Friday, March 6, 2009

The Silent Travellers

A month nearly passed..and no news. That's the result of frenetic packing and traveling to South Africa..and being back in the rat race of Johannesburg and Pretoria for a few weeks.

Kiddy returned from Holland on the 20th Feb and I drove our old Toyota Hilux pick-up. I wondered if she would make the trip, not having been out of Kasane area for several years now. But old faithful cruised along fine. I must post a picture - will have to go outside and take one! The vehicle is now 24 years old, over half a million kilometres on the clock and goes well.

I said farewell to our friends, Bill and Susan Oliver, when they left Kasane and flew off from Livingstone in Zambia, headed for their two month holiday in Mexico. Til our next get-together.

Kiddy's return has been full of photographs and stories. We have had time to get together with the family in Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as do some catching up with friends.

It's been a long time since we have stayed in these environs; apart from more construction of offices, housing and shops, not much has changed. The products and selection of goods in stores seems about the same, too. The 'excitement' one used to feel at coming through to the "Big City" to see all of this, has faded (fortunately!). It's ok to do it, but that's where it ends.

However, as for restaurants and the choice of good eating spots, finding new ones where the fare is delicious...well that can't be beat! We continue to love that aspect of visiting here. Favourite Portuguese, seafood, Chinese and Italian spots continue to serve us lovely tasty, reasonably priced meals. And I thought I was on track to lose some of my extra centimetres...

Marti, our Jack Russell, accompanied us on this trip - who could have left him alone at home?? He has staked out his turf at the home of our friend where we stay and is happy to have our company - not to mention that he now has a long fence facing onto a street where he can bark at the neighbours dogs, passing pedestrians and anyone who comes to the gate! He received a whole heap of presents from Kiddy on her return and boy was he happy to see her.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back to Basics

Sunset Feb 10 Chobe River

Let's face it much as we can be away from this and still have a good life, we need it.We need the energy that comes from the rising sun, the setting sun,the full moon - heck, even a moon that is so far from full yet is beautifully placed in the sky. Basics..

I have been away - not physically from the town - but away from writing to you..and Kiddy has been catching up on her blog page for her Holland tour! While I have been away, I have seen sights such as this sunset, I have heard the early morning bird calls, the same birds,calling again, in the evening. There s a world that we hear from time to time in our daily routines, mostly we don't hear it. It's a world that you go to "on holiday", when you "have time off". Yes, that's true. But it is still there every other minute of your life.

Come out and enjoy it with us!!

A good friend is arriving, for the third visit in the last five years, in the last quarter of March. We will travel to the Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. We will find many amazing things in our travels..and we will let you know about those. 3 years ago Bill and Susan Oliver arrived here, for a Kalahari was even more spectacular than I could have wished for...and them! You have seen some of their photos on this blog.

For those who have been here, you will know that Africa has its very own "call-sign", its very own heart beat..once you hear this, you cannot lose it again. It either finds you (wherever you are tucked away) or you are drawn to find it.. I think that is the one thing that tries to tell you :"GET BACK TO BASICS"

Town is quiet at the moment - isn't this the point where I started the blog from?? - and we notice it.It's a pleasure, in a way. I had a simple yet tasty lunch at one of the lodges today..and caught up with three friends for nearly an hour..none of whom I would have seen for another 3 weeks had I not stopped there today. I even went into the bank and service was so good/quick, I could remain a client of their's for a while longer! (Not that we have much choice in this town).

I see a happy's our Jack Russell, Marti, asleep. I have happy memories of today, and I know that we are blessed with friends who make our basic life, all the more worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wonderful People

tuck shop and bar Kwhai Village,Moremi

Chobe river camp and Toff with Jens way back when

Tonight I am sitting alone here - in Kasane, in our simple little home - having said goodbye two days ago to our friends Bill and Susan Oliver, who had visited us for two weeks. They have been on three safaris with us over the years, and have now become good friends who have anchored themseves a place in Botswana where they can visit year after year. Also, in the last month, Kiddy has been away, in Holland. The two weeks with Bill and Susan here, flew by. Now it is empty again.

I have reflected on the many, many people who have travelled with Kiddy and I over the last eleven years - from the early days in Gaborone when we endlessly tracked the Kalahari in southern and Central Botswana - to the last few years when we visited Kalahari, Moremi Reserve and Chobe Park. People who, in the space of a safari together, become friends, not guests or clients! Danish, American, English, Dutch, German, Norwegian, Slovakian, Austrian, why, even South Africans!

Today, to all of you, I take my hat off and thank you for being such wonderful people. We both thank you for the contact that you keep with us and hope to see you again in this beautiful country.

Maybe that is one of the big differences that we offer - we are not a marketing organisation selling safaris; we are not a travel agent, or a person who has a bit of experience and decides that they will make a living out of selling Botswana and the region as a safari or travel destination.

We are the owners, the operators, the marketers, the guides, the planners and the companions. We are US. We offer you our companionship. knowledge and guidance first hand while you travel with us. We are here in Botswana, on the ground - we are Ultimate Africa Safaris.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pans around Pandamatenga

I must remember to find out what the name Pandamatenga means, or from where it originates. There Are a Lot of pans - water pans - in the area. These are fairly shallow, normally circular, depressions which hold rain water. They provide easy, accessible watering spots for wild animalsand often extend this service well into the dry season, after the rains have stopped.

Yesterday we visited one - locally named "Gary's Pan" - and it was beautiful. Our hosts and friends, Frans and Mandy Hobart (owners of Touch of Africa Lodge) and Gary (not of the Pan), their manager. Gary provided us with a most scrumptious lunch in the bush, prepared over open coal fire, of stuffed pumpkin (chicken and mushroom filling), cabbage stuffed with cheese and garlic. After many jibes about the fact that I had been responsible for not packing enough drinks (beer!), we had a lovely relaxing meal before heading back to the Lodge. Marty (our Jack Russell) had a most amazing time playing with sticks in the long grass and splashing through the water at the Pan's edge.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Ultimate Botswana facts

Experiences such as this (below) are not so common..yet they occur often enough to many people in Botswana..share your experiences and let others know that we, Toff and Kiddy of Ultimate Africa Safaris Botswana - will be there to help provide you and your friends with the wilderness and wildlife experience of a lifetime!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Photos from safari

An elephant or two...hundred

A short note and a few photos..a 3 day camping trip into Chobe National Park, we camped at Ihaha site. It is looking beautiful and the river is already filing with the annual flood waters.
I had not expected to see much game (wildlife) at this time of year - well, were we in for a surprise! On the way in to camp, we saw lions and a small herd of sable antelope, giraffes and many impala.Our outings brought us a herd of buffaloes - unusual indeed to see around 200 or more in January amidst the rain.

One afternoon, we sat for an hour and a half while elephants of all ages and sizes passed our two cars and came down to the floodplains to drink, bathe in the mud and feed on the fresh grass. We had them as close as you can want to the vehicles. We were charged by a cow with young and we saw what must be one of the better sized tusker in Chobe. We counted about 200 elephants; it was spectacuar.

Yesterday, at our humble little home in Kasane, our neighbour's children alerted us to two adult boomslang ("tree snake") moving in the branches over our gardens. With the help of the local snakepark folk, the snakes were captured and safely removed. These were two big snakes - well above the average (1,5m) at 1,8m.

Yesterday afternoon, we had two hours of blissful, peaceful relaxation on the Chobe river- slowly going down by boat to the rapids and returning to see the sunset near Sedudu Island. Now today I am off with friends to Pandamatenga to see our piece of land there. Kiddy is with her family in Holland and hoping that it will soon snow - apparently there's a good chance of that happening. You can bet that she is well wrapped up! Her time at the Djoser travel event went very well and she enjoyed it - we hope to see some of the visitors to the show out on safari with us soon!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If it's Tuesday..

Well, it seems that life in the small town of Kasane is not all that relaxed - or it is so relaxed that is fels busy! We have been subjected to the onslaught of tours - both private holiday makers and tour operators from Botswana, South Africa,Namibia and furhter afield - and tourists in their droves coming across from Zambia for a day visit to the Chobe, which has lasted through November and December. And..suddenly, town is quiet again! I am not the only one who has been saying "You know, I had to wait for seven cars to pass before I could enter the main road!" Shocking! Why,I nearly encountered another car on our quiet side street the other day as I was leaving home.. More seriously, it is lovely to have the quiet for a while, but it seems that each season, the town grows a bit more, and we lose the quiet that used to be here. That said, it means that we are "on the map" more than before, and that, despite a downturn in ecomonies, there are still a lot of people coming to visit Victoria Falls (on the Zambian side mostly) and the Chobe National Park.

The rain clouds have closed in again and we have had several days of thunder showers, with some good downpours. The good news is that some of this rain is and has also fallen in the Central Kalahari - now there's something to see when the rains have come down! And I am off there with safari clients and friends in 9 weeks time.It could be sooner. Here's a pic of the Kalahari taken by friends on a trip there 2 years ago..rainy as heck but so rewarding in tems of game viewing and scenery.

This evening Kiddy flew out of Johannesburg on her way to the Netherlands - arrives tomorrow in pretty cold conditions for us Botswaners. Me, dogs and cats all alone at home. But we start tomorrow preparing for a short safari into the Chobe Park this weekend, and friends ar arriving on Friday. We will be busy..

For those interested, we will be out on the river (in between rain storms and showers), seeking out game on drives along the Chobe River and going to visit Pandamatenga - all in a relaxed manner over the next week and a half. Isn't that the only way to be? Relaxed? I think so.. African time - a marvellous invention. The other picture is of a lvely Kalahari black maned lion - also from two years ago.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kiddy Departs for Holland

Today Kiddy left on the first leg of her journey to Holland. She will be attending a travel show (of note I believe) in Leiden, Netherlands hosted by a prominent tour agent there, Djoser. She will have the opportunity to meet most of the worldwide agents of Djoser, as well as all the Djoser head office personnel with whom we will be concerned. We operate their tour in Zambia and Botswana. Catch them on (Dutch) or Go check out her blog on her trip at and search for kid brakhoven.

Some more overcast weather today with showers. I have heard that Savuti area of Chobe National Park through to Moremi Game Reserve is flooded and muddy - that means nearly impassable..I am planning a safari to the Central Kalahari at the end of March - that's the right place to be in this weather! Will post some pics from friends who have been out with us soon..quite stunning. This one is our camp site in Deception Valley in February 08.


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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Seasonal Rains

We have had early and good rains; they started in mid November last year and by Xmas we had had nearly 440 mm (a lot for those two months). Becoming a bit more sporadic now in January, but nontheless some good downpours. With the overcast weather, it tends to be a bit cooler than the high temperatures of Octoer and November..but, at the mid 30s C the humidity is very high here!

All around the bush is lush and green..for those who arrive here and want to do a safari, be prepared to confront rain and lots of greenery! We still have a pretty good variety of birds, it being the summer migration period when we have the Central and Northern African and the European migrants here. Elephants still abound and our local lions - along the Chobe River, in Lesoma Valley area and south of here towards Pandamatenga and Kazuma, are still home - albeit harder to spot them at times.

The Zambezi is starting to fill - rainfall already influencing the flood water and we are looking forward to another year of high water levels I guess. The Vic Falls will be a better sight with some more water in them..a good time to get there before April and the very high water levels.

Welcome to our blog

Hi all,
Living in Kasane, on the Chobe River in North East Botswana, we hope to share experiences and photos with you as we visit friends and go on safaris in this beautiful area. We are about 70 km from the Victoria Falls and can help with lots of comments and news too.