Colours of the Kimberley Coast

Sparkling sapphire sea, cloudless bright blue sky, deep brick red pindan cliffs, cream and orange sands, purple mulla mulla flowers and spectacular multi-coloured sunsets, this is the Kimberley coast in “winter”.

Our time on the Kimberley coast was spent hopping from one beautiful spot to another. First was Eighty Mile Beach. The Wallal Downs Station has established a very pleasant caravan park on part of their ocean frontage property and located behind a small dune to provide wind protection. Well-watered green lawns, plentiful trees for those who want shade or open areas for those that need solar power and viewing platforms to sit and enjoy the evening sunset spectacle. The beach is wide and the sand firm, great for long walks, and there are apparently plentiful fish to be caught from the shore or boats.

After the dust of the Pilbara the showers were also a treat and the washing machines very welcome. We planned to stay two nights but stayed three and could easily have extended further except some of our supplies were getting low and couldn’t be replenished before we reached Broome.

Next stop was Barn Hill, another station run caravan park. This park lacks the green grass so it is dustier and the sand on the beach is not as firm for walking but there are spectacular rock formations at the back of the beach not far from camp and also red pindan cliffs, multi-coloured rocks and fascinating rock pools along the shore.

This time we managed to leave after just two nights and then drove straight into Broome to replenish our supplies before back tracking to spend a couple of nights at the Broome Bird Observatory. 

The Bird Observatory is one of our favourite places to stay in this area. It is located at the top of Roebuck Bay about 30 minutes drive from Broome. They do a lot of work in monitoring migratory birds, run tours and provide accommodation or camping. The camping area is small and always very quiet, only about ten sites and no power or generators. A Shade House serves as a camp kitchen, viewing point for watching birds and wallabies at a water point and as a general meeting place. Every evening a bird roll call is held when they record all birds seen or heard within 70 kilometres during the past 24 hours. It is always peaceful and friendly and just across the sandy road are the marvellous colours of Roebuck Bay. Aerial shots in the area are especially rewarding.

The Dampier Peninsula lies north of Broome and this was our next destination. There is free camping at a few places along the southern stretch of the peninsula and James Price Point is the most spectacular of these. Its also a favourite with Broome locals but as we arrive there mid week there are few others around and we find a great spot tucked back into the red pindan cliffs. There we escaped the strongest of the winds but could still gaze out over the amazing ocean in front of us. We could wander up the beach at low tide or take a dip in front of the camp at high tide but most of our time was happily spent enjoying the beauty and reading and relaxing.

We had four peaceful days before the weekend arrived and the area filled with locals out for the day or to camp for two or three nights. We spent most of a day trying to find another spot to camp further up the peninsula but most camp sites were closed due to covid and entry to all of the aboriginal communities is restricted to local residents or essential workers. The places which were open either didn’t appeal to us and were likely to be even busier than James Price Point so we back-tracked all the way and spent one night near Willie Creek and two nights at Quandong Point before returning to James Price Point for another two nights.

Finally it was time to return to Broome but this time we were treating ourselves and had booked into a very nice Air BnB. Seems our stay in Geraldton has made us soft. We had eight days in Broome and managed to eat out at some very nice places, enjoy some drinks at Matsos Brewery (my personal favourite was the Angry Wranger, a mix of ginger beer and chilli beer), visit the markets a few times and enjoy the food from the stalls, watch the Staircase to the Moon from Town Beach, visit Gantheaume Point when the full moon was setting just before sunrise and drive up Cable Beach a couple of times to watch the sunset with a picnic meal.

The Red, Red Dirt of Home

Kennedy Range NP

If you travel in outback Australia the red dirt, which blankets much of the interior of this country, invades your vehicle and, no matter how well you clean your car, you will still be finding pockets of red tucked into crevices and hinges for years to come. The red dirt settles into the blood and soul of some people and I’m happy to be one of them. 

For many years I relished city and urban life then grew to love living surrounded by bush or near the ocean. I still love the bush and the beach and the occasional visit to the big smoke but if I’m away from the red dirt for too long I get a yearning to return.

Winter is the easiest time to travel in the outback when temperatures are more comfortable. Our last few winters have been spent either overseas or on the east coast so as covid restrictions eased and we were allowed to travel within Western Australia my first request was to head inland, camp in the bush and enjoy a good campfire, and see some of that red, red dirt.

Kennedy Range National Park is a couple of hundred kilometres inland of Carnarvon on the west coast of Australia. Rather than follow the highway up from Geraldton where we had spent the covid lockdown period we drove inland and travelled for two days along mainly dirt roads through the tiny settlements of Murchison and Gascoyne Junction. Traffic was scarce and it was great to be out of town and away from civilisation.

We found a pleasant overnight spot to camp at Bilung Pool. It’s a permanent water hole which was used by the early settlers and before that by generations of Aboriginals. Paul enjoyed catching the late afternoon and early morning light on the magnificent white gums at the edge of the pool.

We reached Kennedy Range by the middle of the next day and found several other groups in the Temple Gorge camp ground. The range is an eroded plateau and the camp and most walks are at the base of spectacular cliffs that rise 100m above the plains. The best way to appreciate the range is from the air and Paul flew the drone early in the morning, well away from camp, and captured some of the beauty.

Some walks enter the gorges and you pick your way through the rocks and admire the formations and patterns in the gorge walls. Others take you along the face of the escarpment and past huge rocks which have fallen in years past. A Wedge Tail Eagle rode the thermal currents above us.

There are no individual fire pits at the campsites but a large communal fire was a great place to cook dinner and to sit and chat with other campers each evening. After months of travel restrictions everyone was happy to be back in the bush and the conversations, as always, turned to previous adventures and experiences and future plans. 

On the Road


We are changing the way we will be sharing our stories and photos by separating our Travel Journal from our Blog Posts. In our Blog Posts we will be writing about particular experiences and places. They will be somewhat shorter than they have been and still include lots of photos. Our travel journal, which we have called “On the Road”, is now published and includes maps of different sections of our route as well as photos we take along the way. The “On the Road” Index Page can help you find particular sections you are interested in.

The first instalment of “On the Road” is available now and it covers our trip from the south of Ethiopia to South Africa. If you are interested in our “On the Road” travel journal then please follow the link to the Index Page and then jump to wherever you want to go to. We would love your feedback about whether it is easy to navigate around and any suggestions you may have.

Wildlife on our Doorstep

Young BushBuck and Warthog, Chobe Safari Camp, Botswana

Chobe National Park in Botswana is one of great wildlife destinations in Africa and the Chobe river front section supports the largest wildlife population in the park. What a great place for us to enjoy a final safari before we finish this part of our African adventures.

Once we cross the border from Zambia to Botswana it is a short drive to Kasane where we are camping in the Chobe Safari Camp. We love our site next to the river and we are right on the border of the national park. As well as our great river views we can see elephants coming down to drink all along the river front and one evening an elephant approaches the edge of the camp, only an electric fence prevents him from wandering right into our camp site. As well as listening to the hippos snorting in the river we frequently hear the cry of the African Fish Eagles from the tops of the nearby trees, two sounds which immediately invoke wild Africa.

Initially we planned to stay for a few nights but we eventually leave after a five night stay. Several tame bush bucks and semi-tame warthogs with their young wander around the camp. The bush buck are so tame they walk right up to the camera and even allow us to gently pat their heads.

There is plenty of bird life including bright Red Bishop birds, Yellow Weaver birds, White-Browed Robin Chats and frequent sightings of Fish eagles. A bright green dung beetle investigates the droppings left behind from the warthogs.

We venture into the National Park early one morning. It is a short drive to the park entrance and we immediately head down toward the river. There is plenty of water throughout the park at this time of the year and during the morning we do not have much luck spotting animals at the river. There are plenty of water birds though and we stop frequently to watch them.

Game we see in the morning includes two hyenas heading down for a drink and investigating interesting smells on their way. As well as Impala, Kudu and Waterbuck, the park has good populations of the water loving Red Lechwe and a small population of the endangered Puku.

Chobe is well known for its elephant population and we are surprised that we don’t see any down by the river, especially as it is early morning. By late morning we have gone as far into the park as we plan and we turn back toward the entrance. Very soon we start seeing family groups of elephants heading toward the river and from then on we see more and more elephants heading down for a drink and a splash or swim. Before long we have seen hundreds.

A special sight is watching a baby elephant suckling.

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By this time the hippos are also ready to emerge from the river to graze.

The next day we take a boat cruise from the camp in the late afternoon. The water was calm and the reflections beautiful.

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Chobe Cruise, Botswana

We get some nice close views of the birds.

And get even closer to a Fish Eagle bathing in the river before he flew off to a neighbouring tree.

A large herd of buffalo were grazing on Sedudu Island.

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Buffalo Grazing on Sedudu Island, Chobe National Park, Botswana

And a family of elephants drink at the water’s edge.

We stop by some crocs basking in the late afternoon sun.

Before enjoying the river scenery on our return cruise to the camp.

Late afternoons and early evenings are spent watching the changing light and the sunset from the Sunset Bar but at other times we just watch the river from our camp site. Its no wonder we extended our stay but finally it is time to move on from this camp but we’re not going far.

Senyati Camp is less than 20 km from Kasane and not far south of the town of Kazangula so it doesn’t get us far on our journey but is well worth a stop over. The camp sites are very comfortable with lots of trees, a private shower and toilet and a sitting area with a sink. The real reason for coming here though is the waterhole with a fresh water fountain which the elephants love and an underground hide so you can get very close. On our last visit it was the dry season and we saw a steady stream of animals visiting the waterhole including hundreds of elephants over the course of the night, as well as wildebeest, buffalo and impala. There is plenty of water around at this time of the year and we wonder if the water will attract the animals anyway. When we first take our positions near the waterhole there are no animals nearby. As we sit we gradually see giraffe moving across in the distance and as time goes by we see more and more of them.

Senyati Camp, Botswana

Next a single male elephant approaches the waterhole for a drink and he is followed by several other males.

Later, as the sun is setting, a family group comes to the waterhole and as the evening progresses we see more and more of them. It has certainly been worthwhile making another visit here.

Senyati Camp, Botswana

Big Rain is Coming

Sunset over Lake Kazuni, Vwaza Marsh, Malawi

‘Big rain’ is coming. We have places we want to visit but the rain is already falling across Southern Africa so we make plans to drive through Malawi, sticking to sealed roads for much of the time, and take the opportunity to return to a few of the special places we visited 18 months ago and to catch up with some lovely people along the way.

Our first destination is the Vwaza Marsh Wildlife Reserve. As we drive we can see big storm clouds gathering up in the mountains but the rain holds off and, at the moment, it seems to be fairly localised. The dirt track out to Vwaza Marsh is still in fairly good condition and we arrive by mid-afternoon. After checking in at the gate we make our way to the lake shore area where we can camp or stay in a bungalow. Camping prices are set by the national parks authority and the bungalows are operated by the local community so it is actually cheaper for us to stay in a bungalow with an ensuite than to set up camp … easy choice. The bungalows are a little run down but certainly adequate for our use and the one we stay in does keep out the rain.

We are soon relaxing on the verandah and looking out over Lake Kazuni. The water level is much higher than on our last visit and the water is quite deep in front of us so the hippos are a further away around the lake shore but we can still hear the occasional snorting and see them moving around. The water is very calm and as the sunset approaches the colours in the sky and the reflections in the lake are wonderful.

On our last visit we drove around the lake edge and through the park but apart from hundreds of hippos it wasn’t until we returned to camp that we saw many animals and then we saw lots of different buck heading down to the water to drink, watched the hippos cavorting in the water and venturing out to feed and best of all had large herds of elephants walking right through the camp. On this visit we see fewer animals but the lake is the star giving us an endless array of beautiful scenes. We start each day with another serene view.

Early Morning Light, Lake Kazuni, Vwaza Marsh, Malawi

Then watch a solitary elephants approach the water for a drink.

Elephant along the Lake Shore

Impala venture down to the water but then scatter in the bush. These buck climbed a rock behind a tree, it looks as though they climbed into the tree.

Several ducks sail serenely past happy with the high waters and calm conditions.

A troop of baboons descend from a sausage tree and one checks recent elephant dung to see if it contains any of the seeds it likes and then they scamper past our camp to search for food elsewhere.

In the afternoon a rain squall blankets the lake but it soon clears and we enjoy another delightful sunset to end our short but enjoyable stay here..

Evening Light, Lake Kazuni, Malawi

The next place we are keen to revisit is Nyika Plateau National Park, high in the mountains which make up the western border between Malawi and Zambia. Our last visit was in winter and it was very cold. This time the weather will still be cool but not freezing and the higher rainfall will make driving around inside the park more difficult.

The park is much greener now and still very beautiful. At this altitude most of the hills are covered in a short grass with trees only growing in valleys between the slopes where they are protected from the worst of the winter cold. There are also some old pine forests near the main Chelinda Camp.

We had hoped to go for a drive during the afternoon when we arrive but the rain sets in. Luckily it stops before evening and we are able to sit by a fire and enjoy watching the buck and zebra on a nearby hill.


Next day we set out to explore the park. Some of the roads are closed and other are muddy so we confine our travels to the easier routes. First we take a drive around one of the northern loops and back through the pine forest as that is where there have been sightings of leopards. There has even been an unconfirmed lion sighting recently. No luck with the cats unfortunately but the drive through the pine forest is always enchanting.

After lunch we drive out toward the Chosi Viewpoint. The views are wonderful but the grey clouds threaten more rain.

With heavy rain threatening we limit the distance we are prepared to drive but we still get some nice sightings of Eland, Roan Antelope, Impala, Mountain Reed Buck and Zebra.

After the rain we visit one of the lakes and then enjoy sunset beside the dam next to the main camp area.


We saw Bush Buck around the camp on our last visit but they have been more elusive this time. We finally manage to see some in the morning just before we are leaving.

Bush Buck, Nyika Plateau, Malawi

From Nyika we drive back to the highway and a short distance south to Mzuzu, the regional capital. We are returning to Macondo Camp there which is run by Luca and Cecilia, an Italian couple. They have a small camping area plus some safari tents in a lovely garden in the hills on the edge of town and a fantastic restaurant. We stayed and ate here on our last visit and have been looking forward to a return visit. Their hospitality is terrific and their pizza and pasta are fabulous. I’m sure the rest of the food on the menu is great too but we can’t seem to get past the pizza and pasta section. That is apart for the home-made liqueurs, Limoncello is my favourite.

While we are here we reassess our onward plans. We wanted to re-visit the fabulous Kachere Kastle on the shore of Lake Malawi not far south of Mzuzu and so we contacted Russell and Kate, the owners, to let them know when we thought we would arrive. Unfortunately they are closed for the wet season as they get virtually no visitors and they are in fact going back to England for some of the time. We also try to contact Croc Valley, the camp outside South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. We stayed there on our last visit and planned to stay again. We have had no replies to a couple of emails and we have also had reports of roads in the park being muddy or impassable so we reluctantly conclude we should skip a visit this time. Instead we extend our stay at Macondo to 3 nights and stock up our supplies for the long drive from here through central Malawi, across Zambia, and into the north east of Botswana.

As it turned out we could have saved ourselves considerable distance and time by entering Zambia from the north but the side trip into Malawi has been very enjoyable and worthwhile.

Dreaming of Lamu

Lamu, Kenya

Lamu is a centuries old Arab town dating back to the fifteenth century and it is the oldest continually inhabited town in Kenya. Situated on a small island just off the East African coast, a short distance south of the border with Somalia, it is a place that relatively few outsiders choose to visit. The laneways in the old town are so narrow and convoluted that no vehicles are allowed and, other than a few bicycles, donkeys are the only form of transport. I have wanted to go there since I was a boy and now, nearly fifty years after leaving Kenya, I have the opportunity.

We are keen to get to there so we can begin our ‘little beach break’ which we are planning to kick off in Lamu and then travel slowly down the coast into Northern Tanzania. We take the twenty minute flight to Manda Island from Malindi and then catch the ferry for the seven minute ride across to Lamu Island. This is a great way to approach the town arriving at the wharf where many other boats are congregated.

The scene is lively with lots of good natured calls and shouts. We haven’t booked any accommodation so finding somewhere to stay is the first order of business.

Petleys Inn, Lamu, Kenya

Right opposite the wharf is Petleys Inn, the first place that we want to look at. We are offered a room on the first floor which opens up onto a large shared balcony with tables and chairs overlooking the wharf. A short walk to the back of the hotel is a small but perfect swimming pool.

Petleys Inn, Lamu, Kenya

We will be right in the middle of things here so we quickly say yes but we can only stay for three of the four nights we will be in Lamu. There is a cultural festival starting in a few days and the place will be humming.

As it was in Malindi, it is hot and humid but we are slowly acclimatising and we make good use of the swimming pool. Early mornings and evening are terrific and I do a lot of exploring and taking photos.

Relatively few western tourists make it to Lamu but a few Kenyans come through here, especially when there is a festival on. The day to day life on the island goes on around you as you wander the tiny alleys and laneways. 

The old town is quite a bit smaller than Stonetown in Zanzibar but the lanes are narrower and cleaner and most have a drain running down the side. There’s very little rubbish but there is the odd trail of donkey droppings. Most of the buildings are three to five stories high so that the sun only penetrates the narrow alleys for a short time each day. Some of the front doors open straight onto the alleys but quite a few have little vestibules outside with a seat in the shade. These are very handy during the monsoon rains as well. Every so often we come across a donkey standing in one of these vestibules, some are tied up and others just seem to be taking a break.

Because the alleys are so narrow donkeys are part and parcel of life in Old Lamu Town. Any time anything heavy needs to be moved the donkeys are loaded up. Coral stone for building, cement and water deliveries are loaded up into the panniers on each side of a donkey. Sometimes small teams of donkeys are used, at other times they pull carts carrying goods offloaded from the boats arriving at the wharf. A few people can be seen riding donkeys, their feet inches from the ground on either side of the animal.

Donkeys seem to have a semi-autonomous existence in Lamu. This is probably not true but it is not unusual to see someone, arriving at their destination, climb off a donkey and set it loose with a whack, obviously with the expectation that it will find its own way home. Donkey drivers, walking behind their donkeys, very rarely need to make any movement to let the donkeys know which direction to take.

After the first few occasions, when walking through the town, it is not surprising to meet or be passed by a donkey that has no load nor any rider or driver in sight. At times they are lying down in the alleys, just wandering around, or ferreting around the rubbish tip. They are an intrinsic part of the character of Lamu. There is a ‘donkey rescue centre’s on the wharf street, which has been there for many years, where dozens of donkeys are fed and cared for. 

We frequent a few of the local eating establishments along the waterfront and quickly find out that we prefer the Swahili dishes to the attempts at Western food. It also has the advantage that they are quite cheap as well as being very tasty. 

The town is at its liveliest during the evening and we love sitting on our balcony while we watch the passing parade. The people on the island are predominantly Muslim and there are twenty three mosques.

One of many mosques

Around 5pm each evening there is a parade which changes in character each night. Sometimes it is young men only, at others it includes children of varying ages and one evening it was all women. Each time they played music and sang as they walked along the road. 

The main square is in front of the Lamu Fort and the locals congregate here in the evening to play games like Bao and to enjoy the shade.

Playing Bao after the days work is done
The entrance to the square in front of the old fort

On a couple of mornings we visit the local market which is to one side of the Fort.

A Cultural Festival begins on our second last day. We enjoy the Dhow races along the channel

the donkey races along the waterfront, and the fish auction where they auction off the largest of each type of fish caught in the last few days. 

On the last night we stay at a very lovely guest house in a newly renovated building where the owners have restored the place to show off the best of Swahili architecture.

Before catching the plane back to Malindi on our last afternoon we watch the crowds along the wharf. 

Young boys and young men vie for attention as they dive off the wharf into the cooling sea.

We only had limited time in Lamu and we would both have liked longer. It is a quiet corner of East Africa where you can chill for a few weeks or a few months.

Entebbe to Addis Ababa

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Delicious!

After a flying two week trip to South Africa to visit my 92 year old mum in hospital after she had a heart attack I am on a plane back to Uganda on my own. Julie flew back to Australia from Johannesburg the day before yesterday for a short visit, but I need to get back to Uganda.

We left our car at a hotel in Entebbe and when we left we promised the Security Officer at Uganda Customs that we would be back in two weeks to pick up the extension for our temporary import permit so I need to get back there.

The flight takes me via Nairobi and, as we fly past northern Tanzania, I have the good luck to see the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro surrounded by a sea of clouds and lit up by the afternoon sun.

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Mt. Kilimanjaro from the plane

During the three hour stop in Nairobi airport I discover that if I had organised a longer stopover there I could have had a free trip to Nairobi National Park. Something to remember! It is dark by the time I land at Entebbe airport on the shores of Lake Victoria. Before I left Johannesburg I sent an email to the hotel to let them know when I was arriving and my flight has been slightly delayed so I expect them to be waiting for me.

When I get out into the concourse I find it filled with people and outside on the driveway it is, if anything, even more crowded and the road is chock full of cars. I wait by the gate and it isn’t long before I see the receptionist from the hotel. She says we have a little way to walk to get to the car and we find it after a few minutes, still on the approach to the airport terminal. We climb in but we aren’t really moving so the driver decides to mount the divide and turn back onto the road heading away from the airport. A policemen shakes his finger at us but that is all.

We are still moving at snail’s pace and I learn that I have arrived at the same time as a plane-full of Muslims returning from their pilgrimage to Mecca. Everyone around is in good spirits but a drive back to the hotel that normally takes five minutes takes us about forty minutes instead.

The next morning I check out and pack up the car. The hotel very kindly let us leave the car plugged into power for the two weeks that I was away and the guard watered our herbs for us. I hit the road and head for Entebbe to pick up the extension for our temporary import permit. This ends up taking several hours because the security officer isn’t there but by late afternoon I finally get the paper work and head for “The Haven” a wonderful camp site beside the Nile River just north of Lake Victoria. We camped there for a few days when we first arrived in Uganda so I have no trouble finding it.

I can’t hang around though so the next morning I get on the road and head for the Kenyan border at Busia. The border formalities take a little time but I don’t have to pay for a visa because the one I have is still valid but I only get a temporary import permit for the car for seven days. That should be enough though as I will be heading for Ethiopia as soon as possible.

I still have a few hours of daylight left and I plan to spend the night in Kakamega Forest on my way to Nairobi. There’s a bit of rain around and it pours down heavily when I stop at a road side bar for some Nyama Choma. “Nyama Choma” is bbq meat and it is sold throughout Kenya at bars, restaurants and roadside bbq stands, typically outside butcher shops. I wonder what this rain will do to the dirt roads in the Kakamega Forest.

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Nyama Choma calls

It is after dark when I get to the edge of the forest but it isn’t too far to the camp site marked on my map. I ask a policeman and he assures me that I will have no problems getting through the forest as the road is still in good condition. The road is fine but when I turn off to the camp ground it quickly turns to a muddy, rutted track. There’s nothing else to do so I change into low range, four wheel drive and try to keep rolling. There’s one tricky stretch but it’s no trouble. However, when I find some of the forestry workers and ask them about camping they tell me that the camp ground is closed … long pause at this juncture … they know that I don’t have any other options so they agree that I can stay the night and one of them leads me down a small track. We are in the middle of the forest and the rain clouds are still around so it is very dark. It isn’t long before I am in bed and if it rains during the night I have no idea because I am dead-tired.

Next morning the weather seems to have cleared up a bit. There are a few colobus and blue monkeys around looking for food in the trees. I take a few photos, then pay for the camping and head off deeper into the forest on my way east to Nairobi.

It’s a beautiful drive and there is only one patch of mud where the dirt has washed down to the approaches to a bridge. There are workers busy clearing it but there is still a short stretch of mud to negotiate. No problem!

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Kakamega Forest

It isn’t long before I am out of the forest and approaching the western escarpment of the Great Rift Valley. The road climbs and the temperature drops. I stop on the side of the road to enjoy the view and have a quick chat with a local farmer and his family.

I arrive in Nairobi at Jungle Junction, the same camp ground we have used several times before. I’ll be here for a few days while the car is serviced and the wheel bearings are redone. We want the car to be in good shape before we head into Ethiopia. Christoph, the owner, is a mechanic and he gets a couple of his staff onto the job the next day. Not surprisingly the work takes longer than anticipated and only the front wheel bearings are done before I run out of time. I need at least three nights on the road to get from Nairobi to Moyale in far north east Kenya on the border with Ethiopia.

In addition there is a new problem. The front prop-shaft has too much play in it and I will need to get it fixed in Addis Ababa while I wait for Julie to arrive back from Australia. Christoph assures me that there are plenty of Toyota mechanics in Ethiopia and I do some research into Toyota workshops in Addis Ababa.

It is midday before I leave the camp ground, do some shopping and head north out of Nairobi. I decide to head up past the east side of Mt. Kenya as we have travelled the western route a few times before. It will be slower but very scenic. Unfortunately it gets dark before I find a place to camp for the night about 40km south of Meru. I’m on the road again early the next morning and I catch some fleeting glimpses of Mt. Kenya. The valleys and ridges that form the eastern flanks of Mt. Kenya are green and fertile. The soil is a rich red colour which contrasts with the deep green of the banana trees and the tea plantations. They get a lot of rain in these parts and there are large numbers of people living on farms and in the cities here.

I am heading to “Henry’s” in Marsabit, another camp ground we have used before. I arrive half way through the afternoon and get to relax for the first time in a week. In the evening a group of Dutch people arrive from the north. They have just come through Moyale and inform me that the day after tomorrow, the day I plan to cross the border, is a public holiday in Ethiopia; their New Years Day. They are pretty certain that there will be no Ethiopian staff on duty that day at the border crossing. My Ethiopian visa isn’t valid until then so I may just have to take my time so that I don’t have to wait in Moyale itself which has a bit of a reputation.

Around mid-morning I head north and take my time. I stop to take some photos of a crater just north of Marsabit and then head down into the large swathe of arid country that used to be called the Northern Frontier District.

Meteor Crater

It is hot and dry for the most part with very little water. The few tribes that live out here include the Boran, the Turkana and the Gabra, all nomad peoples who run herds of goats, cattle and camels. The Shifta (bandits from Somalia) used to come over the border and raid the country for livestock. The local people are no pushovers and reports of these clashes would drift back to Nairobi from time to time.

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Tough Country

These days there are plenty of police patrolling the roads and it is usually peaceful. There are still the odd fights over water rights but these don’t really affect tourists and travellers as long as you stay clear of anything that looks threatening.

I have been driving north for a few hours already so I am well and truly out in the flat, dry country of northern Kenya now and the sun is starting to get really hot. The colours of the landscape are washed out under the harsh light of the sun and I am squinting against the glare. Distant hills and trees float above the horizon on shimmering lakes that are mere mirages.

My map shows a pattern of old volcanoes dotted all over this country. Most are very old and worn down to rounded hills. A few larger ones remain. I spotted a large hill, possibly an old volcano, on the northern horizon in front of me a little while ago but I don’t seem to be getting any closer. Off to the sides of the road I see the odd herd of cows and camels and sometimes a couple of ostrich.

Water is hard to come by out here. The land is a light brown colour and the stunted thorn trees are widely spaced around fields of rocks with a few tufts of straw-coloured grass here and there.

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Big Horizons in a parched country

Fortunately I have some water in the fridge to drink. I stop for lunch under a rare shady tree on the edge of a dry river bed. There’s nobody around. In this heat it takes effort to move very far and most people, like the animals and birds, rest up in the middle of the day. Early morning and the evening are the best times to do anything physical.

Back on the road I can still see the same hill in the north. I take another look at the map. There aren’t many turns in the road but it looks like the road will take me to the hill and then turn east just after it. The map shows that there is a small town just south of the hill. Eventually I start to make out some details. There is a large hill with some massive rocks surrounded by some smaller hills littered with large boulders. The road will pass the town and leads over a saddle between the large hill and another to the west.

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The Hill

I drive slowly through the town and then the road rises into the hills and curves gently to the east. I spot a tower on the hill and a dirt track that leads up to it. I’m ready for a break so I turn onto the track and pretty soon I am out of sight of the main road and parked in some shade. It is quiet apart from some hornbills and starlings that come along to check me out. It has taken me half a day to reach this hill from the time I first saw it.

A little while later and I still haven’t seen anyone so I decide to camp the night. It’s too far to reach the Ethiopian border at Moyale and I have a good view to watch the sunset from up here.

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Sunset on the Rocks

The next morning I continue driving east. The thorn bush is thicker here and fairly green. To the north is a range of hills that lie along the border with Ethiopia and I surmise that this is the source of the water that was missing from the country further south. I’m driving slowly because it’s not that far to Moyale and I’m not sure where I will camp for the night so that I can hit the border crossing as early as possible the next morning.

At one of the police road blocks two police ask for a lift. They both squeeze into the front passenger seat, good thing they are both quite skinny. We start talking and I ask them about the border crossing. One of them gets on the phone and calls someone in Moyale. We hear that another traveller successfully crossed into Ethiopia this morning so the there must be some staff on duty. Knowing this I am keen to get there and we drive into town around lunchtime.

The Kenyan border formalities are done with fairly quickly and I drive across to the Ethiopian side where things stall right away. There’s hardly anyone around, just a few guys sitting around outside and the vast car park is almost empty. There are no other travellers around at all. One of the guys turns out to work for immigration and I show him my e-visa. He says that’s fine but he has to phone and double check with someone in Addis Ababa. As today is a national holiday, New Year’s Day, it may take a while to reach someone. Also the phone network is down so I will have to wait. Another chap tells me that the Customs people won’t be coming in until tomorrow. They were here earlier but they have gone home. It looks like I’m stuck here overnight and the only place to stay is at a lodge within the border post on the Kenyan side.

At this point one of the guys who just seems to be hanging around asked me if he could have a lift to Addis Ababa. In return he says he knows the head of the Customs Department in Moyale and he will give him a call. Of course I say that’s great and he makes a call. Even so, I’m there for several hours and it is mid afternoon before my new friend and I head north into Ethiopia. For the first kilometre the road is littered with stones and corrugated iron and lined with broken down shacks. Terefe explains that thousands of refugees from Somalia live on the right with Ethiopians on the left. Many of the Somalis have been there for ten years and they are frustrated that they have not been granted Ethiopian citizenship. At the end of the kilometre we see a line of taxis and tuk-tuks. Terefe says they won’t go any further than this because of the off and on fighting that breaks out near the border.

Since Ethiopia is the home of coffee I let Terefe know that I’m interested in sampling the local brew as soon as possible and he says that there is a village a short distance away where we can make a stop.

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Typical Ethiopian Town

We soon get there and stop at a typical roadside coffee shop. The floor is strewn with green grass and yellow flowers, partly a celebration of the New Year and partly a reminder of life in the villages and farms which is where the vast majority of Ethiopians are born and raised. The coffee is very good and Terefe gives me the run down on the coffee ceremony and explains that many Ethiopians drink three cups at one sitting, and that the third cup is the “Blessing Cup”.

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First Coffee Stop

Due to the late departure from Moyale we only make it as far as Yabello that night. Terefe is my guide again at dinner and I have my first meal of Tibbs and Injera, the first of many while we are in Ethiopia. I spend the night in the roof-top tent in the hotel car park and we hit the road again at about 7am the next day.

Ethiopia, Day 2

What a day of contrasts! Started out in the thorn bush country of the nomadic Oromo people in southern Ethiopia under wonderful blue skies.

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Thorn Trees and Ant hills

Headed north west from Yabello and stopped at a stock dam to take photos of the Borana cattle watering there as well as the two young herders.

Then the road climbed through a narrow pass in a small mountain range to the town of Konso where they have been terracing the hills for over 400 years to collect water and control erosion. On the approach to the town the dry hill sides are covered with old terraces. (Click here for more info)

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Konso from the air (image from the Internet)

I stop in a narrow valley under a large shady tree to empty the diesel from the jerry cans into the tankand to have a bite to eat. It’s not long before the car is surrounded by about twenty excited kids. From where I stand I can see some of the bigger dry stone walls that are part of the town defences.

From Konso the road turns north up the western side of Lake Chamo to the large town of Arba Minch set up on a hill looking over Lake Abaya. Approaching the lakes the banana plantations line the road and sweep down to the lake shore. Arba Minch itself is very busy and crowded with a large university. North of the town are extensive orchards of large mango trees … not in season for another month. The soil is a rich red colour and the banana plants and mango trees are a vivid green.

Lake Abaya is pretty long and there are many opportunities to stop and take in the amazing grey pink colour of the water, a reflection of the colour of the mountains that provide the backdrop along the eastern side of the lake.

Driving further north the road starts climbing, first through forests and then into an area of steep-sided hills intensively planted with well-tended crops. There are very few gaps between the villages here. The road is pot-holed and there is plenty of traffic, mainly buses, taxis, bajajs (tuk-tuks) and trucks loaded up with bananas to take to Addis Ababa.

The road seems to climb forever and eventually I stop to take some photos. At 2,800 metres it is pretty chilly, especially after the warmer country to the south. A farmer and two young boys walk up the hill from their fields to see what I am about. The clouds are low and grey and every now and then a crack of thunder rolls around the hills and there is some far off lightning. I feel close to the sky up here.

Looking south from this height, many miles away, I can still see the sunlit plains beside the lakes.

The style of buildings changes as I pass through the different regions. This is a good indicator of the many and varied ethnic groups in Ethiopia.

Driving further the weather worsens and the rain is bucketing down by the time I find a place to stay in the next big town, Hosanna. It’s dark and grey, water is flowing down the streets, the town electricity has failed and every vehicle is driving around with their hazard lights switched on. It seems that every where you look there are blinking red and orange lights against the dark grey and drenched streets. Hail bounces off the car as I drive the last few hundred metres to a hotel. No camping in this weather. What a day!

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The morning after the storm

Another early start the next day and we reach Addis Ababa around lunchtime. I take Terefe to a church because he wants to buy some holy oil for his wife and children who he is on his way to see. He works in Moyale for an NGO which tracks refugees as they move around. That’s as much as I can work out anyway. He still has about 100km to go to get to his family.

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Entering Addis Ababa

I locate the hotel I am staying at and pay a quick visit to the Toyota workshop and get the car booked in for the next day. I set myself up in the hotel room so I can process photos while I wait for the car and for Julie to arrive from Australia in about a weeks time. Luckily the hotel is close to the airport and to Toyota which I visit regularly to keep an eye on things. Addis Ababa is busy, dirty and not blessed with many street lights. Just like the villages in the country side, cattle, goats, donkeys and horses roam the streets and often just stand still in the middle of the road forcing people to drive around them. Luckily I have plenty of photos to keep me busy.

Northern Kenya, “No More Stuckings”

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Low Hills surrounding Lake Turkana

Northern Kenya is remote and rugged and we are looking forward to the scenery and the different tribes and having some adventures in the bush. Together with Jared and Jen we’ve planned a loop across the top of Lake Baringo to Maralal then up to Lake Turkana, across the Chalbi Desert and down to Marsabit, then further south to the northern side of Mt Kenya. Well that’s our plan anyway, we’ll just have to see how it unfolds.

The road across the top of Lake Baringo is generally in good condition with some rough patches and a few muddy spots, and lots of great scenery. As we get some elevation above the lake we can appreciate how big it is. Our boat trip covered just a tiny fraction of the western shoreline. The hills are covered in green trees and shrubs after the rainy season and we spot a few duikers, zebra and eland. There are a few villages along the way but it’s relatively sparsely populated.

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North of Lake Baringo

After a few hours we reach Maralal where we hope to find a supermarket but we have to settle for a few vegetables and some eggs and some diesel. We fill our fuel tanks as well as our jerry cans because we may not find reliable fuel for quite a while.

It’s mid afternoon and we’re planning to stop at a community camp in the mountains north of Maralal which has fantastic views. We need to travel 23km up the main road towards Lake Turkana then 10km on a side road. We start climbing into the hills almost as soon as we leave town and we are still on the main road when we encounter our first section of thick soft mud. It looks tricky but both vehicles manage to make it through although the Toyota tyres slide more than we’d like.

We reach the turn to the community camp and ask about the road conditions. No problems with our 4WD vehicles we are told so we head toward the camp. It’s not long before we strike a tricky patch with a narrow section on top of a ridge and holes on either side of the road. Jared gets through with no problems but our tyres let us down and the left rear of the Toyota slides into a deep hole and we are left hanging with our front right tyre about a metre above the road. For a moment I think we are about to tip but it felt worse than it actually was. This is a bit more adventure than I appreciate!

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Oops – now we have to get out of this hole

Travelling in convoy pays off as it proves to be reasonably simple to hook our winch to Jared and Jen’s vehicle and haul ourselves out. We continue down the road and see a long stretch of mud down the hill from us. Time to give up the idea of the community camp, now the tricky bit is for Jared to turn the Jeep and trailer around. The Jeep ends up sideways across the road and the trailer at a sharp angle after one of the trailer wheels slid down a slope and with no room to manoeuvre to straighten up. Some digging and the use of Maxtrax and shuffling back and forth finally gets it sorted and we can get moving again. Once again we are impressed with the capabilities of “Snort” as Jen and Jared call their heavily modified Jeep.

By now it is getting late in the afternoon and we have no idea where we are going to stay for the night. One of the Samburu men who has been watching us approaches Jen and introduces himself and offers us a ‘special camp site’ not far away. After chatting for a short while Jared brings Jack over to us. The special camp is actually on a stretch of grass in front of the boma (compound) where he and his wife and daughters, his brother and family and his father, Alexander, live. We accept the offer and Jack rides with Jared and Jen to show us the way.

Back on the main road we continue for a couple of kilometres and are then confronted with another stretch of mud with a truck stuck in the middle and what turns out to be seven trucks backed up on the road behind them. Luckily there is a narrow and only slightly muddy track off to one side that we can use to get past the stuck truck and then we weave between other trucks to reach a patch of grass on the other side of the road which is to be our camp site for the night.

We level up our vehicles and set up our camp under the watchful eyes of Jack, his father and brother and assorted other family members and also several of the armed guards, carrying assorted semi-automatic weapons, who are providing security for the stranded trucks and their cargoes. This used to be a fairly quiet stretch of road but a wind farm has been built in the north near Lake Turkana and the Chinese are presently constructing the power line through this area to carry the power to Nairobi. A fire is lit for us, at this altitude it is decidedly chilly, and we sit around and share drinks with Jack and Alexander. Other family members and the guards also wander in and out of the area and we feel uncomfortable about bringing out food for just us and don’t have enough to share around so we settle for making a snack at bed time and having a picnic in bed. Its been a long day.

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Sunrise from Jack’s Place

In the morning a tractor trundles down the road and pulls the stuck truck out and the remainder of the trucks follow. Most build up their momentum and get through the muddy patch without incident but one can’t make it and they get pushed out by a grader. Jen and Paul go with Jack to meet his grandfather who is reportedly 117 years old and to take some family photos. Finally we are ready to continue our journey. We ask about the road ahead of us and are told that there is an easy drive with no more muddy patches and we should have “no more stuckings”.

We are driving to Lake Turkana today and it is a great drive with ever-changing scenery. We start on the top of the Loroghi Plateau with views to the valleys on either side of us then begin our descent. We start to see odd groups of camels as well as the usual cattle and goats. A bus thunders toward us with some of the passengers on top of the bus, we figure the driver wants most of the road so we pull over to let him pass.

The views at the top of the final descent to the plains cause us to pause and enjoy the broad vistas below.

As we cross the plain we see tree-studded grasslands which eventually turn drier and the vegetation turns from green to brown. Camel herds increase and the numbers of cattle decrease as the country becomes drier. The drive, with several stops to take photos of the scenery, is interrupted by a short lunch stop on the side of the road. We pass over dry riverbeds and through a couple of towns, Baragoi and the interesting South Horr, as well as several dusty villages.

Finally we start to see the blades of the new windmills emerging above the low hills. A report I read said there were to be 365 turbines which we initially doubt but as we drive further we wonder whether the number is in fact higher. When the power line is completed this energy will provide one third of Kenya’s power needs. As we leave the area with the wind farms Lake Turkana spreads before us. It is huge and glistening in the afternoon sun. Islands are dotted around and we can’t see the other shore.

We slowly descend to the lake on a very rocky road, here the country is covered in roundish rocks, mostly red but some patches are black. If we could wait here until the sun was lower in the sky the colours would be amazing but we have another half an hour or so to reach our destination for the night so we need to keep going.

We are starting to see some of the local people by now. There are several tribes living in this area, Turkana and Samburu, Gabbra, Rendille and El Molo, and the huts we see are round, igloo shaped dwellings made from branches and grasses and what ever other materials can be found. Goats and camels are grazing on the very little feed available and often people stand on the side of the road asking for fresh water. There is no shortage of water with the lake close by but although it is technically safe to drink it is extremely unpalatable due to the high concentration of minerals in it.

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Huts on the edge of Lake Turkana

The road travels along the edge of the lake and we travel up a crest and a large number of the round huts are spread before us, we have reached the town of Loyangalani. It is the main town on the lake, in fact it is the only town with just a few villages scattered in other places. Many of the buildings are the round huts and there are some cement buildings with a few places to stay.

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Loyangalani

We’ve planned to stay at a ‘resort’ in town but we follow a bus inside the grounds and it disgorges more than 40 people who are going to be staying here. It appears as though they are here for a conference or something else although the trip seems to have been too much for one young guy as he appears to be passed out on the side of the entrance road. Its crowded and noisy and the camping area doesn’t appeal so we search for alternatives.

Malabo Resort is a kilometre or so north of the town and while the accommodation is mainly in round huts (bandas) they also offer some camping. The camping area is OK but for only a little more, after Paul completes his negotiations, we can stay in the bandas (with ensuite) and still do our own catering or we can use the restaurant/bar which is perched up the hillside with a cooling breeze in the evening and views of the lake. Easy choice especially as this is can be a very windy place with 60km/h winds very common.

The road to Lake Turkana, while not the roughest road we have been on, has taken its toll. One end of our awning parted with our vehicle and it is now strapped to the roof rack on the Jeep and we already had one latch on the canopy break and a couple more have now failed. Jared and Jen’s trailer has had serious issues with the suspension and brakes and some of the rivets have given way causing dust problems inside. Jared is able to do some repairs over the next couple of days and we can repair one catch and shift some of the catches to minimise our problems but other repairs will have to wait until we reach a much bigger town, probably Nairobi.

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Snort and pet at Malabo Resort

We spend three nights at Malabo Resort and loved the friendliness of all of the people there. We ate in the restaurant on two nights and, because it is hot, they water down the dirt to cut the dust and we have a special couch out in the open for pre-dinner drinks while the sun sets and a table nearby for our meal. The meals aren’t always exactly what we ordered but they are delicious, and cheap.

We had planned to travel across the Chalbi desert from here to Marsabit, a sizeable town which sits on the main road between Nairobi and Ethiopia, but the road crossing the Chalbi is flooded. What is it about us and deserts? They are frequently very wet when Paul and I are in the area. Instead we need to travel around the north of the main part of the desert through the towns of North Horr and Kalacha which turns out to be a great leg to our trip.

Some people could conceivably find this type of country flat and boring but we are all delighted with the variety we see and the huge open vistas. Mirages shimmer and tease with the appearance of water.

Camels were common south of Loyangalani but now they are in far greater numbers. As we approach North Horr we reach a palm fringed oasis with hundreds of camels at the water. They take fright when they hear and see us and charge away but are settled by their herders so we can pass. Its an extremely photogenic spot but they don’t appreciate photography so we have to settle for a couple of surreptitious snaps as we pass.

We’re stopping in Kalacha for the night and have the name of a promising sounding camp just south of the town on the edge of an oasis. We follow the track through the town to the oasis where we check with some locals. When we are told it is closed we ask about alternatives and are told we can stay at the Catholic church in the town. Once we are there we have the option of camping if we really want to or staying in rooms for the same price. We’re grateful for the welcome and the rooms in this heat and find shady spots to shelter for the rest of the afternoon.

In the morning we take a tour of the church. Its an Orthodox Ethiopian Church and really worth a visit. As well as the building there is an outdoor area where it appears most services are held. Trees and branches provide shade for the simple wooden benches and pulpit and a low wall sets the boundaries without impeding any cool breeze. Inside the church the walls have comic book like paintings illustrating scenes from the bible. Guess its something to look at if you get bored with the service.

Another great drive the next day takes us across the plains and up into the hills. Along the way we see the flat depression which is the heart of the Chalbi Desert. Its easy to see that any rain in the area would settle there and any more than the average rainfall could take a while to drain away or evaporate. In contrast the country we travel through between the oases is a dry and desolate land. Camels and possibly goats  are probably the only livestock able to survive out here.

Finally the road starts to climb and we reach the town of Marsabit. It is typical of country towns, tiny side streets and people everywhere. Once again the supermarket shown on our maps can’t be found but there are plenty of stalls and some ATMs. Just past the town we take a side road to Henry’s camp. Its far enough from the highway to shield us from the traffic noise and is a good overnight stop.

From Marsabit it is only 250km to the border with Ethiopia and more than twice that to Nairobi. Big cities are not our favourite place but we have more Kenyan exploration to do and we need to complete our repairs so Nairobi it has to be. The start of the journey provides more stunning vistas as we look down onto the plains we have been travelling across and we pass ranges with fascinating rocky formations. Tribal people dressed in traditional clothing still appear in the dusty towns we pass through.

The road goes past or through several nature reserves or conservancies but by then the land is greener and the vegetation much thicker so we don’t spot any wildlife as we pass. By the time we have passed Archer’s Post and reached Isiolo we are leaving the northern parts of the country behind. Time for new adventures.

Central Kalahari

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The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a huge park, the second largest in the world at 52,800 square kilometres, and has a wide range of animals scattered throughout it. It is technically a desert but has a range of habitats and as we are visiting after the rainy season there is abundant vegetation. Accommodation in the park is limited and can be difficult to book so our camp site locations are dictated by what is available at late notice. We are entering through the Xade Gate which is a long way south and west of the main part of the park we want to visit. Our first two nights in the park will be more than 160 km from the entrance so we spend a night bush camping just outside the park boundary. Unlike our last camp just outside the Kgalagadi Trans-frontier park we have no nocturnal visits from lions, the only wildlife we see are some butterflies forming a cluster on damp sand.

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After we leave the park reception at Xade the first section of the drive is through quite dense bush and slow going and, although we see signs that elephant have been in the area very recently, we don’t catch sight of any. In fact we see very few animals at all until we reach Piper Pan where we see the usual complement of Springbok and Oryx. A less common sighting is the fascinating Secretary Bird, so named because the feathers sticking out from its head can appear similar to pens stuck behind the ears of an office worker. Not sure I see that myself but it makes a memorable name.

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After lunch at one of the campsites we continue the second half of the journey and arrive at our campsite by mid afternoon. Just as we are nearing it we see giraffe crossing the road in front of us. More and more appear and eventually we count seventeen, the largest herd we have seen. They are walking away from the direction of our camp so we hope it is on their normal path to or from water.

Most of the campsites in the park are very spaced out, our nearest neighbours are 14 km away. Our campsite is on a rise above the San Pan but the views are limited by trees and the ground is uneven and covered in prickles, maybe that is why it hadn’t been booked already. Paul shovels away the prickles to give us room to sit and to work at the kitchen and we shovel out some sand under one side of the car to level out the vehicle. Its not an ideal spot but the reappearance of the giraffe next morning makes up for it. They are passing behind the car and are very curious and stop to gaze at us.

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We head out for a drive in the morning and spend most of the day parked under some trees beside the Tau Pan which is not too far away. We see quite a few antelope milling around but none are very close. Its very pleasant though and a lovely spot to enjoy being out in the bush and reading in between gazing around. After lunch we decided to drive a little further around the pan and then to head back to camp. Less than 200 metres away we see a young male lion lazing under a bush. We watch for a while but then our attention appears to annoy him, or perhaps it is just time to make a move, and he ambles off. We are able to follow for a while but he eventually leaves the road and heads into the bush.

After another night at our campsite we move to our next camp which is only a few hours easy driving away. The only time we need to pause in our drive is when we see another lion. Sometimes it can be difficult to see lion in the bush, this one is hard to miss. Its actually lying on the road as we approach and shows no sign of moving until we get quite close when it moves to a bush right next to the road. We travel past and apart from turning to watch us he shows no sign of disturbance, and before we leave the area he has settled down for another snooze. At least he is not on the road now so he won’t have to move when the next pesky lot of tourists drive by.

We arrive at our new camp, Lekubu, by late morning. It is also lacking a view but at least it has no prickles. It is situated just at the start of Deception Valley so we continue on to a better spot for a picnic lunch and soon find another grove of trees near an open area with large herds of Springbok and Oryx as well as Zebra. Recent rains have added a sprinkling of wildflowers to the grass.

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As we continue our drive we see plenty more game including lots of ostrich roaming across the pans along with large herds of wildebeest, oryx and springbok.

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Deception Pan is damp and, rather than take one of the tracks right next to it and risk getting bogged, we travel part way around on a drier track. Its getting later in the afternoon and storm clouds are gathering but there is time for yet another photo of the majestic Oryx, this one in full flight.

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Rain starts before we get back to our campsite and soon becomes very heavy. We had considered camping in the grove of trees where we had our lunch but now we see why the camp sites are set on rises away from the edge of the pans. The track becomes very muddy and we slide our way through several sections of the track but reach our sandy and safe camp site with no problems.

We have one more night in the park and another longish drive to reach it the next day. We are a little concerned about the track, or at least I am, but our trusty vehicle, and experienced driver, get us through the muddy patches with no worse than a little slipping and sliding. We pass the two largest of the campgrounds, Kori overlooking the Kori Pan and Deception not too far away. Here the sites are closer together and they are the easiest to reach, perhaps accounting for why they are all fully booked. We are continuing on to one of the three camp sites in the Passarge Valley via tracks that pass by Sunday Pan and Leopard Pan. Again we are 14 km from our nearest neighbour. We haven’t seen as much wildlife in this area but the scenery has been great and the camp site is by far the nicest we have been in so it is well worth the drive. Thankfully no more rain falls during the night. Instead we leave the area to the sight of the valley still slumbering under a heavy morning mist.

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The mist lifts as we breakfast beside the Leopard Pan. There have been recent sightings of, you guessed it, leopard and we are hopeful but out of luck. Still it is a very pleasant place for our cereal and coffee before we make the long drive out of the park and up to Maun. Luckily the sun is drying out the roads but we still have several patches of mud to negotiate and twenty kilometres of large mud pools on the road after we leave the park. We even have ducks swimming on the road. I thought this was supposed to be a desert!

 

 

August 30, 2017 at 02:12PM

There’s nothing like waking up at 3:30am with an elephant trying to get into our tent and jumping up shouting at it and banging things to scare it away to get the blood moving!

Luckily the only damage was about six inches of torn canvas stitching.

We also had a hippo in camp, hyenas in the river bed and a lion across the river last night.

Since I was awake I watched the dawn break and caught two elephants crossing the river in front of a copper sunrise.

Right now the baboons are paying havoc around camp. Cup of tea time! from Follow Dusty Tracks http://ift.tt/1QYKaNc