For father and son Jorrie and Stiaan Jordaan, 2023 kicked off in the wilds of Botswana. Yet it all began when Stiaan bought the Tracks4Africa Atlas. He shares memorable moments from their Ultimate Botswana Adventure, compliments of Tracks4Africa and Ultimate Adventures.
When Stiaan bought the Tracks4Africa Traveller’s Atlas Southern Africa, he had no idea how far it would take him. He thought it would be a good birthday gift for his father because Jorrie likes to explore Southern Africa’s less travelled routes. He figured his dad would use it to plan his next trip. Little did he know it was their ticket to an unforgettable adventure.
The Atlas purchase was his entry to win two places on the Ultimate Botswana Adventure, a 10-day trip to three wilderness destinations. In late December 2022, father and son packed their bags and headed north.
Stiaan shares their experience:
Botswana has always been on my bucket list, but it was a dream come true to experience it with Ultimate Adventures. I already knew them from their appearance on the TV show, Vrydag 4 uur, and on the YouTube channel IronVan Adventures.
The adventure begins
Our first day we all met up at Elephant Sands, where we got to know co-owners and tour hosts Simon and Des Steadman. It was also our first introduction to Master P (Phetego Mola) aka the Camp Commandant, as well as the other travellers. As the name suggests, Elephant Sands is a waterhole that draws wild elephants from all over Botswana. This was my first sighting of elephants in the wild and, even after seeing more ellies on the trip, is definitely the closest I have come to them. Never once did we feel unsafe, because the elephants were extremely relaxed. They certainly didn’t seem too bothered by us camping close to their waterhole.
Game viewing in Chobe
The next day we did some last-minute shopping in Kasane before driving through Chobe National Park to camp at Muchenje. This beautiful campsite under the trees has a small shop and a swimming pool. The wildlife sightings were great. We saw our first lion, as well as tons of impala, giraffe and big elephant herds. Thanks to its location on the Chobe River, the park has lush green growth everywhere you look. Of course, we were constantly scanning the bush to find that elusive leopard in a tree.
A nice sandy road took us to our campsite in Savuti, where for the first time we had the chance to put our 4x4s into action. Now the camping also became properly wild. Our tent was set up so we overlooked the Savuti channel and every morning we woke to a potential animal sighting out the tent flaps. We loved Savuti’s big open plains dotted with impala, wildebeest and lions. Coming across different vegetation – trees and bushes that we don’t find in South Africa – was also fascinating.
Khwai’s dead tree forest
Our next destination was Magotho campsite, part of the Khwai Community Concession. The road leading there gave way to muddy pools and the only way was through. It was a fun experience to tackle something different to the usual gravel road.
Arriving in Khwai, you drive through the so-called dead tree forest. It’s a vast plain of camelthorn trees thought to have died due to standing in water for a long time. Another theory says that fire burned the bark off. Irrespective, it was a beautiful sight with elephants roaming about and dark thunderclouds in the background.
The birdlife in Khwai was incredible. We had sundowners next to the Khwai River with elephants playing in the water, hippo paddling to and fro. On the second day, we went onto a small island and had our first leopard sighting. What a magnificent animal! Our last day, Simon pointed out fresh lion spoor that we just had to follow and, yes, we found the lion.
Flying high and soft landings
Next we headed to Maun, where we had the opportunity to take a scenic flight over the Okavango Delta. We saw massive herds of animals from the air: buffalo, elephant, giraffe… After that once-in-a-lifetime experience, we relaxed at scenic Sitatunga Camp with its well-stocked bar. As we sat around the fire, we looked back at our days of wild camping and exchanged experiences.
A last detour
Eventually the final day arrived and we turned our vehicles’ noses for South Africa. That night we camped at Kalahari Rest, which was slightly unplanned. Khama Rhino Sanctuary was on the itinerary, but a wrong turn early on had taken us in a different direction. As a result, we had to change our plans on the fly. At least our Tracks4Africa Atlas was put to good use – although Simon did get a “strafdop” for the detour. It all worked out in the end as we had a relaxing last day together as a group. It was special to share a few last drinks before heading back to reality.
What will I most remember?
When you go on a tour, there’s always the question of how you will get along with others on the trip. But, I must say, our fellow travellers were exceptional. All from different walks of life, different ages, etc. On the last night, when we sat around the fire at Kalahari Rest, I found myself growing a bit sad. We had all become such good friends and now we were each going our different ways again.
The Ultimate Adventures team went out of their way to make this a trip to remember. Simon has a vast knowledge of the area that he travels in and takes the lead to ensure everyone has a pleasant trip. Des is the social one, she ensures everyone feels welcome and has a good time. She makes you feel like family from day one. Then there is Master P – I never thought someone could cook meals of that calibre in the middle of nowhere. The food was something to remember, from kudu lasagna and pork neck potjie to chicken curry and naan bread. We had a feast!
The wild camping was unbelievable. There are few things as nice as sitting around the campfire at night when you’re out in the wilds. You’re in the middle of the bush, with no cellphone signal, exchanging stories with your fellow travellers. I’m not a very seasoned camper, but the wild camping was a highlight of the trip for me.
Want to plan your own Botswana Adventure? The Tracks4Africa Botswana Self-Drive Guide Book has all the information you need, from destination descriptions and accommodation listings to maps and planning advice.