Botswana Safari, Chapter 2, Makgadikgadi Pans
Moving to the next Kalahari area, we stopped in a small town for gas and water. These small towns have varying degrees of development. Some now have schools provided by the national government with primary and secondary education mandatory. However, many rural students still spend their childhoods living in boarding schools; transported, at government expense, in large buses to and from their remote villages for holidays.
The literacy rate is climbing steadily among younger people, but many older people still can’t read or write. Education in the far-flung villages is still spotty. Health care is pretty good everywhere.
Mobile health care units visit even the most remote villages several times a month with vision, dental, pre-natal, and general health providers on board. The national government is exemplary among African nations in taking good care of its people. And the people respond by loving their leaders. Botswanans are very proud of their 52 year independence from the former British protectorate status.
The Kumaga area of the Makgadikgadi Pans park, near the Boteti River was the next camp. Such a difference water makes! We arrived on a very hot day: 40 degrees C/104F.
After setting up camp we drove to the river to see what wildlife might be around. We hadn’t seen any large animals yet. Wow! Here they were, all coming in for afternoon drinks. Giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, kudus, impalas and elephants. Hippos and water birds. It was like a garden of Eden. We were stunned.
That night we had an impressive thunderstorm with rain and lots of lightning. The next evening, when we returned to the river we could see and smell a big wildfire started by the lightning.
Now the temperatures were cooler and remote waterholes filling: the animals disperse. We never again saw the concentrations of the previous day. With more rain the next day, the fires were extinguished and the air freshened.
Signs of new plant life emerge signaling the return of the wet. Flowers begin blooming.
Out in the bush we found more entertainment (we are easily amused). The flying dung beetles are a hazard. They look like clumsy hummingbirds zooming around and if one hits you in the head, you’ll notice. Joseph found one on its giant self-made dung ball. They bury these to provide nourishment for their hatching larvae.
Many of the male elephants had black secretions coming from temporal (on the temple) glands. This signals they are in musth, or breeding mode. They are more aggressive to other males during musth, (and also to tourists). Females have temporal secretions also, perhaps having to do with mating readiness.
The next stop, Nxai Pans will be drier. After the cloudless blue skies of the dry season, a plus for the beginning of the wet is the magnificent sunsets.
If you want to see the animals in the post in motion, click here…https://youtu.be/qJP0xkJQJr0