Our final recce for the Land Rover Global Botswana Expedition got underway when I climbed into a brand new Discovery 4 V8 HSE at our Experience centre and hit the long road towards the wide open spaces of Botswana and the Kalahari dessert, destination Maun - the gateway to the Okavango delta.
Upon arriving in Maun I met up with my old friend and travel companion Oscar Pusotsile where we discussed all that needed to happen over the next couple of days. It was decided that before we depart, we would pay a courtesy call in at the Royal Tree Lodge, where we spend our first night on the expedition, before heading out into the wilderness of the Okavango Delta. Oscar was in the Delta the previous week and the water was higher than it has been for 25 years, so it was also decided to take along a second vehicle just in case we got ourselves into a situation we couldn't get out of, and it was a great help to have a vehicle to carry the extra 100 litres of fuel required.
So our 2 vehicle convoy consisting of a shiny new V8 Discovery 4 and Oscar’s Land Rover Defender TDI game viewer, headed out early morning for the Buffalo fence and into the Wilderness.
Our drive through the Moremi Game Reserve was relatively uneventful except for having to recover a South African visitor. His Discovery 4 was not able to make it’s way through a sandy corner, so out came our recovery rope and we did the necessary, while at the same time looking out for an elephant or lion which could have been behind the nearest bush. This was basically the story of the next couple of days with lots of water crossings and recoveries of locals and visiting tourists alike. I just can't understand how tourists from around the world make their way into this treacherous environment with no experience and really inadequate equipment. Luckily we did not get bogged down ourselves, but if we were in one vehicle alone it would have left an uncomfortable feeling in the bottom of my stomach.
"Oscar was in the Delta the previous week and the water was higher than it has been for 25 years..."
Our time was spent not only recovering everyone else, but also looking for new tracks and ways of moving through this watery wonderland, with the water in the Okavango so high the game viewing was amazing, the Land area had become smaller so animals basically had no where to hide. We came across numerous sightings of Lion and Elephant, but this was all capped off with a sighting of one of Africa’s most endangered cats and the fastest land mammal, a Cheetah with two cubs. We did find some routes and found some beautiful spots from where we will be able to explore, and will give everyone that joins us a great sense of what the “Delta” is all about.
The petrol situation was resolved and a drop-off point has been allocated, in essence the 5.0litre V8 was not nearly as heavy on fuel as previously anticipated and, wow, what dream vehicle to drive in those conditions.
We paid courtesy calls into all the other lodges and hotels we will be staying at during our Land Rover Global Expedition, including the majestic Victoria Falls and headed back to Maun where we had the last of the arranging to do with suppliers before hitting the long road home. Another wonderful time in one of Africa’s great Wilderness areas and I can't wait for our first groups to start arriving in the beginning of September to start this awesome expedition!
All the best and looking forward to seeing you in Maun (or Vic Falls)
"Big G” aka Gerard van Meygaarden - Land Rover Expeditions Leader
Post: July 2011
Botswana Expedition - "Journey to somewhere truly different, the Africa of your dreams. Experience a miracle of nature in one of the world’s most beautiful and exciting locations. A journey through the flood plains of the Okavango Delta where Africa’s wildlife flourishes and the breathtaking tranquil scenery is interrupted only by the thrilling sights of elephant herds, leaping gazelle, wallowing hippopotamus and graceful giraffe. Exciting off-road driving adventures in the heart of Africa are softened with the opportunity to relax at the end of the day in beautiful lodges where you can sip the drink of your choice and watch the stunning idealistic sunset that completes the day..."
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