Baines' Baobabs

Part 2: Nxai Pan National Park

Countless phone calls to Qantas and Air Botswana later, we were told our lost bag was on a plane to Maun from Johannesburg via Gaborone. Also, our car was ready so we got on the earliest departing vehicle from camp – a supply truck – back to town.

Our camper was a ‘luxury’ Ford Ranger Group L, which had a tent on the roof accessible through the back of the cab. This was a little different (and better in most respects) to the vehicle we drove around Namibia, which required you to climb up to your rooftop tent using a ladder. This is our video review of the Group L: 

We filled the vehicle up to the brim with diesel (160 litres!), the pantry up with food from Choppies supermarket and the water tank with clean, purified water from Aquarite, a water supply place at the edge of town. Then, we picked up our lost bag from the terminal and hit the pothole-riddled A3 tarred road out of Maun for the third time, headed for Nxai Pan National Park.

Xomae Campsite – Nxai Pan National Park

Nxai Pan NP encompasses some enormous saltpans – still filled with water this May – and plenty of large, beautiful baobabs, the most well known being the cluster – known as Baines’ Baobabs –  painted by English artist and explorer Thomas Baines in the 19th century. It was late afternoon when we entered park gates, and there was nobody else around as we stopped to photograph ostrich, elephant, oryx, steenbok, black-backed jackal, lilac breasted roller and kori bustard.

We pulled up to Baines’ Baobabs as the sun was setting and enjoyed the ancient trees bathed in beautiful evening light.

Baines' Baobabs at sunset
The trees were magical at sunset and we had the place to ourselves.

Our campsite –  booked through a local Botswana travel agent – was spectacular. Utterly remote yet equipped with a bucket shower and a toilet block with paper. There was even a toilet brush chained to the wall! As it was pretty cold after sunset, we weren’t bothered much by mosquitoes and were able to sit outside under the stars listening to animal calls until late.

Xomae Campsite, Nxai Pan NP
The bucket shower at Campsite 2.

Pro tip #1: Nxai Pan requires complete self sufficiency so bring everything you need including firewood and water. Our plan was to stay two nights but car and lost luggage dramas meant we only stayed one. A shame! We also didn’t have time to visit the waterhole at South Camp further inside the park, said to have good game. Make sure you include a visit or stay here. We loved this little jewel of a park!

On our way out to our next stop, Gweta, we had yet another chance to view Baines Baobabs in soft morning light. Magic!

Xomae Campsite 2
This poor baobab had our campsite number etched into it.

Read Part 3 of our Botswana self-drive safari here:

Part 3: Camp Kalahari, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

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