The Botswana Salt Pans: Like Landing On the Moon

The Botswana Salt Pans: Like Landing On the Moon

» Featured Columnists | By Steve Winston | February 25, 2013 8:15 AM ET

Imagine a place so remote and so flat that you can actually see the curve of the Earth. And so quiet that you can actually hear the blood circulating in your ears.
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans of Botswana is such a place.
The Salt Pans are the remnants of a vast prehistoric inland lake that was larger than Switzerland. It's now a desert. And it's centered by Kubu Island, which is not an island at all, but, rather, a 2.5-billion-year-old granite outcrop filled with fossils and ancient artifacts.
This vast area is inhabited only by a few nomadic tribesmen...but millions of meerkats, zebra, wildebeest, aardvark, brown hyena, and springbuck.
A South African company called Uncharted Africa Safari Co. can take you there in several styles, in fact. The company operates plush camps, motorized bike safaris, and horseback safaris in this hidden corner of the world.
During the wet season in the Makgadikgadi, the sky is often blotted out by clouds of flamingo and other migratory birds. For a few months, at least, this usually-arid landscape is lush, and filled with game and predators. And visitors can witness the last surviving migration of zebra and wildebeest in Southern Africa.
During the dry season, Uncharted Africa Safari Co. offers Kubu Island "Quad Bike" Expeditions. Quad bikes are fun; they're motorized, four-wheeled bikes which can access areas that larger vehicles can't. The five-night itinerary (based in Jack's Camp, named for the founder's father) includes two nights sleeping under the stars on Kubu Island, right in the middle of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Here, guests race uninhibited on a flat desert of ancient salt deposits.
The two nights spent outside of Jack's Camp will hardly be "roughing it." The campsite will feature gourmet dining on white linens, a roaring camp fire, warm bed, and a swirls of brilliant stars set against a vast blanket of darkness. Morning brings the incredible adrenaline-pump of flying by scattered baobab trees, and through the world's most populous flamingo breeding grounds. And quad bike trips can also be arranged from the company's other camps.
One of them, called San Camp, brings an element of spiritualism into what is already a place of enormous silence and beauty. Nestled amidst tall palms on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, San Camp features a tented yoga pavilion in which guests can get in touch with the nature all around them...and the spirit inside them.
Each of the six guest tents has four-poster beds, en-suite bathrooms, and spacious private verandahs, while the central dining area includes a tea tent outfitted with cushions and Persian rugs.
Your camp can generally arrange a meeting with the local Ju'hoasi Bushmen, for whom Kubu Island is a place of great spiritual significance. These people have inhabited this area for thousands of years...and they're very hospitable to visitors.
Horseback Safaris in the Salt Pans will begin from Camp Kalahari, a simple but comfortable oasis nestled amongst acacias and palms. In addition to ten guest tents, there's a library, dining area, and a pool. Seeing the Salt Pans from the top of a horse gives one yet another perspective on this enormous land.
The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are, truly, out of this world. You'll hear things, in the silence, you've never heard before. You'll see things, in the empty vastness, you've never seen before.
And you'll feel things - in your own heart - that you've never felt before.

Real Estate Listings Showcase

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using our website you consent in accordance with our Cookie Policy. Read More