Nossob 4×4 Eco-trail – Botswana.
Botswana Mabuasehube – Nossob 4×4 Eco-trail
Botswana – Mabuasehube Game Reserve.
Our Botswana trip started on the 15th Dec 2011, we arrived at Mabua gate at 15hoo. The vehicle was stocked with 140 liters of water and 9 bags of firewood, in addition to our food, RRT ground tent for my son and other odds and ends for 1 week of camping. I made allowance for 20 liters between the three of us per day. Our first night was spent at Khiding Pan from where we left to begin the 4×4 trail to Nossob a distance of about 160 Km.
We were originally going to be 2 vehicles on the trail which is a requirement of the Botswana park authorities, but my friend was forced to pull out, and because I didn’t know what to expect I was concerned about taking my wife and son in a single vehicle. The night at Khiding Pan I didn’t sleep very well at all, tossing and turning worrying about the 4×4 trail. I did as much investigation as I could before deciding to go alone; one of the Land Cruiser Club members gave me sound advice from firsthand experience.
Our first night stop on the trail is at Mosimane Pan about 55 km along the 4×4 trail, a magic campsite overlooking a Pan with no A-frame shelter or ablutions, we saw the usual Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, and Springbok moving onto the Pan at sunset. The Botswana parks and game reserves are generally well maintained.
The weather was very hot between 42 and 47deg C for the entire 7 days, it was a dry heat not like the humidity of the coast so I found it very bearable. Day 3 was going to be a long one, from Mosimane to Polentswa – a distance of 160 Km and 100 Km of 4×4 twin track from Mosimane to Nossob. On the morning of the 3rd day about 10 Km from Mosimane we came across one of the most magnificent male lions that I have ever seen with 4 lionesses eating an ostrich, we spent about an hour watching them before they moved off.
The Botswana lions and in particular the Kalahari lions seem to be bigger than the ones that I have seen in South Africa.
On the section from Mosimane to Nossob we saw 2 large herds of Eland about 20 Km apart, lots of Gemsbok, Red Hartebeest, Springbok, Duiker and Steenbok, Ostrich and many Kori Bustards. Unfortunately weren’t quick enough with the camera to photograph these elusive antelope and birds.
Before the trail I deflated my tires to 1 bar, I later discovered that the sandy Botswana 4×4 trail is not difficult at all and although there were numerous sections with very deep sand, with enough momentum I never came close to getting stuck. The sleepless night at Khiding was a waste of time, reaffirming that 90% of what we worry about never happens.
Thick dry sand so typical of the entire Botswana route
25 to 30 years ago I did a lot of fishing at St Lucia and for those that remember the access to the beach was from the road next to car park about 1 Km from the estuary mouth, in those days I had an old Series 3 Land Rover. The access road was deep beach sand probably 100 to 150 m long before one got to the firmer beach sand, I was amazed at an “old toppy” local fisherman that would drive onto the beach and travel up to First Rocks in a 1400 Datsun bakkie with no problem at all, and the key was correctly inflated tires and momentum. If it wasn’t for the “middle mannitjie” I think he would be able to do most of the Botswana, Mabuasehube 4×4 trail.
We arrived at Nossob at around 15h00 for a very welcome swim and to stock up with more drinking water – just in case, from Nossob we drove to Polentswa pan 60 Km North of Nossob. At Nossob we were warned in advance about the 2 lions at Kwang waterhole so we were blessed with a second sighting of lions in 1 day.
Botswana’s small remote town of Nossob
Just past Grootbrok waterhole we turned off to Polentswa Pan and the camp site. The game was disappointing with only one Gemsbok and one Springbok on the Pan, the camp was noticeably missing the usual yellow Mongoose and or ground Squirrel that were a source of entertainment at the other campsites.
Another of the campsites in Botswana. Polentswa Campsite
Because the drive from Polentswa to Matopi 2 was 150 Km we started early on the 4th morning, we saw the same 2 lions at Kwang waterhole they had hardly moved at all, now I have found things that sleep more than my kids. We popped into Nossob for a shower and another swim and to fill up with Diesel, R 11.97 is the most I have paid to date, I was very grumpy because with the deep sand and difficult conditions my Fortuner’s consumption had dropped from the usual 10 or 11 km per liter to 6.8 km per liter. After the swim we left for Matopi 2, the 2 track road from Nossob is a living nightmare of corrugations with a total distance of 100 Km to Matopi 2 and a further 60 to Mabuasehube. The roads in this part of Botswana can be very corrugated and extremely tiring to drive on.
Lunch on the way to Matopi 2
On this section of the Botswana Mabuasehube Game Reserve, trailers are allowed and traffic in both directions, this must be why the corrugations are so bad, it rattled my fillings loose. I tried everything to make it stop but trust me nothing works. I wanted my wife to get out of the car and walk ahead to video me driving past because I will never do that again, that part of the trip was horrible. After 5 hours on the road from hell I was looking forward to camping in a nice campsite, a good braai and shower, we drove past Matopi 1, not a great campsite so I was glad we weren’t staying there, then a few km further we came to a Pan and I was expecting Matopi 2 to appear but it didn’t.
DISSAPOINTED! I was very disappointed to find that Botswana’s Matopi 2 is a tree with a concrete fire slab, not overlooking a pan or something interesting, just a tree with no view. We made the best of the situation and had a good braai and a few glasses of wine and went to bed.
The next morning we shot out of there at first light for Bosobologo pan where we had 2 nights booked at camp 2, not ideal but that’s all we could get.
The Botswana – Mabuasehube Game Reserve offers 2 campsites at Bosobologo, Bosobologo 1 has ablutions while Boso 2 doesn’t, this is no problem because we drove to Boso 1 if we needed the loo, and I have an Oz-tent shower cubicle so showering is no problem. When we arrived at Boso 2 we found some strangers Eugene and his daughter with nowhere to go, his story was that someone was still on his campsite at another Pan, so we invited them to share our site with us.
Again we saw the usual Gemsbok, Springbok and Red Hartebeest and for the first time at Mabua we saw Kudu on Bosobologo Pan and were very lucky to be visited by a Brown Hyena, first it walked very close to our camp just as it was getting dark.
A black-backed Jackal keeping an eye on our camp.
In this part of Botswana the Brown Hyaena, Hyaena brunnea which is more common than the spotted Crocuta crocuta, it walked past our camp and then later that evening after our braai it came back and walked through our camp no more than 5m from where Eugene’s daughter was sitting.
Our final night was at Botswana’s Mabuasehube Pan Campsite 2; again we picked up a visitor, a single lonely chap “Carrington”that asked us to join us at our camp. This chap’s campfire story of a pride of lions that almost ate him and a friend in a ground tent on night at Mabuasehube Campsite 1, was good value for money, and made me very grateful that I have a RTT. My son was a little uncomfortable because he was sleeping in a ground tent, needless to say the chap is now permanently in a RTT.
Carrington’s RTT. Roof-top tent overlooking Mabua Pan.
We finished the braai just in time, because we were very privileged to experience an afternoon thunderstorm at Mabuasehube Campsite.
Just after we finished our braai the rain that had been threatening all afternoon came down, what a magic end to a great holiday. The next morning we broke camp at 04h 00 and were on the road by 04h 30 and back home by 15h 30
An afternoon thunderstorm.