Words by Patrick Cruywagen Pictures by Patrick Cruywagen and Alison Cole
You’ve just crossed into Botswana via Marins Drift. You’re running late so you’re not going to make Nata as planned. You don’t like traffic or Francistown tsotsis sou you’ve got to look for another place to overnight. Woodlands Stop Over has ticks all the right boxes.
My first assignment for this magazine was to hop into a Mercedes ML320 and go tiger fishing on the Okavango Delta in Botswana. I was still wet behind the ears back then and thought I could get a hotel in Francistown for the night before pushing on. Then I saw the prices of hotels. Not wanting to blow the budget I pushed on as the light fell. After about ten minutes I saw the turn-off for Woodlands Stop Over and, on a whim, I took it. Ten years later and I still take that very same turn-off whenever I’m in the area. Since that time Woodlands has changed and grown, but they still get the basics right, which is why it’s such a popular stopover.
During my last visit I discovered a few new surprises. Not only does the shop have the usual braai packs and everything else you might have forgotten such as firelighters or insect repellent, but these days they’re starting to resemble your local Woolies.
They stock instant meals like chicken lasagne, cottage pie, pizza and much more. So, if you arrive late like we did, and you don’t feel like a braai or beans on toast, you’re in luck. You might just end up purchasing a few such meals for the road!
Woodlands is a few kilometres from the road between Francistown and Nata so you won’t hear the trucks or other tra c when it’s time to hit the pillows. ere are several accommodation options available; the most popular for our readers is sure to be the camping option. e green grass and ample shade are very welcome especially if you’ve just been camping in the sand or dry pans; plus, there’s a pool to cool down in. A lovely cement replace, big bin, electricity points, tap and many trees will also keep the smile wide on your dial. But if this is too much luxury for you, their bush camps might be a better bet.