Sunday, August 21, 2022



Border crossing from Zimbabwe to Botswana is pretty seamless. Drive through and put our feet into some sort of agricultural dip, show our Covid Vac certificates, get our free visas stamped in, pay insurance & road tax of $50US, and get our carnet stamped. Welcome to Botswana. First stop is the petrol station because our tank is empty (It is cheaper here so of course John put in the bare minimum to get out of Zim.)

And then food, as that too is much cheaper and our fridge is nearly empty. Then it is off to Kasane and the famous Chobe River. We park our truck behind James & Heleen and spread out on the lovely spot beside the river. We end up staying for 3 nights relaxing, chatting and wildlife watching. On the second day we take a late afternoon boat trip and see heaps of elephants, buffalo, antelopes, crocs and bird life. We finish the evening at the restaurant, but unfortunately John eats something that doesn’t agree with him so he is definitely not himself for a few days. Even takes daytime naps!

Once he feels up to driving, we farewell our new friends and head a massive 30km to the Senyati Safari Lodge. We don’t see wildlife, but meet a lovely Dutch family travelling with 2 vehicles with roof tents. They invite us for dinner, and while we are at their chalet a family of elephants wander past. Finally, time to actually hit the road in Botswana. And a long straight flat road it is for miles and miles. We see group of elephants grazing as they wander along. Then over a cattle grid and through miles of crops – sunflowers, sorghum etc. It is too early to stop where planned at Elephants Rest so we carry on. Maybe we will head through the salt pans towards Kudu Island, but when our track is surrounded by low scratchy bushes and GR2’s sides are continually scratched we change our plan. Instead, we continue west on the main road and pull over on the edge of the Ntwetwe Pan for the night.   A perfectly flat and quiet spot in the middle of a massive white wilderness.

Our next stop is now Nxai Pan National Park. We arrive early and check the inflated prices and decide not to camp in there, just go in for the day. The tracks have sections of thick sand but we plough through. Finally at a waterhole we see herds of antelopes and zebra. More tracks prove too scratchy (the bushes actually brush off 2 of Johns prized number plates!) so we stick to the wider track. When we return to the waterhole there are a group of feisty elephants drinking.  Watch for ages before heading out of the park. I make the call not to take a side track to the huge baobab tree as I’m still feeling a tad queasy from my turn at an upset stomach.  Back on the main road, we see more elephants than in the park. One naughty group have broken open a water pipe to drink. But it is getting late so we head to the Boteti River down a side track and find a spot near the village for the night.

The next day we drive in to the sprawling touristy town of Maun. We need to get the tyres changed around as they are pretty worn. Finally, we no longer look like a tyre shop. We also stop at Kalahari Kanvas to get new wood bags made. Ours again have bitten the dust.  At the National Park office, we check re road conditions and entry fees to the famous Moremi National Park. We reluctantly decide we won’t be going. As well as the bad tracks, the cost for our truck is $100 per day plus our entry fees and camping fees are on top of that. Finally, we head to the Audi Campground for the night.

More chores in the morning because our bags won’t be ready for a few more hours. To fill in more time we head to the shops. When we spy a travel agency, we pop in to explore other options to see the delta. We end up booked on a last-minute deal to fly in and stay on the delta for 2 nights.  We have a few days to fill in, so after collecting our amazing new and totally free bags – Thank You so much Kalahari Kanvas, we head off to the western side of the delta. We overnight tucked behind bushes near the nearly dry Lake Ngami and in the morning head north. This road goes all the way to Namibia’s Caprivi Strip. It is a long slow drive with sections of road terribly potholed. We end the day at the Swamp Camp right on the Okavango River.

We enjoy relaxing beside the river, but before long it is time to head out. Our destination is the granite Tsodillo Hills (Actually the highest mountain in Botswana) It is pretty hot by the time we arrive so our guide (they are compulsory) takes us on a tour of the amazing-coloured Female Hill to see lots of San Rock Art rather than up the hill. He is very informative, but the paintings are a tad under whelming. Lots of different animals daubed in red paint.  Back at the truck we decide not to camp here but head back to the river. We find a different spot on the river at Drotsky’s Cabins. It’s a pretty bend in the river and we toy with the idea of staying 2 nights, but in the end pack up and head off after one night. Again, drive all day and arrive back in Maun late in the day so we decide to return to the Audi Camp and tackle the road north to Khwai, on the eastern side of the delta, tomorrow.

It proves to be a good decision as the corrugated road takes hours. As we reach the Chobe National Park, we start seeing wildlife again. Elephants, giraffes and zebra. Then we head in to the Khwai Community Land and take one of the tracks to the river. We are not booked so we hope to wing a campsite, and are blessed when we meet Christine & Ian, local from Botswana in their big MAN camper and they help organise a riverfront site for us. At sunset we join them on a drive (both of us in our trucks!) to see the crocs hacking into a dead elephant. During our drive here a rear shock absorber has come lose and is now hanging down, and as Ian already has a welder coming to do a few repairs to his truck we join them for the day so our bracket can get welded on. Annoyingly we miss the leopard that walked past them, but plenty of vehicles stopped for a glimpse.

The next morning is our last here so we head off really early and stop to watch a pride of lions sunning themselves across the river. We climb onto the roof to watch, but they are too far away for my lens to get any good shots. Then we follow back tracks to the Khwai village and right to the edge of Moremi Game Reserve. We are stopped by a wooden bridge with a weight limit! After saying our goodbyes to our new friends, we drive the long slow road back to Maun. Tomorrow is our flight.

We park GR2 in the free airport carpark and head in for our flight. Wow what a tiny plane, (Only 5 seats.), and such a magical flight low over the stunning delta. We have to make a stop to collect another couple from another lodge so we get an even longer flight. Awesome. We touch down late morning and get collected and taken to our lodge. Before we know it, we are into the lodge schedule. Wakeup call 6am, breakfast 6.30am, 7am morning activity, 11.30am lunch followed by free time, 3.30 high tea, 4pm an activity (either game drive, mokoro/wooden canoe, boat drive or guided walk), 8pm dinner and finally we are escorted back to our tented chalet as animals roam free here. On our second night a big elephant is enjoying a snack outside our tent and it takes ages for it to be shooed away. The highlights for us are the amazing scenic flights in and out (on our way out our pilot spies a boat sending out flares for help so we fly back to camp to raise the alarm, making it a longer flight!), watching the numerous elephants and hippos and seeing the adorable baby leopard waiting in the tree for her Mumma. What a way to spend my birthday.

Back at Maun airport GR2 is waiting for us safe and sound in the carpark. We head back to The Audi Camp yet again as it is Sunday and we have chores to do before we leave on Monday.  Washing, food, fuel, pulas(money), camp site bookings for the Kalahari and lastly our bags that went back for some alterations. Time to hit the road again for the Kalahari.



A daily visitor at the campsite at the Chobe River

Animal spotting on the Chobe River

More wildlife

And not so alive - a croc is trying to get a bite of the very dead hippo

On our boat trip

More visitors to camp

Magic sunset from camp

Camping on the salt pan

At Nxai Pan

They love the mud

Naughty elephants on the main road drinking from the water pipes

Hmmmm  looking at the rock art

Rock Art
Local real estate

View of the Okavango River at Drokskeys Cabins 

Heading in to Kwai

Three crocs getting a meal

There are 4 hiding there in the grass

We are too heavy to cross here to Moremi Game Reserve

New friends Christine & Ian with Brutus 

Flying over the gorgeous delta

View from our window

Awwh so cute

Mumma waiting below in the grass

I'm coming down Mum

We are off for a run

Going for a Mokoro ride

And going for a boat ride

The local hippos

Life is soooo slow

Our lodge on the river

And our room

Flying back out

Over our lodge

Saturday, August 6, 2022



Entry generally takes a bit longer than exiting a country, but Zim (as Zimbabwe is affectionately known) is not too bad. Covid & temp check, new visas purchased (because they don’t recognise our Kaza visas here), carnet paperwork slow as he has no idea and has to consult the boss, then the usual payment for insurance etc. $100US later we are stamped in and free to go with nary a look at the vehicle. Hello Zim.

We head through the town of Kariba, admire the many houseboats jammed along the lake front, organise yet another canvas guy to repair John’s firewood bags and find a great spot to camp at a fishing resort. We are sitting outside enjoying the evening when we hear rustling and get a heck of a shock when a huge hippo passes by just a few metres away. And in the morning, we enjoy the antics of the zebras as they play around us.

Time to collect our new modified bags before heading across country to Mana Pools National Park – the gem in the crown here. A lot of dirt road, the first half good and the second corrugated (John’s favourite!! Not) We have been told to just turn up and fortunately there are riverfront spaces free and we gulp as we pay the foreigner entry & camping fees $202 US for 2 days. Here all the campers head out twice a day at both dawn & dusk to animal spot. So being good little people we do just that. Sadly, only invisible cats for us, but plenty of elephants, hippos, antelopes and baboons. The rest of the day we can laze beside the river and meet friendly people. A lovely family invite us over for dinner and we spend the evening chatting. He lectures at a Bible School in Harare and 2 of their adult children are home from college in Idaho enjoying time with their parents.

Finally, time to hit those corrugations again and head south towards the big smoke at Harare. But we won’t make it in one day so we stop at the Chinhoyi Caves National Park to camp and of course check out the cave with its stunning blue lake. Later that night our guard (with a gun) comes twice to check on us and then again at 6.30am knocks on our door to check we are OK. Hmmm perhaps he wants a tip, but that won’t happen by waking us up!

Then on to the busy chaotic city of Harare. There is not too much in the way of sights so we head to the centre and drive up and down the main streets watching the usual city craziness. Much easier from the truck as we can see so much more than walking down the footpath. Eventually we crawl through the traffic to the ring road and head west through areas covered with rocky outcrops. We stop for yummy meat pies at the famous Surrey Pies before heading towards the Rhodes Nyanga National Park, finally stopping for the night at the quirky Hidden Rocks. Sadly, it is way too cold to sit outside. There are lots of little tracks to explore for great views over some amazing rock formations and we eventually find the rock art. We also spend time chatting with a family from Harare who are in a chalet here. His take on the local currency confirms that we won’t be getting any, we will stick with the US$ that they prefer here. His family lost their farm years ago and now he runs a business, but won’t put his money in the bank as it has been swooped out in the past. Twice! Instead, he has a very high mattress. Oh, and you can become a millionaire in a few days here by simply changing local monies for US dollars a few times – if you know the right person! But I digress. As we have a glorious blue sky today, we head to “World View” set on top of a mountain. I don’t put on my boots thinking we will wander the grassy tracks, but of course John has other ideas and before I know it, we are climbing the rocky mastiff for more sweeping views.

 Later we head down the mountain to Cecil Rhodes house that is now a hotel. It has an attached museum which proves very informative. We stay for dinner and sleep in the carpark.  Spend a lot of time chatting to a successful and incredibly smart native farmer (with a degree from Monash) and his take on the country is fascinating.

The morning starts fine, but it isn’t long before we drive through mist as we head south. A long coffee break before it clears and we can enjoy the mountainous scenery.  As we head down the mountains, we see the town of Mutare sprawling along a lovely valley. And as usual we drive along the main streets admiring the chaos and the old buildings reminiscent of outback Australian towns. John spies a workshop and manages to get a Zim no plate to add yet more decoration to the truck. While it is still sunny, we decide to head to the Vumba region, stopping first at a great lookout. Below us we can see trucks stretching for miles waiting to cross the border to Mozambique. We plan to “drive” the scenic 70km loop, but after 10km of horrible potholes we give up and instead head to Vumba itself which a gorgeous forest area on the mountain top. Then of course we stop at the famous Tonys Tea Shop for ultra-delicious cake and hot chocolate. Tony suggests we stay at the Hot Springs for the night so we head there. It proves better than expected and the pools are a great to soak in that evening and again in the morning.

We hit the road, this time heading to Chimanimani passing over some glorious mountains dotted with thatched cottages and covered with rows and rows of terraced crops. As we descent towards town the whole area is swathed in forest and we discover a huge forestry mill. Trucks are entering with huge logs and exiting with huge loads of milled timber. At the old village we stop for permits and head to Bridal Falls. Amazingly the dirt tracks leads us right to the base of the falls, but we still find a track to trudge up to see the higher falls. Phew! Quite a steep climb. We head out before the clouds roll in to the amazing lookout at Pork Pie. Great spot for a chilly lunchbreak. By now the clouds have rolled in and we head out of the valley and over the mountains. Down down to lush valleys with crops of bananas and other tropical fruits.  Once we reach the main road we head west and cross the Birchenough Bridge, which looks remarkably like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, except I’m sure it has a lean. All trucks have to be weighed (if too heavy they are sent away!) and allowed to cross one at a time. Its nearly dusk so we stop at a rundown motel/camp area. John chats to the official looking group in a big tent and discovers that are waiting for people to come in and register to vote. They have been here 4 days and so far, 10 people have registered!

Today we move on to Greater Zimbabwe after which this country is now named. I have found a scenic drive around Lake Mutirikiwi, that takes us there instead of the main road, so we head along it. Pretty rough, but it improves and we pass lots of thatched villages with people busy in the fields and children streaming out of school waving madly. As we near the end of the lake we spy an Overland truck so pull over. It is Wolfi & Verena, who we met in Togo a few years back. It is great to catch up and we stay there beside the lake with them for the night, sharing a fire.

As always time to move on, so after our goodbyes we head into Great Zimbabwe. We settle into the lovely grassy camping area before walking through these amazing old ruins for the rest of the day. Apparently, they are the 5th Ancient Man-Made Wonder of the World.  The huge drystone walls are very impressive, the higher section up on the rocks are great to explore and the museum informative, even though you need a torch to see it as the power isn’t working. The last area to see is a replica Shona village with a local group playing crazy instruments while others dance.

Wake to rain, so a slow start. Chat to other camper and end up sharing coffee inside in the dry. Later we head out towards Bulawyo. On the way we see another Overland truck so stop to chat. Later we stop at Mbalabala to look at a friend’s old school. It is now a Military College so we can’t enter. The old primary and secondary school are still there, but further inside the grounds. Later still we roll into the city of Bulawayo and are pleasantly surprised at the lovely grassy campground right near the city centre.  In the morning we head off on foot to explore. It has massive wide streets and seems to spread out for miles. Quite a few old colonial buildings and a huge old Basilica. After lots of walking we head to a coffee shop. Wait for ages but its great people watching. We share our table with an older couple – he was an Economist and General in the Army, and spent time in Moscow. Fascinating.  Time to walk on to the Railway Museum which is surprisingly good. A train lovers paradise with so many trains & carriages. The curator opens Cecil Rhodes (the former leader after whom the country was formerly named: Rhodesia) personal pullman carriage commissioned especially for him. The height of luxury in those days. Back at the campground we decide we have time to head out to the Khami ruins just out of town. A lovely lady shows us around the mainly “reconstructed” ruins. We had planned to camp here overnight, but it’s Friday and people are wandering through the area, so we head back to the camp in town.

Monday morning, we head to a workshop who said they could repair John’s driving seat. The whole seat has sagged and he being propping it up with wooden blocks and towels. Success! Now a more comfortable ride, so we head north to our next destination – Hwange National Park. Much later that day, and on pretty good road, we turn off towards the park. But before we head to a camping area, we stop at the Painted Dog Research Centre. It has a fabulous display about the dogs and we are taken through to see 2 dogs they have at the moment.  Then on to Gwango Camp area, just outside the National Park for the night. In the evening we watch a group of elephants and their babies drinking at the water hole. A few even raise their trunks to drink from the upstairs swimming pool.

Bright and early (6.30am) we head into the park and start our wildlife drive. And wow it doesn’t disappoint. A passing tour vehicle tells us there are cheetahs ahead, and even though the other vehicles have left we find them after driving back and forward a few times. A magic hour spent watching them. We are joined by a whole string of tour vehicles. As we head to where we hope to camp, we are told about a lion, so we hunt him down. He is reclining under a tree, just lazing the day away. We hop in the back of GR2, eat our lunch and hope he will move. He doesn’t so we head to camp. All seems OK and we are just getting ready for another drive when a group of vehicles pull in. We are told to leave as they have booked the site exclusively. Oh bother – we should have checked on entry. We head back out of the park just reaching the gate before closing time. But the bonus is the huge group of elephants crossing the road outside the park. And then the next morning at our campsite the elephants arrive to drink. Awesome.

We decide it is time to move on so we head north to the town of Victoria Falls and settle into the great camping area at the N1 Hotel right in the centre of town. We walk to a few free lookouts and stop at the gorgeously located Lookout Café. Dinner that night at the iconic Victoria Hotel. At the camp area we meet Heleen & James who we met in Zambia and they invite us to stay with them on their campsite beside the Chobe River in Botswana on Friday. What an offer – we jump at the offer, and so stay another day here in Vic Falls. Well as we are here, we really must go and see the falls again. Not so wet this time, but still magnificent.

Friday sees us heading out of town and heading to the border. It is an incredibly quiet border and before we know it, we are stamped out. Goodbye Zim. We have enjoyed our time here and the people we have met, some with memorable names. For example: “Pretty” who we met in a café, “Obvious” who fixed John’s seat, “Marvellous” from the Hotel reception, “Tellmore” who gave John another no plate and our favourite – “Trouble” who was the caretaker at Great Zimbabwe. Naturally John tells him he should have a twin called “Double”!!



Rows of houseboats beside Lake Kariba - just waiting for customers

Camping at Charara Nuo on Lake Kariba

On our way into Mana Pools National Park

Lots of these guys here

Our camp spot right beside the Zambezi River at Mana Pools

One of the many Mana pools - full of buffalo & hippos

And lots of zebras

Back on the road again

Chinhoyi Cave

Driving the streets of Harare

Heading towards Rhodes Nyanga National Park

World View

More at World View

Cecil Rhodes old house now a Hotel (and where we camped)

Into Mutare

Getting that all important licence plate

Driving the Vumba Loop

Lovely mountains covered in terraces

In town at Chimanimani

Bridal Veil Falls

Yes they roll the logs up with man power

More magic driving

The Birchenough Bridge

Saying goodbye to Wolfi & Verena

Great Zimbabwe

Replica old village

And enthusiastic dancing

At our camp site - he is pondering nicking my camp chair