"It's all new...!"

Continuing my cousin Yolande's diary of her visit to Botswana. Towards the end of the holiday we all went to Stevensford safari camp, about 300 miles north of Gaborone, by the side of the Limpopo river. Although there is less of the "big" game at Stevensford than elsewhere in Botswana, it was recommended for the variety of birds and other wildlife.

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26 September 1981 Saturday

Got up at 6.30, packed up the LandRover for self-sufficiency over 4 days and left Gaborone at 10.00. Stopped at Palapye at some Radio Ham's house, then drove on a dirt road till we got to Stevensford Safari Camp. We've got a lovely thatched hut with H & C water!

Ready to leave home

Pru organising the packing of the LandRover as Yo and the children look on. Note the whip radio aerial - we had the vehicle wired up for mobile ham radio! Lying on the ground (on the left of the picture) can be seen the walls and frame of a prefabricated hut. This was subsequently turned into a home for the Botswana Amateur Radio Society.
At the  Tropic of Capricorn

The road north to Stevensford crosses the Tropic of Capricorn. Yo poses at the spot - unfortunately someone got to the sign before us

27 September 1981 Sunday

Got up early and walked down by the Limpopo before cooking bacon and eggs over an open fire. Walked around and saw a crested barbet, giant kingfisher, sandpiper, hornbills etc.etc. Went for a bicycle ride, cooled off in the plunge pool showered and rode in an open LandRover to see warthog, wildebeest, ilandi and kudu.

Rondavels at Stevensford

Like most other safari camps, Stevensford was built in traditional style, though the rondavel huts often had surprisingly good facilities under the thatch and mud walls. No electricity, though - this is the bush!
The Limpopo at Stevensford

It may have been great and even grey/green, but the Limpopo certainly wasn't greasy at Stevensford. The tranquil setting belies its appearance in full flood.
28 September 1981 Monday

The four of us and the owner went for a horse walk/ride for one and half hours. It was terrific - I even managed a bit of trotting. Went for a row on the Limpopo, then at 4.30 ish went by myself to the vlei hide and saw a Great Eagle Owl, Hedada etc. Another super day.

Trotting into the bush

The party sets off for a bush ride - much better than a noisy Land Rover for viewing animals.
Rowing up the Limpopo

Yo's husband, Keith, cautiously navigating up the Limpopo
29 September 1981 Tuesday

(Our 8th Wedding Anniversary) Were up by 5.50 and went to the hide at the vlei. Saw 2 sorts of kingfishers, a grey heron, crested barbets and a Heugli's Robin. Packed up the LandRover, but went over a bump and broke down. Luckily, Keith and Dave fixed it and we got back at 6 ish. Dog tired.

Grey heron on the Limpopo

A grey heron majestically takes flight off its rock. Stevensford had several wildlife hides in settings like this.
Waterbuck at Stevensford

A large waterbuck - easily distinguished by the white circle around its rump, even in the poor early morning light - looks straight into the hide.
30 September 1981 Wednesday

Got up fairly early as it was Independence Day. Drove to the Stadium and watched the bands, processions and dancing. Wrote 13 postcards whilst Dave & Pru went to a function.

President's Day 1981

The Botswana Defence Force band entertains the crowd at the 1981 President's Day celebrations in Gaborone Stadium.
Traditional music on President's Day

A village troupe performs traditional music and dance. Radio Botswana collected a vast selection of recordings from these events, though not everyone appreciated the cultural heritage at the time.
Johannesburg skyscrapers

The towering architecture of Johannesburg city centre was a sharp contrast to Botswana
1 October 1981 Thursday

Packed our 2 big suitcases and said farewell to Gaborone. Journeyed in the LandRover down to Johannesburg and booked into an hotel. Had a meal and talked about visiting a gold mine.

2 October 1981 Friday

Decided we didn't like Johannesburg. It's a most unfriendly city. Visited the Gold Mine Museum which was interesting - went down 220 metres in Shaft 14 to look at the gold seam. Had a thunderstorm but squelched round the shops.

Gold mine lift shaft

Symbol of South Africa's wealth - the gold mine

Interior of the Carlton Centre

Shopping trip to pick up souvenirs
Wemmer Pan Park

Last few hours in one of Johannesburg's parks
3 October 1981 Saturday

Went to the Carlton Centre and adjoining streets and bought a necklace with African cut-out figures. Went to the Wemmer Pan Park. Said a tearful good-bye. It's been a fabulous holiday. Shall really miss them all....

List of Birds seen

Dave & Pru's garden, Gaborone

Blue waxbill, House Sparrow, Marico Sunbird, Tit-Babbler, Red-Eyed Bulbul, Laughing Dove, Red Faced Mouse Birds, African Hoopoe, Blackheaded Oriole.

Gaborone Town

Glossy Starling, Cape Wagtail, Spotted Black Weaver.


Chin-spot Batis (also called White Flanked Batis), Lesser Masked Weaver, Night Heron, Hadeda, Brown-Headed Kingfisher, Sacred Ibis, Blacksmith Plover, Hammerkop, Cattle Egret, Black Crake, Grey Heron, Lilac Breasted Roller, Fork Tailed Drongo, Black Shouldered Kite, Yellow Billed Kite, Pied Crow, White Crowned Shrike, Crested Barbet, Three banded Sandplover, Black Winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Lesser Striped Swallow, Namaqua Dove, Red Billed Firefinch, Ostrich.

Stevensford Safari Camp

White Beaked Cormorant, Egyptian Goose, Secretary Bird, Natal Francolin, Water Dikkop, Mourning Dove, Turtle Dove, Grey Lourie, Giant Eagle Owl, Pied Kingfisher, Brown Hooded Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Red Billed Hornbill, Yellow Billed Hornbill, Woodpecker, Pied Babbler, Kurrichane Thrush, Heuglins Robin, Rattling Cisticola, Pied Wagtail, Boubou Shrike, Long tailed Shrike, Crimson Breasted Shrike, Common Waxbill. Hadeda Ibis, Three Banded Plover, Common Sandpiper, Alughing Dove, Forktailed Drongo, Cape Glossy Starling, Blue Eared Glossy Starling, Purple Banded Sunbird, White Bellied Sunbird,Buffalo Weaver, Grey Headed Sparrow, Melba Finch, Blue Waxbill, Common Waxbill.

Animals seen at Stevensford Safari Camp

Impala, Warthog, Duiker, Kudu, Waterbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Turtle, Vervet Monkeys, Black-backed Jackal, Leguaan, Bush Squirrel, Mongoose, Southern Reedbuck.


Yo and Keith's favourite item on the "Notes for the Maximum Enjoyment of your stay at Stevensford" was -
"No.15: When fishing take a companion: crocodiles seldom attack if there are two people."

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