Hoehns. Africa. Adventures.
*mobile users, scroll to bottom for gallery.
In late August – early September 2017, Jo Hannah, Bob, Karen, and a team of adventurers we’re calling the “Botswana Bounders” went to Africa for a once in a life time safari. The team of 8 traveled from LAX – Dubai – Cape Town, then caravanning up to Botswana.
Once they are in Botswana, they will get into Land Rover Defenders and start their journey! Jo Hannah and the team will be camping out on top of the Defenders at night.*
*See Day 1
Most Dangerous, thrilling experience on the trip?
Jo Hannah: “Even in a sturdy Land Rover, you quickly realized how vulnerable you are out there. Sometimes you are just driving along a dirt track and after turning a corner, you realize you are face-to-face with an elephant that you have just separated from the rest of the herd. Definitely the scariest moment of the trip was when a huge elephant abruptly turned to face me and then started aggressively stomping towards me. I have never been more grateful for the acceleration of a Land Rover V8 engine.”
Wildest thing you saw? What Blew Your Mind?
Jo Hannah: “Giraffes just blow my mind. They are just one of nature’s strangest and most wonderful flourishes and it’s hard to believe that they’re real.”
Your Favorite Part of the Trip?
Jo Hannah: “It’s impossible to pick one moment. I have to say that it’s pretty cool to be listening to a podcast in a Land Rover with your best friend while driving through sand ruts in the middle of nowhere. The group dynamic was awesome and we laughed our way through the trip. Getting to know the incredible staff and hearing their stories was definitely one of the most special parts of the trip.
My dad has always respected and admired our rally driving, but I think this trip gave him a new level of appreciation for the grit and gusto it takes to drive off-road for 9 hours at a time!
Jo Hannah’s Day by Day Experience
The Bounders team meets up in San Diego to go over final pieces of plan.
All packed and ready to go off to the airport!
I landed in Cape Town, South Africa! Today we enjoyed the view a top Table Mountain with indigenous creatures called “Hyrax” which are very closely related to the elephant and manatee. Will be going with out internet connection 8/31.
Day 1, September 1st
*Well, it wouldn’t be a Hoehn Adventures trip without some dramatic road blocks! The Defenders that we had lined up fell through at the last moment (details are sketchy and unclear). Most of the cars will now be Toyotas but after calling the local Land Rover dealer for a contact I was able to secure an LR4 for trip. It’s a major bummer but I do have a special destiny tied with the LR4 so we’re going to make the best of it!
With the help of SMH Car Hire, we were able to secure a beautiful LR4 for our adventure. We were so impressed with their operation and very grateful for their last-minute help! Two members of our team picked up the vehicle in the morning and drove it to Alldays (near the Botswana border, see map) while the other travelers took a bush plane. The day started later than expected, so we ended up pitching camp soon after crossing over into Botswana. En Route to Nxai Pans.
Day 2, September 2nd
A full and exhausting day of driving to Nxai Pans National Park! The caravan reached the park gates just before closing time and as the sun was setting. Little did we know that we still had over an hour of driving before reaching our camp area. And by driving, I mean driving in heavy sand. With really deep ruts. In the dark. Without functioning radio communication. It’s stressful enough having to get 1 vehicle through those conditions (of course it was a piece of cake for the LR4!) but doing it with a caravan of 10 loaded vehicles certainly adds a whole other dimension. Drivers had to stay close enough together so that no one got lost in the pitch black wilderness, but they also had to leave enough space to account for the slipping, sliding, and bogging of the other vehicles. Since you have to keep your momentum up in sand to avoid getting stuck, this proved to be a difficult dance for our troop. But determination–and the absence of any other option–persevered and every vehicle (and occupant) made it safe and sound to the camping area.
Day 3, September 3rd
Today, the Bounders drove through Nxai Pans National Park. Highlights included:
- Watching herds of elephants visit a watering hole to bathe and drink. 99% of the time elephants are majestic, noble, and rhythmic. It was a real honor to witness part of the 1% when things fall apart. See our video below. It was one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed. We are so glad that Martin of African Sun Productions was able to capture it on film.
- Enjoying a picnic under the shade of Baines Baobabs, a striking group of ancienct Baobab trees situated on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Baobab trees are just special, and the musical way “Baines Baobabs” rolled our guide Walter’s tongue has forever committed Sir Thomas Baines, who the trees are named after, to our mental encyclopedias.
- Coming across a large pride of lions with one adult male, several females, and a handful of cubs. The cubs wrestled and chased bugs under the watchful but calm eyes of their mother who just sat in front of us in the middle of the road.
- An elephant watched from about 15ft away as we ate dinner that evening!
Day 4, September 4th
We left Nxai Pans and rove northwest to the town of Maun, known as the Gateway to the Okavango Delta. We stayed the night in a lodge just outside of Maun. As much as we loved our rooftop tents, it was glorious to recharge with a bed and a shower before heading back out into the wilderness. In the evening we took a boat ride on the river Kwai, where we saw tons of hippos popping up all around us. Our boat driver shared some great African fables. The most memorable one explained why hippos excrete in such a peculiar way.
Day 5, September 5th
In the morning we split into groups and took hour long flights over the Okavango Delta in tiny prop airplanes. We were flying low, so we could spot all types of wildlife from the plane: elephants, buffalo, giraffe, crocodile, impalas, and more! After the flight we left civilization once again and caravanned to Moremi Game Reserve, which is right in the heart of the Delta. This became our final campsite as we explored various parts of the Delta over the next several days.
Day 6, 7, 8, September 6th – 8th
Exploring Okavango Delta: Moremi, Savuti, Chobe reserves
We had already had some nice sightings, but life just explodes once you get into the Delta. We could park next to a lagoon and see hippos, elephants, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, impala, kudu, wildebeest and eagles all at once. It’s no wonder that crews from shows like Planet Earth always seem to have a segment on this magical area.
Highlights from these days:
- Doing some very deep river crossings
- Getting charged by an elephant (more on this below)
- A pack of hyenas came howling through our campsite two nights in a row. We could see them from our tents and were surprised to learn that their vocal capabilities go far beyond the laughing sounds we’ve all heard about. These hyenas were crooners, and would belt out very emotional solos.
- It was amazing to experience the vast knowledge and expertise of our staff. Our amazing chef, Tippie, in addition to baking bread from scratch in the middle of the wilderness, could spot even the most hidden animal and recognize every bird call. I will never forget how to he spotted a tiny owl that was perched in a tree in our campsite. It was about 5 inches tall and the and the exact same color as the tree. It took me 30 minuted with binoculars to find what he had spotted with his bare eyes.
- We spent about an hour tracking a beautiful leopard.
- Seeing a hippo yawn never gets old.
Day 10, September 10th – Day Trip to Victoria Falls, Goodbye Dinner
Victoria Falls certainly deserves its place amongst the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Aside from the breathtaking falls, the immediate surrounding area is it’s own micro-rainforest ecosystem, and hosts a variety of plants and animals that you don’t see outside of its small radius. It was a blast watching troops of baboons, until we got caught in the middle of one of their skirmishes and felt dangerously close to getting nipped.
Thank you for reading about our adventure!
Click to see our 2nd annual trip to the Rebelle Rally.