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Nothing To Do In Kubu

Gweta, Botswana

After two days of pure amazement at Mashatu it was only right we spent a few days doing nothing but reflecting on what we had just experienced, and relaxing in every sense of the word. And where better to do that than at Kubu Island in the middle of the Sowa Pans.

Having stocked up on enough food, water and alcohol to last two days we set off towards Lethlakane, from where it is possible to drive out onto Sowa Pan. Sowa Pan is like nothing I have experienced before. For starters there is no electricity, no running water, no houses, nothing but vast stretches of moon-like scenery as far as the eye can see. As we drove towards Kubu Island, which is actually only an island in the true sense of the word during the rainy season, the odd clumps of grass appeared, finally giving way to a small cluster of trees on the horizon.

The trees began to grow in stature, until we were only a few kilometres away and suddenly all I could see was giant Baobab trees everywhere set among vast boulders. This was Kubu Island, a place where one can forget they are on planet earth and in fact forget that anybody else is alive apart from themselves. In the two days we spent there, apart from two park rangers who camp there, we saw one other family, who left on our first morning leaving us in this little piece of paradise alone - or at least that's what I thought.

Alena had inspired me to downgrade from dorms to a tent and thus I got myself one before we crossed the border into Botswana, and Kubu gave me the first chance to use it. With Mum and Dad safely tucked up in a their own roof tents I was down on the ground in my new home, and it didn't take long before I had my first visitor, albeit a rather unexpected one.

I had drifted off to sleep, with the doors opened so only a mosquito mesh separated me from the outside world, only to be awoken by a sniffing and scratching at the edge of my tent. I thought it would be some small animal having an inquisitive look around our campsite, so it was without a second thought I poked my head out of the door. It took me all of 0.0009 seconds to retract my head and zip the tent back up. What I thought was a small animal was in fact a brown hyena - not exactly what you want to see in the small hours of the morning with nothing but darkness surrounding you.

A tentative, yet firm, kick against the side of the tent where I spotted the hyena was enough to discourage it and allow me to return to a fitful sleep - funnily enough my thoughts were more concerned with the possibility of further visits from wild animals than with getting a good night's sleep. Upon waking in the morning I couldn't decide if I had just had a bizarre dream or not, that was until I looked around my tent to find a plethora of sizeable paw prints in the sand.

Needless to say the second night's sleep was a little restless, yet despite a few strange noises I thankfully had no further visitors to my tent door. Our time there was spent doing little more than reading, sleeping, and reconnecting with nature - something everybody needs to do from time to time. Without a doubt the highlight of every day at Kubu is sunrise, sunset and something I have never seen before - the moon setting.

Given that the pans used to be seabed it is no surprise they are almost perfectly flat, which lends to the most amazing scenes and colours during dawn and dusk. In the morning the sky is lit up in a dark pink long before the sun pokes its nose over the horizon, but when it does shafts of molten orange spew over the earth's surface scorching all that it envelops. Sunset is equally as impressive, with shades of red and pink I have never seen before etching their mark into the sky, a sort of red carpet for the moon to dance along as it takes over the nightshift.

It was whilst sat around the campfire on the first night there that the three of us noticed the moon sinking, heavy under the weight of the night's sky. Closer it came towards the horizon, being forced lower and lower until finally it began to slide out of view as if somebody had it on a string pulling it into their world and away from ours. Soon followed the stars, all sliding as if the canvas they were painted on was melting, everything slowly dripping towards the abyss that lay below.

My lasting memory of Kubu will be the Baobabs at sunrise. I have always said if I was a tree it would be a Baobab, or the upside down tree as they are more affectionately known, and to see them in such brilliant light was a true pleasure. Sadly we only had two days at Kubu, as I could have easily spent four or five there, and in leaving my time with Mum and Dad was all but an end, but not without some truly amazing memories that have enriched my trip yet further.

permalink written by  MarcusInAfrica on May 7, 2009 from Gweta, Botswana
from the travel blog: Cape to Cardiff
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