2019AdventureAfricaBotswanaLandscapes

Through the central Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Pans

Impressed by the most intense animal experiences in the Okavango Delta and equipped with a new starter battery for our Quad Shujoo (… we and our batteries in Africa …) we leave Maun and head east along the also dry Boteti River towards the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. For a long time we have considered whether we want to exploit this region: relevant blogs speak of very narrow, extremely scratchy camel thorn bushes and mopane-lined slopes, coupled with many deep sand tracks that make you drive through quickly and thus not even be able to stop for obstacles. The curiosity about this very lonely and landscape wise completely different region of the size of Denmark ultimately wins and therefore we have already booked two wild camps in Maun.

The way to the park and then to the two fossil dry river valleys – the Deception and the Passage Valley – runs reasonably well: only a few times we have to get out our proven cutting tools. No one is interested in Shujaa’s weight when entering the park and no one in Maun asked us either …. Thus, the park entrance fees, on a normal car level, turn out to be on a reasonable level for us 😉. The hope, however, that the driving in the dry river valleys runs much easier than the access road to the park dies very quickly. Wide high-speed sand tracks alternate with narrow, extremely bushy sections, which are also very corrugated from the last rainy season. We are glad that we are able to reach our first wild camp!

Our next “neighbor” is 20 km away and we enjoy, from a gentle hill, the endless plains of the Kalahari with its endless, golden-beige grassy areas. We see a lot of giraffe, springbok, kudu etc. But the cheetahs, who would find perfect hunting conditions in these wide plains, we do not see. Also, the Big Five are rare. The game drive with Shujoo in the afternoon and our evening sundowner on our roof terrace does not change the situation. But the scenery is all the more beautiful …. We feel ourselves in the “real” Africa. Our bush campsite for the second night is impossible for us to reach because of the narrow bushes. We simply park at the much nicer edge of a so-called “pan” (a large, treeless area) and do not even have to justify it. No park authorities around.

After two days in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve we return the same way. This time we already know the necessary detours and bottlenecks, but still we need four hours to get back to civilization.

We continue to the Makgadikgadi Pans – salt pans that are flooded only in the rainy season – and in which you isolated, very picturesque islands with many granite rocks and huge Baobabs. One of these islands – Kubu Island – we are heading to. However, we soon realize that the access to the salt pan, through dense Mopane bushes, is just too narrow for us or Shujaa. We therefore decide to look for a lonely place to stay nearby and the next day to drive the 37 km with Shujoo to the island. From the 37 km, however, we manage to drive only 33 km. Then Shujoo comes to a sudden stop with loud, metallic rattling noise: the engine is still running, but the power transmission is no longer working. What a sh … .: We have water and our Sat-Phone, but whom should we contact? And the 33 km walk back to Shujaa would be just the last option. So, we stand in the middle of the loneliness on the heat-shimmering salt pan and think about what we do. We therefore decide to walk the remaining and fortunately only four km to Kubu Island, hoping that we will meet some tourists there who will drive us back to Shujaa. In fact, we are lucky and meet four Czech boys with two jeeps. They drive Karin in the jeep and me along with Shujoo on towing hook back to Shujaa. I have not swallowed so much dust in my life, but after all, Shujoo is back at Shujaa and we survived to loneliness on the salt pans.

One misfortune rarely comes alone: ​​after I come back out of the urgently needed shower, I ask Karin where our Sat-Phone is: after hectic search, we have to realize that it must probably still be in the jeep of the Czechs. Our most important psychological and factual rescue anchor in problem situations like this has been lost! And how should we contact the Czechs without a Sat-Phone and of course without the Internet to let them know? Finally, thanks to Karin’s fierce nature and wealth of ideas, we are still able to contact the camp on Kubu Island and ensure that the Sat-Phone is kept for us. You only have to search long enough, then you will find so much internet, that at least a Whats app goes through … From the tedious, intensive cutting work necessary to provide access to Kubu Island with Shujaa the next day we cannot get around. However. we manage to enjoy Kubu Island with the fascinating Baobabs in front of the glistening white salt lakes (in the excitement yesterday we had no eye for it) … And our Sat-Phone, with over 600 Euro charged prepaid card, we also get back into our hands. Again, we have to say, “there is always a solution”.

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