During our recent trip to Nata for the Makgadikgadi Epic (see https://ourbots.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/the-makgadikgadi-epic/ ) with our Motswana friends, Julius and Itumeleng, we decided that our next getaway should be to a game reserve. As there is no better place nearby than Khumaga, in the Makgadikgadi National Park, we decided to head there last weekend.
It doesn’t take much convincing to get me to go there and this is about our 5th or 6th visit, so we have seen it full of elephants, zebra and wildebeest; we have also been there when the zebra and wildebeest had migrated to the pans and not seen a single one. All our previous trips have been covered in this blog.
We had also heard that the Boteti River, that flows through the park, was full and we were dying to see it. I have written a lot about the Boteti River in the past as well, so just to recap a bit: The water that finally flows in the river originates in the highlands of Angola; flowing into Botswana by the means of the Okavango River which spreads out into the Okavango Delta. This takes about 4 months to happen after the rains in Angola.
Once the Okavango Delta is full, it overflows and one of the recipients is the Boteti River which flows through Khumaga, down past Rakops and into Lake Xai. Once this lake is full the water passes Mopipi to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.
But for 24 years prior to us coming to Botswana, 3 years ago, the river was dry.
A further friend, Mpho also decided to join us – so we were up to 6 in total so we needed a second vehicle.
Heading past Mopipi, Sue and I were anxious to see if the Boteti’s water had reached here yet, but there was nothing. However it was flowing strongly just outside Rakops and far higher than we have ever seen it before.
On reaching the ferry crossing at Khumaga we once again couldn’t believe how full the river was. Mpho’s eyes were almost as wide as the river, when he saw the ferry and knew he had to go on it.
It is a strange feeling sitting in the car on the ferry some have been tempted to turn the steering wheel when the ferry moves off line. During the trip you are also asked to reverse, so as to get as much clearance for the front of the boat for opposite bank. A strange feeling as you don’t actually feel that you are moving backwards.
When Mpho, first time at this, was asked to reverse the ferry was moving at an angle in a down stream direction, so he reversed turning to keep at least himself in a straight line with the bank – see in the pic above of how skew he was when he got our side.
On the return trip he thought the best thing would be to close his eyes and hence not be disorientated – he went back straight, but nearly off the back of the ferry, stopped by the loud shouts of the ferryman.
From the gate to the camp, a few kilometers, we saw about 5 elephants, impala and zebra. This was the Khumaga we knew.
We headed out early on Saturday morning for a game drive, a strong, icy cold wind was blowing. The animals obviously felt the same way we did about the weather conditions and were hiding away as we saw very little.
One thing we did seen, which still amazed us was the height of the river – it was virtually bank to bank along its whole length.
In the afternoon the cold windy conditions continued and even though we did see a lot more game, it wasn’t the Khumaga, with elephants around every corner and massive herds of zebra and wildebeest all over, that we like so much.
Sunday morning we casually packed up, did the ferry trip and headed homewards.
Then came the highlight of the trip for Sue and I. The Boteti River had reached Mopipi, where there had been no river before on Friday, there was now water flowing.
For more pics see https://ourbots.wordpress.com/latest-photos/khumaga-august/
For more info on Khumaga