Post Reply 
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Zim - Bots - 2015
05-11-2015, 06:40 PM
Post: #1
Zim - Bots - 2015
Day 1 aka BEHIND SCHEDULE!!
04/19/15 – Ellisras to Matopo
Got a late start out of Pala Lodge due to the wedding festivities lasting till the early morning hours.
Ignored Stuart’s advice and headed for Martin’s drift Border Post because we were behind schedule! The trucks were queued more than 2 km from the border! Luckily we got waved through to the front of the line and cleared the border formalities in less than 30 minutes. As we exited the Botswana border post we got stopped by an agricultural inspector who confiscated our squashes and pumpkin, apparently it is not only meat that is forbidden or is it possibly that these were the missing ingredients from her menu? Ronel tells me not to be so cynical.
DANGER Will Robertson.....The little magic black box starts screaming as soon as I started slowing down for a T junction which freaked me out a bit since we are driving solo and we did not have any cellphone service in Botswana. We pulled over to the side of the road, I opened up the engine bay but not seeing anything obviously amiss so I reset the MBB and we are off. After a while I get so good at resetting the black box that I am able to do it while going 80 kph, but it is still a bit jarring whenever it starts shrieking. I will have to check it once we get to the campsite.
The road between the SA border and Francistown is undergoing Chinese repairs and repaving and it is expected to be completed sometime in 2016, but I am not so sure about that.
The construction plus the potholes on the sections that are not currently being worked on causes more delays and we roll into Francistown in the early afternoon. The fact that we had to restock some supplies (squashies and pumpkin) and what with me trying to buy a Botswana sim card and airtime on a Sunday leads to even more delays which caused us to be pulled over for speeding as we were heading out of Francistown towards the Plumtree border post in Zimbabwe.
It was a bit of a BS speed trap (cops were sitting right next to the 80 kph sign), however I was able to talk myself out of a ticket but we were now seriously behind schedule keeping to the ridiculous speed limit of 80kph we reach the Plumtree Border Post just in time but it is a quick 20 minutes to dispatchl with all formalities and after paying the required customs fees and road taxes we were handed our TIP a very important piece of paper whilst driving in Zimbabwe, believe you me.
Clearance by the snappily dressed CID Police inspector was quick and painless and we sighed in relief that we are finally through all the border formalities and in Zimbabwe!!
…..…..first road block was barely 20 km from the border around the town of Figtree, and although the officials were very civil and professional, we did not volunteer any info on what produce we had stashed in the pantry, after checking my drivers license were sent on our merry way.
Trying to buy firewood at the convenience store on the way to Matopo was met with blank stares from the ladies behind the counter so we pushed on since it was getting dark fast.
It was pitch dark when we finally pulled in to the first camping spot that we could find, right next to the Maleme dam. The ablution facilities were basic but clean and we crawled into bed tired after a very long day but excited that we survived the first day virtually unscathed.
           
Day 2 to follow
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-12-2015, 08:05 AM (This post was last modified: 05-12-2015 02:29 PM by syncromad.)
Post: #2
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
looking forward to part 2 and more,

will sort the LLB and starter for you, Bus is with me

I may be a mechanic, but i can't fix stupid
Bad planning on your part does not make your issue an crisis to me
Bad workmanship by other garages does not entiltle you to better rates at me
Syncro, syncro , syncro and more syncro, this is the syncro way of life
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-12-2015, 12:26 PM
Post: #3
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
Sounds like fun.

The adventure for me is all the little adventures(mishaps). Thats what makes a trip remeberable, making for interesting stories.

What did the black box indicate when it alarmed?

1989 2.1 SYNCRO
2011 CB1000R

Stuart said "They say in "Namibia" the only problem with a syncro is when it does get stuck nothing else can get there to tow it out"

SYNCROnized OFF-Roading
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-12-2015, 05:14 PM
Post: #4
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
(05-12-2015 12:26 PM)Dazz Wrote:  Sounds like fun.

The adventure for me is all the little adventures(mishaps). Thats what makes a trip remeberable, making for interesting stories.

What did the black box indicate when it alarmed?

The WAT light came on as soon as the revs started to drop. I checked the batteries but they seem to charge just fine. Hopefully Stuart will track the problem down.
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-12-2015, 05:16 PM
Post: #5
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
sure we will find it,

I may be a mechanic, but i can't fix stupid
Bad planning on your part does not make your issue an crisis to me
Bad workmanship by other garages does not entiltle you to better rates at me
Syncro, syncro , syncro and more syncro, this is the syncro way of life
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-12-2015, 06:04 PM
Post: #6
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
Day2
04/20/15 Matopo – Hwange Main Camp
   
Day 2 broke with a bit of mist hanging over the water and we got our first glimpse of why the park is called “The home of the balancing rocks”.
   
Heading up a pretty steep hill we drove to the camp HQ to pay our camping fees of $40 and a park fee of $12 which the lady said was a discount.
   
The cave paintings and museum at Pomongwe reminded me of one of my primary school projects, and I am sure the display has not changed since the day it opened yet it was another $10 per person museum fee. However if you have the time you can go to any of the other “museum” sites in the park since your $10 is good all day.
Apparently the cave paintings at Nswatugi are more impressive than at Pomogwe’s, but the guide at Pomongwe is very proud and happy to share his knowledge about the site and the paintings. You can also climb the massive granite “koppie” behind the site if you feel energetic!
Next we headed to Cecil John Rodes’ gravesite which is of course the crown jewel and reason most visitors come to matabo/matopos. Not only is it his final resting place but also Leander Starr Jameson’s (Yes that guy from the Jameson Raid) and there is also a memorial to a group of men that died trying to capture king Lobengula.
   
CJR Grave
Let just say old Cecil knew a good spot when he saw one, and although the site is probably the best maintained attraction in the park, assistance from the staff on site or signs directing visitors towards the actual grave are non-existent.
   
None the less it is great spot to stop and make a spot of tea or coffee just don’t use the local water! We could have spent more time in this park but maybe next time
Heading towards Bulawayo we passed a couple of farms that still seem to be functioning and actually did see a farmer and his crew driving a couple of tractors and harvesters.
Bulawayo is quite busy and the produce market in the center of town is a hive of activity, I went looking for an exhaust rubber and was sent to 5 different auto spares shops before I found a muffler shop that had something that I could make work. Not complaining just stating my surprise on how much better things are in Zimbabwe than what I expected or read about.
Filled up Just outside Bulawayo and found that the price for petrol is cheaper in Zimbabwe than in South Africa! A couple of miles north on a potholed A8 and what is that I see in the distance but a toll booth! I ask the lady taking my $2 payment why there is toll? She reckons it is to maintain the road to which I reply “When do they start?” She laughed graciously.
Heading north on the A8 towards the main camp in Hwange National park and there are road blocks just about every 20 kilometers. I decided to put our safety reflector jackets over our seat backs so that it is visible as soon as we get pulled over and it seem to work since the cops would only ask for either my driver’s license, which they had a hard time figuring out since mine is still the old style ID book or the very important TIP which was only glance worthy once produced. So far no problems with any official in Zimbabwe, the cops maybe plentiful but they seem to be professional and courteous.
   
Entering Hwange we came upon a group of Painted Dogs (Wild Dogs) which is endangered in Zimbabwe and Botswana. We saw a Land Rover with an antenna on the roof and upon closer inspection saw a couple of the dogs had radio collars on. Driving up we asked the driver about the dogs and got a very interesting and informative lesson on the subject since this particular study of these animals has been ongoing since 1998.
   
Finally reached the Main Camp and after paying the required fees of $60 entrance and vehicle fee another $17 per person camp fee and $8 daily conservation fee we were looking forward to setting up camp in daylight or at least early dusk.
Again the ablution were sparse but spotless and interesting solutions were devised to fix the toilet’s flushing mechanisms.
Clackson the camp attendant was quick to fire up the donkey so that we could take a nice hot shower. Other than me and Ronel there was only one other couple camping which meant we had a nice quiet spot near the fence, that was until the hyenas starting howling on the other side.
Now the fence might at one time consisted of wire but now not so much, and it is definitely not an impediment to any wild life, which created the need for me to escort my wife whenever she had to use the facilities. Let’s just say there were many an eye on us as we made our trips back and forth in the dead of night!

What will Hwange have to offer on Day 3?
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-12-2015, 09:08 PM
Post: #7
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
great report

I may be a mechanic, but i can't fix stupid
Bad planning on your part does not make your issue an crisis to me
Bad workmanship by other garages does not entiltle you to better rates at me
Syncro, syncro , syncro and more syncro, this is the syncro way of life
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-13-2015, 08:07 PM
Post: #8
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
Day3
04/21/15 Hwange Main Camp
Up at the crack of dawn to do a “quick” game drive. Got stopped at the entry gate to the park which is separate from the campsite entrance and had to now pay again for entrance and vehicle access fees!
Decided to get the payment for the rest of our stay in Hwange out of the way since we could pay with a credit card at the main camp but not at Sinamatella, which only accepts cash. It seems that is not only the budget airlines that nickel and dime you……
Payment sorted, and a picture taken of the “map” on the wall since you cannot buy a map of the park, we headed off on the “quick” game in the south eastern portion of the park. There were not a lot of wild life near the main camp itself but this could have been due to the dense vegetation and because the grass was at places rooftop high due to some late but plentiful rains.
   
Around Kennedy pan and picnic sites the sightings improved and we saw a lot of Elephant, Kudu, Giraffe, Hippo and other big game species. Bird watchers would also not be disappointed.
           
Somalisa is a tented lodge set up in this area and it seems to be doing well as we saw a couple of new platforms for additional tents being erected, it also has a pool which sometimes doubles as an elephant drinking fountain that actually overlook a natural waterhole.
   
One of the benefits of the private lodges located in of Hwange is that these operators are apparently allowed to go off the main roads to showcase the wild life up close and personal, and since there were no signs saying we could not follow in these two spoor tracks we did just that. With the Syncro there really was not anywhere that we could not follow on the tracks and driving on the two spoor paths really gives a person a better idea of what it must have been like as a pioneer travelling through this “uncharted” territory.
Midafternoon and we were back at the main camp restaurant and ordered a light lunch from the small menu, since the camp store was out of ice I decided to partake in a few cold Zambesi’s, the locally brewed lager and that did go down very well with the freshly made salad and sandwich.
   
We are the only campers in the camp tonight and it would seem that my man Clackson forgot to fire up the donkey which made for a very brief but exhilarating shower.
We spend most of the cool evening watching bushveld “tv” until all the wood has burnt out but we are in no rush to go to bed because we would be heading to Sinamatella in the morning via the main road in the park which according to the milestones posted at the reception was paved way back in 1976, easy peasy…….....Dodgy
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-14-2015, 04:23 PM (This post was last modified: 05-14-2015 04:24 PM by BoetGert.)
Post: #9
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
Day 4 Hwange Main Camp - Sinamatella
04/22/15
Heading north on the main “tarred” road towards Sinamatella rest camp was going to be a boring drive,…………………………………. WRONG! This road might have been tarred way back when but there are sections that have more dirt than tar and others more holes than a sieve.
   
Once the realization struck that this was going to be a horrible drive we quickly started recalculating alternate routes on the GPS. A couple of side trips later and we arrive at Nyamandhlovu Pan hide were a pride of lions on the opposite side of the water hole are doing what lions do, just lazing about in the warming sun.
   
As soon as the loud lodge tourists showed up we decide to head on out toward Sinamatella via this “shortcut” that I found and plotted on my Tracks for Africa map. A quick coffee break at another deserted picnic site and we plunge head first into a two spoor track that is indicated as a secondary road on the T4A GPS map. We should have known better since the main road was not anything to write home about.
Nonetheless after 30 km of spine tingling branches scratching against the syncro (sure it will buff out), head high grass and dense Mopani bush we came upon a pickup truck blocking the road. The occupants claiming to be researchers studying what sounds to us like “bedpans” tells us that we cannot continue on the path due to the wet conditions up ahead. Not wanting to argue the capabilities of the Syncro and after having already put Ronel on edge once or twice by getting a bit stuck in some “cotton mud” on the way to White Hills Pan (not really badly stuck - G gear and the diff locks engaged and we were out in a jiffy) we decided that a U-turn was the best course of action.
Back on the main road and with Ronel taking a nap in the back I can see a huge thunderstorm brewing up ahead and that song from Toto about the rains in Africa pops into my head, ah bliss.
Near Masuma Dam we see the biggest herd of Giraffe. I counted 40 or more. The Masuma lookout gives you a nice elevated view over the dam and the bush beyond. A bunch of tourist were having a couple of cocktails catered in the hide and we introduced ourselves right there and then. A quick sip and a chat and we headed to Mandavu Dam which is huge with a similar setup as at Masuma dam, but since the dam was filled to the brim the wild life was pretty distant on the opposite side.
A couple of kilometers after Mandavu we almost drove right into a raucous herd of Elephant with the younger ones trumpeting and crashing through the bush and the older females not having any of it. It made for a dusty spectacle and had the herd of impala and wildebeest a bit on edge not to mention us since we have seen what elephants can do to stupid tourist in the Kruger park!
   
We are making good time now and can see the hill on which Sinamatella is built upon, in the distance so we swung to the right off the main road once more to take a “scenic route” that should take us over the Sinamatella river and back in front of the base of the camp. I did say OVER the river, however the bridge was washed away due to some past flood and I was just about to turn around when Ronel says: “I think we can get through.” The Syncro’s capabilities must have impressed her because she was out in a flash looking for the best route over the boulders and soccer ball size stones. Directing me down into the gully like a pro rock crawler, she even had time for a couple of pics as I pick my way carefully through the gully.
           
The view from atop the hill at Sinamatella camp is something that is very hard to describe adequately. A person could probably sit there for days on end enjoying a couple of Zambezi’s (my new favorite beer) and just look at the scene playing out below on the vlei/ plain. The view is breathtaking and the vista seems to just go on forever.
               
Once again we were the only campers at the site and the camp attendant quickly slashed open a spot in the knee high grass, next to the ablution block just for us! Again the facilities were basic and somewhat vintage but spotless.
   
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
05-14-2015, 04:32 PM
Post: #10
RE: Zim - Bots - 2015
Great story so Far Gerrie, you should be a journo,

glad to see they had cleaned the ablutions at Sinamatella, i really love that campsite, has the potential to be the best campsite in africa, like it was 30 odd years ago. we always camp on the edge of the hill.

we also crossed that "River" when we were there.

great story so far, think you should have it published in a US outdoor magazine.

stuart

I may be a mechanic, but i can't fix stupid
Bad planning on your part does not make your issue an crisis to me
Bad workmanship by other garages does not entiltle you to better rates at me
Syncro, syncro , syncro and more syncro, this is the syncro way of life
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 


Forum Jump:


User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)