Sango to Khama Rhino Santuary was always going to be a haul of note, but we made it and having seen lion, elephant, leopard and buffalo in the Moremi it completed the “big five” tally. You cannot miss the rhino at Khama and this feller just ambles around the chalets. The accommodation is basic but clean and the shower pressure was outstanding. Note for guests going to Khama, avoid the food. Take your own and cook it, nuff said!
On Sunday 18th July we trundled home to Maplanga Africa HQ, bushed out and feeling relaxed. If you want to do some or this entire trip, give us a shout and let us arrange an itinerary and get you up there. It has to be done and having done this in summer and winter, any time of the year, in our opinion, is good.
Special thanks to:
Megan, Maplanga Africa – for putting this itinerary together for us, well done, great job
Johan & Judy van Jaarsveld, Mogotlho – great three nights, good luck for the future and thanks for the hospitality!
Carol, Judge & John, Sango Safari Camp – This stop was the highlight of the trip, our clients will be happy at your camp.
Author: Chris Wood