immediately hear something rustling in the grass behind the vehicle. I slam the door closed and make my decision: Tonight I’m sleeping right here, as uncomfortable as it might be. A while later I put a gas stove on the ground outside the door and cook some noodles for dinner. I open the door a little to stir the pot when needed.
Here’s a tip: If you ever have to sleep in the cab of a bakkie, it helps to open the windows a crack. But only do this once you’ve turned off the cabin lights, otherwise you’ll attract every insect in the Kalahari.
It’s a moonless night. I lie back and watch the lightning roll closer in the darkness. The air smells like rain. I don’t see the lion again, but I can hear it moving in the grass around the camp. When it roars, it feels like it’s on the back seat. In the distance, thunder roars back. One benefit of a lion in your camp is that you don’t have much to pack up the next morning. I head out early, driving a circular route along which you can see almost the whole reserve. You could easily do this route in a day and return to Khutse Pan for the night, or you can take it easy and camp at some of the other pans along the way. (See the map above.)
I turn south on the circular route and drive as far as Moreswe Pan. The mud has baked dry and some gemsbok wade through the mirages to the manmade waterhole on the northern side of the pan. By the time I reach the campsite at Molose Pan, it starts to rain. I manage to get my tent up just before the drizzle turns into a downpour.
Huddled inside later, thinking of that lion, my nylon shelter feels very thin…
– François Haasbroek All the campsites are managed by Bigfoot Tours. P250 (R324) per adult; P125 (R162) per child aged 8 – 15. All visitors must pay a daily conservation fee of P120 (R166) per adult; P60 (R83) per child aged 8 – 17; P50 (R65) per vehicle. Contact: Bigfoot Tours
00 267 395 3360; 00 267 391 0927; bigfoottours.co.bw