We departed Ghanzi on the 9th and headed to Maun for another overnighter before making our way to just outside of Makgadikgadi National Park for a 3 night stay in a Baobob hut at a place called “Planet Baobob”. The road to Maun was paved and very good but the road to the Pans was crazy with a multitude of very deep pot holes littering the road. These things could easily eat up a small Toyota but fortunately our tires seem to be made of kryptonite so no flat tires so far.
Planet Baobob is located near Makgadikgadi Pans NP and gets its name from the many ancient Baobob trees growing in the area. Some are believed to be more than 4,000 years old. Our hut was funky and made us feel like we were living in the Flintstones era. Located in the middle of dry savanna, there were very few if any wild animals however Botswana has a thriving cattle and livestock industry so there was no shortage of cows, steers, mules and goats roaming freely throughout the bush and highways making them as much of a challenge as the potholes. The Baobod trees are a sight to behold with trunk diameters exceeding (I’m guessing here) 30+ feet at least. We spent our first night relaxing and then the next day headed out in a 4 x 4 safari truck to make our 40km drive to Ntwetwe Pan. On our way we stopped to visit a colony of wild Meerkats who have been partially habituated to humans and then on to a local farm where they kept stored Honda ATV’s that we used for our final journey out into the pan. Finally arriving after a very dusty ATV journey into the middle of no where we were met by a roaring camp fire and T-bone steaks sizzling over the embers.
The Mkgadikgadi which comprise the Nxai and Ntwetwe Pans is one of the largest pans in the world and is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Mkgadikgadi which once covered an area larger than Switzerland but dried up several thousand years ago and today is surrounded by the Kalahari Desert.
The sun had set for a couple of hours and the moon hadn’t risen yet so we were treated to a stellar show of stars and the Milky Way visible from horizon to horizon. After dinner and a walk through total darkness to the tiny tented outhouse we bedded down into our individual canvas on the outside, lots of blankets on the inside sleeping bags and lied in awe sleeping under and staring up at the stars and being treated to two large falling stars before reluctantly calling it a night. We were fortunate that there were only 5 of us. We were told the next night a group of 19 would be doing the same so the magic would probably have been interrupted by a lot of human sleeping noises. Later in the evening the moon had risen and cast a light across the endless horizon revealing a moonscape of nothingness but white salt and sand for as far as the eye can see. It was an experience we will never forget.