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Venturesome Overland

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This is Botswana. Steve and two complete strangers fixing Toto, who had two rear bushings improperly installed, resulting in the entire back axle shifting forward. We started two years ago with the kindness of strangers and we end that way. This is typical of the kindness and character of Batswana. Not only are they helping fix the truck, they said “my home is your home.” #botswana #botswanaisbest #payitforward #totothelandrover #kindnessofstrangers #overland #overlandafrica #africaoverland #botho #roadsidemechanic #landroverlife #landroverdefender #defender110 #onelifeliveit
After two weeks in the shop, major parts replacements, and more money than we should have spent, we spent our 18th anniversary swapping the brake pads that were improperly installed and trying to fix the bushings that were brand new as of yesterday. Posted up at SOS Children’s Village thanks to the kindness of a Motswana who spent his ENTIRE afternoon under the truck with Steve. Tomorrow, we start over. #happyanniversary #kindnessofstrangers #rollwiththepunches #landrover #defender110 #africaoverland #overlandafrica #overland #torothelandrover
We left Gabs this morning. Our farewell tour of Botswana begins as do many of our trips these days - with Toto on the side of the road and Steve with a wrench and manual. #landroverlife #cliche #landrover #defender110 #roadsiderepair #noreallyitsfine #readthemanual #overland #overlandafrica #africaoverland #totothelandrover
Two years ago, I stood in front of this classroom on my first day of teaching at UB. Today is my last day on a campus that has become home, with colleagues who have become friends, and with students who are going to change the world - at least as much as they changed me. #universityofbotswana #ub #gaborone #botswana #africa #classroom #highered #botswanaisbest #ilovethisplace

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“If someone told me I could live in Botswana forever, but on the one condition that the only place I could ever camp was the Central Kalahari Game Rerserve, I would say, ‘Where do I sign?’”

I mentioned this to Julie out of the blue the other day as I was planning this week’s trip. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve – the size of Switzerland – is not necessarily the most interesting place in Botswana, or chock full of wildlife, or even particularly difficult as an off-road challenge.

There are endless miles of monotonous sandy tracks, hemmed in by impenetrable thorn bushes, with little to see. Many of the campsites are indifferently maintained, hounded relentlessly by bees (on our last visit the bees literally tried to colonize our Land Cruiser), or saddled with overflowing pit toilets. It’s hot.

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Why go back? Why go back less than two months after we were just there? Why go back when we’ve been there twice already? Why go back when there is so much more to discover in this amazing country that is new to us?

To be honest, we do struggle with those questions sometimes, but surprisingly little. The answer is easy, really.

In a world crammed with everything, the sheer nothingness of CKGR reorients us, resets the compass, reveals new realities. It’s the same reason we are drawn to the Utah deserts year after year. There is no one and nothing, and yet weirdly that nothingness is more than enough.

Oh. And the occasional elephant. No elephants in Utah.

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We have approached the CKGR from all directions but one – the south. The road between Khutse Game Reserve and the Game Scout Camp at Xade is one of the most notoriously lonely, barren, and difficult tracks in all of southern Africa. The locals don’t bother because they know there’s nothing out there, so why wouldn’t we try it?

In fact, that map above doesn’t even include our second night’s campsite, Bape, because it doesn’t appear on Google Maps. That’s my kind of campsite.

Seven nights, eight days. When we reach Deception Valley, we’ll be meeting some friends of ours from Montana who are visiting Botswana. They started their safari up north at Victoria Falls just a week ago. That will be a surreal experience.

We are looking at nearly 650km between fuel stops from the last gas station before the Khutse Game Reserve (100km south of Point B on the map) and Rakops (Point G on the map). This will require more than a few jerry cans.

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6 comments on “For the Love of Nothing: CKGR

  1. run|ride|wine says:

    This is great! We’re about to head out on a 17-day adventure 4×4 through Botswana ourselves. Check out my posts – would love your insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right on! You cannot go wrong in this incredible country. I’ll check out your posts for sure. Have a great time!

      Like

  2. Julie says:

    It’s our favourite place too – even after travelling all over southern Africa, closely followed by the Okavango. Love your blog! Maybe we will bump into you one of these days on the road.
    Julie and Keith

    Like

    1. Definitely! We’re headed to South Africa and Lesotho in March, so let’s stay in touch.

      Like

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