Botswana. Central Kalahari, Moremi and Khwai. August - September 2021.

 1.  Central Kalahari with Kwando Adventures.

 Days 1 & 2. SA/Botswana Border to Ghanzi.

We met our fellow travellers at the Shell garage on the ourskirts of Zeerust. After introductions and a pasty and coffee at the garage we set off for the Skilpadshek Border Post. Everyone had got their negative Covid PCR test results so we were all allowed in after getting our passports stamped and paying the road tax fees.

 We filled up with fuel at the border (cheaper in Botawana) and then drove in convey along the Trans-Kalahari Highway to Kalahari Rest Campsite, about 20km to the West of Kang.

Our vehicles at the Botswana Border Post.

Our group consisted of 6 couples led by Dries & Bernadette who run Kwando Adventures.  The others are Deon & Dianne,  Eugene & Edith,  Hannes & Ina and John & Hantie.  They are all Africaans speaking but were very accomodating and switched to English when we were around.  We liked the fact that Dries has a maximum of 6 vehicles on his trips which, as he says, means that you can all comfortably sit around a camp fire together.

Group photo.

Our group, minus Dianne who took the photo.

Sitting around the camp fire.

Our first night around the campfire at Kalahari Rest.

On our second day we continued along the Trans-Kalahari Highway to Ghanzi where we did a bit of shopping before going to Palm-Afrique campsite.

Cattle on wither side of the road.

Travelling along the Trans-Kalahari Highway, very little traffic but, as usual, cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys were feeding on the roadside.

A lunch stop next to the road.

A lunch stop along the way.

Sitting and chatting at Palm Afrique campsite.

During the afternoon we had time to get together and chat. 

Evening camp fire.

Dries and Bernadette made all the evening meals, which were all excellent.

Day 3.  Ghanzi to Xade. 

The original plan was to drive to Xade from the South, after leaving the Kalahari Rest campsite , but Dries had heard that one of the river crossings en route could be a problem, especially for the three of us with caravans/trailers so he decided that it would be better to have a night near Ghanzi and then head East into the Central Kalahari.

This meant that we only had 4 nights in the Central Kalahari instead of 5 which was a shame but couldn't be helped. 

A map of our route through the Central Kalahari.

Our 6 vehicles setting off towards Xade.

On some days we made our own lunch but Dries and Bernadette sometimes provided us with a meal.  Today we stopped by the roadside, we collected some firewood and Dries soon had a fire going and cooked wors for us all.

Getting the fire reDY FOR COOKING.

Once the fire had burnt down Dries cooked the wors.

 Sitting and chatting  in the shade after enjoying our wors rolls.

Sitting and chatting in the shade after enjoying our wors rolls.

After a long drive we appraoched the Xade Gate into the Central Kalahari.  A short distance before the gate is a waterhole and we were lucky enough to see a large number of elephants there.

Lots of elephants at Xade wterhole.

A close up of some of the elephants.

On our first evening Dries gave Eugene and Edith the job of handing out fines (shots!) when we got to Xade.  They could be for anything, for example: Kevin got one for getting stuck in the sand today -  his tyre pressure guage was faulty,  he thought that the tyres were at 1.7 bar but after we got stuck and Dries checked them discovered they were at 2.2 bar.  This contimued every couple of nights with different couples in charge - great fun!

The campsite was nice but the ablutions had no water, apart from a large tank with a bucket for using in the toilets.


Sunset at Xade campsite.

Sitting around the camp fire.

Eugene and Edith handing our fines.

Day 4. Xade to Phokoje

A long day of driving, 127km on a sandy track, some parts were soft but nothing too difficult.  The first 70km was through quite thick bush and gives you an idea of the vastness of the Central Kalahari but as we approached Piper Pan we started to see animals and birds as there's a waterhole at Piper Pan.

 A sandy track through the bush.

A sandy track through the bush.

A  burnt out vehicle near the track.

We stopped to have a look at this burnt out vehicle.

A group of springbok on the open Pan.

Springbok on Piper Pan.

 A Kori Bustard on the Pan.

A Kori Bustard on the Pan.

There's just 1 large site at Phokoje so we parked up around the outside.  The camp just has 1 long-drop toilet.  We set up our 12v shower next to our bakkie for a very welcome, quick shower.   Dries had told us that there was a problem with mice in some area of theCentral Kalahari and asked us to bring Modder spray with us.  Each evening we left the vehicle bonnets open and sprayed the electrics and around the wheels to discourage mice getting into the vehicle and nibbling electrical cables.

The campsite at Phokoje.

Time for a drink around the camp fire after setting up camp.



Day 5. Phokoje to Deception Pan.

A shorter distance today which was great as this was our best day for animal sightings so we were able to stop and enjoy the animals and birds.       

A very young springbok lamb with mum.

Adult and juvenile Pale Chanting Goshawks keeping an eye on a jackal down below.

We saw several jackal today.

A small herd of wildebeast.

Lunch stop.

A springbok and a jackal sharing a shady tree.

Lilac-breasted Roller


Days 5 & 6. Deception Valley and Sunday Pan.

After a week of travelling every day we were glad to have 2 nights at Deception Valley.  It was nice to see several birds around the site but we were not so pleased to see hundreds of bees who appeared to be very thirsty.  We didn't shower until after sunset but even so quite a few bees arrived to drink the water, fortunately they were not aggressive.

 Our large campsite at Deception Valley.

Our large campsite at Deception Valley.

Sitting around the camp fire.

Another evening around the camp fire.

A male hornbill displaying.

A male hornbill displaying.

3 francolins.

A family of Cape Francolins were always around the campsite.

The next day we were up early and drove out to Sunday Pan where we've often had good sightings in the past.  We sat at the waterhole for about an hour and a half and enjoyed watcheing plenty of birds but the only other visitor was a lone jackal!

Lots of small birds sitting on a concrete strip in the middle of the waterhole.

A jackal near the waterhole.

Two birds on a tiny island.

A couple of birds near the edge of the waterhole.

From Sunday Pan we drove around Leopard Pan and back along Deception valley to the campsite.

A secretary bird striding through the long grass.

A steenbok checking us out.

We enjoyed watching these 2 ground squirrels.

One of several kori bustards that we saw.

We have never had so many mishaps as in our trip across the Central Kalahari, including:

On our way to Xade one of the spare wheel carriers at the back of the Hilux opened. Kevin fixed it that evening but the next day it happened again so we stopped en route to fix it again. In doing so we had to put the van brake on. We then forgot to put it off and drove about 30km before realising our mistake. As as result we had no brake on the van but did have a couple of wheel blocks which, with a couple of stones, we used when we had to unhitch the van at Deception Valley.

On our way Deception Valley towards Rakops:

1. We had a tyre blow out which also bent the rim.  With help from the others we got it changed quickly.

2. When we reached the tar road we all stopped to put air back into our tryes.  Half way through blowing up the first tyre our compressor stopped working!  Luckily Dries and Hannes helped us out with theirs.

3. While they were blowing up the tyres I noticed a tear on our other trailer tyre.

Changing the wheel on the trailer.

The others were all going to Kubu Island that day. We had previously decided to have a few days at Magadagadi National Park before heading to Maun but had to change our plans and go directly to Maun so that we could get 2 new tyres, one with a new rim, and try and get the brakes fixed.

Last updated: December 2021