‘Kubu’, or Baobab Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana

 

Colossal in size, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Colossal in size, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Leaving Maun again, destination ‘Makgadikgadi Salt Pans’. An area the size of Belgium and therefore the biggest combining salt pans in the world. Impossible to traverse in the rainy season, dry and dusty in winter.

Salty desert, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Salty desert, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

A seemingly endless horizon flittering with Fata Morgana’s. So, where to start my adventure to the salt pans?

Fascinating Baobab Island to come, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Fascinating Baobab Island to come, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

I read about ‘Lebuku’, or short  ‘Kubu Island’ and it’s located west off Sua Pan. Sua, which means salt, is the second biggest salt pan. Dotted with Baobab trees and African Chestnut trees, this sounded like a fantastic starting point in this arid landscape.

Due to stop and go traffic along the highway, I realised that I won’t arrive at ‘Kubu Island’ the very same day. The stop and go was caused by animals, domestic animals. Mainly cows, but donkeys, horses, goats, and sheep crisscrossed the highway numerous times. Beeping my horn, cattle normally stopped, looked left and right, before crossing over the road after I passed. Well educated I thought. This all changed after nightfall. The roads and tracks were blocked with cattle, nothing seems to moove. . I set up camp in the middle of nowhere as the full moon had already risen.

Driving on the moon, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Driving on the moon, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

It felt like being on the moon itself. 

Giants in early morning sun, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Giants in the early morning sun, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

I arrived at Kubu Island early morning and was fascinated straight away. Even from a distance, the abundance of Baobab trees was noticeable.

Edging granite boulders, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Edging granite boulders, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Either next to the shore of the dry salt pan, or higher up the granite ground, this was Baobab heaven.

Campingsite on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Campingsite on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

I parked Zimba at the well-spaced campground next to Baobab and African Chestnut trees, who’s fruits had just opened.

Fruits of the African Chestnut Tree, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Fruits of the African Chestnut Tree, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Early and the fresh morning air kept the skies rich in colour. I didn’t waste too much time to explore Baobab Island.

Baobabs in Blue skies, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Baobabs in Blue skies, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

It’s remote location, surrounded by a lot of horizon, was spectacular. Add Baobab trees to the picture and one could easily film a Walt Disney fairy tale here. Not only were there many, but many different sized and shaped Baobab trees. The sheer abundance of Baobab trees was something I didn’t expect.

Just impressive, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Just impressive, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

More astonishing for me was, how they grew to colossal sizes on this granite island.

Living on granite grounds, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Living on granite grounds, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Some sandy soil covered parts of Kubu Island, but how far and wide do the roots go?

Walking stick?, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Walking stick?, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Some went a long way to find soil.

Just pushing through Granite, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Just pushing through Granite, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Granite was simply pushed away over time. Not only to soak up water but to stabilize these giants. My imagination on these oddly shaped trees ran wild.

Amazing strength and determination, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Amazing strength and determination, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

I have never seen a Baobab tree growing horizontal, seemingly growing other trees on top off the main trunk.

Whale with no tale?, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Whale with no tale?, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

This one looked like a humpback whale without a tail, carrying oversized corals.

Ahoi Captain, , Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Ahoi Captain, , Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Actually, there were quite a few misdirected baobabs on this island. This one could be a sailing ship?

Walking octopus, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Walking octopus, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Or a walking octopus, twisting its tentacles?

Just awkward, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Just awkward, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

The next one collapsed somehow some many years ago but still managed to send his antennas towards the sky.

Dancing branches, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Dancing branches, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Another looked like a tribal dance painting from years back, locals celebrating and dancing.

Large network off branches, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Large network off branches, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

This one had no identical shape at all but was immense in size.

Baobab Chickenpox, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Baobab Chickenpox, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

One had chicken pox or fungi growing.

Baobab eating Baobab? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Baobab eating Baobab? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Another was swallowing one of his own kind. Fascinating.

Giant spiderweb? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Giant spiderweb? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Or just like a giant spider web?

Exit from the museum is that way!, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Exit from the museum is that way!, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Just like walking through a Baobab museum.

Higher rising sun, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Higher rising sun, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Mercury and UV levels were rising, time for a coffee. I went for another loop walk early afternoon. With so many Baobab, much open space and clear skies, surely there will be a great spot for a sunset bonanza?

Endless view to the east, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Endless view to the east, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

The sun out west, shining in an eastern direction, there was better light towards Sua Pan, which seemed endless.

Kubu islands east coast, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Kubu islands east coast, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Some huge granite boulders gave a good perspective on the trees surrounded by vastness.

Alora vera?, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Alora vera?, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Aloe Vera seems to thrive here too, adding to the scenic picture.

‘Allee de Baobab’ on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

‘Allee de Baobab’ on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Searching for a possible moon and early morning sunrise spot, I walked along the eastern edge of the island and came along an ‘.Allee de Baobab’, similar to Madagascar‘s. Old memories came up.

A promising sunrise spot, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

A promising sunrise spot, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Not far was this family of Baobab trees.

Happy Baobab family, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Happy Baobab family, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

A wee baby in front, mom walking behind with her arms up in the air. Dad is taller, walking behind, whilst two teenagers stroll behind like kids do. A real family affair.

Family back view, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Family back view, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

The only issue I noticed was that the trees were a bit to low on the horizon when the sun comes up. Meaning, I wouldn’t get the whole tree on the reddish horizon. There were plenty of other options, but I like the idea of a family sunrise. But first things first. The sun was setting on the other side.

Long shadows, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Long shadows, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Zimba looked rather comfy in long shadows.

Sunset at Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Sunset at Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

The predicted issue for sunrise, I had for sunset too. Not enough sky in between the trees.

Last sunraus off the day on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Last sunrays off the day on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

The sky had some fabulous colours though. I moved on to my Baobab ‘family’, as the full moon was coming up shortly. The wind picked up strongly and chilled me to the bones.

Stary night over Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Stary night over Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

I had some time and set up the tripod for a few star shots in Southern Cross direction.

Southern Cross up to high to capture, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Southern Cross up to high to capture, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Difficult in darkness and strong winds.

Light painting on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Light painting on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Most of my “light painting photos’ of my ‘family’ turned out blurry, due to too much wind for long exposure photos. Shame really.

Moon rise over Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Moonrise over Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

The moon came up and exposed my family off Baobab trees. 

Early morning colours on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Early morning colours on Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Early morning glory colours were glorious as expected. The sunrise fabulous.

Here comes the Sun, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Here comes the Sun, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

I’d like to return here in the wet season with water all around. The reflections on this endless sea would have to be incredible. I won’t get here with Zimba though.

Ice or snow? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Ice or snow? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

I couldn’t leave Kubu Island without a drive out east, over Sua Pan. The unimaginable vision off emptiness on white salt and blue skies was just too tempting.

Moon landing? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Moon landing? Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

A complete feeling of being in the middle of nowhere. Just mind-blowing. Blowing was the gusty wind too. It blew my idea of a coffee break in serenity away.

One last glimpse on Kubu Island over the horizon, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

One last glimpse on Kubu Island over the horizon, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana

Kubu Island was barely visible in the distance. Endless impressions on the endless horizon. Fascinating.

3 thoughts on “‘Kubu’, or Baobab Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana

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