Trip report: Mashatu tented camp, Botswana, July 2012 (The Road and the Facilities)

(African goshawk ( a first for me) taken about 10 meters from the hide with 600mm lens – a quick visit by him, too quick to grap the 70 x 200mm lens to get a BIF (bird in flight) shot)

Just for those of you who are interested in the details of trip and not really the photos, this post is for you. I prepared a range of photos for our monthly Sunday photography group (I just called it the Oubos Kiekie Klub). Please do not look at the quality of the photos as it was taken with a Canon “point and shoot” camera.

As mentioned in a previous post, we took the “back road” via Rustenburg and Thabazimbi to Alldays and Point Drift border post. I was not familiar with this road (never been in that part of South Africa), so I phoned a fellow forex trader friend of mine and he was very positive about the road. So we decided to give it a go:

We arrived at Thabazimbi around 18H45 on the Thursday evening – just after sunset and we stayed at a very nice guest house in town. The next morning we left after breakfast as we did not know what to expect or what the quality of the road looks like. Well, the road to Ellisras – excellent condition as one can see:

After filling up with diesel and a comfort break at Ellisras, we continue to Alldays. Once again, we were very surprise with the condition of the road and there were only a few locals on the road:

Not to mention the scenery as well:

Unfortunately there was about 30-40km stretch of road with major potholes – luckily not that deep but some many. It was just after one crosses the N11. Luckily not a problem for the vehicle I was driving. Also a very quiet road with only a few vehicles – no trucks around.

We arrived at Alldays around 11H15 and stopped a nice coffee shop waiting for our friend coming from Johannesburg via the N1 and Louis Trichardt. Soon after her the rest of our group arrived and we had a nice cup of tea together. Despite the section with potholes, I would recommend the back road if one does not want to pay all the toll fees and if one just wants to enjoy the ride.

Then we travelled the last 65 km to Pond Drift border post on once again an acceptable tar road (just a few potholes but nothing serious). As one drives through the border post on the South African side, there are a few big trees on the bank of the river. One needs to park your vehicle under one of the trees and wait for the transport from Mashatu camp to arrive. First they put all the luggage on the vehicle, then drive through the dry river bed (there is a pond if the river is in flood) to the Botswana border post on the other side of the river. Then you go through the normal formalities at the border post, back unto the open vehicle and then it is about 1 hour drive to either the main camp or the tented camp. It was very dry and we saw very little activities as mentioned in earlier posts. There is a lot of dust when the wind blows (not even talking about driving a vehicle on the dirt roads of the reserve) – the reason for the colour of the horizon.

The tented camp was a surprise. Very neat and with a practical layout. The dining area and bar:

And then to the tents:

The inside of the tent. There is the normal electricity (24hours) with South African and Botswana plugs to charge whatever needs charging. After supper – what a surprise to find a hot water bottle in ones bed.

The back door of the tent leads to the “bathroom”:

And one enters the bathroom into the wash basin (no roof, sorry – the trees are the roof):

On the one side is the shower:

and on the other side the toilet (with a roof):

And then it was off to veld – just to show you the arrangements: power clamps and Wimberley did it for us. Our friend sat in front with the driver and she uses a monopod for support.

At last we arrived at the famous hide and this is how it looks like. This is the wife and our friend getting all the equipment into the hide for a 3-4 hour session in the hide. Luckily Isak brought the tea, coffee and rusks. The hide is a container (put into to ground) so that the photographer shoot from ground level to get that unusual angles. Once again, power clamps and Wimberley as well as bean bags within the hide can be used as support.

At sunrise – just a quick photo before we disappear into the hide. The green thing on top of the hide is the hatch and it can be opened and closed from the inside. Blankets are put on the opening hatches (blue in the photo) on which one can put the second and third camera body (with a 70 x 200mm and wide-angle lens) for when the elephants arrive. After closing the hatch, it is a matter of few minutes before the first birds and game returns to the waterhole.

We had a lovely time in Mashatu tented camp and would strongly recommend it for the serious (and not so serious) photographer. Any person is more than welcome to comment on Mashatu and my experiences.

Until next time……

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  1. #1 by Ingrid on August 5, 2012 - 8:28 am

    Hi Willem,
    We would love to share your great blog posts with our Facebook followers – with your permission and credit of course.

    Please contact ingrid@originblu.com

    Thanks and kind regards,

    Ingrid
    for Mashatu Game Reserve

  2. #2 by Robbins on October 19, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    Your African goshawk ( a first for me) photo appears to be a possible Little Sparrowhawk. An
    African Goshawk would have a grey cere not yellow cere.

    • #3 by whk139 on October 22, 2012 - 4:15 pm

      Hi Robbins, thanks for the information. A member of our local bird club also corrected me on my mistake. Well, I am a newbie when it comes to birds and I do appreciate all the help I can get. Thanks again for the comment and reading my blog.

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