A Final Wrap Up

 Posted by Elizabeth at 9:23 am
Feb 192012
 

I thought it was about time I posted a final wrap up, after all we have been home now for nearly 5 months!

Our last couple of days were spent driving back to Johannesburg, so not particularly exciting. When we got to the airport things started to go wrong. Firstly we tried to check in our baggage to be told it was over weight and we would be charged an exorbitant fee to get it home. It was the same baggage, without all the spare toiletries we brought over with us, so would have been quite a bit less than what we brought over! They would not budge. They told us though that we could rearrange our baggage and move stuff to our hand luggage. Huh? How does that work? It still weighs the same amount (and our hand baggage was overweight, but they hadn’t figured that out). OK so we moved stuff around and managed to make them happy – still don’t get it but we were able to get through without us costing anything.

Next was immigration. We handed them our passports and the guy started to get revved up and excited, telling us we had overstayed our visa. What? How does that work? We haven’t been in South Africa for months. He was quite rude and aggressive but finally told us that the initial 90 day visa we got on arrival also meant that we could not come back in from a neighbouring country after the 90 days without going back to our home country first. Oh and the fine was something like $1000 a day that you overstayed. Where does it say that? (I have since checked and I cannot find this anywhere on the SA Immigration website). This is obviously to stop border runners, but it was pretty obvious from the stamps in our passport that we were not border runners – we’d been to Egypt for goodness sake! He took off with our passports and finally came back with his supervisor, who thankfully was sensible. She could see it was an honest mistake and let us go, but advised us that if we ever come back and travel around that we get a proper visa rather than one on entry so we can come and go as we please.

Finally we made it through and were on our way home. Whilst we wanted to see our family, neither of us really wanted to go home or go to work. Before we left people kept telling us how dangerous Africa is, that we were crazy, we should take a gun with us and so on. We landed in Sydney only to find out that someone was shot outside the local police station (maybe 5 km from where we live) and we supposedly live in a nice quiet, safe suburb. Just goes to show it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, things happen. You just need to be sensible and don’t put yourself in situations.

Would we do it again? ABSOLUTELY!


Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:23 pm
Sep 262011
 

The last park of our African adventure was the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP). Everyone we spoke to raved about the park, especially the number of lions present so we were really looking forward to it. We left Kang and travelled through quite thick, sandy roads to the Mabuasehube gate on the Botswana side. The park is a multinational park with one side in Botswana and the other in South Africa.

Gemsbok, Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkOur first camp was at Khiding Pan 2 for 3 nights. The camp is in a great location overlooking the pan and all the campsites have large shade shelters, pit toilets and showers (if there is water). We parked the car and started to setup camp looking forward to a pleasant afternoon relaxing and watching the animals. Unfortunately the few bees that were there initially multiplied dramatically and by the time the tent was up there were hundreds of bees swarming us. I couldn’t stand it so retreated to the safety of the tent. Poor Wayne managed to throw everything back into the car, getting stung twice in the process, and we decided to try the campsite next to us to escape the bees. Luckily no one showed up and the bees weren’t so bad. (Typically, all the campsites are booked, but inevitably there are vacant sites in reality). All we heard during the night were hyenas. Not a single lion! We also saw a brown hyena walking down the road – another first for us.

Springbok, Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkThe next day we took a drive to check out the other pans and campsites, trying to find another one to move to as our booked site was still swarming with bees. At lunch we stopped at Mabua 4 and waited to see if anyone would turn up. A group of 6 South Africans arrived on the site beside us and we chatted to them for a while. About 4pm the guy (Alan) staying in the site we were on turned up. Both groups were more than happy for us to park ourselves between them, which we were very grateful for. We had a great night chatting around the campfire with the group of South Africans. Nothing at all was heard that night and we had not seen much at all during the day.

Gemsbok, Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkOn our third day we were still struggling to find much game at all, with Gemsbok and Springbok about the only animals out on the pans. We were tossing up whether we should head across to Nossob in the South African side 2 days earlier than planned to try and see these lions everyone told us about. We ran into Isaac and Liesel, who we had met in Chobe, and after talking to them for a while we made the decision to head across the park. The Botswana side of the park though is really nice, the camps are rustic, peaceful and isolated and a perfect place to chill out, but as this was our last park we wanted to see some animals.

Crimson breasted shrike, galagadi Transfrontier ParkAt 11am we were packed and headed off towards Nossob. The road is about 200km and was pretty awful, ranging from thick sand, small dunes to climb over and terrible corrugations. We arrived at Nossob about 6pm and as we expected they found us a place to camp. Nossob camp is fenced and quite civilised with fuel, hot showers and a shop, along with quite a few people. We finally heard lions during the night which was fantastic!

The drive across somehow managed to destroy our battery system so we could no longer start the car using the primary battery. If we joined both the primary and secondary batteries it would allow us to start, we just needed to make sure the fridge did not drain the second battery too much. This is pretty much what happened when we had to replace both the batteries in Nairobi, and given that they are only about 2 months old I am quite sure it is an issue with the battery management system and not the actual battery. Oh well, it only has to survive a few more days and it will be back in Johannesburg and Bushlore can get it seen to.

Meerkat, Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkThe next day we drove south towards Twee Rivieren with the hope of camping at Rooiputs (which is in Botswana and therefore a rustic bush camp). Luckily the camp attendant was on holidays, so we picked a spot and waited to see if anyone would show up. As it turns out a couple we helped to jumpstart their car in Mabua had left us a note as they had told us they were not going to use their booking for the previous night and we were welcome to take their site. We had already paid for a Botswana campsite in Mabua for the night so we were just moving camps (if there was one free). No one showed up and we spent a nice night at Rooiputs as we waited for the lions to come through camp as people told us they have never been to Rooiputs and not had lions in camp. You guessed it, no lions showed up! We didn’t even hear one.  On our way down though we did see 2 lions off in the distance so I guess that was something.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkWe headed back up to Nossob where we spent the next 2 nights. On one of our drives we got to see 2 lions mating. Man do they make a lot of noise! We also saw 2 lazy lions chilling out under the tree beside the road, as they usually do. Finally we managed to see some Meerkats for the first time which were very cute. Other than that the game was still fairly sparse, although definitely better than in Mabua. No more lions were heard, just hyena and jackals.

 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkKgalagadi Transfrontier ParkKgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkOur last night was supposed to be at Twee Rivieren, another fenced and civilised camp, but we were hoping to be able to stay at Rooiputs again. As we were about to leave Nossob, Alan (who we had met in Mabua) arrived and invited us to share his camp in Rooiputs – fantastic! We headed south again and on the way saw 2 lions with their gemsbok kill lying under a tree. They were both very full and their faces and paws were covered in the blood of the gemsbok. Yet again no lions were seen in camp although we were told that a lion parked itself between the shower and toilet for several hours the night before in the camp we stayed at a couple of days prior – typical. We did hear them during the night along with hyena. We also saw our first african wild cat, which looks just like a regular cat.

During our time in the park we managed to see red hartebeest, gemsbok, springbok, brown hyena, dik dik, ostrich, wildebeest, steenbok, lion, ground squirrel, meerkat, black-backed jackal and african wild cat. It is a great park and we will need to visit it again and see if can we find a few more of those lions.


Back to Maun

 Posted by Elizabeth at 4:20 pm
Sep 192011
 

Once again we found ourselves in Maun in order to prepare for our last park in Africa, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. On our way back from Moremi we had to pass through a vet fence, which unfortunately we didn’t realise was there. They had a field day and took our rump steak and boerworst, then […]

Moremi National Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 6:36 pm
Sep 172011
 
Moremi National Park

It is a long drive from Ihaha in Chobe to Third Bridge in Moremi so we were on the road at 6.15am. The road is good tar for about 40km south of Ngoma gate, from there it becomes sandy tracks or gravel all the way to Moremi. At Chobe we were told that we would […]

Chobe National Park

 Posted by Elizabeth at 8:10 pm
Sep 132011
 
Chobe National Park

We left Hwange National Park and headed for the remote Botswana border at Pandamatenga. When we arrived at the Zimbabwe side there was only one guy around who seemed to just man the boom gate. The customs guy turned up a few minutes later and the immigration guy probably after 10 minutes smelling freshly cleaned. […]

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