Sunday, September 18, 2022



Today we are heading to the nearest border at Pont Drift.  The border crosses the Limpopo River, but there is no bridge, so is only usable when the water level is low. It is a tiny border and the only people there are staff. In no time at all our passports are stamped out of South Africa, but they have no customs to stamp our carnet. With a bit of coaxing the police stamp our carnet and we fill in the gaps. Time to cross that river. Apart from going down the wrong track to start with, which amuses the border control, it is a simple drive over a gravel causeway.

Welcome back to Botswana. We fill in the book and discover we are the third vehicle this year (and its now Sept) to cross the border in this direction! Paperwork sorted we hit the road or rather the gravel track.

What we didn’t realise was that this whole area or Tuli Block as it is known, is a private game reserve. There are signs up to stay on the main track. It is so dry and arid that we don’t really expect to see anything, but are pleasantly surprised when we see some giraffes and then elephants drinking at a water hole. But then I spy some shapes under a tree and yell “Stop, stop, go back!!!”, and to our surprise there are cheetahs sitting under a tree only 4 metres from the road. SIX OF THEM WOW!!! We stop and watch for ages. It is a hot day and they just want to snooze, only looking up when John revs the engine.  Eventually they get up one at a time and jog across the road in front of us. Only one vehicle went by while we were there. A local guide who told us the cheetahs live in this area and they have been looking for them for the last 6 weeks! Our first best kept secret!

We move on and continue through miles of dry desert like area with some interesting rock formations, until we finally reach the scruffy town of Bobonong where we can finally fill up with diesel. Much later we are pleased to finally see tarseal just before the huge town of Selebi-Phikwe. It is nearly dusk so we head straight to the Phokoje Bush Lodge to camp for the night. We will get groceries tomorrow. Fortunately, they have an awesome restaurant here or our meal would be been pretty basic!

Back to town and the supermarket, where we discover that there has been an outbreak of foot and mouth in the area, so no cattle are being killed, resulting in no meat in the shops. Much later we head west to Serule and then north to Francistown. Not much to see in town, but our guide book mentions a tiny museum so we head there after driving along the main drag. We find the Supa-Ngwao Museum inside a lovely old house (very much like an old Queenslander) and the new curator insists on showing us around. His enthusiasm is contagious, and we find we enjoy the rather ho-hum exhibits.  But the day is rushing by, so we hit the long flat road towards the huge salt pans we want to camp on. We pull over for the night at Moriti Wa Selemo and have to navigate past lots of nasty scratchy trees to find the camping area. In the morning the camp owner tells us about Kukonje Island on the Ntwetwe Pan where we can camp, so we decide to go and see it for ourselves.

His instructions aren’t too difficult to follow, we only turn around once, before we reach the Vet Fence that we have to follow. The Vet Post at the entrance is long abandoned so we head on in, across the huge flat saltpan and over to Kukonje Island.  The camp ground is falling apart so we head up to the lookout for views across the pan, then slowly explore the camp spots and pick a spot for the night. Not a soul in sight! Awesome.  Our second best kept secret!

After a long walk on the pan, we head back out and onto the main road. Time to head out to Lekhubu Island. A long drive down unmarked tracks with not another vehicle in sight. We are relieved when the scratchy bushes finish and we head onto the salt pan and out to the Island. No other campers in sight, but they start to arrive and before we know it our campspot is surrounded. Definitely not a best kept secret. Travellers in a 4x4 have got stuck out on the pan and ask for help – but they are well off the track and we can’t risk being bogged (who will pull us out!), so another 4x4 goes out. John walks out to check they are OK and finds both vehicles bogged. Fortunately, his expertise manages to get them both out!

In the morning we explore the island, admire the huge gleaming white pan and the crazy baobab trees dotted all over the rocky island. Time now to retrace our steps and then miles and miles of tarseal road, most of which we have driven before when heading to Joberg for our new springs. Our funny moment today is when an ambulance passes us and pulls us over. “Something fell off your roof!” We go back and find our air-cond cover in a crumpled heap beside the road. No use to us any more so we leave it there in the hope that it will become part of someone’s sign at their farm entry. They tie up an assortment of junk instead of a sign!  Much later we stop for the night at Rock City Camping. They are closed because they have no water or electricity, but will let us stay at a reduced price.

Then it is the long drive to Gaborone which proves to be our third best kept secret. We head down the main road, loop around quite a few side streets and are surprised by the number of innovative new buildings. That diamond money is on display here! We find a brand-new shopping centre to fill up with food and before we leave the city we fill up with fuel. Then a long drive to Kanye where we head to the recommended campsite. We are too tall to get into their camping area, but we can use the carpark, but as their fees have doubled recently, we decide to go next door to Wena Campground. A bit run down, but half the price. The pool is more suited for kids but great to cool down in as it has been stinking hot today at 36deg.

Lots more flat driving (Botswana is really really flat) to Secoma and then Jwaneng where we spy hills. But they are not hills, they are massive slag heaps. We discover that this is the richest diamond mine in the world. It is midday by the time we see signs to Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. We decide to drive in this way, but all we can see is miles of red sand track. As the sand gets deeper, we stop to re-evaluate. It is really hot and there is over 100km of this thick sand to go. We decide to give this track a miss and head further south to Tsabong. Perhaps the second entry will look better! We overnight at the Camel Refuge Camp and try our luck on the second track in the morning.

We head along the second track, finding it much better. The first 80km is gravel, then some rather deep potholes before the track becomes thick sand. But we manage to arrive at the Kgalagadi Gate. Now our next obstacle. We have no reservation, so a bit of grovelling, they ring the office, and find us a spot in one of the less desirable camps. It will do! We are in. At least there are not too many scratchy bushes. We find our camp site and set up before heading off to explore. Not much to report except that it is much greener than expected due to heavier than usual rains earlier this year. But again, not much in the way of wildlife. On our second days drive we meet 2 South African couples who invite us to stay on their much-desired campsite on the Mpayathutlwa Pan. We have a lovely time chatting and after dark hear lions roaring incredibly close. When they get really close, we leave our campfire and head to our vehicles for the night. In the morning we all head out to track the lion. And we are successful! We find him at the waterhole and he is massive. John thought it was a wildebeest at first, he was so big. We watch, then follow him as he walks down our track, roaring as he goes. Awesome. Our first big Kalahari Lion. The Kgalagadi has become our 4th best kept secret.

We say our goodbyes and head back to our booked campsite to collect our table and chairs only to discover that a hyena has chewed up our bucket and the top of one of our chairs! Then it is the long drive out to Tsabong where we fill up with diesel. Finally, we head to the border of South Africa. Goodbye Botswana, we have really enjoyed our visit.


Croosing the Limpopo River at Pont Drift border

Yes we can see you!!!

Solomons Wall - such a rocky area

The Supa-Ngwao Museum

John to the rescue. No spare. A flat tyre. John uses his compressor to blow up the tyre.

The local village of Mea

A crazy Baobab with 8 trunks

Heading out onto the Pan

No camping fees required today



Kubu Island

Two vehicles stuck - they look as if they are floating

Lovely Kubu Island

Driving in the Southern Kalahari at Kgalagadi

The Pan

First sunset

Second sunset with friends

He is roaring as he walks

Miles up the road

Poor birdie is now someones dinner

Look what those hyenas did!

Driving back out of the park - at least sand is better than mud

And watch out for those holes!

Local road block

Border time again..... Hello South Africa


Saturday, September 10, 2022



The plan is to camp in Kruger (South Africa’s famous animal park) for 3 or 4 nights, then continue back to Botswana, but as often happens plans change and we end up staying for 7 nights, continually altering our bookings as we head north.

Our first night is at Malelane Camp, not far from the South Entrance Gate where they manage to somehow squeeze us in. (Despite no availability on the website!)  We follow the river loop on our afternoon drive and our bonus tonight is not only giraffes, elephants and zebras, but a group of 6 big prehistoric looking rhinos munching on the grass and shortly after a rhino Mum and baby.

We leave bright and early for our morning drive, after changing our bookings for better camps that somehow have magically appeared on the booking website! We stop at a waterhole for breakfast, sneaking into the back of the truck when no one is around! After driving over a few hills we do the same river loop as last night, this time with not a sight of yesterday’s rhinos and giraffes. Where are they are hiding? Later when we meet our camping neighbours, they tell us they spied a lion and tell us where. We head there but only get a quick and very distant glimpse before he lies down for another sleep. They also suggest visiting Transport Dam, which is a lovely spot with hippos, elephants and one lonely hyena. Finally, we head to our next camp at Pretoriuskop, and decide not to go on our evening drive.  Instead relax beside our fire.

Another early start. Really don’t know why we bother because we don’t see any lions walking on the road! Finally, we spy giraffes and huge herds of elephants. I swear there is an elephant population explosion now about 30,000 happening here as there are so many babies.  We head north to the Skukura campsite before crossing the lovely Sabie River. From here we can see the old railway bridge with the old passenger train that is kept there. We continue along the main drag through Kruger and there’s heaps of traffic, making it easy to find wildlife as we only need to look for a traffic jam. All traffic comes to a halt to look at vultures attaching a few bones – later we discover there was a cheetah kill here a few hours earlier.  Then we stop beside the river to watch 2 lions relaxing in the shade. It is rather funny watching an elephant chasing them away. Finally, we move on and head to the Lower Sabie Camp where we were lucky to get a site as it is a very popular camp. The camping area is small with lots of overhanging trees and scratchy bushes. Fortunately, there is a site left that we can access. We relax a few hours and head out again. And the huge bonus this afternoon is a group of 3 cheetahs who are lazing beneath the scratchy bushes, tails flicking lazily in the air. We wait for ages hoping for some action, but it is a warm day and the most they do is roll over or stand and stretch before flopping down again. Time for a bit more exploring before we head back to camp for the night.  

Decide not to rush this morning so its nearly 8.30am by the time we leave. We cross the causeway over the Sabie River and stop to watch over 50 elephants crossing the river. Today it is grey and cold with nasty winds meaning all the animals seem to have gone into hiding. When we see a group of stopped vehicles, we hear there is a lion. We can’t see it so assume it has left and carry on, but decide that no we should go back and look harder. The cars have gone, but we find not one lion, but two hiding under the bushes out of the wind.  After our lunch break beneath a huge baobab tree, we head to our next camp at Satara. (Yet another popular camp. This one located in the lion area! Fingers crossed) For our evening drive we head along the Lion Road. We are told there are 4 lions at the dam, but we are delayed by a herd of feisty elephants on the road. We carry on a few kms, but when we see lots of oncoming vehicles returning to camp we reluctantly decide to give up on our quest as we have to be back inside camp by 6pm or get locked out!  But BONUS, nearly back at camp we see the usual row of vehicles and guess what! Not one lion, but 10 lions sitting right beside the road. Simply awesome. We watch until nearly 6pm before heading back to camp.

We had such a great day we book another night at Satara, again altering all our bookings. The highlight today is watching a group of elephants dig in the sandy riverbed for water and seeing the tiny baby rolling in the sand.  And then on our afternoon drive we stop at an animal hide and watch crocs munching on an impala they have just caught.  

Today is a longer transition day as we head north to Shinwezdi Camp. But we do stop to watch a lion with a lovely mane relaxing under a bush. When he moves, we watch him flop down beside a beige rock, then realize that the rock is another lion. We reposition our truck and sit to watch the two of them interact. Later that day as we are driving through scruffy dry trees, we stop again to watch 5 lionesses sprawled out between the trees, relaxing with full bellies. Although we wait for ages none bother getting up, the only movement is the occasional rollover or tail flick.

Today we are heading to our last camp at the northern end of Kruger. The landscape is hillier with a lot more growth, making it harder to spot game. A lot of the other campers in this area seem to be searching for birds. But when we head out along the riverfront, we finally spy herds of elephants and lots of giraffe. Then we continue along the main road to Punda Maria Camp. At one of the waterholes, we stop and watch a huge mix of animals coming to drink, including elephants who reach right over the edge of the holding tank for the freshest water. Punda Maria is a lovely huge camp with a great animal hide and water hole, so instead of going out this afternoon we sit and watch huge herds of elephants coming to drink and roll in the mud only a few metres away from us.

Our animal addiction satisfied, it is time to leave the park and head towards Botswana. We leave early and stop for breakfast beside a dam where we spend ages watching tortoises climbing onto the back of a hippo. I count up to 10!  Then a huge elephant comes for a drink – we can see why the elephants here are called “tuskers”. His tusks are huge!  As we head further north the landscape gets dryer and we start seeing those crazy baobab trees again, with their maze of bare branches stretching up into the sky.

Finally, we exit the park. It seems strange to see people and lots of little villages again. And sadly, lots of rubbish strewn everywhere. Then miles of crops and citrus trees as we near the Limpopo River.  By the end of the day, we pull into the Mopani Bush Camp, which has a lovely camp area inside their own private game reserve.

As we are due to enter Botswana shortly, we have been finishing off our meat (no meat is allowed) and John has not refilled with fuel as its cheaper over the border, but when he checks online there isn’t a petrol station for miles and miles! Not good. We will either have to go back 60kms (not something John likes to do) or his preferred option: buy some diesel from the resort. They sell us 50 litres of expensive fuel and we head off to visit the Mapungubwe National Park that is practically over the road. Free entry with our Wild card so we head in to this rocky, arid, lunar landscape covered in baobab trees. In the distance we can see the huge winding Limpopo River with Zimbabwe and Botswana just over the water. There is even wildlife here. Elephants sheltering from the hot sun under neath the baobab trees, giraffes & zebras grazing. We spend a few hours driving the scenic loop stopping to walk to the viewpoints looking over the river. Elephants and cows amble back and forth between countries. No border controls for them. A visit to the museum (a huge yawn from us!) and back to our campsite. Tomorrow we will head to the border.

But as they say a picture is better than a thousand words, so I’ve uploaded more pictures than I really should have because it is so hard to choose just a few!



Love those giraffe

They are not impressed about having their meal disturbed

And Mum was even crankier

Awwh so pretty

And so hungry

What a great spot to store the old train

Traffic jam

Sunbathing today

He doesn't want to share the beach

So we will run away

Finding water beneath the sand

They are looking at us at last

Finally a bit of movement

Elephants crossing

Some rare Sable Antelopes

Baboon baby

Stand up you lazy thing!

No I'm going back to sleep

Lunch under the baobab

I call them bullseyes because of the round ring on their butts

Huh a hyena

10 lions! 9 here and 1 around the corner

Hippo chat time