It is the month of August and the end of the winter or rather dry season in Botswana. After dropping off my 76 year old mother (who was on safari with us) at Francistown Airport to take her first international flight home we took the A30 towards Orapa and Kubu Island.
Shortly after we picked up our camping permits – after the lady in the office gave us a wrap over the knuckles for not making reservations in advance – our first glimpse of Sua Pan, part of the 16 000 km² pan complex, appeared on the horizon. I am excited! This will be another first for me – a visit to the vast pans and ancient Baobabs.
As Kubu Island is a national monument and a pristine wilderness area the rule of take everything in and take everything out applies (and that includes taking your own firewood and water). If you expect water on tap a convenience store or clean ablution blocks, Kubu is definitely not for you. Here you will experience wilderness camping at its best – clear skies with starry nights, the sound of crickets, the silence of the Baobabs and a harsh sun during the day. This is NOT the place to be if you like the hustle and bustle of the city.
After pitching our tent we took a walk around the island to explore, breathe in and feel the quietness of the African bush on your skin.
Then suddenly we hear the roar of pick-ups thundering across the pan to get a spot somewhere out there to experience Kubu and its giants against the setting sun. What a bunch of idiots! Driving on the pan is strictly NOT allowed as the tracks of a vehicle will be embedded in the lake beds for many years to come and spoil the untouched experience of the wilderness for the next couple of generations.
As the sun sets in the West we light the fire to have a braai and enjoy our G&T while silver stars slowly appear in the sky. While the other campers settle in for the night it was time for an outdoor shower in the shades of a 600 year old Baobab. How lucky can one person be?
The 4×4 track Northwards take you through deep sand. It is slow going and it also dramatically increases fuel consumption (so be prepared) and do not be in a hurry.
Most of all do not fret about the dust, it WILL creep in more or less everywhere as you drive. That is unavoidable and its a given. Deal with it when you arrive in Nata! Just enjoy the ever changing vistas from brilliant white salt pans to waving yellow grasses with strange succulents. Stop often and inspect your surroundings for minute plants and insects and a world of wonder will open up. Enjoy the ride.
Have respect for the environment and take your time to admire the scenery when you traverse the pans. Nowhere else in the world you will have the same experience than here on the pans. My farewell and wish for the ancient giants of Kubu is that they will stand tall for many generations to come.