We had a fantastic trip in June & July 2011 with one of your Isuzu 4 X 4 bakkies. A brilliant car, well equipped. We drove appr. 6700 km’s with it, without any problems. Our visit to Zambia, especially to South Luangwa (Croc Valley Camp) and Kafue (McBrides) are really unforgettable. Also Chobe, Kubu Island and Kruger were fantastic.
We will be back for sure! I send you some pictures to underscore our trip!
Regards, Tinie & Rik
Click here to see more pictures of Rik & Tinie’s 4×4 Trip
Complete Zambia Trip Report done in the Ivory 4×4 Hire Isuzu 4×4 Doube Cab:
Trip report Zambia – Botswana – South Africa 23 June – 22 July 2011
Thanks to many forum members we were able to compose a very nice trip to Zambia, Botswana, starting and ending in Johannesburg. Tinie and I hired a Isuzu 300KB Diesel from Ivory in Pretoria, fully equipped and with a RTT. It proved to be a brilliant car.
During our preparations, which started a year ago, we first planned to also go to Zimbabwe and visit Hwange and Mana Pools. The high costs for passing both the Zambia and Zimbabwe borders and the 100+ $ prices for the Mana Pools campsites helped us to leave Zimbabwe for a next holiday.
23 -24 June
We did fly from Amsterdam to London Heathrow with BA and for the first time we were in the relatively new Terminal 5, which is very nice and also efficient. No bus travel to another terminal, only a short drive with an automatic train from the A-gates to the B-gates. From London we went on with BA to Johannesburg – OR Tambo, very quiet night flight, arriving at ORT at 7.15 AM. Quick customs handling, baggage directly available. The Ivory representative was already present and drove us to Pretoria with the rental car which would be our home for the next 4 weeks.
When we arrived at Pretoria, all paperwork was ready, just a quick inspection, up to the Spar in Willow Way, where we stocked up. Afterwards we had a smooth drive to the Tibani Lodge in the Percy Fyfe Nature Reserve, north east of Mokopane, where we stayed on the campsite. Nice spot at a small lake, clean ablutions, however quite old, but good enough for the first night. It became quite cold the evening and night, our winter sleeping bags and the blanket were absolutely necessary. Winter indeed!!
After a nice drive we passed the border at the SA side without any problems, until we reached the gate officer, who took our gate pass. He needed to see our car registration papers and checked the chassis number. He came back with the question ‘how many of these cars do you have’? I answered that it was a rental car, after which he said ‘they gave you the wrong papers’. ! I tried to reach the rental company but no answer. I did send an sms and waited for some time, while many cars passed the border. Frustrating! At a certain moment I proposed the gate officer that we’d better got back into the country and would wait there until the right papers would have faxed to us. But the officer said: ‘Well sir, I would take my chances and pass the border, at the Botswana side they never check the papers’. Very surprising to hear a customs officer telling you that….. So we did and indeed, no problems at all. We bought a multi-entry road permit (90 P) and paid 50 P for Insurance and 20 P for the road fund. Total time at the border was ± 2 hours also due to a long queue at the Botswana cashiers office.
We filled-up the car and the 2 jerry cans with Diesel at KwaNokeng station and paid with Rands.
We decided to drive to Khama Rhino and arrived during the afternoon. Everything was full at the campsite, so we could stay at the picnic site, which was OK. We could use the ablutions at the restaurant, which was nearby. During the afternoon 2 more parties arrived at the picnic site. Unfortunately the showers at the restaurant were very dirty. At night it was freezing cold.
The next morning we had a breakfast at the restaurant and headed for Kubu Island. A very nice drive again. Took fuel at Lethlakane again. We bought a jumper and two ‘beanies’ at the PEP, because it was so cold during the evening, crossed the A30 and experienced that the road to Kubu Island was tarred up to Mmatshumo, which was better than expected. After that part, the T4A on the GPS was brilliant and helped us a lot when tracks did split. We reached Kubu Island, where we camped at site nbr 6 at the end of Kubu Island, a brilliant spot!
We experienced a fantastic sunset and saw millions of stars at night. Beautiful! We saw also light at the horizon, we expected that these lights are from the salt mine near Nata.
The next morning we experienced the right front tire was somewhat soft. I used the compressor, but unfortunately it did not work well. A colleague camper, passing by, was willing to help us out. We drove in the direction of Nata, a beautiful drive overlooking the Sua pan and finally reaching the A3, appr. 10 km’s from Nata. We filled up at Nata and decided to drive to Kasane. The first 40 Km’s were nice tar, after that is was appr. 75 km of bad tar on a temporary road where a new road is being build. Being Dutchmen we wondered why the builders are busy with 75 km at the same time, instead of first finishing shorter parts f.i. 10 km at a time. We did not see the logic at all. Despite the bad 75 km’s we were in Kasane in 3 hours after leaving Nata. We tried to camp at Senyati, but it was fully booked, caused by SA school holidays. We went on to the Kubu Lodge which has a small and beautiful campsite ( 8 stands) near the Chobe river. We stayed there for 2 nights and did a sunset cruise which was very nice.
It was nice to see elephants, grazing in the water!
After stocking up at the Spar in Kasane, we went off to Kazangula. First the front tire was checked, it was OK. Then the guy from the tire station advised us to go to a junkyard nearby, where a guy could repair the compressor. Indeed, that worked out! We then drove to the border. The Bots side was quite fast, but I was surprised that I had to fill in a ‘temporary export form’ for the car. Then the ferry, which costed 28 $. Only one ferry was working, no problem for us, because we could move to the front of the queue and boarded the ferry within 10 minutes. The trucks however had to wait for days and days. On the Zambian side the chaos was there!!
Immigration: we paid 2 X 50 $ for the visas
Customs: Carbon Tax 20$
Kazangula District Council tax 20,000 Kw or 5 $
Temporary Import Permit: 240.000 KW (60 $)
Third Party Insurance: 391.000 Kw (95 $)
It took us 1,5 hrs to complete everything. Total costs appr. 280 US $!!
We went on to Livingstone, experiencing the first police checkpoint real soon, just looking at the third party insurance. After some more kilometers we were stopped by a military. He asked us if we had some water for them, because it was hot!! We gave him a 0,5 liter bottle, of which he was disappointed. Strange situation….
In Livingstone we got some Kwachas at Stanbic where we could use the Mastercard instead of Visa, which was also welcome. We headed for the waterfront campsite but that was booked out, so Maramba River Lodge was our alternative, which was a nice campsite with clean ablutions, hot showers. We were the only party at the campsite, except the ‘house’ hippo, who was grazing some 40 meters away. We visited the falls and got soaking wet, it was awesome to see the falls in full force!
Next morning we headed for Lusaka, Pioneer Camp, on our way to SLNP. The road to Lusaka was in very good shape, until we reached Mazabuka, thereafter the potholes began, together with a large number of trucks, broken down or burned out. Lusaka took another hour to pass and finally we reached Pioneer, nice camp, friendly staff. We had a good meal later that evening on the terrace and went to bed after a long day driving. Unfortunately a number of people, sitting around the campfire near the bar got drunk and refused to go to bed until after 12, despite the barman trying to persuade them to be quiet and stop drinking…. Finally I went to them and asked them to shut up, which they did in the end.
We left at 7.15 and experienced a very well tarred ‘great east’ road with stunning views through the mountains. Luangwa bridge was also a nice experience with magnificent views. Water levels were low. Once we passed the bridge, the tar slowly deteriorated along the way to Chipata. It began with a pothole now and then, but later on it became worse, however still reasonable. Some potholes were being filled, but with sand only. Nearly every town on this road has a fuel station which was a surprise to us and fuel seems to be reliable also. After a nice drive we reached Chipata, refuelled and stocked up at the new Spar. We then headed for Mama Rula’s and found a nice camping spot on the grass.
We did some shopping at the Spar again and went on to Mfuwe. As known by many forum members, the road is being rebuilt. First part is excellent, then a number of km’s are tarred intermittently and after that a sandy and very dusty temporary road is available. A few km’s after the first billboard with information on SLNP we got on the old road again which has a lot of stones in the surface. Total time to Crow Valley Camp was appr. 3,5 hours. Sean, one of the Croc Valley Camp owners, told us that the rebuilding of the road will soon also start from the Mfuwe (Mombwa) side.
The Croc Valley Camp has stunning views over the river with many Hippos in it or lying at the river banks opposite the camp. We were at the far end of the camp where a new ablution block is being built.
Every day the camp is visited by two or more elephant bulls, which are reasonably used to people. The first day they came in the afternoon, the second day in the morning and during the evening.
We did a morning and an evening drive with Fred, who drives the safari vehicle and gives excellent and humorous explications of spoor, birds, animals, trees etc.
The second day we went into the park with our car (75$ entrance fee, 2 x 30 $ / adult and 15$ for the car). We stayed in the southeastern part, saw a lot of game nearby the river and drove northeast. Beautiful views over the river with large hippo and croc populations. At the point we reached the turn-off to the first private camps like Kakuli, we did not see game any more, we guessed it was already very dry in the park and the game was scattered around the park nearby pools and the river.
After leaving the Croc Valley Camp we visited Tribal Textiles, very nice to see the production process and of course our credit card was used! The road to Chipata was of course as bad as we thought and after, refueling, stocking up at the Shoprite and Spar we stayed at Mama Rula’s again. At the fuel station we saw a lot of Malawi cars filling up every jerry can they could carry: no fuel at Malawi. According to a fellow camper ‘no fuel is the national sport in Malawi’ and ‘Malawi is heading the same way as Zimbabwe’. During the evening 3 large groups of overlanders arrived. Ablutions have absolutely no capacity to handle this large number of people.
We were heading for Eureka Camp in Lusaka on our way to McBrides. Very pleasant drive again, we went shopping at the Arcades shopping centre in Lusaka. On our way to Eureka we were caught speeding. That was stupid, because we were warned about it and had seen the police busy with speed cameras in Lusaka already when we were on our way to SLNP. The police officer asked me if it was my first offense, which I confirmed and he showed me the list with the fines: 570.000 Kw!! I said to him ‘that’s a lot of money’ and he then asked me ‘what is possible for you to pay? I suggested 50.000 Kw but that was not his idea. 200.000 Kw would be OK for him. I have paid it (without receiving a bill of course) and I realize that I have helped the fraud staying alive….
Eureka Camp was nice, hot showers, grassy stands, and during the afternoon / evening 4 trucks with overlanders arrived. Very disciplined, very well organized, no problem at all.
Up to McBrides! The western side of Lusaka is definitely different: a lot of industries, tire centres and even people searching garbage…. not that nice! The trip to McBrides was fine. In Mumbwa we filled up again and took the gravel road to Kafue. The first 30 km’s has been graded in 2007 by the Chinese, but has deteriorated a lot since then. When we reached the left turn-off to Kafue the road became much and much better! Kabalushi gate is deserted indeed; Chris McBrides told us that this had to do with the tsetse flies over there. There is a new gate, appr. 10-15 km’s earlier. The guard there only asked us where we were going, no payment required. As soon as we passed Kabalushi gate the tsetse’s were on our car, we kept the windows closed, so no problem. We reached the turn-off to McBrides and Hippo Lodge and had a good 16 km’s bush track. As soon as we reached McBrides, one of the staff sprayed our car with dettol. It was our first experience with tsetse’s and within half an hour they all were gone, because they do not like the vegetation near the river there.
What a nice and lovely place! The lounge overlooking the river and the ‘house hippo’s’, the campsite with the ablutions perfectly OK, the friendliness of Chris and Charlotte, it is absolutely marvelous. And what a character is Chris!!!
We did two morning game walks, one with Chris and one with Charlotte. Great, they both are living ‘encyclopedias’ with a lot of humor and endless respect for nature, animals and environment. Our three days there were the absolute highlight of our trip!
Two of the three nights we were the only guests on the campsite, the lodge had a few guests, awaiting larger groups later that week. There is also a house boat on which we made a sunset trip. We saw a few crocs of appr. 10 meters!
We left early in the morning with pain in our hearts…. Heading for Mukambi. A nice drive. While leaving McBrides we saw a huge elephant bull, at least 30 meters away, but directly charging us, so we moved on. We refueled in Mumbwa, bought some ‘boerewors’ at Zambeef and some ‘ban’ (bread) at the bakery. The M9 is tarred with only a pothole now and then. We kept to the speed limit (80 km) in the Kafue park part (warned by MikeAG and others…..) and reached Mukambi early afternoon. It was cold, a lot of wind. The campsite was nearly empty. The reception at Mukambi was very friendly. I had a chance to meet Linda to thank her for all the tips on the forum, good to see her and meet Jacques later that night. We did a night drive, did not see a lot of game, some elephants, but it was beautiful scenery. After the night drive we were freezing, fortunately the fireplace in the restaurant was on and we had a good dinner in front of the fireplace.
We were heading for Moorings Campsite, leaving Mukambi early. The trip went fairly fast, Lusaka was done in 15 minutes, it was raining there, which seems to be very unusual during winter. At 1 PM we reached Moorings and because it was early and still raining we decided to travel further to Livingstone, another 300 km’s to drive. During the 750 km’s we passed 9 police checkpoints. Sometimes just being waved on, a few times insurance check or drivers license check. Very friendly police officers. One of the police officers asked ‘where are you from?’ ‘Netherlands’ was my answer. ‘OK, I would like to see how your drivers license looks like’, he said. So I showed my drivers license which has the format of a credit card. The officer was OK with it, so I asked him: ‘can I see your drivers’ license, to see how that looks like?’ He laughed and said: ‘mine is expired and by the way, I had my car crashed, so I am in trouble’. A much unexpected answer from a police officer!
The Maramba campsite in Livingstone was OK again, most sites were populated now and I had a conversation with an SA camper who had done SLNP, NLNP and Kapisha hot springs, which was also on our list to do, but being with only one car we thought it was safer not to do the NLNP stretch and the subsequently the stretch to Kapisha. The guy I talked to however, said it would not have been any problem at all for us, looking at the road conditions… maybe next time?
We had a late start, made ourselves a decent English breakfast and headed for Kazangula. We passed immigration, the ferry office (28$ again) fairly fast (10 minutes) and had to deliver the temporary car import form to the gate officer. We only had to wait for 10 minutes before boarding the ferry. It was a rough water surface due to hard wind. At the Botswana side we passed immigration, customs within 10 minutes, paying no extra fees due to the fact we had bought a multi entry at martins drift. We tried Chobe Safari Lodge campsite first but they were booked out, due to SA school holidays. It was quite busy in Kasane, lots of SA people, on their way home. Kubu lodge had a site available again, so we went there.
At delivery time of the rental car we received two 7kg Cadac gas bottles. After 3 weeks the first one was empty and unfortunately the second one proved to be empty also, without being used…. It was really difficult to find a station which fills these cadacs. Ultimately we found City Gas in Francistown (go into the BMC turn-off), but nowhere earlier, ie in Kasane and Nata. Maybe one of the forum members knows some addresses in Botswana and Zambia?
We went on the morning drive to Chobe with a safari vehicle of Kubu lodge. The two of us were the only guests. We saw a large herd of buffalo leaving the river area and heading for the bush. We saw giraffe, kudu and two prides of lion with 4 cubs each. At a certain moment we passed the remains of a young elephant being killed by one of the lion prides two days earlier. Appr. 75 vultures were all around it and in the trees; we had never seen so many vultures at the same place.
After the game drive we packed the car and headed for Elephant Sands. A very nice camp, during the afternoon the camp was visited by a few female elephants with young ones. The next morning four wild dogs visited the camp, drinking at the pool next tot the restaurant, while we were having breakfast. First time we saw wild dogs. Remarkable: we had salt water in the showers, we knew this, but still strange if you experience it.
Heading for Tuli Block! Passing Nata, Francistown and Selebi-Phikwe, a nice place where we stocked up again, but no camping as far as we could see. So we went on to Limpopo River Lodge, to stay on their campsite. It is very nice, the campsites are very close to the river with beautiful private ablutions, perfectly cared for by the camp attendant with the name ‘Gift’.
A lazy day at Limpopo River Lodge campsite. We were warned by the rental company that there was a fuel strike, mainly in Gauteng. After some more enquiries we found out that there was no fuel problem in the Kruger environment.
During the evening 2 bull elephants visited our site, real close by! One of them destroyed a water tap, so the whole water system (2000 liters) was empty the next morning. According to Gift the bull elephants did this regularly, completely unnecessary, while the river – full of water – was only a few meters away….
At 6.30 we left the campsite, drove the 7 km’s to the gate, saw some elephants already and drove the 16 km to Platjan. In 5 minutes we passed the Botswana side en crossed the river just a little above the water, nice experience. The SA side was also done in 5 minutes. We filled up in Alldays en restocked at the Pick n Pay in Louis Trichard, the new mall across the N1. We then continued to Thohoyandu, the first part of that road is really beautiful with lost of bananas, citrus and some hill views. Finally we reached Punda Maria gate. We had no reservation for a campsite. We went to the reception and the reaction of the lady at the desk was really strange: ‘so, where do you think you can sleep tonight?’ We said: ‘on the campsite of one of the camps nearby, we hope’. ‘Everything is full’ was the answer, ‘I only have one camping spot without electricity at Punda Maria.’ That was fine with us, so that was where we went to. Being at the campsite at least 40% of the camping was empty and also a number of chalets were not occupied!!! The officer at the office there booked us a campsite at Letaba the next day, also mentioning everything was full. We talked to a number of people who had the same experience in Kruger: sites seem to be booked out, but in reality these are empty, not very efficient I think.
It was the first time we were in Punda Maria, and it is a very nice camp. There is a lookout at the fence, where a mud pool is created just outside the fence and lots of elephants, buffalo end impala visited the mud pools.
The drive to Letaba was nice, however we did not see to much game. Impala and zebra were the, some kudu and when we approached Letaba lots of elephant at waterholes and in the riverbed. In Letaba campsite more than 50% of the sites were empty. It was our second visit to Letaba. At night 3 spotted hyenas were walking at the fence, it was clear that they are being fed by campers. People standing next to us were able to pinpoint the campers who were feeding, but they doubted if they would warn the camp attendants.
Leaving Letaba we saw one of the three hyenas lying next to the tarred road with two cubs playing around. Nice view but we still had our mixed feelings of the night before. We stocked up at Phalaborwa and drove the panorama route to Graskop. Already for the third time but is the views are stunning and the three rondavels wonderful! We love Graskop, we have bought some nice things there during earlier trips, this time we bought a beautiful black bed spread. We found a very nice camping at Panorama Rest Camp, right on the edge of the mountain ridge. Stunning views and sunset! Cold at night but very clear.
We made a short trip via Hazyview to Sabie. The first time we were there was in 2004 and we had the feeling that the town itself is still nice but deteriorating. There we had the car washed which clearly was necessary. We stayed at Merry Pebbles, out third stay there, it was OK but this time the noise of the timber factory / saw mill and the train station went on all night. Also it was very cold and moist, looking back it was the wrong choice of camping there during this timeframe!!
After a good breakfast at the camping restaurant we left Sabie and drove the Long Tom pass and the Berg passes, very beautiful. Via Lydenburg and some small places we reached Loskop Dam where we booked a chalet at Aventura. We cleaned the car completely, had dinner at the restaurant that night, which was a buffet and really good.
Four weeks flew….. we delivered the car back in Pretoria and were driven to OR Tambo. We have driven 6.750 km without any problems, have seen beautiful sceneries, game and very friendly and also helpful people. What do you want more? O yes, we are full of plans for a next trip, the wish list with destinations only seems to get longer instead of shorter.
The flights back with BA were excellent and on time.
We would like to thank all the forum members for their help, their trip reports, hints and tricks! We hope you like our report; we feel it as ‘give back’ to you all!