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The Moremi High Water and Mud - Report By Stephan VanTonder

keith richardson

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Ok I kept myself busy today and wrote a little something. The rest of the guys can correct me a pitch in and I'll edit this outline. I'll add some pics as we go along. It's just a slow process.

Here goes:

It is with great difficulty and nowhere near the talent that Robby posseses that I will try and capture the trip from my viewpoint.

Friday - 6 Oct - a looonnggg awaited day in my life. After months of preparation and anticipation and after LOTS of money poured into the cruiser to get it Overland ready and after a scare in the week before about a noisy gearbox the day finally dawns. We packed till late last night and I had to secure one entrance into my house which is half open due to a building project that has to be left uncompleted.
But halfday at work it is today and it cannot pass fast enough. Eventaully at 11:30 it gets too much for me and I sneak out of work Half an hour earlier and rush home. Swambo has completed the last items to be packed on the list from last night and I park her golf behind the lockup gate and do a quick scan of the packing list. One or two small items left that I didn't get to but they are not trip stoppers.
I take a look at the cruiser and it's sagging ass means we packed enough stuff to supply a small army so it will just have to do. I make a mental note to add airbags to the next trip preparation or 'things to get for cruiser' list. I Quickly check the oil and water - kick the tyres once more and decide - what isn't in or done will have to stay behind. 13:30 and we are 30 minutes ahead of my planned leaving time. We hit the road and the traffic is typically friday afternoon on the R21 - Heavy and ugly.
The cruiser feels like 3 tons of bricks and it takes a few minutes to get used to the saggy ass feeling. I stop at the Engen 1 stop to add some pressure to the rear tyres and as I get up from the left rear I see water drip under the cruiser. I open the back door and see one of the 25l addis water containers are leaking from the cap. I tighten it and the next thing I have a bigger leak - the top of the cap has cracked open. Immediately I am annoyed and hope this is not how the rest of the trip is going to go. I stand the container upright and get on the road. Swambo suggest we fall in at Echo and buy another water container. I don't feel like the delay but what the heck - we have time.
We buy a new container and I see a very cute portable 12v handheld shower pump and head they have on special there. I decide that is easier to use than the hang bag shower I have always used and add that to the collection of stuff in the car already. We transfer the water and now I have an annoying empty broken can that I didn't plan to transport in the car. I want to chuck it away but swambo insists we can maybe just get a new cap. I squeeze it into a hole and off we go.
Destination for the night is Zulani lodge 14 KM short of Vivo and about 80 km north of polokwane(Pietersburg). Other side of PTA and the traffic thins and things are settling down. I start to relax and the cruiser seems to handle the weight fine. I keep the speedo on 120 and the km's fly by. One thing I did forget to do was stick a cushion I made on the arm rest on the door as it catches my leg and is very annoying. We roll into Polokawane at 16:30 and right in the entrance to town is a HUGE builders warehouse. I decide that they will have something that I can use to relief the pain in the knee from the armrest. Yup and so they did. I buy a nice sponge and although the colour(pink) is not ideal it works like a charm.
We hit peak hour traffic in polokwane and if you though taxis were bad drivers in JHB only - heck no - they are worse there. We arrive at Zulani lodge at 18:00 Elizabeth who with Hubby Gordon runs this lodge arrives at the gate as I am about to call. We follow her in the fading light to the lodge for the night. What a stunning place. There are two log cabins which sleep four people each and a large communal Living room - beatifully furnished and fully equipped. http://www.zulanisafaris.com/Eco%20Safa ... rt_eco.htm


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She points out the braai and there is fire wood laid on. She leaves us and we find ourselves alone and in total quiet - STUNNING. Immediately the stress of the week before disappers - we are on holiday. We braai some Wors and make boerie rolls - there are Nyalas and Kudus grazing on the lawn - a jackal calls in the night - an absolute piece of heaven and definitly a place worth a much longer visit. We fall asleep in total quiet.

Saturday - 7 Oct - I wake up with my cell phone alarm going off at 06:00. Outside birds are singing and we hop up and into the shower. The bathroom is something special - it is built around a HUGE tree and the shower is like standing under a water fall - water falls from over a rock - perfect way to start your day.
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Outside is a bit chilly and overcast but that doesn't matter. Elizabeth arrives to escort us back to the gate and I ask her to show us the other site they have - it is a 'rondavel' lodge which has no electricity and runs off gas and paraffin. Also very nice and worth a visit as well. We arrive at the gate - say goodbyes and we are on the road by 07:10 - heading to Alldays and Zanzibar border post.
I drive into alldays and want to refill - looking for an ATM. Right in the middle of nowhere next to the only stop sign in town - there is the ATM. I draw money and realize - this is cruizer country - in the time I draw money and fill up we saw only cruizer 79's - one loaded to the brim - bringing weekend supplies to the local bottle store - another towing a huge farm implement - another with two big afrikaner bulls on the back they all wave and I feel right at home. I quickly work out consumption - 6.3km/l - so far so good.
We head down the road and find the turnoff for Zanzibar border post - gravel. Some warthogs(vlakvark) or translated like my wife calls them - shallow pig - runs across the road to find the hole in the game fence where they came from.
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We arrive at Zanzibar. What a pleasure to do a border crossing. We are the only car and their first vehicle for the day. Some friendly chatter and 5 minutes later we cross the limpopo - 'no-mans' land to the botswana side. Same friendly banter and very quick procedures and we are done with formalities.
We get informed there is an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Zone 7(selibi-pikwe) and that meat and diary will be confiscated at the gate at the exit of zone 7. UGH!!!. Time is 09:00 - We wait for the rest of the Group which was supposed to be there at 09:30. I call on the radio - nothing. Eventually at 10:40 we hear them talk and they have arrived at the border SA side. The formalities are done with quickly and not once were we checked or asked for vehicle papers even. I don't mind.

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We decide to go through Selibi-pikwe and we'll hide the meat. Small bit of gravel and we hit the tar. Convoy order is Keith(Jan as co-driver), Mark on his own, Roland(with Jurie as co-driver) and then me and Swambo(stephanie) . As soon as we hit the tar I see the two EFI's disappear in the distance and the GX seem to be lagging. I pass - and get reprimanded by Roland for not asking. Oh dear. Anyway we forge ahead and it is apparent that the pace set by the EFI's is fairly fast.
We arrive in selibi-pikwe and a few KM's out of town we pull off the road to hide meat. Keith and Jan chucks it into a half filled clothes bag - I hide it in my Dustbin bag which is not on the rearwheel yet and stick it deep into the middle of the car under clothes bags and shoes bags and stuff. Roland goes for the fooftop extention tent bag and mark for a clothes bag as well. I decide to leave a sacrificial pack of bacon. Cheese etc is also supposed to be a problem but I decide to chance it and leave it.
We stop at the vet gate and there are a few cars ahead. Keith get searched - They check the fridges and they don't find meat. He has to dip all his shoes in a puddle with some poison and drive the car through a dip. Next up is Mark - they look - find nothing and off he goes. At that point a bus load of people arrive. The official comes over - checks my fridge - he finds the sacrificial bacon and confiscates it. He explains I must sign the register and they burn it. I decline saying no it's fine - don't bother with the register. He seesm to be content and stops looking furhter. Steph has to go dip all our shoes and get caught in the bustle of people from the bus. a few minutes later she pops out of the crowd and we're off. Seems Roland also go scot free trough the search.
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Next town is Francistown and we head North. A few KM's later we stop and re-pack the fridges. We stop in francistown for a leg stretcher - I refuel and the consumption is 5.9km/l - seems the speed is affecting consumption. Oh well - never mind. It seems convoy procedure is going to be fun and everytime we reach a vehicle to be passed and the guys in the back get held up the front cars disappear in the distance. We then hurry up in the back and it feels like we are driving very hard. Keith comes into a little town - the speed limit drops to 80 then 60. It seems there is a speed cop we hear on the radio and the next thing he is in the road. Mark, Roland and me gets pulled over. We were all speeding - please come check the readings. Mark - 74km/h - Roland 78km/h - me 79km/h. Oh dear. Spot fine can be paid. About 40 minutes and a ton of paperwork later we are on our way again - 100pula poorer. From there we stick to the speed limits although we knew to do it before. Oops - nevermind.
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Nata comes up around 15:00 and we try to buy firewood. No go. Head for Gweta as Planet Baobab is our night stop. We find some wood next to the road and Mark's 79 becomes the utility vehicle as he seems to have lots of space. We reach Planet baobab at around 17:30 and park for the night. Our tent is up in 5 minutes and I haul some chairs and a beer out. There is some consternation going on at camp Bergh - we watch as they cannot seem to get the side tent attached for love or money. About an hour later they have it sorted - it was the wrong way around or inside out.
We start a fire and watch as Jurie starts what was to become the routine for the trip - peparing some very special meal out of the depths of the packing system in Roland's truck. The wind comes up and blows hard for a while. We thought it might rain but it subsides in an hour or so leaving a clear sky. We chuck a fillet on the fire and have it with some fresh bread rolls and pre-prepared salad. We get in bed early and sleep like a dead thing.

Sunday - 8 Oct - I wake up as the birdies start singing and the sun is about to come up. Steph is awake already and we dash to the toilet. We close up the rooftop - pack up the chairs and go for a shower.
Camp Bergh is having breakfast and preparing snacks for the day ahead. There is a special tupperware container for this purpose - it is quite and ordeal watching this. Camp Bergh starts packing up and it seems to be an ordeal of it's own. About 40 minutes later they are ready to go.
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We stop for fuel for Roland outside Gweta and it turns out he is getting around 3.5 km/l. Ouch I think to myself.
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We reel off the km's to Maun and roll into town around 10:00. I fill all my tanks and extra rooftop tank. Now she feels even heavier. We stop at the Spar for some last minute shopping and Jurie buys 'special' steak for the next night. Freezer space is at premium there and I relieve them of a sheep rump as I have space.

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We take the road west towards Gumare and Roland is in the lead. The pace is a little more relaxed now and I am third in the convoy. Me and steph snack on some cooked ham, Simonsberg Brie and bacon Kips. There are lots of animals (donkeys, Cows and goats) crossing the road and we are often flatout on the brakes.

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I watch the turnoff to Gumare coming up - the GPS beeps and I think to myself - Geez roland isn't that a bit fast for the turn - Nope - It turns out Roland and Jurie is chatting and they didn't see or hear the GPSand they are going straight. Mark follows him and Me and Keith take the turnoff and we call on the radio to get them back. We wait for them to turn around and catch up and I'm in the lead. I keep the clock on 120 and at around 12:30 we call a lunch break. Everybody hauls out snacks - Mark treats himself to some fancy Sarmies with rye bread and me and steph watch as we already ate.
We reach Drotsky's cabins at around 16:00 after stopping at Gumare where we filled everything that can hold fuel. They assure us there is fuel in Shakawe but One can never be certain and Gumare might have been the last available fuel. Roland is worried about his consumption and if Gumare is the last fuel he won't make the trip around the swamps. JT is sitting at the pub when we arrive at Drotky's cabins and he calls us on the handheld.
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We arrange the sundowner trip and go and set up camp. We take a nice walk back to the bar and jump on the houseboat for the sundowner trip. What a beautfull afternoon. No wind - lovely scenery - beers, Friends and a stunning sunset.
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We hang out around the bar after returning and have lodge dinner. We return to the camping area - Tristan (whom I think is following in Pyro Barney's footsteps) lights the fire for us and we chat away a few hours. I retire to bed and I can hear the others chatting away as I fall asleep.

Monday - 9 Oct. We wake up to the call of a Fish eagle. Another answers and all around you can hear other birds welcoming the day break. We get up - close up tent and go for a shower. Lovely hot gas geyser shower. Keith is next door but it seems his doesn't have hot water. He does it cold anyway. JT waits and grabs our shower. Mark seems to figure out how the one works next door and the rest all shower hot. We go for lovely breakfast and settle the bill. JT, ME and Mark are on the road and get to shakawe first. There is fuel so we fill up everything again. Keith and Roland rolls up and we wait for them to top up.
Mark leads the way out of town and we arrive at the ferry at around 08:30. There is activity but nobody boarding the ferry. Upon enquiry it turns out the ferry is broken and it will take around 40-60 minutes to repair. They reverse a landrover 'Bakkie' onto the ferry and it has a welder on the back. We watch while they weld the engine mounting that holds the outboard motors back onto the carrier that holds the motor.
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We mill around watching the locals. JT tries to take a pick of a girl that sells some sort of nuts and she then gets very upset with him. After talking and trying one of the nuts(looks like palm seeds) she then wants to have her picture taken while JT gracefully declines the offer.
The welder runs out of fuel and they bring another vehicle onto the ferry with a 200l drum of fuel rolling around on the back to refuel the welder. About an hour later repairs are complete and we board 3 cruisers onto the ferry plus the locals on foot. Crossing is done in no time and the pilots are very skilled I must say. We disembark on the other side - they load 4 Hilux bakkies on and all the locals from this side. On the other side they put the last 2 cruisers and 2 more hilux bakkies on and about 20 minutes later we are ready to roll.
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We deflate tyres - lock hubs and off we go to Serule - The last 'town' before wilderness.
The road is bad - sandy - pot holed and being repaired in places. We pass Serule and get onto the single 'spoor' track that is the transit road to Linyanti. We stop outside town and JT open the bonnet to inspect a knocking sound. Oh dear- his shock top mounting rubber seems to have been eaten up. On inspection it turn out the bottom washer on the top side of the shock mounting was left out and possible not tightened down either. Inspection of the other shocks turns out they all have one washer missing. They try to effect a repair by taping the rubber together and re-install.
A few km's down the very bouncy road it proves not to work. The shock is removed and we continue.

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Km's later we arrive at the first fence and this is Selinda Hunting consession. We ask for permission to sleep in the consession area for the night and permission is granted. We spot an old tyre and for 3 cokes we cut a piece of the sidewall out to make new rubbers for the shock.
We go through the gate and turn south to head towards water to find a nice place to sleep over. About an hour later of thick sand driving Keith calls a halt and the road is flooded. There is a go-around and we take that. A few km's later we find what looks like a pan and a nice potential camping area and park for the night. Camp is pitched and this time what is becoming known as 'Villa Bergh' Seems to go up with lot less hassle.
Jurie dives in the back and start another meal. We set up the mobile shower and heat a pot of water for the shower. Steph takes a quick shower and then It's my turn.
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By this time I think Jurie had also taken a bath in the pan, he looked refreshed while the rest of the guys abstained. Sunset falls and the stars come out. Stunning.
We spot several satelites and braai some meat for dinner. Turns out the meat Jurie bought in Maun is off and he is a bit disappointed. Heavenly camping spot anyway. We retire early again while the die hards chat the night away.

Tuesday - 10 Oct. Once again I wake up before sunrise. Get up - take some pics - and start putting up camp.
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We have the Previous nights planned pudding for breakfast(tinned peaches and ultra mel custard). 'Villa Bergh' is getting better at closing up but it turns out that the cover on the tent has a zip that has pulled loose on the stitching. Roland makes a repair with thin wire and it works well enough to last the rest of the trip.
JT and Jurie and Mark fashions a Hole punch from a piece of pipe we acquired at the guards camp and makes three holes in the piece of sidewall rubber. We then cut 3 squares of rubber from there and re-installed the shock with the tyre rubbers and a washer that roland had in his toolbox.
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Up to this point we were following a cutline that was heading due south. When then took this divertion thinking it will take us around the water and go furhter south but as the morning progressed it was curving east and back towards the transit road towards linyanti.
So around 11:50 we get to a little water crossing. Jan hops out and scouts the crossing - no problem - Keith pops through - I follow - and so does the rest - no problem. There is quite a bit of flotsam in the form of lillies and grass stuck under the car and we pull it out. 2 km's later and there is another crossing. Same procedure. We stop and clean out. Not 1 km later there is another crossing. By now the clean out is less enthusiastic and we give it up as a bad idea till we are sure there is no more water.
Now the crossings are coming at regular intervals and we stopped counting at 9. There was one pretty long one which turned out to be around 800m where you are in water all the time - some quite deep sections.
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On exit Roland's car is coughing it's lungs out. Jurie set to cleaning the spark plug leads and so on. Coughing doesn't clear up so we stop and take the distributor cap off. WET inside. We spray it Q20 and tie a platic bag around it. Problem solved.

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A few crossings later and JT's did the same. All my lights were fish bowls by now. Of course the diesel didn't skip a single beat here :) and neither did mark's 79. But his truck is so high the water never went higher than his bumper. Keith's coughed once but cleared itself without help except for a short rev.
Eventually after getting back to the transit road the water crossing ended and we cleaned cars underneath. The transit road then turns due north towards linyanti. We decided to camp wild again and at around 16:00 Keith spotted a suitable camping site - near water of course. We pitched camp and by this time 'Villa Bergh' had it down to a pretty slick operation.
Me and Steph did the shower thing again while the other guys took a bird bath or abstained. Jurie did the usual big time dinner thing again while the rest of us tanned some meat and had some other mediocre dish with it. The Hippos came to mow the lawn in front of us but they didn't seem to like the lights we shone on them and went across the water to the other side. After a bit of a chat after dinner and watching the amazing stars I retired to bed. Sleeping dead again and hearing just one Hyena in the night.

Wednesday - 11 Oct. Once again waking up to the call of a fish eagle before sunrise I was up and took some snaps.
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We are in no rush as we only had about 40 km's to cover for the day to get to linyanti camp.
We were milling around and I was playing with the camera just taking pics of the hippos and birds. Next thing I see a buck running in the water and another one behind it. i panned across and saw the one behind was no buck - it's a wild dog.Time was 06:26 I took some pics and started running around to tell the other guys and specially JT and Keith that had much more lens than me to come take pics.
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The one dog had the impala by the hind leg in the water. He was soon joined by another dog and they were dragging it back to dry land. Very soon after they were joined by the rest of the pack and they made short work of gulping down chunks of meat. They were very quick to reduce that animal to almost nothing and off they went to the den to feed the pups.
Some came back later and bathed in the water and took some more meat. Not long after there were some eagles, A jackal and in short order a big amount of vultures. By the time we left around 10 it was reduced to a pile of bones already.
We got on the road and more winding sandy road towards linyanti it was. Jt was leading the pack this time, me behind him and roland, Mark and Keith following. At 12:43 we get a call over the radio from Jan - trouble, Keith's truck is hot and there is water pissing out in a thin stream from the radiator.
We turn around and when we get back to him the cap is off and that motor is hot. So we give it a few minutes and try to add water. It promply boils out so we retire to some shade with a beer in hand and wait for it to cool down. The satphone is hauled out and arrangements placed for Alistair to bring a new rad up the next day as he was coming to join us anyway on Friday. Adolf calls with the news that he found one. About 30 minutes later the temp has dropped back into the halfway mark on the gauge and I add some water with the engine idling. It takes about a litre and then promply turns it into steam again. We shut it down and wait and slowly repeat the procedure a few times Eventually we have some 9 litres of water back in the motor and the temp is normal.
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The cap is left off and we go for Linyanti. A stop a few km's down the road shows it is blowing the water out so Keith elects to put the cap on at first notch. This works and we reach linyanti in short time. We pitch camp and the ablutions seems to be in terrible condition - even for botswana standards. The Women's side is closed - they are building a new french drain and there is building supplies on that side. Steph showers on the men's side.
Roland and JT goes for a game drive and the rest of us vegges in camp. Jurie had marked where the hole is in the radiator and wanted to try Johann's method of bush repair by breaking and folding the pipe where the leak was. Although I think that will work I was suggesting we try the less radical approach of sticking a gob of pratley steel putty over the hole. We agree on trying the less intrusive method first and I glue it up.
We have a visit from an elephant and he peacefully saunters through camp eating as he goes along. I shower as the sun goes down and before I can put a shirt on gets nailed by mozzies. I duck for the repellent but these are ruthless. They eat us alive and I retire to bed right after dinner to avoid looking like someone with measels.

Thursday - 12 Oct. Daybreak and the fish eagle calls wake us up again. We have another day booked at Linyanti so it's a slow morning getting up and hanging around. We contemplate going for a game drive but decide to be lazy.
A Game ranger and work crew arrive to continue the building project. He comes to ask Keith for the permit who jokingly refuses. The game ranger has a total sense of humour failure and seems to get quite upset. He explains we are not supposed to be there and that the campsite is closed. Keith fetches the permit and he seems to calm down. He said we were supposed to have been told that the campsite is closed because the drainage system was not coping with the pressure from the people. We think it's Jurie's fault ;-)
Anyway he asks that we move to Savuti and asks that we don't use the toilet. Considering and the state of ablustions Savuti sounds like a good idea and we hang around till lunch and then pack up camp. Keith had filled and closed the radiator and let the truck get to working temp. Hole is closed and no leaks.
After lunch we jump in the road and after a few check stops the radiator seems fine now. No other problems either so it worked out OK. We arrive at Savuti at 15:00 and book in. Yes they know of linyanti being closed and yes we can have the 'reserved' campsite. We think it's the best spot anyway so were are chuffed.
I park where I want to pitch camp - and go to the back to throw away the day's litter from inside the car. As I open the sparewheel dustbin bag I see this stick and want to brush it away - it doesn't move. OH dear. Where I reversed and turned around after helping keith I must have backed into this branch which punctured the garbage bag - stock wheel cover and sidewall. Oh well. We pulled the tyre off to find a tube in the spare. So Plugged the tube - and the tyres and put it back on. That was my only flat tyre for the trip.

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We made a pasta dish for dinner and Jurie hung out as usual at 'Villa Bergh' or now also known as 'the mountain Lodge'. After dinner Tristan spotted something moving at the camp next door and it turns out to be a honey badger. This oke had got hold of a 'plakkie' of one of the next door residents which turned out to be in the ablutions at the time. JT took some pics and when they came back we explained where her missing shoe has gone. We were certianly not going to take it from the ratel after keith told us how they can bring big animals down by grabbing them by the testicles. When we returned to our own camp we also found one under Mark's truck but he didn't seem to have stolen anything.
The night was marked by lions and Elephants seeming to have an arguement over something at the watering hole and an elephant circling the ablution block in camp a few times.
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Friday - 13 Oct. We are headed for Moremi. Keith decided to use the lesser used road to make it interesting and that it was. Apart for the fact that it was a bit overgrown and sandy it was interesting in the fact that Keith had a mock charge by an elephant. I am convinced that they must have changed underwear afterwards. This Ellie stopped probably less than 2 metres short of his car and I was in reverse giving them space. Keith stood his ground and she left but man I was sure she was going to hit them. It happened so quick that basically nobody even had a camera ready. Jan pushed the transmit on the mike and we could clearly hear her trumpeting. I was waiting for the thud. Keith was thinking we won't patch the hole in the radiator if she puts a tooth in it.

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Anyway after reaching the cutline down to moremi from the end of that little road we made some good time and was in North gate moremi just after lunch.
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We got there just as Per and Lionel and their Hitchiker Daniel arrived. We all booked in and went to find the campsite after all stopping on the bridge for a group Photo.

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We called on the radio for alistair as he was supposed to meet us here but no reply. After some refreshments we went on a game drive and saw lots of animals. There must also be millions of impala here. Roland spotted some lions but we just got a glimpse of them.
Alistair was in camp when we returned and we caught up on events. Dinner saw Keith and JT make 'potbrood' and it seemed like a competition. Both came out very well.

Saturday - 14 Oct. Me and Steph decided to take a rest day and do nothing. So I got up late after the other guys all went on game drives and we laid around camp doing nothing. We made bacon and eggs for breakfast and had a 'blou apie' steal our jam. He stuggled for a while to get the tupperware open and when he dropped it Tristan was able to recover it for us. This lazyiness was the tone for the rest of the day excpet for fixing a puncture on Per and Lionel's vehicle. Mark proved that he had used those split rims before and then he continued to show us how to repair a broken camping chair.
That took the effort of an engineer(Jurie) and a consultant(Mark) with much bantering and advise from everybody else. Dinner was another monumental effort form Jurie and Roland Polished of 3 serving dish tray size plates of pasta so it must have been good. Roland was also getting worried about his cigarette supply.

Sunday - 15 Oct. We were moving on to Xakanaka which was not far really so we started the day slowly and did it as a game drive. We broke the convoy up a little and me and JT went shopping quickly. Him for cokes and me for jam. We saw lots of game and we all got together at the dongo hippo pools for lunch.
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I caught a quick nap and then we were off.
Barely out of the pools there is a little mud patch and keith decided to give it a go. He promply got TI'ed and application of both lockers and some rocking saw him out of the hole. But there was a puncture. Seemed something in the pool had broken the valve off the rim on the left rear and a tyre change was affected.

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The rest of us with no lockers or with lockers promply made a detour throught the bush. Mark could not be tempted for no love or money or any amount of cajoling to try the little mud hole.
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From here we were a 7 car convoy and it was getting a bit dusty.
Some of the convoy slowed to get out of the dust and was watching an elephant while the rest went on to the campsite. This brought some confusion and it was here that Roland got saddled with the nickname WWR - or 'where we Roland'. They did find it Ok though and we set up camp for the night.
About an hour later we had wind and lightening and then some very welcome rain. So we broke out the gazebos and between breaks of rain we had dinner. It cleared up a little after dinner and we had some visitors in the night in the form of hyena. They were not a great pest though and I think it's due to the camp being pretty full. I retired pretty early again and it seemed the other guys 'went big'.

Monday - 16 Oct. Steph woke me up at 05:00 to a overcast morning with birds singing and the oomphing of lions. We decided to do a game drive and packed up quietly. At first start of the diesel at 05:45 though I probably woke up the rest of the camp. We kept the radio on and went to where we thought the lions might be. We did a pretty big loop of the southern eastern part of the xakanaka trials but no lions.

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Then JT called. Where are we - he has found lions around 1.2 km's from the camp in the opposite direction we went. They are lying in the road. So we decided to just keep on going because they are likely to leave before we get there. By then Keith and alistair had joined JT and the lions were settled down.
We decided to go have a look and came from the bottom. Yup there they still were. 7 of them. One very young male and the rest females. They had obviously eaten and was very lazy. We watched them for a while and then got bored. Keith once dropped his camera bean bag and man that got their attention.
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We were heading to dead tree island before the lion call came so we went back that way. Keith and alistair took the lead but they were going much faster. We made lots of stops to watch birds and other game and when we arrived at dead tree island Keith had just changed another wheel. Sidewall puncture on the front left. Probably the same thing that took the valve off on that side and it went through here.

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We did a few more loops and returned to camp. There I found Mark and JT busy repairing a yes a Landrover of all things. Some frenchman had rented this landy from Bushlore and it was making funny noises. He was scared he broke it. Initially the thought was that it was a wheel bearing. Jt took the highlift jack supplied with the vehicle to jack it up so we can feel the wheel - and it didn't work. So after fetching his own we jacked it up. But moving the wheel it seems the bearing was ok but the whole axle was moving. So JT crawled in under the car and I rocked it. Turns out that the bolts are loose that locates the a-frame that locates the axle. Spanners out - tighten it up and it still does it. Mark then spots that the bushes are worn out on the arms. Mark called the agency on the satphone that comes with the car and they suggested the frenchie take the car to Maun where Lesedi motors which is a landrover company can repair it.
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The rest of day was spent lazing around camp and we had reports from the other guys doing game drives that the lions had moved a bit closer to camp. We fix Keith's two flat wheels by doing a gator on the sidewall and changing the valve on the other. The endless air in his truck re-beads them without any hassle. We again retired early.
I woke up to a huge commotion with lions growling and hyenas laughing and going on. I had a look outside and couldn't see anything so went back to bed. Turned out the next day that the neighbouring campsite was pestered by Hyena and then the lions arrived to sort them out. I don't think they slept much next door.

Tuesday - 17 Oct. We woke up to fish eagle calls again and we were supposed to move to third bridge camp. We decided to rather stay on at Xakanaka despite the fact we didn't really have a booking. We packed up for a game drive and decided to go to third bridge for lunch in any case and to go look for lions as third bridge are known for them.
Again me and JT was off in a direction - keith and alistair in another and 'mountain lodge' was still packing up and having breakfast. Mark decided to wait for them. We saw a fair amount of animals - did yet another water crossing and at third bridge gate got a tip on the lions movement from a game ranger.
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So we went through third bridge and found their 'reserved' campsite. Quite nice and we decided that will work for lunch. No sight of the lions. So went down south east and There they were. Three BIG 'maanhaar leeu' They were sort of lying in the road again and then moved off to a small shrub. We called the other guys - gave a waypoint reference and settled into lion watching.

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Mark called again and I gave him directions. He recons the waypoint I gave him is like 23km's away. Turns out he was on hour,minute,second and we were using the decimal standard. Anyway - he and Jurie arrives and not long after Keith, Alistair and Roland. We watch them for an hour or so and then they decide it is getting hot and moves to another tree.
Some other game watch vehicle arrives with a pretty nice Blonde on the back. Then the guys was watching other 'maanhaar' rather than lion. After lying there for a while they decided to get up and move. We follow them for a bit and they disappear into the bush. We have lunch and we can hear them 'oomphing' close by. We leave and find them walking straight towards third bridge. They cross the bridge and after taking LOTS of pics we decide to head for camp. I do another turn around and there is a little wall behind the left rear wheel which looks just like grass in the mirror. I manage to rip the mud flap off the car and that takes the fender flare with it. Once the lions have cleared I quickly pop out and remove the hanging items so they don't get lost.
Back in camp it is clear it's not the first time it happened and I glue the mounting points back onto the fender flare and after stripping half the car on that side, put it back better than it was since I had it. That side was always looking a bit untidy. The rest of the crowd was doing an afternoon 'powernap' in their chairs.
Jurie offered to make a pot of 'stew' for everybody and I donated our last goulash for this. In the mean time We cooked all the raw meat we had as we kmow they might search vehicles outside Maun going south.
Dinner from Jurie turned out superb and we ate ourselves broken.
After dinner I hear a rustle in the grass behind us and I shine a light - there stands a hyena and he immedietely beats a retreat. Roland has run out of cigarettes and he seems a bit desparate. We have desert again and retire to bed. In the night the hyena visits JT's dustbin bag and he chases it away.

Wednesday - 18 Oct. Mark has decided he needs to be home sort of early on thursday so he can prep for a 'bosberaad' so he decides to go from maun to Khama rhino reserve so he can get an early start Thursday morning.
The rest of pack have made a decision to make a run for Kubu island. We are on the road pretty early and me and JT leading the way to get a little bit of a game drive in. 'mountain Lodge' is still packing when we leave and they are a few minutes behind. We get to south gate - go to the toilet and sign out. The rest of the group arrive and we do a group photo with JT using the hasselblad for it.
We go for Maun and halfway there Roland finds relief in the form of a bar and restaurant that stocks cigarettes. We refuel at Riley's garage - have brunch and shake Mark's hand as he is turning off 70 km out of maun. We depart and about 20 km out of maun is the Vet Fence. Keith explains we cooked all the meat last night - they check his fridge and the rest of us have to just show drivers licence. The police use the vet fence check posts as a roadblock as well.
Marks turns off towards Motopi and we say our goodbyes. We arrive in Gweta where we head for Kubu Island.

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We wait for roland as he had to take a few calls just out of Maun and got a bit behind. We take a wrong turn in Gweta and I almost get stuck in town as I get caught with the hubs
unlocked. Then we are on the right track and off we go.
It's dust - dust and some more dust. Eventually the trees disappear and the pans are in sight. Keith and alistair storms off and he says over the radio - them pans are wet but they are ok.
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We must come - highrange third seems to work. JT and me storm off and very soon realise that following in their tracks means no traction. JT's cruiser starts a sideways slide and he decides to turn around. I am losing traction at a huge rate of knots and follow him around. Roland stops on the edge of the pan.
We make it back without getting stuck and decide to work our way around the edge of the pan. Keith reports they had even seen surface water and have also made it to the edge of the pan. Some misunderstanding as to where they are and we are and eventually we give them a waypoint and wait. They are some 10 km away from us and we wait.
In no time keith Catches up with us and we are off. We decide to rather abandon the idea of trying to get to kubu as time is not on our side so we make our way up the ntwetwe pan and to meet up again with the tar road towards Nata. Keith takes a few shortcuts across the pan instead of sticking to the edge as they seem dryish and the next thing we see the dust disappear behind his car.
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Next thing it lying on it's axle in the back but the front wheels still on the ground. We dig and try to drive it out. No go.
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So I park my cruiser on the pan as far as I dare to go and the ground is getting soft. I unwind the winch cable and keith does the same - well short. We join six extentions and kinetics and Keith begins to winch. I hear the brakes groan on my car and can see the wheels breaking the pan surface. Nothing seems to happen. Next thing his car pops out the hole as the kinetics in the rope starts to work. He drives it further off the pan and we pack up kit.

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We find the tar road and pump tyres and Head for nata lodge. We get there just before 18:00 and yes they have camping available and we decide to go for restaurant dinner. We pitch camp - I jump in the pool and we meet at the bar. Jurie and Roland is hunting down a seeming fuel starvation problem and they join us just in time for dinner.
We grab a shower after dinner in the lovely facilities and have hot water for the first time in days. Me and steph jump into bed early again and the other guys chat outside - I fall asleep in like 10 seconds.

Thursday - 19 Oct. Home time. We wake up before sunrise again and start packing up. Just a tent to close in any case. We are ready to roll at 06:10 and the 'mountain Lodge' is having breakfast. I want to be home before sundown so we decide to go and Roland says he doesn't want to rush and they will come in their time.

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Keith alistair and me depart and JT decides to accompany Roland.
Keith recons I must lead the way and we point the nose south. I put the gps speed at 120 and we cover ground very well. The wind was blowing against us at some point and I look at consumption. Ouch. Never mind. I thought of Putting fuel in at Francistown but Keith recons we should refuel at the town just before the Border. Half a tank left - 280km - yeah shouldn't be a problem. We pass francistown in peak hour traffic and head for serule and Palapye and Martin's drift to avoid the vet area of selibi Pikwe. I peg the speedo at 130 which is 124 on GPS and off we go. Fuel looks Ok.
As we pass palapye I start to worry as the consumption took a knock on the last 80 km's. 90 km to the border and the reserve light came on. I look at the sub tank and that still has some fuel it in. Switch back to that and I let keith by so I can catch a slipstream. This improves matters and despite my worries we roll into Sherwood to refuel. I put in 136 L so I still had 9L still in the tanks. Keith used 160 litres at that point.
Botswana side of the border goes quick and I feel a bit woozy for some reason. I down a coke and feel better when we arive at the SA side. We clear customs and I am in a queue. I see keith is being hassled by the cops. It turn out that the radiator(which we never installed) was the problem as there was no invoice. After grovveling they let him go.
We head for ellisras and Lunch at the Wimpy. 45 minutes later we are on the road again. It's that silly little bouncy single road between Vaalwater and Nylstroom and it makes passing slower traffic fun. In no time we hit the highway and I get keen to get home before the afternoon traffic rush. GPS says we are on ETA at 16:15 so I push a bit and puts the speed at 129 on the gps.
At the last Tollgate we call our goodbyes on the radio and we arrive at home at 16:00. Thank goodness as I didn't feel like rush hour traffic. We unload and relax.

On reflection we could have packed a little bit less cold drinks and less meat but we were never short and we had a great time. We took too much water as well but I'd rather have too much than not at all. I don't drink their water - that is a sure way of getting sick. We really enjoyed all the company - the people were all fantastic and each one bringing his own stories and experience. Yes there were some moments of irritation (mostly about waiting and convoy procedure) but is was all light hearted. I had so looked forward to the trip and it turned out as good as I hoped. My overall consumption was 6 Km/l and the truck was lighter on fuel offroad than when doing the on-road tar runs. It never missed a beat and we travelled in complete luxury. The dual aircon keeping it cool inside and the centre console fridge supplying cold coldrinks all day.
My other accessories all performed flawlessly. The battery never ran flat even after we stood for almost 2 days. The Waeco 80l kept things frozen at -6 degrees without any problems and I even ran an inverter off that battery a few times.
We downloaded pictures every night and tracks every second night. The camera was an absoulte joy and steph took around 100 pics everyday. It would have cost me a small fortune in film if I didn't buy a digital. The ironman suspension performed admirably and I came away impressed. All I can say is, everything keeps going right - toyota.
We saw lots of beautifull places and lots of beautifull animals. My total trip cost was R5700 Pula and about R3000 in supllies and drinks and fuel in SA. This of course excludes the R60k I spent on kit beforehand but it's not like it was just for the one trip.
Thanks a lot for Keith that did all the organisation and I am already looking forward to Khutse next year. Thanks everybody for the comradrie and great time that was had. Roland - sorry we needled you all trip, you are a fantastic person. Jurie is quite the chef and a treat with his knowledge of all kinds of things. Jan is a water crossing checker of note and never seemed scared of crocs :)
Sorry for the long essay and there was still some things that could have been told or that I missed. I am sure the other guys will add their bit too.

Other costs were as follows:
Road permit and thrid party for vehicle at border entrance : P60

Planet Baobab Camping P40 per person per day

Drotsky's Cabins
P75 per person camping
P80 per person for Dinner
P55 per person for breakfast
Booze cruise trip 8 seater boat @ P230 per hour


Parks
Entry Per vehicle per day :- P50
Entry per person per day :- P120
Camping per person per day :- P30
P200 per person per day, or P350 per vehicle with 2 occupants per day

Nata Lodge
Camping P40 per person per day
Dinner +- P60 per person excl drinks which is around P11 for a single and mixer.

Diesel was +- P4.90 to P5.10 higher up. Petrol was I think around P5.20 +

It was a very tiring trip

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Very tiring :twisted:

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Note: these photos were taken a few seconds apart...

Keith
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Jurie
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From right to left
Roland, Jan, Mark
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Some of My Pics (Keith)

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Sunrise over our first bushcamp in the delta

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Mark crossing one of the about 20 water crossings

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This was our second bush camp where we saw the wild dog kill

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A Flatdog on the Kwai river loop

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This young fella is probably dead by now, looks like it narrowly escaped an attack, but with that smell of blood it will have every predetor in the Delta after it. And the skin was torn in such a way that it will never heal

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The Boss :)

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The Other Boss

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A very very serious frown :-(


These pics by Jonathan Tee
Not the best, but I would have to sell my cruiser to get a longer/faster lens :(

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Some more Pics (Keith)

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Fixing Rolands Drowned Truck

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One of the wild dogs

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Raffy the Giraffe

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Fish eagle - Something Fishy??

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Nyoni

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Potohitamus

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Looks like a Goshawk

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One of the Millions of Impala

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Ephelant :lol:

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I dort I daw a puddy dat?? I did, I did, daw a puddy dat

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Waterbuck
 

adrianr

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Mar 4, 2010
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Re: The Moremi High Water and Mud - Report By Stephan VanTon

great write up thank you!!
 

warrenpfo

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Jul 21, 2010
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Re: The Moremi High Water and Mud - Report By Stephan VanTon

Very nice it's made my decision to leave this place even more concrete.
 

Graham

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Joined
Mar 22, 2010
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Re: The Moremi High Water and Mud - Report By Stephan VanTon

Thanks for the very detailed write up.

You were sure fortunate to see so many animals.

Looking great.

Gra.
 

james-c

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May 12, 2012
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Re: The Moremi High Water and Mud - Report By Stephan VanTon

This is making me seriously homesick :cry:

But I am moving back at the end of October :thumbup: Can't wait to take the kids around and show them what life is really about...
 

SpinDrift

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Re: The Moremi High Water and Mud - Report By Stephan VanTon

Very good trip report. Great trip :thumbup:
 
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fridayman

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Jun 25, 2010
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Re: The Moremi High Water and Mud - Report By Stephan VanTon

Managed to take me away from here for a while... Thanks!
 
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