Posted: 06/12/2018 in Uncategorized

Hi all

CKGR ? Well, it stands for Central Kalahari Game Reserve.   Simple huh.

This huge reserve was demarcated in the early 1960’s to allow space for the San (Bushmen) people to live out their lives in their traditional manner. It is 52800 square kilometres !!  That’s HUGE. In fact you could fit Swaziland AND Lesotho inside it at the same time. Yes, it is bigger than Switzerland !

In much more recent times it has been partially opened up, by special permit, to the public – so naturally that is where the Woods wanted to go – not so easy to do – it is very remote – there is no fuel – there is no water – there are very limited camping facilities – so we needed to be prepared – VERY prepared. To start with we would need three vehicles and finding willing participants was never going to that easy.   Getting quick agreement from AJS and GJW was simple but that still didn’t get us another vehicle. A second couple sadly had to pull out because of illness. So I honed my marketing skills and went searching. CS and RR, both veterinarians were quite an easy target and once they had found locums were now on board.  Months previously I had conned a couple into agreeing to be a standby team so a call and a short wait they realised to extent of this opportunity and acquiesced and PW and DW became the third vehicle. Yay !

We were on our way – AJS arrived on October 4th and we immediately started fitting the compressor he had so kindly brought with him.

When tackling sandy deserts a compressor is vital

On the 5th we were off to our first stop in Bulawayo where we were also to pick up GJW.  We spent the night in the very quirky and eccentric Nesbitt Castle.

Next morning we met up with the other parties and drove, now in convoy, for the Botswana border and on to Francistown.  Here there was a bit of urgent shopping to do before we were on the road again to Nata Lodge where we were to camp. didn’t stop us from relaxing ……

Sundowners before dinner at Nata Lodge

Day three saw us heading west towards Maun.  That is until I noticed we would be passing relatively closely to “Baines’ Baobabs”.  A roadside conference established eagerness from all parties so that is what we did. Thomas Baines immortalised these trees when he painted them in May of 1862 and they are still there and still look the same.

Driving in Nxai Pan – heavily loaded vehicle indeed

Baines’ Baobabs in Nxai Pan National Park

After that small five hour excursion we arrived at our Maun campsite in time to set up and then once again have sundowners and dinner.

Day four after much critical shopping for tyres, water and of course beer we were ready for the last leg to Rakops before heading to CKGR.

After shopping in Maun



Last fuel in the not so delightful Rakops

At Last ………..

….after four days we get to the turn off !

…. and we get to the main gate ……..

Matswere Gate

After check-in all eight very excited bunnies drove into the park to be absolutely blown away by the first vistas of Deception Valley

Deception Valley

We were staying at one of the Deception campsites for two nights so explored as much as we could.

Bat-eared Fox are delightful creatures

Deception Pan

During the rains this large Pan would be just a couple of inches deep in water.

Leopard Pan

The team gathered for sundowners at Leopard Pan

Left to right – CS, GJW, me, PW, DW, AJS, RR.    This was taken just after we had seen two Cheetah.

My GPS wasn’t much use

Then we were off again on the long drive south to Piper Pan.

Jan is a very happy lass at Piper Pan

There is a pumped waterhole at Piper and game was plentiful – in fact to see something – just look in the shade !

Springbok – in the shade

Wildebeest – in the shade

Kudu – in the shade

Gemsbuck – in the shade

It was here at Piper Pan that we saw our first Lion

Lion – oh look ! He is also in the shade

It was very early the next morning that a pair walked right through our camp, roaring and generally scaring the campers in their tiny nylon tents !

Piper is a lovely spot and on a return visit we would spend more time there.

Piper Waterhole

Sundown at Piper Pan

Any visit to CKGR will involve big distances being travelled.

Big distances on lousy roads

It is on these sandy roads that tyre pressures need to be lowered to improve both traction and ride comfort.

Thats why we needed to fit the compressor – remember the compressor?  It worked brilliantly.

Letting the tyres down

From Piper we drove to Lekubu where once again we had a Lion in camp !

Lion at Lekubu – standing to the right of frame

Next day off to Sunday Pan, where there is another pumped waterhole.

And more Lions – who walked right through our camp – again !! That’s three nights out of six !!

Jan’s shadow

This pic shows a shadow of Jan as she is trying to get a photo of the Lion spoor going down the road and directly past one of our tents.

….. and here they are !

One of our concerns about this trip was Scorpions.  There are a couple of species that can be fatal to man that live in these parts so we went prepared with UV torches and we found plenty.

Scorpion in UV light – they fluoresce

On our way out of the park we were delayed …….

….. a stroll of Lions ?

Well I think you will have an idea of the wonderfulness of this expedition by now.

So to close – a picture of an African Wildcat

It is in there …

Here is a closer one ….

Sweet ? Probably not !


Cheers for now


  1. Andrew SCOTHERN says:

    Fond memories of a great trip

  2. sounds amazing

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