Khutse GR – always expect the unexpected!

Via Gaborone to Khutse Game Reserve

We left the group in Mashatu one day before the official end of the course. We missed a game drive and a common Sundowner in the evening, but we gained time because we had a stopover in Gaborone heading to Khutse and could drive the long leg in two days. The next morning we were relaxed and drove towards Khutse GR. This rather unknown park borders the southern part of the Central Kalahari and offers similar vegetation and wildlife. We had booked four nights and were very excited to see what would await us.

Is the adapter foldable?

Shortly after our arrival we saw one of the rare giraffes in the park in best evening light. When Guido pulled out the camera, we noticed something that made Guido’s blood run cold: the adapter that connected the camera and the 500 mm telephoto lens was suddenly foldable. However that happened, it had to be fixed. Arriving at camp, Guido inspected the damage and still was confused. The adapter was broken but still worked perfectly. Guido fixed it with a strong tape and the first test was successful. The lens was still usable – but we both didn’t know how long the temporary solution would last because the combo of camera and lens weighs +/- 5 kg.

The next morning we explored parts of the park. When we heard an elephant trumpet behind a tree, a bull elephant came around the corner. The mere presence of cars puts him in a state of the highest excitement and his hobby was to make mock attacks. He wanted to chase us. We looked at each other and played his game. We left the area with a normal pace, and he followed us with his ears waving and his trunk up (this gave him away: in a real attack, the trunk is folded in) trumpeting loudly. Likewise, we were admittedly irritated.

Rain, rain and more rain

The rain started immediately after we left the elephant and never stopped until the next evening. Whenever we made a game drive, we saw nothing except lots of bushes, occasional Oryx antelopes, springbok and some ostriches. No vehicles, no people, no other animals. Sonja made the suggestion to leave the park one day earlier. We could spend an extra day in Ghanzi to wash our clothes before we continue our journey to CKGR – Guido agreed.

Guido was worried about the usability of his lens. Because the rain was our constant companion during the game drive the next morning, Sonja suggested that we spontaneously should leave now and go to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, to buy a new adapter.

Guido, however, was skeptical about the availability in Gaborone. On the other hand, it was worth a try. So we made our way out of the park and talked to the rangers at the entrance. We heard about the ‘crazy Elephant Bull’ and that they don’t know what to do with him. After all, no one has come to serious harm yet.

Let’s ‘make a plan’

80 km after leaving the park we entered a small town where we could refuel and had a 3G connection. Guido could google and found a ‘big’ photo dealer in Gaborone. The lady on the phone was really nice, but she didn’t understand what Guido was talking about. He googled the number of Sigma South Africa and called the headquarters. No, unfortunately there are no dealers in Botswana. But when we are in Gaborone, maybe it would be possible for us to drive across the border to South Africa? There is a dealer in Rustenburg. He surely doesn’t have the adapter in stock, but if we can tell him when we can be there, they will make a plan for us.

Planning in Africa takes more than 4 days – usually a week – and we don’t have the time. Either we find a solution that can be implemented within 24 hours or Guido will probably have to continue traveling with the temporary solution until our flight back to Switzerland.

South Africa is the solution

Guido called Sigma back after a short consideration. After this important phone call he asks Sonja: “Honey, what do you think about a short trip to Johannesburg? Cameraland has the adapter in stock. We can go to Gaborone today and tomorrow morning we’ll cross the border, drive to Joburg and be back in Botswana tomorrow evening.”

We drove appx. 1,000 extra kilometers. There was a detour because the border point we wanted to cross was unfortunately unusable due to a road block and a strike. At the end of the day there was a brand-new adapter connecting the camera and the lens. Cameraland received the delivery just 3 hours before our arrival – that’s called ‘in stock’…

On our way to CKGR

The drive through South Africa was pleasant and less tiring than we expected. The next day, the journey to the CKGR (Central Kalahari Game Reserve) was on the agenda: 650 km on the Trans Kalahari Highway to Ghanzi, our gateway to the Kalahari. We wanted to prepare ourselves for the next 19 days in the bush veld.

After arriving in Ghanzi around noon we were tired and needed some rest. We checked into the Kalahari Arms Hotel – a hotel with an attached campsite, hot water, fast internet and a restaurant. All in all, just what we needed. Unfortunately, they did not offer laundry service for camping guests, so Sonja stayed at the campsite and did our laundry while Guido did the shopping and had the car washed. Two hours later everything was done and after the blog was updated and mails, SMS and whatsapp were answered, we went to the restaurant for dinner.

Guido was amazed when he saw an email from EcoTraining in the incoming emails. They responded to the criticism, apologized, explained this and that and invited us to have a new experience with them, later on our trip, to see how they really work and treat people and that it was just a chain of unfortunate circumstances. We agreed that we would get in touch as soon as we were in South Africa to see if there was a possibility and what it might be. At 8:00 p.m. we went to bed without setting the alarm clock.

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