Blue Moon at Kubu Island

See more photos at

“Once in a blue moon”: For us, at this stage, spending a night at Kubu Island on a full moon probably should be “once on a blue moon”.

I have written a lot about this mystical rocky outcrop that is covered in baobabs in the middle of the Makgadikgadi salt pans. The pans used to be an inland sea and this island was home to seabirds and their fossilised droppings can still be seen. Kubu means hippo in Tswana and it, at a distance, resembles the back on a hippo sticking out of water. Man has been using it since the time of the Great Zimbabwe ruins for ceremonies and rock walls from this era are still present.

We have always just gone on day trips to the island and we have always wanted to camp and experience a full moon there. With the summer rains coming soon, making to impossible to get there, we needed to do it soon and owing to circumstances we needed to go on a weekend, so this blue moon was the perfect occasion.

Sue had to work on Friday so I was left to do the packing for the one night that we were going to be there – how difficult could it be – and hence for the rest of this story I am not putting any names to anything that occurred.

The organisation was going perfectly and then Sue got home from work saying she noticed numerous 4×4 vehicles in town, there is only place they could be going and that was Kubu Island. So we needed to pack and go, to ensure we got a camp site.

Heading-out I got the normal “did you pack…; did you pack….”. I was running at 100% – so impressive. Sue then looked at the fuel gauge and noticed our fuel level was a bit low, we had enough fuel if we didn’t run into problems – so we pushed on.

Supermarket at Mmutshumo

We were planning a breakfast and “WE” had brought the gas braai, eggs, bacon and bread. But realised “WE” had forgotten the sausages and worse yet butter. The butter not only for the toast but also to cook with. We were just short of the last village before the pans, so we stopped at their super market, unfortunately they didn’t have butter, but we managed to get some oil – problem sort of sorted.

Heading down towards the pans it was getting hot and it was very dry. Some ice cold water would be great. It was at this point “WE” realised we had not packed water. Not for drinking or the 6l I had bought that morning for washing, for coffee and for brushing our teeth – and there is no water at Kubu Island.

Nothing like heading into a dessert with only just enough fuel and no water.

Hoodia in Flower

To break the negativity the dessert plant the Hoodia were in flower and all over we saw these beautiful plants which were in total contrast to this barren land. The Ant-eating Chats were also on their normal tree.

Reaching the island we were assigned to a campsite that was right on the edge of the pan and well away from everybody else, which was stunning and there were two big trees in our site which was perfect in this heat. We decided to put our tent under the Shepard Tree and we started un-packing. The flies were all around us and even though we had experienced worse there they were bloody irritating, to say the least. We were later to find out that it was the Shepard Tree that was beginning to flower that had attracted the flies.

The soil there can best be compared with a talcum powder and dropping the tent onto the

Tent covered in dust

ground made it white, white. Underneath the powder soil the ground was so hard that we couldn’t get our tent pegs in and before we knew it our tent had blown away and we had to chase it across our campsite.

Once we had secured the tent it was time to relax under the other tree in our campsite – a stunning Star Chestnut (remember the story of the poo tree). As we sat and enjoyed some snacks a number of starlings approached looking for some morsels, it was very cute so I threw out a chip which was quickly snapped up. This was great – so I got some bread and soon we had at least 20 odd birds around us, then came the hornbills, crows and ravens. It was great.

The birds were on the ground feeding and then up into the tree above us, having all these birds around us was really lovely – until the ones in the tree above us started “pooing”.

Flop, flop all around us and then one hit Sue, suddenly this wasn’t so much fun anymore. Hysterical for me, until a hornbill came and perched directly above me.

As the sun began to drop so the heat faded away and with it went the flies that had become such a pain. It was time to get our fire going.

Watching the sunset over the pans was amazing, but we knew that something even amazing was still to come. Over a rocky outcrop appeared this huge yellow ball, the full moon (least we had the right night) lite up the sky and we could see silhouettes of the massive baobabs.  It had all been worth it.

We enjoyed some fine Botswana meat and a bottle of red wine whilst sitting around our fire. I suppose it should not have been surprising as we were surrounded by miles and miles of nothing, but in this nothing there was nothing making a noise. Not a bird, insect or animal. It was so incredibly quite it was almost deafening.

Waking early we watched the moon set and an amazing sunrise over the island. Yes Brian, it was worth getting up for.

One thing you do get with the campsite is a sort of toilet. African toilets can be trying, but least we had facilities, even though it was a long drop. In the pic you can see a bottle of water, which is to be used as a flushing mechanism. I definitely didn’t want to close the door and I am glad I didn’t as the view was great (not of me).

We decided a shower and breakfast at home was a good option so we packed our dust covered equipment and headed home. The morning light on the pans gave the pans a whole new look and feel for us.

It was also the first time, on the numerous occasions we have been out there, that we actually saw wildlife, as we saw a small herd of springbok. We also had the lovely sighting of a couple of Martial Eagles in a tree, which then took-off in search of food.

See more photos at


About PeteMorrie

Marketing Consultant
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Blue Moon at Kubu Island

  1. Bridgette & Geoffrey Flint says:

    WOW Bro – what an adventure – tough life for some!!! We are so envious and so enjoy reading your blogs – you write so well – maybe you should become an author..??

  2. Pauline says:

    Stunning !

  3. Pingback: A Botswana Appetizer | Pete & Sue's Botswana

We would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. DONT FORGET YOUR NAME

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.