My book on Botswana states the best time to visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is during the rainy season as everything is green. But be very careful in January and February of very clayey roads and the chances of getting stuck are high, especially in Deception Valley.
I guess because we hadn’t had much rain during these 2 months it wasn’t as green as I expected and our game drive down Deception valley was on hard, solid roads. The latter was very welcome. But we were soon going to experience what one rain storm could do to change all of this.
One afternoon we could see a massive storm in the distance and we closed-up all our tents and equipment. However the rain never came, but we were hit by a massive dust storm and we had to retreat into a car to eat our dinner. After that everything was covered in a layer of dust.
We woke early the following day to another beautiful morning and this time we were going to head up to Sunday’s Pan.
We headed over the northern parts of the Deception Valley pan and the normal regulars were all present, those being Gemsbuck, Springbuck and Kori Bustard.
Just off the pan we came across, what must have been a jackal den as they were just everywhere.
Moving up the valley through thick bush, we saw plenty of Steenbuck and on the road was recent elephant tracks. I wasn’t even aware that elephants ventured into the reserve. The tracks showed that he was on a mission to get somewhere – he wasn’t feeding at all and the number of droppings was minimal.
With the freshness of the tracks one could imagine that he would be just around the next corner. We followed the tracks until Leopard Pan. But then we had a sight I definitely didn’t want to see – massive puddles of water. So this is where it had rained the night before.
The elephants tracks headed straight on the road and I was informed by our group to turn towards Sunday’s Pan as the road the elephant was on looked very wet and muddy.
The road to Sunday’s Pan and the whole pan itself was waterlogged and we had a few nasty and worrying moments through some deep and muddy patches.
I think the days before the rain the roads were so hard that the water had not yet been absorbed and as there was no other vehicles in the area so the ground had not been churned up.
Apart from Gemsbuck, Springbuck and Kori Bustard there was very little to be seen at Sunday’s Pan so we headed back to camp. I was very relieved to get away from all the water. We did get to see Kudu with a youngster en-route home.
Back in camp, after a full English breakfast I decided that it was time to relax on my hammock. I think the pictures below tells the story and was of much amusement of the rest of our party:
Our third day’s drive back down to Letiahau Waterhole was a much quieter drive than one we had done 2 days ago, and it was time to take in some of the smaller things, such as the birds, tortoises, the beautiful wild flowers and the scenery.
I couldn’t believe how many Kori Bustards we saw on all our drives, especially as its status is classed as vulnerable. Springbuck, Giraffe and Gemsbuck didn’t let us down either and for the first time this trip we saw Wildebeest.
At the waterhole was the same beautiful lioness that we had seen two days ago. Why she was still here and by herself made me think that maybe she had cubs. But her nipples weren’t swollen at all.
Heading back to camp we did a detour to Deception pan and as we approached it, we could see it was covered in water – maybe a quick swim to cool off? We stopped right next to a sleeping Gemsbuck – feeling that this was a safe place to be able to get out. Disgruntled it moved off.
We headed out onto the pan for a cool dip, only to find that it was a mirage and at the best it was just wet mud.
Our trip was virtually over, all we had to do the following day was pack and leave the reserve, but that wasn’t going to be as easy as coming in.
The last 10 -15 km to the gate had obviously had the same rain that Sunday’s Pan had got and there was plenty of muddy puddles. The more we went through the more our tires got packed with mud, making them smoother and you could feel our car and trailer slipping and sliding. We managed to get both vehicles out without getting stuck.
It had been an amazing 5 days in Central Kalahari, it was definitely not as intimidating as our first visit, the game viewing had been incredible and it is just such a wonderful place. Thanks to all of our team for making it such a special time.
I can’t wait to go again.