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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 20 Mar 2009
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Botswana Fly-Ride

After having a brilliant time doing a fly-ride from Capetown to Windhoek and back this January, we're looking at doing something similar in the not too distant future but this time taking in Botswana.

I bought a guide book of course, and it mentions that many of the roads are sandy. The hard graded roads of Namibia were generally fine on a GS1200 two up, but sand is a different kettle of fish. What are the road conditions generally in Botswana off the main tarmac routes?

We would like to fly in to Joburg, pick up a bike and then head north to Chobe via the Makgadigadi then go west to the Okavango and into Namibia, (maybe) up to Etosha and then south (that bit a known quantity) Because of work we can only travel in December or January (probably not Jan cos of the rain!).

All advice welcome.

Reggie
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Old 20 Mar 2009
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My little sister is doing her PhD in the Okavango delta, and does a lot of driving off into the bush. I know she finds it very hard work, though that is on a 4x4 not a bike - 2 wheels might be easier in places. She also goes right into the bush, tracking buffalo, so is following GPS signals rather than any sort of road. Her blog Okavango Buffalo Research :: Blog will probably give you a reasonable idea of what driving is like at various times of year.

One thing she did say when I mentioned riding up to see her is that you have to be very careful if you're in less touristy areas, as the herbivores are more likely to charge than in the safari-park type places, and if they get you on a bike that's it - again this is probably more to do with me trying to get to her fairly remote camp, but one of the guys she works with is a biker and leavs his bike in Maun (the nearest town) rather than riding out to the camp. They also don't leave camp on foot.

Jan is still wet - she often can't get to the buffalo at all, and has to either take the 4x4 and hope they're near somewhere solid, or take a boat and hope they're somewhere flooded! I'd say mud and water would be more of an issue than sand.

Hope that helps!

Laura
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Old 20 Mar 2009
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I have been in Botswana twice, the first time (motorbike) I barely touched it in the north on my way from Zambia to Namibia through Chobe. That’s an easy road.

The next time (car) I entered at Mahango (Close to Shakawe in the north) and went into the delta. Personally I think the delta is one of the most fascinating places I have been. If you go to the right places you will find lots of animals and it’s a fascinating untouched area. But you have to get deep into the delta to get this experience.
It’s very difficult to drive in the area around the delta. There are tracks in deep sand (if you are lucky) and the vision is limited because of the vegetation and because it’s not completely flat. I almost crashed with elephants twice and with a motorbike I’m sure I had hit them
There is a place “close” to Etsha 6 which is fascinating. You have to arrange it in advance but it’s worth it. They will arrange a boat to pick you up and you can park the bike safely in Etsha 6. We spend some nice days there tracking a lot of animals, it’s the first time I have tracked lion by foot. We got scarily close, 5m!!!!


Anyway the delta was nice so we ran out of time and drove down to Gabarone in one hard long day. Very nice roads, but we used only main routes. Distances are huge (even compared to Namibia) and if you like to explore you’ll need time.
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Old 20 Mar 2009
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Thanks for the info so far!

We don't plan to go chasing game really- the idea is to stay at lodges and then let someone else do the driving on organised trips.

Alibaba; I did think that the distances looked huge- was contemplating a GS Adventure for the bigger tank, but what a lump! I know my limitations :-)

Laura; thanks for the link to your sister's blog- I'l have a look. Reckon early December might be the best compromise in terms of weather.

Cheers

Reggie
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