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.
A seemingly endless horizon flittering with Fata Morgana’s. So, where to start my adventure to the salt pans?
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.
It felt like being on the moon itself.
I arrived at Kubu Island early morning and was fascinated straight away. Even from a distance, the abundance of Baobab trees was noticeable.
Either next to the shore of the dry salt pan, or higher up the granite ground, this was Baobab heaven.
I parked Zimba at the well-spaced campground next to Baobab and African Chestnut trees, who’s fruits had just opened.
Early and the fresh morning air kept the skies rich in colour. I didn’t waste too much time to explore Baobab Island.
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.
More astonishing for me was, how they grew to colossal sizes on this granite island.
Some sandy soil covered parts of Kubu Island, but how far and wide do the roots go?
Some went a long way to find soil.
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.
I have never seen a Baobab tree growing horizontal, seemingly growing other trees on top off the main trunk.
This one looked like a humpback whale without a tail, carrying oversized corals.
Actually, there were quite a few misdirected baobabs on this island. This one could be a sailing ship?
Or a walking octopus, twisting its tentacles?
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
Another looked like a tribal dance painting from years back, locals celebrating and dancing.
This one had no identical shape at all but was immense in size.
One had chicken pox or fungi growing.
Another was swallowing one of his own kind. Fascinating.
Or just like a giant spider web?
Just like walking through a Baobab museum.
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?
The sun out west, shining in an eastern direction, there was better light towards Sua Pan, which seemed endless.
Some huge granite boulders gave a good perspective on the trees surrounded by vastness.
Aloe Vera seems to thrive here too, adding to the scenic picture.
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.
Not far was this family of Baobab trees.
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.
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.
Zimba looked rather comfy in long shadows.
The predicted issue for sunrise, I had for sunset too. Not enough sky in between the trees.
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.
I had some time and set up the tripod for a few star shots in Southern Cross direction.
Difficult in darkness and strong winds.
Most of my “light painting photos’ of my ‘family’ turned out blurry, due to too much wind for long exposure photos. Shame really.
The moon came up and exposed my family off Baobab trees.
Early morning glory colours were glorious as expected. The sunrise fabulous.
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.
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.
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.
Kubu Island was barely visible in the distance. Endless impressions on the endless horizon. Fascinating.
6 thoughts on “‘Kubu’, or Baobab Island, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana”
Love these Baobabs trees that I am constantly painting and sketching. As u can see in my blogs.
Thank you for your nice reply… the Baobabs are awesome, so intriguing and inspiring…. if you happen to sketch one of my Baobab photos, please show me the outcome… regards, ben
Thks, Sure, u will find these sketches i did in my blogs around too. And if u follow my WordPress u will see the next ones too,of course. Cheers from Portugal.
I’ve been waiting for more Baobabs since your last visit. Absolutely my favourite! Breathtakingly beautiful.
Absolutely fascinating and interesting trees and that would have been a really different experience camping in that vastness.
Yes, these trees are mysterious, magnificent and monumental… camping in a salt desert at full moon surrounded by Baobabs is simply fascinating…
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