Posts filed under 'Botswana'
The next morning we were indeed up early and off to Tsodilo hills we went. It was well signposted along a decent dirt road and we managed to be the first visitors to arrive for the day (although looking in the register book it wasn’t such an awesome feat after all – it looked like they only get a couple of visitors a day at most!). For those who have been before or who are looking for pricing info, it had changed since the last time I was there. Now it is free to enter Tsodilo Hills and there is no charge for the vehicle either. Camping in the rustic campsites at the base of the hills is also free (can’t beat that for pricing). Where money changes hands though is to protect the hills and the paintings, you now have to do the trails with a guide which you have to pay for. But at only P50 per trail (not sure what the maximum group size is, but that price is per guide, not per person doing the trail) its not expensive at all.
Anyway, we headed off with our guide on the Rhino Trail which is the most popular route around the main rock painting “site”, Female Hill. We set out before 9AM, but already knew it was going to be one hell of a hot day out there. Having the guide meant we didn’t miss out on any paintings along the way and he also pointed out other interesting things we passed (including where a porcupine had been gnawing the bark off a tree which was cool). But we were also going faster than we wanted to and before long our guide was being followed by two very damp and sweaty tomatoes haha! Still it was a good morning out and we saw heaps of rock paintings and learnt a little bit more about the bushmen who painted them. We had been considering staying at Tsodilo for a night but since we were back at our car by 11AM, we decided to make the most of the day and head back to and further North up the delta.
The next camp along the way was Shakawe camp. We stopped off to check it out but they were charging more than Swamp Stop were but didn’t have the pool, bar, restaurant (or cats, hails has piped up) and there was no one else camping there so we decided to check out Drotskys before making our mind up where to go. A few kilometres further up we turned off for Drotskys but as we got closer it became unfamiliar to me from the last time I had been there. Then we found out why: there is a huge new luxury hotel / lodge there now. We wandered around the posh looking reception / bar / restaurant boma and found someone who explained that this was a new development for Drotskys luxury lodges, and that the old campsite was still where it was before – down the other fork of the road a bit of the way back. We headed there and it all became familiar again, but the price was 25% more than Swamp Stop was (and still no pool) and so we decided that since the border with Namibia was only a couple kilometres further up the road and what with it being just a smidgen past lunch time we may as well head on up towards Poppa Falls and see what we could find there.
Add comment October 17, 2011
From Maun we headed North up the Western flank of the Delta. It was a Saturday morning and we knew South Africa had a major game of rugby the following morning – the SA vs Australia world cup semi final so we both agreed it would be prudent to find a spot with DSTV so we could catch the game. From our various guide books we knew of at least 3 spots up that Western flank which had campsites – Sepupa Swamp Stop, Shakawe Camp & Drotskys Cabins. I had been to two of them previously and figured that if any of them would have satellite it would be Drotskys, so we aimed our nose in that direction and off we went. But crossing one of the many, many veterinary disease control fences we met someone handing out flyers for “Swap Stop”. It looked like they had changed a fair bit since I’d last been there and so we asked if they had DSTV, and the lady assured us that indeed they did. It was only a few more kilometres up the road until the turn off, so we thought why not and popped in to check it out.
And what a great find it was! They have a new (well, for me at least) bar and restaurant area – all covered and indoors now with satellite TV and a sunset deck. There are also two splash pools, several chalets and a much expanded campsite (it looks like they’ve bought an adjoining riverside property and have expanded onto it). There is the beginning of some flood defence work in the campsite – a low wall with the ground built up maybe half a meter on the camping side of it to stop the annual flood waters inundating your tents. This has left a delightful grassy “lawn” (kept well trimmed by the resident hippos) fronting onto the river. We found ourselves a spot in among some trees right up against the flood wall, facing East so in the morning we would wake up to the sun peeping over the top of the papyrus reeds on the opposite side of the river channel in front of us, with mayflies wafting around and river boatmen darting around on the otherwise mirror smooth waters of the delta. And not to forget the dawn chorus of all those frogs, insects and birds greeting in the morning – along with the occasional splash of a fish jumping out the water. Pure bliss!
Sunday morning found us up nice and early to catch the game. It was unfortunately a rather dismal affair and sore losing aside, the refereeing was so bad that apparently official investigations have been talked of. It wont change the outcome of that match, but it is sad when the referee puts on such a poor show that it actually affects the outcome of a match (hey, refs are human too and they all make mistakes from time to time, but at quarter-final level of a world cup tournament such bad refereeing us totally unacceptable). After the game we were commiserating with some of the other folk who had gotten up super early for nothing and met a great couple of “Ooms” (Afrikaans for Uncles) who had come up from Kimberly to do some tiger fishing. They invited us for an afternoon fishing session the following afternoon which turned out to be awesome, but more on that later.
After the game we checked with the staff if it was ok to fish off the river banks in front of the lodge and they said sure, no worries. We had a small fishing rod and reel with a packet of hooks and little sinkers so figured hey, lets give it a go! Back at camp we prepared our bait – a thick wedge of left over slightly stale bread which we dampened in the river and squished up into a doughy ball – and then headed down for some afternoon fishing.
Hails is definitely lady luck when it comes to fishing – the number of times she’s caught something on a first cast is statistically improbable! Anyway, with a small ball of bread torn off our bait ball she caught a “squeaker” on her first cast! With the amount of noise the green and yellow barbel made when we pulled it out the water it definitely lived up to its name! A while later I finally got my turn to land something – a decent sized barbel (the typical grey one)! On such light fishing tackle its great fun to bring them in. Like the squeaker though, after a quick photo shoot and unhooking he was back in the river (probably sneakily eating the bread off our hook, now that he knew the trick to it all!). We moved up the bank a bit to try our luck closer to our little tent (making sure the crocodile which had been sunbathing on the river edge right in front had moved off first) where hails managed to cast into a tree behind us and lose our hook and sinker! But we had plenty more so it was not a disaster. I think that signalled the end of the fishing for that day though.
That night we got ourselves a great little camp fire going and celebrated our fishing success with a heap of ice cold Savannas and a delicious dinner, so our plan for heading to Tsodilo hills the following morning was quickly chucked out the window. Instead we spent the morning fishing, both having excellent luck (hails even snagged a juvenile tiger fish with our bread bait!). A few of the bream we caught we gutted and filleted and fed to the resident herd of cats who were all really appreciative. All the rest of the fish we released back into the delta to hopefully grow a bit bigger before being unable to resist the temptation of our bread bait (ok, we had a secret ingredient – a blob of black cat peanut butter to help keep the bait ball from drying out in our tackle box).
Early that afternoon, right on time, Willem and Johan (apologies if I have the spelling wrong guys) pulled up with their boat and on we jumped with our fishing rod and peanut butter bread ball and of course our little cooler bag filled with ice cold beers, savannas and sundowner snacks. We motored a bit of the way up the delta and then pulled into a side lagoon to try our luck at some bream fishing. But they had obviously gotten the memo and all moved out because only one fish was caught that whole session – a juvenile tiger by none other than myself (finally got my first tiger!). What we lost out on on the fishing front we definitely made up with on the sundowner front, with a delicious spread of finger snacks and amazing views as the sun dropped lower and lower. We slowly made our way back to camp, taking in the amazing views and colours that the delta takes on once the sun starts saying goodbye for the day. It was Willem and Johan’s last day up there for this trip, so we let out some lures to trawl for that elusive monster tiger on the way back to camp but with no luck. Still it had been a great afternoon out with plenty of laughs and back on shore we parted ways promising if we ever get up to Kimberly we’ll look them up (which we will for sure).
The next morning we were definitely going to head out to Tsodilo hills, so we were in bed early-ish, falling asleep under the watchful eyes of both Jupiter and a nearly full moon and with the background noise of the river gurgling through the reeds and the hippos and frogs trying to out-serenade each other.
2 comments October 17, 2011