Kubu Konquered

| July 13, 2011 | Comments (4)


Kubu a rocky outcrop of giant Baobabs surrounded by the Magadigadi pans, the greatest salt pans in the world. The island is surrounded by a blue sea of water and pink flamingos feeding in the soda rich pans. In winter the waters recede leaving an eye blinding white surface with mirages shimmering as far as the eye can see…. Except a winter two years ago when unseasonal floods filled the pans, tar roads appeared suspended on water and dirt roads became quagmires of gooey black mud. And that winter was the last time we tried to reach Kubu, it however became a wet clogged dream, an African Atlantis shimmering beyond the pink flamingos unreachable and hidden to the outside world

The challenge lay there after we had shaken off the water and peeled off the mud like second skins… Kubu called us as the days grew colder and dryer … and we answered. The crew had to be brave and strong, the mud monster could still be lurking and if not the sand monster would be ready to shake us off our noble monsters. They came no braver and stronger than our self nominted team manager, my daughter Zandi, Ably assisted by my nephews Captains Qina  & Qubs

Haltingly and tentatively the rest followed:

Mick the OZ Bum clencher. Mick lent my newly aquired 690. When the raw power stopped trying to rip his arms off or the wind tear his head off, the seat attacked him. Mate Mick drawled, “i’m gonna buy some Maashmallows and stick one each to each butt cheek, maybe that will be more comfortable!” No-one offered any man love despite the obvious OZ desires 🙂

Tom flew in from the states. It must have been the jet lag which made him rest his KTm so often!  No he turned down my offer of a spare helmet, I’m bringing mine from the States… that way you can find me and dig me out of the sand in the desert”.  No shit Tom, good self burial attempts there!


Jimmy’s a whannabe pilot, When the GS is not flying thorugh the air he’s also resting it! But then he restores vintage cars and has a real need to break something so he can fix it again ..

Jake the Cautious, last time Jake’s bike fell into a huge pond and had to be revived, this time he came ready and prepared….new bike, new steering damper, all the tools to remove a spark plug and the well practiced croc walk keeping the monster upright in sand or mud.  Survival overpowers dignity anyday…

Josh our son, even his hostel battle hardened bum could not survive the DRZ’s seat,

Seamus – Shameful and his untrusty Dakar who survived a whole trip without being shamefaced or broken!

My brother Khonya and Sarah .. Khonya knew enough about big bikes and sand to happily hand his 950 KTM to Tom and pleasantly engage low gear on the Hilux.  Sarah nursed the Gin bottle and later prepared to test Darwins theory of evolution ..

Driving the other backup vehicle and most importantly the ice freezer,  Piere & Alanda.  Last time we were here Pierre was on his GSA cursing, digging and fording rivers with us, now since a car took him out he gazes lustily at our bikes and plans for the next.



GG & Sue – we circle the group like hungry Hyena’s dashing in and out among the bikes desperatelly trying to catch footage of every fall, evey undignified tumble, and I have the reputation of never dropping a bike in front of a camera.. . a reputation I aim to keep.

The first 800km’s were uneventful tar, but soon off the tar road the Sand monster reared its ugly head. Two huge Unimogs wallowed ahead of us in the sand and proceeded to get slightly bogged down before giant wheels clawed them out. As they stopped off the sandpit they began deflating tyres grateful to have survived the sand. Close behind the bikes followed … and havoc ensued…. Jimmy & Tom practiced topsy turvey…


So the rescue team arrives but the sand monster holds on tight ….

Now Tom’s so tired he can’t stand … the bite of the sand monster is viscious

After riding the monsters out, and finding a path through the bush we proceed though a twee spoor road through the Mopane scrub. It’s a thrilling little road if you ride it relatively fast, the roads split time and time again, then rejoin again in a confusing crazy spaghetti trail created as drivers spin crazily out of control in the summer mud and crash though the bush creating new tracks. Every now and then the sand monster rears its head in a little puff of powder dust or in a long snaky sandpit.

Then we emerge from the mopane scrub and the pans lie ahead of us a white lake of sand, we screw up our eyes in the glare and then race jubilantly onto the flat hard surface.


A little too jubilantly we soon find out as Jimmy’s bike finds a rut, flies off the road leaping from one rut to another before the heavy GS throws him off and spins to a stop in a cloud of white powder dust.Lucky he is fine and the bike has only some rudimentary scratches…

We are more careful now as we cross the great expanse of sand and tufts of swamp grass.



Kubu looms out of the desert, the Boababs skinny fingers and fat bodies reaching into the air seemingly out of a white ocean.


And we are there, camping on an island named after Hippos in a desert dry pan…

In the morning well armed with the previous nites Captain Morgan and red wine hangovers we head onto the pans. First racing forward we soon discover the mud lies treacherously just below the surface. My pink bike chick soon starts squealing in my helmet asking why the GSA’s rear is twitching and turning!

Seamus shoots out into the middle of the pans on my new 690 to check the deeper parts.. and he finds the deeper parts … nose diving and landing unceremoniously in a mud bath before getting well and truly stuck.

Z Does not believe Seamus’s version of 6 inches of anything even mud ..good try Shameful!

A deserted sand yacht silent witness to a unfulfilled expedition … what happened …. The pan does not tell…

Bones of old kills or water starved animals glare whiter than the sand and become playthings for us

There is no alcohol yet but Pierre who was taken out by a car on his GS Adventure a year ago and has just started walking properly reveals his Darwin Award application. “Josh you’re my feet he yells get on” and proceeds to limp onto the DRZ and barrel off across the desert with Josh hanging on for dear life behind … luckily the Kubu gods were not awarding any Darwin awards that day ..

My sister in law Sarah joins in the Darwin Awards nomination, and again the 690 and Kubu gods have mercy on the woman driver …

The sun sets on the pans and casts a warm golden glow on the boababs and golden grass as we play with the light….

We retreat to our bonfire and mugs of Kappies and coke the smell of braaied meat filling the air with a sky full of stars. We tuck ourselves in our tents and some of us dream of the sand monster awaiting our return trip, others of us snore like the bellows of the Kubu Hippos!

Category: Botswana, TRIP REPORTS

Comments (4)

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  1. Herman says:

    Man I am so kwaad that I did not come along! If only the old faithful didn’t break! Looks seriously lekker GG!!!! I need your map to go see for my self when I have a riding bike again…

  2. Eddie Nel says:

    Hey GG, looks like you guys had a ball. 🙂

    I see the GSA lived up to its name again. (Geen Sand Asseblief) 🙂

    I need to get my big butt onto one of your trips.

    • ggalcock says:

      It was the KTM which spent most of the time in the sand 🙂 Your bike is so clean it would float over the sand 🙂

  3. Karen Noon says:

    Awesome pics on your African adventure – looks like you all had loads of fun.
    We need to get back there soon!

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