Camping at Mabuasehube Reserve, Southern Africa
The access roads to Mabuasehube Nature Reserve in the South Western corner of Botswana are sandy and at places deep two wheel tracks. A vehicle with sufficient ground clearance and preferably with four wheel drive capabilities is strongly recommended. The roads inside the Reserve range from broad, corrugated sand to tracks with high grassy centres.
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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in Africa – South Africa and Botswana
Mabuasehube Game Reserve forms part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, one of the largest cross border National Parks in the world (approximately 37991 km2), it is a arid region dotted with salty clay pans. These pans will hold water for months after rain has fallen and could, in dryer months be bare or lightly covered in grass.
Watering holes for the wildlife can be found at Mabuasehube, Mpayathutlwa and Lesholoago. These shallow wells are usually at the edge of the pans. They assist in sustaining the animals the drier months adding to the visitor’s viewing experience.
A variety of animals like Oryx, Kudu, Springbuck, Steenbuck, Duiker, Blue Wildebeest, Lion, Spotted and Brown Hyena, Warthog, Bat- eared Foxes, Cheetah, Leopard, Jackal and many more small creatures inhabit the area. Birdlife is prolific and birds of prey are a common site in the Reserve.
Accomodation at Mabuasehube in Botswana
Each of the salty clay pans at Lesholoago, Mabuasehube, Monamodi, Bosobogolo, Mpayathutlwa (sometimes spelled Mpaathutlwa), Khiding and Malatso hosts at least two campsites overlooking the pan. No other form of accommodation is available. Only one party is allowed at a campsites and privacy is a given. The campsites are unfenced and without electricity, ensuring a truly wild experience.
An A-frame shelter provides shade while most – not all – sites have a cold water shower, pit latrine and a basin for washing dishes. It is advisable to enquire upon booking which of the camps have working boreholes, as these are sometimes out of order for extended periods of time resulting in a campsite without water.
There are no shops, no restaurants and no amenities close by. The closest town is Tsabong which is approximately 110 kilometers away. Visitors need to be completely self – sufficient when visiting these campsites. The water supplied at the campsites are not suitable for human consumption and enough drinking water must be brought along. Water suitable for human consumption is sometimes (not always) available at the entrance gate.
Take enough spare fuel to facilitate a return trip and plenty spare for game drives. No fuel is available at the Reserve and the sandy roads deplete fuel supplies quicker than usual.
Essential Checklist for Camping at Mabuasehube
Besides the normal camping tips the following is essential for Mabuasehube:
- Enough drinking water for the duration of the stay and an extra day’s supply
- Sufficient fuel for driving there and back
- A sturdy tent
- Food for at least a day more than the planned duration of the visit
- A strong flashlight for the evenings
- Wood or charcoal for cooking the meat as collecting wood inside the Reserve is prohibited
- Store all food inside the vehicles as not to attract unwanted visitors to the tent or campsite
- Avoid walking away from the lighted area in the dark as animals have much better night vision than humans and the Kalahari Lions are ferocious.
- Wear closed shoes or boots during the warmer months to avoid scorpion stings and snake bites.
History of Mabuasehube Game Reserve
The Mabuasehube Game Reserve forms part of the Greater Kalahari which stretches from South Africa to Eastern Namibia, Botswana, western Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia and Congo. This reserve is situated in a region of high red dunes and often sparse vegetation attributing to it being classified as semi-desert area.
This reserve owed its existence partly to the geography of the area. It is situated on a ridge of land fractionally elevated above the rest of Botswana and is dotted with several pans normally fringed with red dunes. The reserve was home to the San (sometimes called Bushman) people and to small groups of inhabitants called Kgalagadi. The word ‘Kalahari’ is derived from the Kgalagadi-word ‘Makgadigadi’ which means ‘salt pans’ or ‘great thirstland’. These people lived off the land by hunting and utilizing the wild plants as food.
Early invaders of this Kalahari landscape, the San and Kgalagadi, dug shallow wells, usually at the edge of the pans, to provide water for themselves and the animals traveling with them. The pans would hold water for several months after rain fell, thus enabling the travelers to survive according to Mike Main’s “The Adventurer’s Guide to Botswana” Struik Publishers, 2001.
Mabuasehube Game Reserve was proclaimed in 1971 by the Botswana Government. It covers 3900 square kilometers of semi-desert terrain. It was incorporated into the Gemsbok National Park in 1992 and from May 2000 it is part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Mabuasehube’s Four Campsites
Mabuasehube means ‘red earth’ and was named after the red Kalahari sand. Most of the indigenous people living there moved to Lokgwabe in the late 1930’s.
Lesholoago’s Two Campsites
Lesholoago is a Sekgalagadi word which means ‘your death’. Early inhabitants, the San and Kgalagadi, suffered continuous problems which forced them to move. When other people settled there they were warned that the place would cause their death.
Bosobogolo’s Two Campsites
Early inhabitants ( Kgalagadi tribes and San people) of this area suffered a lot of hardships which lead to numerous people dying. The people moved away to another area where they were more fortunate. Water was not available and added to the discomfort of living here.
The residents of Bosobogolo moved to this area when the frequent deaths among the community made them believe it was due to the place. After some time at the new area the number of deaths in the community dropped and they named the place Monamodi which means ‘life saver’.
Mpayathutlwa Pan – Also Called Mpaathutlwa Pan
At Mpayathutlwa the giraffes roaming the pan struggled to survive and they died in great numbers. The inhabitants thus named the area Mpayathutlwa which means ‘stomach of the giraffe’.
The word Malatso is derived from the word ‘latswa’ which means ‘to lick’. The area around this pan is thus famous for the Oryx licking up the salt from the pan.