The 3rd Old Rovers Legends Tour was done recently to the Mabuasehube Nature Reserve in Southern Botswana. Mabuasehube is incorportaed into the greater Kgaligadi Trans Frontier Park and resemble a square area on the eastern extremity of the Kgaligadi N/P. Dave Lehr suggested that we contact Keith Thomas, the owner of Berrybush B&B in Tsabong who structures customized itinerary's and who often guides trips like these. Keith has a vast knowledge of the area and the idea would be that he share some of the information as we go along. He also has access to various concessions that the average tourist don't have access to. With work an studies I have had very little time recently myself so it suited me perfectly. Dave made the contact and Keith soon responded with a proposed route and itinerary. It was roughly as follow:

Day 1 (Fri 25 April) Leave Pretoria at 16H00 and drive to Kameelboom Lodge & Campsite outside Vryburg.
Day 2 (Sat 26 April) Drive the short stretch to Red Sands Lodge & Campsite outside Kuruman where the whole group will rendevouz and relax.
Day 3 (Sun 27 April) Drive to Berrybush B&B, Tsabong, Botswana via McCarthy's Rest Borderpost. Meet Keith and leave for the campsite at the Mabuasehube entrance where we will camp the night inside the reserve.
Day 4 (Mon 28 April) Leave Mabuasehube for Hukuntse and Lehututu and camp next to a pan outside Lehututu for the night.
Day 5 (Tue 29 April) Leave Lehututu and follow a track via Zutswa to Khaa gate on the Kgaligadi boundary and camp next to a pan in the Pollocks concession.
Day 6 (Wed 30 April) Leave the pan and drive to Mabuasehube following the Kgaligadi boundary to the campsite at the Mabuasehube entrance and camp there again.
Day 7 (Thu 1 May) Doing an extended game drive, drive from the main camp to Khiding Pan deep inside the Reserve.
Day 8 (Fri 2 May) Leave the reserve (game drive) and drive back to Berrybush in Tsabong and stay there that evening.
Day 9 (Sat 3 May) The group splits and leave for their various destinations. The Pretoria faction to stay over at "Boereplaas" resort on the Stella road, 20Km out of Vryburg.
Day 10 (Sun 4 May) Drive home...

Total round-trip distance from Pretoria: 2500 Km.

Click here for a document from Bots Parks with the Tracks and Campsites of Mabuasehube N/R

The Mabuasehube fees are 50 Pula per person per day camping and 4 Pula per vehicle per day.

Keith's contact details are: (thanks Jacque F.)
+2676540540 tel
+2676540840 fax

Here are the waypoints for Berrybush:
S26.204090, E22.569960 McCarthy's Rest Border Post
S26.022120, E22.400200 Total Garage Tshabong
S25.962620, E22.450110 Turnoff to BerryBush
S25.946600, E22.427890 BerryBush

With the dates and the destination finalised I mailed an invitation to the za-lro mailing list and the overland forum. I decided on a cut-off of 12 vehicles and received 10 confirmations. Initialy it was more but some folk unfortunately couldn't get their vehicles ready in time. Perhaps next time guys.

List of participants:

Jaco & Anita Rautenbach

Land Rover Series IIIS H/T

(ADE 236 D)

Hennie & Piet (dad) Rautenbach

Land Rover Series IIIS S/W

(Chev 4.1)

Jacque & Sam Fernihough

Land Rover Series III S/W

(LR 2.25P)

Willem Coetsee

Land Rover Series III PUP (SWB)

(LR 2.25D)

Dave Immelman & Amanda

Land Rover Series III PUP (SWB)

(LR 2.25P)

Johan & Tineke van Staden

Land Rover Series II H/T

(LR 2.25P)

Dave Lehr & Hilaine

Land Rover Series IIA PUP (SWB)

(LR 2.25P)

Hilton Bennewith & Dale Edwards

Land Rover Series IIA PUP (SWB)

(LR 2.25P)

Wouter de Waal & Tanya

Land Rover Series II S/W

(Chev 2.5)

Andre Goldshagg & Sheila

Land Rover Series IIA H/T/W

(LR 2.6 S/V)

Below are brief highlights from our trip:

Friday 25 of April. Thursday evening it was clear that I won't be finished in time with my preperation and packing of the vehicle. Early Friday I quickly went to work and aranged a day's leave. Went back home and done what was left. Rinsed out the water tank, fixed the dual battery system and bought the last essentials. I drove to the school with Ronel when she went to pick up the kids and said goodbye to them there. Picked up my dad and left Pretoria at 14H00 in a very strong headwind. We made good time and only got out of the wind near Delareyville. The only problems encountered en-route was a massive roadblock midway between Ventersdorp and Coligny where we were checked for drivers license and general vehicle roadworthiness. We stopped in Vryburg at 19H00 and had a meal at the Spur. Kameelboom Campsite on the Kuruman Road was recommended to us so after supper we stopped there for the night to camp. A resident herd of springbok slept 20 meters from our campsite but left when we erected the tent. We made a fire in a little lapa adjacent to our campsite for some heat. It was freezing cold. The only distraction was the noise of the passing trucks which interrupted the cry of jackal in the late hours of the night. The view of the stars was magnificent. At 22H00 Jaco and Anita arrived at the campsite. After a brief chat we all turned in. The travel fever was high...

Saturday 26 of April. 09H00. Drive from Kameelboom campsite to Red Sands on the other side of Kuruman (150 Km's). Bought some very fatty Biltong and dry-wors in Kuruman and headed for the campsite. In town we spotted Andre and Sheila's vehicle outside the Wimpy. They were bushed ! Drove right through the nite from Amanzimtoti. At Red Sands we met Jacque and Sam who arrived a day early. The campsite (despite the name) is on lush green lawns and the facilities are excellent. Later Willem and Johan arrived too. After a day of relaxation the evening turned into a bit of a social affair. At 21H00 Dave, Dave and Hilton & Dale arrived at the campsite. They had a very long day behind the wheel too, all the way from Cape Town. They decided to have a meal at the Restuarant and joined us around the fire a bit later. We turned in quite late. Fortunately it wasn't as cold as the previous evening.

Picture of Jaco, Anita & Landy at Red Sands.

Picture of Willem & Johan sorting out a last minute problem at Red Sands.

Sunday 27th of April. 09H00. The Capetonians headed out for Tsabong early that morning to fix a few minor ailments with Hilton B.'s Landy. All ready and packed the whole convoy left from Red Sands to Kuruman and then drove via Hotazel to McCarthy's Rest. We stopped somewhere en-route to deflate our tyres a bit (to compensate for the terrible corrugations). Jacque F. went through the border ahead of us while we stopped just short of the border to hide a few frozen packs of meat. Jacque radio'd across and reported that the crossing went smooth and no search of the vehicle was attempted. The border crossing, albeit smooth, was a tedious affair. Proper checks of vehicle papers and engine and chassis numbers took place. It was also the first time I was required to fill in a temporary import permit for my camping equipment on the Botswana side. We all stopped briefly under a tree en-route to Tsabong to replace the meat in the freezers and to wait for the rest of the convoy to catch up. In Tsabong everyone stopped and filled every tank and jerry-can with fuel before we departed to Berrybush B&B outside Tsabong. We arrived at Berrybush at 14H30 and there was still no sign of Wouter. Apart from that it appeared that some confusion had set in with regard to our itinerary. Keith seemed to have been under the impression that we will sleep in Mabuasehube that evening and subsequently made the reservations that way. He seemed surprised that we arrived so late with the distance we still had to cover. A quick decision had to be made. Majority vote dictated that we will leave for Mabuasehube right there and then and hope that Wouter catches up.

Keith poured 5 liters of oil down a very suspect looking 2.25 diesel engine in an open top 109" Series III pickup which looked the worst for wear. Badly battered, with no shocks or other visible cosmetics, he fired it up in a cloud of smoke and raced it away with the trailing convoy behind him. We criss-crossed some sandy tracks behind his farm when it soon became apparent that Keith had outrun us. (Can you believe that something like that is possible in a 2.25 diesel...) Not knowing the area at all we all stopped and waited for Keith to return. It was past 15H00 and we still had a 120km of distance to cover. That, with a park gate which closes at 18H00, and a very bad road. Keith soon reappeared and decided to send Dave Lehr ahead to warn the Park Offices that we will possibly arrive a bit late whicle he sticks with the convoy. With the convoy re-attached Keith laboured away in a cloud of smoke at a more sedate pace. There were screams of laughter over the airwaves when Keith's bonnet would fly open at 80Km/h and he'd simply slow down to 40 for it to slam shut again before he'd jam the peddal down again and speed up. Watching him drive that heap over those roads was an educational experience... :-)

We stopped briefly midway for a breather and made the reserve entrance well before six. The road had alternated between firm gravel, firm sand and very soft sand which required deflated tyres. At the entrance to the reserve all booking formalities were taken care of and we proceeded to our campsite where we set up camp. With that taken care of it was time to sit back, relax and braai. What was nice was the luxury of hot showers nearby. We were in the bush finally with the reward of a magnificent sunset that evening...

Picture of early morning packing activity at Red Sands.

Picture of the Capetonian convoy ready to leave for Tsabong.

Picture of us stopping midway between McCarthy's Rest and Hotazel to deflate tyres.

Picture of us stopping short of Tsabong to return the meat to the freezers.

Picture of us filling all tanks at Tsabong Total. #1

Picture of us filling all tanks at Tsabong Total. #2

Picture of us having lost Keith and awaiting his return.

Monday 28th of April. 12H00. While we were packing to leave for Hukuntsi and Lehututu Wouter arrived. He didn't make the gate in time the previous evening and decided to camp next to the road. Early that morning Keith took a bunch of folk on his Landy for an extended gamedrive while the rest of us lazed about the campsite. On their return and with the group complete we left Mabuasehube and drove towards Hukuntse. Our objective for the day was to reach Lehututu and camp next to a pan on its outskirts. The track varied between sandy and very sandy with lots of corrugations. We kept ourselves entertained with the VHF radios and there was lots of light-hearted bantering. In Hukuntse we all filled up again and drove to the Lehututu outskirts. On the pan we parked the vehicles in a row and took a few pictures. The rest of the day was spent seting up camp, relaxing and making fire for cooking and to braai. We were rewarded with another magnificent sunset and the social activities carried on well into the night...

Picture of our campsite at Mabuasehube.

Picture of the convoy en-route to Hukuntse. #1

Picture of the convoy en-route to Hukuntse. #2

Picture of the convoy rendevouz in Hukuntse.

Picture of the vehicles on the pan at Lehututu.

Picture of the owners on the pan at Lehututu.

Picture of the campfire activity at the pan at Lehututu.

Tuesday 29th of April. 10H00. We had a late start to the day. Some of the clever folk pulled a fast one on me while I had a shower. During my shower they moved the submersable pump of my mobile shower from the moderatly warm water container to Jaco's Coleman Cooler and its freezing water... :-) One day there will be revenge... Packed and ready we headed for the Pollocks concession and the Khaa gate on the Kgaligadi boundary (via Zutswa). The track was terrible nd the suspension frequently bottomed out. We stopped briefly in Zutswa at a bushmen community curio shop. Unfortunately there were very few curios that were worthwhile. From Zutswa the scenery became spectacular. Beautiful woodland and forest with quite a bit of game. On the radios most had consensus that the track wasn't kind the the vehicles. The moment you pick up speed the humps would send everything in the vehicle bouncing up and down. Bye-bye eggs and hello broken bottles. At one point Jacque stopped and radio'd that we should carry on past him. Sam was very uncomfortable. Being pregnant that track couldn't have been fun. Fortunately we were almost at our destination for the night. While Andre and myself waited for Jacque to catch up, after a brief rest, Jaco radio'd in to report a sighting of Lion on a Gemsbok kill. Very excited with the find we drove to the sighting and spent 45 minutes observing the 3 lioness' under a tree. It was the hottest day of the trip and very hot out on the pan.

There was some fun when a black-backed jackal tried to get to the carcass. Keith instructed us to be wary of the predators and be on the lookout during our toilet visits. We pulled the vehicles in a laager and set up camp on the pan. Finally there was some exciting feedback during the last of our late afternoon radio chats with Pierre Radley in Johannesburg. I had made arrangemnets prior to the trip with Pierre that we'd contact him in Johannesburg on HF in the event of probelms. I was surprised with the quality of the comms. That evening under the careful aim of a spotlight we watched the lions approach us. Keith speculated that it was probably out of curiosity more than anything else. Eventually they turned back to their kill. There were lots and lots of game on the pan and after supper the night was rounded off by the whooping cry of hyena somewhere closeby... What a magnificent day !

Picture of our guide Keith Thomas of Berrybush B&B. Wouter in the background.

Picture of Dave Lehr's SWB Landy on the pan near Khaa gate...

Picture of Willem and Johan each attending to his own bussiness... aka "Maak gou Willem hier kom die leeus !" :-)

Wednesday 30th of April. Packed and ready Keith took us for a loop around the pan to view more game. Lots of Red Hartebees, Oryx, Springbok. Then it was on our way along the Kgaligadi boundary towards the main Mabuasehube gate where we spent our first evening. The track was good, if somewhat monotinous. During one of numerous stops along the way Wouter's vehicle refused to start. He seemed confident that it would start so I passed him. Some of us exchanged vehiles while some of the folk hitched a ride with Keith. This way I had the oppertunity to drive Willem's somewhat uncomfortable 2.25 diesel SWB. A fun little car. :-) Jaco radio'd in that Wouter was having more problems than anticipated. I returned to them and gave Jacque the freight of his life on the roofrack with the ellaborated swaying of my vehicle at speed. He might forgive me one day. Wouter replaced his faulty condensor and the convoy was en-route again. We arrived back at our campsite late that afternoon and settled in... The evenings were becoming increasingly social as the group relaxed more in each others company. Willem and I braved it next to the fire that night despite Keith's caution. What was priceless was the long axe Willm kept next to him to fend off any predators :-)...

Thursday 1st of May. My birthday... I missed my family. I guess birthdays pronounce the longing when you are away from yor family. We were fortunate enough to secure a second night in the park at Khiding Pan. Everyone had the oppertunity to do an ellaborated rive through the park to reach our campsite before nightfall. A few of us drove out of the park first to collect firewood. Despite a few forlorn wildebeest and ample springbok and gemsbok the game was quite sparse. At a lunch stop we had a lot of fun observing the ground squirrels and a golden mongoose. We briefly stopped for a beer at fellow overlanders Herbert Smith, Johann Hugo and Andre Marais who was also camping in the Reserve. Nice to meet familiar folk in such remote parts. At our campsite the mood was very mellow. Keith took a few folk on a gamedrive late in the afternoon while the rest of us started the fire and cooking activity. It turned into a very late night with the most laughter I have had in a long while. In a strange way we knew it was our last night there and I guess we tried to stretch it. In the end despite the absence of my family I had a memorable birthday...

Friday 2nd of May. Our trip was now almost finished. We had to be out of the park at 11H00. On our way out with Jaco and Andre behind me I happened upon a leopard in the road. It was walking straighht towards me in the track when we both spotted each other. I was very excited. After watching it for a while we left the reserve and waited for the rest of the group to catch up outside. From there it was back to Tsabong and Berrybush. That night at Berrybush, (some of us fortunate enough to have secured rooms), Jill Thomas pulled all stops and catered us a magnificent meal. It was early to bed for the long drive back the next day. It was a freezing cold night...

Picture of Hennie at the Park gate...

Picture of the Mabuasehube Park sign...

Picture of the group ready to depart for Tsabong...

Picture of Berrybush B&B #1

Picture of Berrybush B&B #2

Saturday 3rd of May. Having had a fantastic time it was sad to say goodbye. Each departed for his own destination. The Capetonians and Andre G had a very long trip ahead. The Pretoria folk decided to stay over at "Boereplaas" resort outside Vryburg on the Stella road. A very nice campsite with good facilities...

Sunday 4th of May. Homeward bound. It was a fantastic trip with a bunch of fantastic people. I can't wait to do it again... Thanks very much to all participants for making it a special experience... Thanks particularly to Dave Lehr for his assistance in setting us up with Keith. Then, last but not least, old kalahari harry Keith Thomas. What a man ! Thanks Keith, you were a brilliant guide ! Hope we meet up with you again !

More Images, Mabuasehube Nature Reserve, Botswana. Slide Scans