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The journey home. Thursday 14 January, day 281, week 36. Ithumela Camp.

 

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”. – Marcel Proust.

 

• Botswana.

• Ithumela Camp in Palapye.

• Distance covered 649km, taking 7hr 30min.

Another early start. We were really not sure how far we would get this day. Both Nata Lodge and Woodlands near Francistown seemed a little close. Gaborone seemed too far.

The drive between Kasane/Kazangula and Nata remains an all-time favourite for us no matter how many times we have done it. This busy main road with fairly heavy trucks always has some large and other interesting animals to see in the surrounding forest conservation areas. Over the years we have seen plenty of elephant and buffalo. Other animals seen include a memorable sighting of a pack of wild dogs, kudu, impala, zebra, wildebeest, sable antelope and giraffe. This makes this route almost unique in my opinion. Nowhere else on our travels on this trip was there a major road delivering this degree of game viewing. In Tanzania the public road does go through Mikumi but this is a national park as is the case with Tsavo. This time we saw plenty of elephant including some large bulls towards Nata. There was also a lovely herd of sable antelope. The road remains in good condition. Others will recall the nightmare potholes of some years ago.

The first foot and mouth barrier was encountered 230km from Senyati and they searched the vehicle fairly thoroughly. We had no further use for meat and had donated the remainder of our supplies to a lovely Swedish couple at Senyati, Tommy and Anne. They were short of meat and I trust they will enjoy the choice Kenyan fillet steak and some lamb that we had been carrying all the way from South Africa. This included some lamb knuckles and a small deboned leg of lamb.

Elephant Sands was passed after 236km and Nata Lodge 297km and 4hr from Senyati. I was feeling a little heavy lidded and ask Anne to drive for a stint and she promptly picked up our second true speeding fine of the trip, for doing 74k/hr in a 60 zone, P380. I said not a word but the keys were flung to me to drive further. Woodlands Stopover was passed 20km before Francistown, still too early to stop.

I then remembered Ithumela Camp at Palapye. I had seen reasonable reports about this camp and we arrived there at the suitable time of 16H00. Camping here costs only P85pppn, but there is an extra charge if you want to use an electrical plug point. Our first impression was not all that favourable. It is stuck away behind the railway marshalling yards and they had suffered something of a cloudburst an hour or two earlier. Much of the campground was under water. We found a dry spot to set up camp and in fact found that Ithumela served its function very well as an overnight stopover. The ablutions are fine if a little rustic, but there are hot showers. I did not find the bar area and restaurant too attractive in daylight but with suitable lighting it was not too bad after nightfall. Initially we were the only ones in camp but later 2 vehicles and an overland truck arrived. The bar was very lively till about 04H00 but we had been wise enough to choose a site well away from the entertainment area. Another caution, the farmyard sound of gobbling turkeys will awake you at first light. This did not matter to us as we wanted another early start. This campsite is quite well set out with insight to the requirement of campers and is completely adequate for an overnight stay.

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