A change of plan, our first bush camp and some R&R at Elephant Sands

Going into Day 10 we all decided to make a slight change to our original plan which meant we would get to our rest day location, Elephant Sands, a day earlier allowing us two rest days. So we packed up camp at Woodlands Stopover and headed out on the A3 towards Nata. We had a tailwind behind us for most of the ride which meant we managed to clock in the kilometres a lot quicker than in the past few days. Once we reached the town of Motsetse which was around 108km we decided to call it a day and locate a bush camping spot in the area.

Mike-bushcamp (640x480)
Mike giving us permission to camp on on his plot

We found a well-driven dirt road just off the main road and Warrick and Gareth went to see if they could find the owner of the land to get permission for us to setup camp there. They were successful and spoke to the owner called Mike who had no problem with us bush camping on his land.

We found a relatively clear area surrounded by trees to setup the tents. Warrick was in his element and built a very decent fire for us for the night where we enjoyed our first experience of bush camping in the middle of nowhere.


First bush camp in Botswana

The next morning, we had to get up relatively early as we had a long ride ahead of us to get to Elephant Sands where we are now having two rest days (we all thought it was going to be around 110km but Warrick had miscalculated and it was actually 125km). Within the first 10km we started to see lots of Baobab trees and decided to stop to get a few photos. When we stopped, Gareth couldn’t unclip his shoe from the peddle as it turned out that one of the screws had fallen off. After a few attempts to get the shoe off he finally unclipped it but he needed to find a screw to put the cleat back into place on his shoe. Luckily, Gareth and Derrick managed to find a screw that they could saw down to size that was able to fix the problem.

We then got back on the road and headed to the next main town which was Nata. As it was getting really hot (over 30 degrees) we decided to grab a quick ice-cream at the Engen garage. The boys were all still feeling hungry so we then ended up at Barcelos for a chicken burger and chips. We thought we only had around 40km to go until Elephant Sands from Nata but as Warrick had got the distances miscalculated it ended up being a further 54km to go. We were all feeling very full and sluggish after our burgers and ice-cream so it was mentally tough to get going again. We were all really hoping to see some elephants whilst we rode on the Kasane road to Elephant Sands as we kept on seeing the signs but unfortunately none were to be seen except for some red hartebeest, a few cows and donkeys.

Elephant sign on the road from Nata to Elephant Sands
Elephant sign on the road from Nata to Elephant Sands

We finally made it to the Elephant Sands turnoff where Bobby met up with us as he had already gone ahead with the trailer to setup camp earlier in the day whilst Bryan followed us in the Jeep. Literally as we turned onto the dirt road, Derrick came crashing down as we hit very soft sand and so he decided to call it a day. Cam managed to ride about halfway up the very sandy road before getting into the car but Warrick and Gareth deflated their tyres down so they could ride on the road all the way to camp.

As we arrived at Elephant Sands there was a herd of elephants drinking by the waterhole. It was such a treat to see them after a hard day in the saddle. The lodge has a deck literally overlooking the waterhole so you are able to get really close to the elephants here which is amazing. We are staying here for two days to rest, sleep and enjoy some time in the African bushveld.

Elephant Sands Wi-Fi has been down for the past week and thanks to Bryan he managed to help them fix the problem which has allowed us to update all our supporters again on our progress. Tomorrow we will be back on the road again for about 100km of cycling up towards Pandamatenga where we will need to bush camp again.

First 3 days riding in Botswana; A few aches and pains and our first set of punctures

After a much-needed rest day staying at Kwa Nokeng Campsite, it was time to hit the roads of Botswana on our Buffalo Qhubeka bikes. It was one of the coldest mornings (around 3degrees) we have had so far and we all felt a little under-dressed in our Joburg2Kili Tarsus cycle kits as we headed out for a 114km ride to Itumela Campsite in Palapye but it shortly warmed up very quickly.

Derrick has been struggling the past few days with a sore knee. We were all hoping the rest day would help sort it out but unfortunately as we started to ride he decided he was going to rather get into the Jeep and go through to Palapye with Bobby to try see a doctor about it.

It has been really great having two support vehicles as it has allowed us to send one ahead to go setup camp and/or do some shopping for food. The other vehicle would then sit behind us to warn traffic that there are cyclists ahead and to also allow us to stop and stretch the legs, refill our water bottles, reapply STUF sunblock and grab a few extra snacks.


Warrick, Cam and Gareth worked as a team taking turns at riding at the front as we enjoyed riding on the relatively flat and smooth Botswanan roads. Although our average pace was much higher than the past few days, sitting around 23km/h, we were all finding that we were really uncomfortable on our saddles but we just had to keep peddling on. We finally made it to Itumela Campsite where we found Bobby and Derrick who had already setup our campsite.

Derrick managed to see a local doctor in Palaype who was extremely helpful and was able to give him an injection for the pain, strap his knee and give him some medication to hopefully help get him back on the bike again soon.

Bryan helped sort out new sim cards for us all so we can all be connected whilst we are here in Botswana and can keep our supporters updated on our progress. Luckily it was a really easy process and we are all up and running on our devices.

resting-side-roadYesterday we had a relatively easy 82km ride from Palapye to Serule. Derrick’s knee was feeling much better so it was great to have him back on the bike again. We were riding on the A1 main road to Serule and were really pleased to see that there was a side road where we could ride and avoid the traffic. This also meant that Bobby and Bryan could go ahead and didn’t have to follow us the whole time. Other than that we had a bit of headwind but it was not too difficult a day on the bike.

Bryan went ahead to find Jaera Guest House which was a place we were told about by some local Botswanans at Itumela Campsite. He managed to find the place but it was really basic so we ended up all sleeping in our tents within their parking lot but it was much safer than staying in a bush camp on the side of the road.

Today we had just over 100km ride to Woodlands Campsite just outside Francistown. We had a very eventful ride as Warrick got the first puncture of the trip. Shortly after patching up his tyre, Cam then got a flat tyre too. Unfortunately, the repair patches were not holding properly and so both tyres ended up getting flat again. We eventually managed to find Cheetah Tyre Services who very kindly helped us out with better tyre patches. A big shout out to Gareth for all his help changing the Kernes’ tyres over 4 times today.

The ride ended on a bit of a low note though as we had just over 10km of rutted, dirt road to get to the campsite and all the cyclists were taking strain. But thankfully the Woodlands Campsite is very decent and after having a shower and taking some time to just sit and relax everyone’s spirits are up again.

A breeze of a ride, some unexpected luxury for the night & the long ride to Botswana

After a really tough ride on day 2 from Buffelspoort to Bakgatla Resort we were all praying for a wind-free day out on the bike. We left Bakgatla a little later than we would have liked to as some of the crew decided to go out for a quick morning game drive in Pilansberg Game Reserve with Alasdair (Cam’s brother who joined us for a night of camping) before getting packed up and ready to ride.

Leaving Bakgatla Resort in our Jeep Kit

Day 3 ride was 96km from Bakgatla Resort to Marakele National Park which is just past Thabazimbi. The ride went well for us as we had a tailwind for most of the way and the route was relatively flat or downhill. We have also noticed that it is definitely getting hotter as we go north making it essential for us to stop frequently to fill up our water bottles along the way. We arrived at Marakele mid-afternoon and settled into camp for the night. The campsite had quite a few ostriches hanging around hoping to find a quick snack but luckily they weren’t aggressive when we shooed them away.

Marakele National Park

Yesterday we had a 98km ride ahead of us so we got up earlier than the past few mornings to get out on the road around 8am. We had not realised that the road we needed to take to get to the main road to Laphalale was in fact a dirt road of 30km. At first it was very rutted and we all feared we were in for a tough day ahead but luckily the road improved and became smoother the further we got to the main road. The scenery around us was really spectacular with amazing cliff faces and bushveld which made it all worthwhile. Marakele is definitely a place we will be visiting again in the future to explore it more next time.

Once we hit the main road it was just long rolling hills ahead of us with bushveld on either side of the road. We must have seen at least twenty warthogs along the road as well as sable and kudu which was great.

Bryan had driven ahead to Laphalale in the Ford to get supplies and to sort out a campsite but it so happened that the campsite we planned to stay at was fully booked. He then called a few other places who also were booked up probably due to the public holiday tomorrow for Voters day but eventually he got hold of a place called Marulasfontein Game Ranch. By the time Bryan had informed us of the change of plan in where we were staying we had in fact ridden 10km past the place.We were all very bleak that we had to turn around to cycle back but it was all worthwhile as the kind people at Marulasfontein Game Ranch let us stay in their beautiful luxury lodge so we didn’t have to setup camp for the night – What a treat to sleep in a bed for a night (it’s the small things that you take for granted). Marulasfontein also has two sweet Jack Russells’ who enjoyed spending time with us around the boma fireplace which Cam especially loved.

We all had a really good night’s rest but had to be up at dawn this morning to be able to get on the road as early as possible as we had a long day ahead of us to get to the Botswana border post Martin’s Drift (Grobler’s Bridge on the SA side). As Marulasfontein was 20km further than where we originally planned to stay, it turned out that we had to ride 130km today so we needed to really push hard. For the first 50km we had a bit of a headwind so we were riding in single file most of the way. We have also noticed it is definitely getting hotter as we go north and so our STUF sunblock has been a lifesaver to protect us. We all had to really dig deep today to get to the border post but we made it in just over 6.5hrs.

Crossing the Limpopo River at the Border Crossing into Botswana
Crossing the Limpopo River at the Border Crossing into Botswana

It was such a special moment for us all to have finally reached our first neighbouring country Botswana on this Joburg2Kili adventure. Tonight we are staying at Kwa nokeng, which is a campsite on the Limpopo river right by the border post. We have a rest day tomorrow which is much needed after over 500km of riding in the past 5 days.