Magkadigkadi Mud Monsters

| September 9, 2010 | Comments (1)

Magkadigkadi Mud Monsters

Kubu island, a huge rocky outcrop in the middle of a huge salt pan , apparently the largest salt pan in the world, sitting in the middle of the Kalahari. Last time I was there was in a 4×4 and at this time of year it should be dry, the biggest problem the dust and sand traps!

Six of us were going and to be really lazy one was driving the 4×4 with ice, meat and firewood. The rest were on 3 1200 GS adventures and a 1200GS, I had my wife Sue riding pillion. Travelling light on the bikes we would not struggle in the sand. I had met the Namibian Sand Monster and knew how much easier it would be travelling light!

A few days before we left we heard rumours of unseasonal rain in the Kalahari… a few cancelations of trips to Kubu and stories of vehicles stuck on the pans for weeks! Poo poo we said, we can do it we are bikers!!!!

Friday night at Kwanokeng where Clinton who runs trips to the pans regaled us with stories and advice over a few cappies and coke. “You’ll never get close, they are airlifting tourists trapped there” he laughed adding, “but please take pics I am taking Kingsley Holgate there next week and need to show them what to expect!”

Saturday morning, we had decided to use the higher ground from the North not the closer South entry through Clints “Mopane marshland”. Bored of the tar strip to Francistown we found a dirt “short cut” where we noticed how the normally dry riverbeds were rivers, soft loose sand was now hard and easy and the donkey carts ploughed through mud. GULP there has been some serious rain!

Back on the tar, we pretend not to see the huge stretches of waterlogged Mopane Marsh on both sides of the road.

The first two tracks to Kubu are clearly waterlogged lakes so we take the third “dry” route…

Not for long, the road is now a beautiful shimmering pan, nestling like a mirage under the Baobab trees, except it’s not a mirage it’s a fucking endless sea of water. It’s about knee deep for miles and miles.

We forge on, we are bikers remember! I decide eventually it’s time for Sue my wife to jump into the 4×4, its getting hairy, not just the water but the mud is as slippery as an eel and we are doing the GS dance, rear wheels swinging madly from left to right!

I look in my mirror the 4×4 has disappeared, I’ve been focusing on the lake under my front tyre and they had faded into the distance. Pierre Jake and Simon are somewhere ahead, I can’t see where but their muddy tracks are easy to follow. My bikes kitted with a two way radio, I radio the 4×4.

“HELP, we’re stuck!” they call

I ride back, eventually the others turn back, Simon does an involuntary 360 landing hard! He stays down his hand hurt. We extract the 4×4 using half our firewood as a mud ladder!

Now there is serious debate, WTF this is madness! The water has to end son we agree, lets continue and find a campsite which is dry and crash for the night!

It gets softer and softer, the 4×4 is now a plough! “you growing potatoes or mielies in that ditch?”quips Simon to a loud “fuck you!”

We spot a beautiful Baobab campsite and try and ride off the road to it.

The reality however is that the ground feels hard but is just a crust on top of slush, break the crust and you’re swimming! The bikes run along the crust and are ok; it’s the deep water we watch out for.


The bikes get a bit bogged down trying to get to the campsite, but the 4×4 gets really stuck, without the winch we would be history!

Two hours later we retrieve the 4×4 and decide fuck the Baobab it’s cursed! We move on although the sun is setting, over another swamp and finally a tiny patch of dry ground for our camp.

The pan is our washing machine and bath!

We camp, grateful for the ice, Captain Morgan , Coke and firewood!

Simon has lost his sense of humour, he’s sore and he wants to go back. You’re all fucking mad he says! We pour him wine glass after wine glass along with an overdose of Myprodol pain killers and he slowly softens and agrees to drive tomorrow and let Hein ride his bike!

Day 2: We wake slowly tired and a little sore. Will we make it to Kubu? We check radios and set off!

A local told us the worst of the water and mud is over! He Lied!!!!

Within an hour we are in thick black mud, not the pretty pans of yesterday, this is ugly thick goo sinking our spirits! We press on, we have done about 40km and Kubu is 50 km’s away when we come to the GS Graveyard. Up until now the 4×4 has been our greatest worry, now even the bikes sink.

It’s a day of pushing and cursing … to be continued!

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Category: Botswana, TRIP REPORTS

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