Distance: 208km (Cumulative: 1 977km)
Moving time: 11:31
Average speed: 18km/h
Road surface: 100% Sand
Mabuasehube Pan Campsite 1 and 3 - R250 p.p
No water, nice view over pan, not much game
Apart from a few strange sounds during the night which abruptly stopped when Jaco asked what is making that sound, we had an uneventful rest.
The morning however was freezing cold. Ice crystals formed on the inside of our tent from the condensation. We had the usual rusks and porridge mix for breakfast and moved the tent into the sun to defrost.
We set off at 08:20 and continued on the graded road for another 17km. We saw the start of the sand section and deflated the tyres to 1.5 bar. The going on the sand was quite easy as it was still early and the sand relatively hard. The corrugation, even in the sand, however was horrendous. Only a few sections closer to the Mabua gate was ‘nice’ soft sand. The type of sand people describes as being fun to drive on.
After 37km of sand we reached the Mabuasehube gate and parked under a tree. ‘Checking-in’ was quite easy and to our surprise the staff didn’t give us any rules or reminded us of anything. If we were ‘uninformed tourists’ we wouldn’t have any idea of what we’re allowed to do or not or whether there was water available or not. I guess they leave that responsibility to the booking agents – from which we also didn’t get any ‘information’.
Our excitement of entering the park was a bit subdued when an English couple came checking out and complained about how dirty the Mabua 2 and 3 campsites were (we are booked at campsite 3 for the second night) and the fact that they saw very little game.
Still we set off hopeful that we will have better luck. The two-spoor sand track leading into the park was again very corrugated as if someone drove on it with their tyres at 3 bar. We later learned that almost all the roads in Mabua is heavily corrugated and a nightmare to drive on.
We turned left towards Boshogolo pan for a wide loop to our campsite. For the first few kilometres we saw nothing. Our first sighting was that of an Oryx and then a Steenbok. Jaco a keen birder made us stop a few times spotting things like a pale chanting goshawk and the ant eating chat.
From Boshogolo we headed north again to Mpaya pan. Near the pan we saw one of the biggest flying birds, the kori bustard (Afrikaans: gompou). Later we also saw red billed spurfowl and northern black korhaan. On the pan itself we saw Springbok and blue Wildebeest.
We finally got to Mabuasehube campsite 1 which has no facilities (no A-frame, long drop or shower enclosure like the other sites) an no water. This suited as perfectly as it felt like bush camping apart from the braai stand and the toilet paper floating around. It boggles our minds how someone can leave toilet paper in the field. Just bring it back and throw it in the trash (the trash you take out again – if you can bring it in you can take it out) or burn it or better yet don’t use toilet paper at all. It is much more hygienic to use water in the bush.
Initiatially we wanted to do another game drive in the evening, but decided to rather set up camp.
There’s no water hole at Mabuasehube pan so there weren’t much action on the pan. Closer to the camp a yellow mongoose came to visit as well as a few birds.
For dinner Caro made delicious chicken pasta with a mushroom white sauce. By sunset all three of us were in the rooftop tent. We’ve seen to many video clips of lions ‘playing’ with ground tents to let Jaco sleep in his flimsy tent.
Caro woke in the middle of night with a fright from the sound of lapping water. We forgot to throw out the bowl of water we used to clean our feet. She immediately imagined a big lion drinking the feet water. The rest of us also woke up. The animal finished all the water and then started biting the container and dragged it away. We shown a light and saw it was in fact a spotted Hyeana jogging off.
We didn’t hear anything else that night. Not even the distant roar of a lion.
The next morning, we just closed the tent, as we packed everything away (except for the water bowel), and set off for Khiding pan.
Between the pans we again saw almost nothing except for the black chested snake eagle.
At Khiding pan we saw Hartebees and an Eland in the distance who immediately took off. Other new sightings include a slender mongoose, a rock kestrel (rooivalk), rollers (troupand), crimson breastfed shrike (rooibors laksman) and a burchell’s starling (groot glans spreeu).
From Khiding we drove to Mpayathutlwa Pan again. At one of the campsites we refilled a 5l bottle of water and made breakfast. Caro decided it is time to wash some socks and underwear.
Hugo went to chat to one of the guys at the campsite. They’ve been there for 3 nights and saw big groups of lions twice already. The lions even went into their shower enclosure and then went to occupy the reserve campsite. The campers at that site couldn’t leave their caravan the whole day.
They also saw a leopard and more lions at Lesholoaga. After eating and washing, hornbills started gathering in the tree next to us. At one point there were more than 25 hornbills and a crow. Jaco and Caro almost filled their memory cards with photos.
We drove around the pan before heading back to Mabuasehube Pan. At campsite number 3 the occupants of three vehicles were occupying our A-frame for lunch, but quickly packed up when they sensed that it is our campsite. Hugo also chatted to them and found out that they too had lions in their campsite at Lesholoaga. The one woman mused that she never has too see a lion again.
We hanged up our washing and ate bread for lunch. Before we knew it, we were surrounded by more yellow hornbills, Kalahari scrub robins, ground squirrels and two yellow mongooses. Again, the two photographers couldn’t get enough.
Around three we went for an evening game drive. This time going to Lesholoaga. At the empty campsite Caro took the opportunity for a quick shower before we set off again. We drove South to Mamelodi pans, but the turned right again back towards Mabua pan. On the road we could clearly see lion tracks over the last tyre tracks. We got hopeful, but in the end didn’t see any lions. Just multiple tracks going in both directions.
From Mabua we drove down to Mpaya pan again where the lion action was apparently happening. As you can probably guess by now, we still didn’t see any, just more Oryx, Springbok and Wildebeest.
Feeling more blasé about the lack of lions at Mabua pan we decided to braai steak. Jaco and Hugo were on food duty. It took some convincing to get Caro to join us in the A-frame for dinner well after dark and not eating in the tent.
We packed up everything again and even remembered to throw out the water before going to bed.