The Western Woodlands - Geoff Hill's trip report

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The Western Woodlands - Geoff Hill's trip report

Postby Geoff » Mon May 07, 2012 12:16 pm

Easter 2012 Botswana Western Woodlands

Our 9th annual father and son Easter trip was go the Western Woodlands in Botswana. For years I’d heard about the Kalahari pan country and recently I had read a few trip reports about the area. The stories made me want to visit Matsetleng Pan and park off under Camel thorn trees and watch a fire in the evening as the sun went down.

The participants for this trip were

Geoff Hill and son Andy in a Toyota Land Cruiser 100VX 4.2TDi aka Meneer
Dave Nixon and son in law Craig in a Toyota Hilux double cab 3.0D4D diesel.
Steve Hill with his mate Kevin in an Isuzu 280 doublecab.

Going through my old records I realized that Dave and I were the only ever present participants in these Easter trips. The vehicles had changed but we were still there

I left White River on Wednesday 4 April 2012 at 10h00 en route to Andy’s place in Sunninghill in Johannesburg. I took the opportunity to visit my Mum who is now staying at the JAFTA in the Southern Suburbs. I stayed at Andy’s place and he took me to supper at his local Keg where I had a magic steak. Later that evening he took me to his local dive where everybody called me Dad how sad is that.

We left Thursday morning at 06h00 to meet the rest of the traveling party at the Wimpy in Lichtenburg. I made the mistake of believing the AA report that I should go via Magaliesberg and Koster rather than via the N14. On the way back I found that the latter route was in a much better condition. We arrived at 08h30, had breakfast and left for Mafekeng where I filled up with diesel.

We used Ramatlabama to avoid Lobatse border crossing and it was a breeze except Steve got bust for his beers and had to pay P 310 in duty before being allowed to cross. We were through both sides in 30 minutes.

We headed for Kanye and the Trans Kalahari highway as our first night stop was Kalahari Rest Camp 20kms north of Kang. Cost of P80 per person per night but the alternative was Maneke Pan @ nil per person but way further north than we wanted to be.

I was on supper duty that night and supplied Chicken Pregos and Chips. We were on our way!

Next morning we left at 08h45 and returned to Kang to fill up and to take the road to Hukuntsi. After refueling we hit the road and stopped along the road for our traditional Bacon sarmies. It was good to be back.

At Hukuntsi we refueled as this would be the last fuel till somewhere around Werda. We took the track to Ngwatle and Matsetleng Pan and found an amazing pan in the middle of nowhere. Further along the road to Matsetleng Pan we were passed from the front by a couple of trucks and Cruiser Bakkies travelling at high speed and not giving up their road so it was hasty shot left.

On reaching Ngwatle I expected to have to pay (based on the trip reports I had read) but no one seemed to want our money so we carried on to Matsetleng Pan. We travelled down a windy scratchy two spoor but eventually got to our destination. The only other occupants were Botswana Game rangers in a Cruiser bakkie having lunch in the main campsite. After they left we had the place to ourselves.

We arrived to a small herd of Springbuck some Hartebeest (or were they Tssebe) and Wildebeest. They were very skittish and didn’t hang around when they saw us.

We set up camp and Craig set about making a Thai Green Chicken Curry. All showered and fed we enjoyed some African TV with the jackals supplying the sound section. It was magic and we were here for two nights.

Steve has recently been bitten by the golf bug and had brought some wedges and balls so we played the Matsetleng open throughout the next day but Ernie and his fellow pros don’t have to worry too much we were all a bit useless Lots of parking off and a few beers and a most enjoyable day in the Kalahari.

We did a bit of vehicle checking and found my batteries had moved around a bit and one of the caps (I have Willards) had dislodged and was missing. Some coke bottle caps and duct tape and the battery was more or less sealed. Some wood under the brackets and we were good to go.

Steve’s mate Kevin was on cooking duty and made a biltong potjie that night which went down very well. The jackals were getting braver and we saw a few much closer to our camp.

That evening we had a visit from the village elders and the police as someone had stolen some equipment they were installing for ablutions but they were very polite and no bother at all.

Up early the next morning and then via what I nicknamed the “itchy and scratchy” two spoor track that has a warning of grass burnout risk so we stopped often but apart from the numerous seeds getting onto the radiators in spite of two seed nets no problem at all. This track rejoins the main cutline to Kaa about 20 kms after the Ngwatle track joins the cutline.

Just before the “itchy and scratchy” track joins the cutline we met a party of about 12 vehicles led by a guy in a large Bedford. We had a chat for a while and then were on our way. They had generators, shower cubicles and the whole nine yards so it was a bit like Saturday morning at the Mall. If I looked closer I probably could see a DSTV dish

A short time later we had our bacon sarmies with some chips as a brunch.

We travelled down this cutline to shortly before the Kaa gate turnoff and there is a slip way of about 5kms to the cutline running north of Kgalagadi Transfrontier park. This cutline had not had much traffic for a while but was in relatively good condition. We travelled this cutline until Bushy pan where we had some vehicle problems and had to camp over for the night.

We had a precooked Chilli Con Carne with Woolies Ciabata bread and some Johnny Walker Black Label. A wonderful evening with most of the world’s problems being solved.

Shortly after going to bed I heard some strange noises and looked out of the roof top tent to find 3 Hyenas having a ball with some of our stuff we had neglected to put away. They came back 3 times throughout the night and I’m sure they seem bigger than their Kruger cousins. They made off with 3 pairs of flip flops and my heavy duty showering rubber mat. The next morning I found my mat about 60 meters away none the worse for wear.

We headed off down the cutline the next morning and after an hour had a sighting of 2 male lions and a lioness. Huge and black manned these were also much bigger than their Kruger counterparts. I think they all go to a class to frustrate game spotting because as we got there they went behind a thick bush where all you saw were glimpses.

We continued on down this cutline and once around the 90* bend at the north tip of Mabuasehube we had breakfast. We took the cutline to Kokotsha and this must rate as the worst corrugations I have ever driven on. I stopped a few times to check on my improvised battery caps but all seemed ok.

We got to the tar road and I was stopped by the police coming through Kokotsha. He was looking for a bribe and on seeing that I was too dumb to play along he let us go. He did say however that there was fuel at Werda and as we weren’t sure how much fuel we each had left we decided to try there. His revenge I guess as the fuel station was closed. We then had to go to Bray about 45kms down the road. We back tracked to the road to Mmathethe and found a camping spot along here for our final night.

Supper was a braai with Dave supplying a potato bake and sharing his Pork fillet. The only wildlife we had around us this night was cattle. A lot of mooing throughout the night but it didn’t disturb us.

Early to bed and up early as well but I didn’t sleep well as it got very cold that night.

Took the road to Mmathethe and then down to Ramatlabama where we filled up with our last Botswana cheaper diesel and through the border in double quick time and back home.

The trip home was uneventful although we went via N14 which was a much better route with the stop goes completed and the signs being taken down. We did see 2 trucks that had fallen over on bends so they must have been going too fast.

Stayed over again at Andy’s before the final leg to White River. I must admit there are some great restaurants in Sunninghill as we had a great pasta dish at an Italian place there.

Great trip thanks again guys.
2934 kms @ 13.79 lt /100km not too bad for a Cruiser.

Geoff Hill
13) Bushy Pan.JPG
Bushy Pan
13) Bushy Pan.JPG (168.48 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
14) Hyena damage.JPG
Hyena Damage
14) Hyena damage.JPG (385.15 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
15) Bots 2012 day 5.jpg
Day 5
15) Bots 2012 day 5.jpg (71.09 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
16) Last bush campsite.JPG
Last bush campsite
16) Last bush campsite.JPG (254.39 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
17) Bots 2012 day 6.jpg
Day 6
17) Bots 2012 day 6.jpg (178.21 KiB) Viewed 14945 times

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Re: The Western Woodlands - Geoff Hill's trip report

Postby Geoff » Mon May 07, 2012 12:54 pm

Some of our pictures but out of order sorry :oops:
8) Camp at Matsetleng Pan.JPG
Our camp at Matsetleng pan
8) Camp at Matsetleng Pan.JPG (270.62 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
9) Visitor at Matsetleng Pan.JPG
A visitor at Matsetleng pan
9) Visitor at Matsetleng Pan.JPG (171.23 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
10) Matsetleng Open.JPG
Matsetleng open
10) Matsetleng Open.JPG (241.65 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
11) Bots 2012 day 4.jpg
Day 4
11) Bots 2012 day 4.jpg (81.62 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
12) The Itchy and Scratchy track.JPG
The itchy & scratchy track
12) The Itchy and Scratchy track.JPG (219.64 KiB) Viewed 14945 times

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Joined: Thu Jun 22, 2006 2:29 pm

Re: The Western Woodlands - Geoff Hill's trip report

Postby Geoff » Mon May 07, 2012 1:14 pm

More pictuers but again out of order :oops:
4) On the road again!.JPG
on the road again
4) On the road again!.JPG (94.87 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
5) Pan in the middle of nowhere.jpg
Pan in the middle of nowhere
5) Pan in the middle of nowhere.jpg (53.6 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
6) Pan in the middle of nowhere.JPG
Pan in the middle of nowhere
6) Pan in the middle of nowhere.JPG (191.97 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
7) Matsetleng Pan.JPG
Matsetleng pan
7) Matsetleng Pan.JPG (145.87 KiB) Viewed 14945 times

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Re: The Western Woodlands - Geoff Hill's trip report

Postby Geoff » Mon May 07, 2012 1:16 pm

Final pictures sorry out of order
1) Bots 2012 day 1.jpg
Day 1
1) Bots 2012 day 1.jpg (149.28 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
2) Kalahari Rest.JPG
Kalahari rest
2) Kalahari Rest.JPG (102.31 KiB) Viewed 14945 times
3) Bots 2012 day 2.jpg
Day 2
3) Bots 2012 day 2.jpg (55.69 KiB) Viewed 14945 times

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