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Mabuasehube is an incredible wilderness in Botswana with amazing animal encounters, a true sense of remoteness and fantastic campsites.
Mabuasehube is the easternmost section of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, in southwest Botswana. It is the most commonly visited part of the Botswana side of this park, with far fewer visitors venturing to remote Kaa further west.
Mabuasehube Park & Campsites Map
- There are only a few campsites in Mabuasehube Game Reserve and some of them book out months or up to a year in advance. If you have a specific site and date in mind, try to book far ahead. If you are flexible you might manage to find last-minute spots, but always have a reservation before turning up at the park gate.
- You can rent an equipped 4×4* from Maun, Kasane, Gaborone or South Africa.
- Pay park conservation fees in advance or have cash.
- The Tracks4Africa Botswana Map* is very useful.
- There are no fuel stations, shops, or any other facilities in the park.
- Any water advertised in the park is not reliable and if available then it is brackish. Bring sufficient water for your entire trip.
- Summer days can be very hot, and winter nights freezing.
- See our other guide for the South African side of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
- Mabuasehube was one of the first stops on our two-month road trip around Botswana which you can read more about in my book*.
The Mabuasehube Side of Kgalagadi
Mabuasehube has a different vibe from the South African side of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. There are only a few individual unfenced campsites and instead of concentrating on linear riverbeds that you drive along, the game concentrates in roughly circular pans that you drive around. Since the pans are quite big, it can mean that the game is fairly far away from you, as you can’t drive on the pans themselves. We sometimes found this slightly frustrating.
As opposed to the game, a highlight here is the sense of solitude and limited number of other people that you will see. If you do have an animal encounter, you might be the only vehicle there. The unfenced campsites also mean that animals, including lions, can wander freely through your camp.
We visited Mabuasehube as the first stop on our two-month road trip around Botswana. To find out more about it, read the travel adventure book I wrote, No Footprints in the Night: On Safari in Botswana*.
I was slightly disappointed with our game sightings here but I loved the wilderness experience, the sense of remoteness and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Botswana Overlanding Book
I captured our many adventures in a travel book, check it out on Amazon*.
South Africa was kicking us out so we had to make a plan. ‘What about Botswana?’ A few days before we overstayed our visas, we hit the road in our trusty Defender and sped north from Cape Town.
Information and Itinerary
Mabuasehube is a very remote park. There’s no phone signal, the last reception is in towns quite far from the park (compare coverage of the three Botswanan phone networks – Mascom, Orange or Bemobile). The only park staff/rangers are based just outside Mabuasehube Gate on the eastern border.
There are no facilities i.e. no shops, fuel stations, water or anything else in the park so you must be fully self-sufficient. This includes all water, fuel, food and all your camping gear.
You can enter Mabuasehube from Botswana or South Africa. For border crossing information, see the box in our Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park article.
Things to bring to Mabuasehube
You need to bring enough fuel and water to last your entire trip. Even though water is advertised in places within the park, you can’t rely on this and it is probably too salty to drink anyway. Showers are also advertised but don’t be confused, you must supply your own water for these.
Your car needs to have a long-range fuel tank or you should take jerry cans. See more details about how much fuel you need below. You also need all your own water. Budget at least 5 litres per day – it has to include water for drinking, cooking, washing up, cleaning teeth and washing yourself. If you want a shower every day, budget an extra 5 litres per day. Always have at least 10 litres of spare water that you don’t touch except in an emergency, for example, if you have to wait a day or two for assistance.
Non-Exhaustive List of things to bring to Mabuasehube
- Seed net/grill
- Two spare tires
- Puncture repair kit
- Sand tracks
- High-lift jack
- Kinetic strap/rope
- Tire pressure gauge
- Car tools and spares
- Water and food
- Braai wood
- First aid kit
- Wide-brimmed hat
- Mosquito repellent
- Wildlife Guide*
- Bird Guide*
We found a powerful flashlight with a red filter* very useful for spotting animals at nighttime. The red filter disturbs the animals much less than a normal white light so you can be less afraid of annoying them.
Instead of very expensive proper sand tracks, we had two bathmats. I know someone who swears by carpet strips. If you don’t want to splash out on sand tracks, then at least buy a pair of sturdy bathmats for R80 each from Builders. They will also give grip. But most importantly, reduce tire pressure and you probably won’t need them.
You might not see animals all the time, but you probably will see birds. A bird guide is very useful and can make the trip so much more fun. I wasn’t into birds before I got a bird guide, but now I wouldn’t go anywhere without it and love spotting them. We have a small one*, great for beginners.
The above list is very much incomplete, you obviously need all your camping gear as well, I just listed some things you might forget.
Your seed grill will stop most grasses and seeds from getting into your radiator, but some will slip through. Check your radiator every so often to remove any bits. Also make sure to check around your exhaust pipe for seed/grass buildup as this area can get hot and start a fire. Be careful when removing stuff not to burn yourself.
Gate Opening Hours
Mabuasehube has the same gate hours as the rest of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Though there are no actual gates, you should be at your campsite when the ‘gates’ close and not leave before they ‘open’ in the morning.
If you don’t make it to the park on time, you can camp just outside the gates. Head to the staff camp first to find a ranger who will assist you.
We spent three nights in the park; two at Mabuasehube 1 (KT-MAB-01) and one at Bosobogolo 1 (KT-BOS-01). We only booked two weeks in advance and these were the only sites available. Neither of these campsites has a toilet or shower, and I think most people choose the sites with more facilities if they’re free. I didn’t mind the lack of facilities, and we visited toilets at other campsites in the park if they were empty. Mabuasehube 1 turned out to be my favourite site in the park – see the Mabuasehube Campsites section for more details.
While it’s possible to spend multiple weeks in the park, as some groups do, I think three nights was enough for us on our trip around Botswana. The park is quite small and we explored most of it in two and a bit days. The first evening we arrived rather late so headed straight to our site and watched the gorgeous sunset. Our second day was a full day of safari, returning to the same site. On our third day, we moved campsites (but they aren’t far apart) and on our fourth and final day we left fairly early to drive to Kang.
Mabuasehube Game Reserve Contact Details
Botswana: Contact the Department of Wildlife and National Parks for reservations at most campsites and to pay conservation fees in advance. Contact Intertourism Group to book the campsites at Mabuasehube or Mpyathutlwa. I’ve given multiple phone numbers and emails because they seem to change quite often.
South Africa: If you’re heading to the South African side, accommodation can be booked online. For 4×4 trails, to book day visits or any other queries, contact SANParks on + 27 (0) 54 561 2000 (Twee Rivieren), [email protected].
Department of Wildlife and National Parks: Botswana Parks and Reserves Reservation Office, +267 397 1405 or +267 318 0774, dwn[email protected]. Office hours 07:30-16:30 on weekdays. Closed weekends.
Intertourism Group: +267 715 5 7665 or +267 391 0848 or +267 350 0999 or +267 71 116 090, [email protected] or [email protected] or [email protected]. Try contacting them on facebook or their (broken?) website.
How to Book Mabuasehube Campsites
You have to book campsites within Mabuasehube to enter the park. There is no other accommodation nearby and you must have overnight reservations to enter the park. Apart from payment for campsites, you have to pay the park conservation fee. This can be paid in advance and you will receive a payment conservation voucher, or at the gates in cash.
There are only 17 individual campsites in Mabuasehube Park, spread over seven sites. Five of the sites are managed and booked through the government Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP). The others, which are the four sites around Mabuasehube Pan and the two on the edge of Mpayathutlwa, are managed and booked through Intertourism Group.
You can’t book the Botswanan campsites online or see their availability anywhere, you just have to ring or email asking about specific dates and sites, with backup dates and sites in case your first preferences are unavailable. We tried contacting DWNP and Intertourism Group ourselves but in the end booked via Botswana Footprints, who organized all our Botswanan campsites for us, for a very reasonable price. Book far in advance (many months –> a year) if you want to guarantee a specific campsite on a specific date. If you’re more flexible and don’t mind changing campsites then you can book nearer the time and try and get cancellations.
Mabuasehube Entrance Fee and Camping Rates
Mabuasehube has the lowest entry fees of any park National Park in Botswana. Rates are P20 per person per day + vehicle fees of P4. Children 8-15 half price and under 8 free. Contact DWNP to pay fees and receive an entrance voucher in advance, or take cash to pay at the gate.
Campsite costs vary enormously between the public sites managed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), and the private sites managed by InterTourism Group.
Public campsites are P15/30/40 for citizens/residents & SADC/ international, while the private campsites are P75/180/385 (private sites all half-price for children aged 8-17 and free for children <8). All these rates are per person per night. Even though the difference in prices is huge, the facilities are not any different or any better at the privately managed sites.
Getting to Mabuasehube
A decent 4×4 is required to reach Mabuasehube. Remember to deflate your tires when you reach the sand and take a compressor to pump them up again when you’re back on the tar. The sandiest track we experienced was the cutline on the eastern edge of Mabuasehube but we didn’t have any problems.
Mabuasehube from Nossob, South Africa
A popular option to get to Mabuasehube is through the park from Nossob on the Nossob-Bosobologo 4×4 Access Trail. To return back to Nossob, you can take either the same route or the Mabuasehube Wilderness Trail (see 4×4 drives box for details).
Mabuasehube from McCarthy’s Rest Border Post
McCarthy’s Rest Border Post is the nearest South African border outside the park. It’s 140 km from McCarthy’s Rest border to Mabuasehube Game Reserve Gate of which the first 27 km to Tsabong village is tarred, the following 56 km gravel and the last 56 km sand. The sand can be thick in places but not too much trouble.
McCarthy’s Rest is a very small border crossing with no facilities apart from an often empty fuel station. The last supplies in South Africa are in Hotazel (130 km south of the border, named because it was as ‘hot as hell’ when surveyors arrived there in 1915). Tsabong, in Botswana, has a reliable fuel station and a well-stocked supermarket. Make sure to fill up here as it’s the last fuel station before the park. The park is well-signed from Tsabong.
Mabuasehube from the East (Gaborone, Skilpadshek/Ramatlabama)
If you’re coming from Gaborone or via the Skilpadshek or Ramatlabama border posts you will enter the park via the same route. We visited Mabuasehube from Ramatlabama border post and stayed in Kanye the night before the park.
The A2 heads east until Sekoma where you should fill up, this is the last fuel station before the park. In Sekoma turn left (south) on the tarred A20 for 80 km. The sandy cutline heading west to Mabuasehube starts here, 30 km south of Khakhea (last phone signal) and north of Kokotsha.
There are very oversized signs in both directions signing Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Mabuasehube. The signs are so huge, they look like they are signing a big highway, but it’s actually just a little track and you have to open a gate to get onto it. The deepest bit of sand was actually just the other side of the gate, so drive a few metres before stopping to wait for your gate-opener! The track is well signposted the entire way, but make sure you have Tracks4Africa Maps and/or Maps.Me for backup.
Slowest bit of the Track
The initial bit of the track is the slowest, around the edge of a huge farm. The track is not very flat in places which led to some slight tilting. After the track heads south and reaches the larger cutline that takes you all the way to the edge Mabuasehube, the driving is faster. Once you hit the park border you head south and this section has some thicker sandy parts but nothing too troublesome.
On this route from the main road, we saw one other vehicle, pulling a large trailer. It was good to know that they made it with a trailer, and if we had already become stuck, they would have helped us.
Mabuasehube from the North (Hukuntsi/Kang/NW Botswana)
The route via Hukuntsi and Kang is another fairly common way into the park if you’re on a longer trip around Botswana. We left the park via this route and stayed at Kalahari Rest Lodge 25 km north of Kang the night after leaving. Petrol is available in Hukuntsi, but make sure to fill up in Kang just in case.
It’s a quick 110 km of tar between Kang and Hukuntsi, followed by a further 140 km from Hukuntsi to Mabuasehube entrance gate. South of Hukuntsi the road is a mix of sand and gravel stretches each lasting a few kilometres. I’m not sure why random parts of the road have been made into graded gravel but we sped up to 50 km/h on these sections as opposed to 30 km/h through the sand.
How much Fuel do I need for Mabuasehube?
There are no fuel stations within the park. Depending on where you come from, the last fuel stop might be in Nossob South Africa, Tsabeng, Hukuntsi or Sekoma in Botswana.
We spent three nights in the park, travelled there from Sekoma and left via Hukuntsi to Kang. Between the fuel stations of Sekoma and Hukuntsi, we travelled 540 km and used 58 litres of diesel, giving an average fuel consumption of 9.3 km per litre (Land Rover Defender 110 TD5). During our two and a bit days in the park, we travelled 185 km, so I would calculate for roughly 100 km per day driving within the park.
The table shows our fuel efficiency on different surfaces. The best case is what our vehicle actually did on this trip, but we use the worst case for calculating how much fuel we need to make sure we always have enough. On some very sandy roads in Botswana, mainly in Savute, our fuel efficiency did drop to 7 km/litre, but the tracks in Mabuasehube are only very sandy in places.
|Fuel / Surface||Sand, km/l||Gravel, km/l||Tar, km/l|
If you’re pulling a trailer, your fuel efficiency will be much worse as you have to drag the trailer through the sand.
The table below shows estimated fuel needed to reach the park from different last fuel stations based and the type of surface travelled.
|From||Sand, km||Gravel, km||Tar, km||Fuel Best Case, litres||Fuel Worst Case, litres|
Allow at least 80 litres for getting to and from the park. Add on at least 10 litres per day, or 15 litres if you are driving more than 100 km per day or have a low fuel efficiency. If you’re staying 3-4 days you will probably use 75-100 litres in total. If you’re staying a week you might use up to 150. Always have enough spare fuel for emergencies and to get back out of the park.
Kaa Section of Kgalagadi
We have never been to the Kaa section of Kgalagadi but I’ve added brief details below for completeness. It is a very remote area to the northwest of Mabuasehube and for hardcore wilderness enthusiasts.
Kaa Entrance Gate
Kaa Gate can be accessed either from the Nossob on the South African side or from Mabuasehube via the cutlines along the edge of Kgalagadi Park (see 4×4 drives box for more details). Additionally, Kaa can be reached via Zutshwa on the Botswanan side.
At Kaa Entrance Gate there are two unfenced campsites that feel quite wild, unlike the campsites at Mabuasehube Gate. There is a permanent waterhole (if working) just inside Kaa gate so many animals visit, including lions. The Kaa Game Viewing 4×4 Trail starts here (see 4×4 drives box). There’s not much here that you can’t see in Mabuasehube, apart from more remoteness and fewer people.
The village and community of Zutshwa has a great website. There’s a StopOver with a guesthouse and camping. Additionally, there are four basic campsites with no facilities between Zutshwa and the Kaa Gate, two each at Name Pan and Kaa Pan. There’s another campsite at Peach Pan 60 km east of Kaa Gate. You can’t reserve them in advance, but there’s a self-service permit station in the village. Check out their website for more details.
The route from Kaa Entrance Gate to Zutshwa has many grazing animals but it is highly corrugated. The smoother, faster route between Kaa and Zutshwa goes via the cutline north and then heads slightly back on itself southeast to Zutshwa. Between Zutshwa and Hukuntsi the road is bigger and fine.
Roads within Mabuasehube and Driving Conditions
The roads inside the park are all sandy one-spoor tracks with some minor ups and downs. None of the tracks became wet and muddy even though it rained a lot during our stay, since the water drains straight through the sand. A few small sections are slightly rocky. Your tires should already be deflated since to get to the park you have to drive on sand already.
We drove roughly 185 km within the park over two full days plus a short evening and morning drive to arrive/leave the park. Even though the distances inside Mabuasehube are short, it soon adds up. We didn’t have any issues with getting stuck anywhere.
The speed limit in Mabuasehube is 40 km/hr.
Do you need to travel with two vehicles in Mabuasehube?
While it is suggested to always travel with two vehicles in the parks of Botswana, including Mabuasehube, it’s fairly common for single vehicles to travel alone, and this is what we did. You are only not allowed on some of the 4×4 Wilderness Trails, which have to be booked in advance, without at least two vehicles. There were enough people around the main part of Mabuasehube for us to not worry too much about having a terrible breakdown. We always carried extra food and water, enough for waiting at least a few days if we had to before help arrived.
Things to do in Mabuasehube
The principal activity in Mabuasehube is self-drive safaris and enjoying the sense of wilderness. There is also a 4×4 wilderness trail leading to Nossob in South Africa, and other wilderness trails over in Kaa.
Self-Drive Safaris in Mabuasehube
We always set out at first light for a drive before returning to our campsite or moving on to our next campsite. We then spend the heat of the day sheltering under a tree while reading a book. A few hours before sunset we set off again on an evening drive. Occasionally we have an early dinner around 4 pm before heading out to only return at dark. Other times we return before dark to start a braai and watch the wildlife while relaxing at our campsite.
Pans and Waterholes in Mabuasehube
Pans of Mabuasehube
Mabuasehube consists of six main pans and several smaller ones. The pans are grazed by herds of antelope that attract the larger predators, and are linked by tracks through sand dunes where the game is sparser. Four of these pans additionally have artificial waterholes, though the one in Mabuasehube Pan is broken (2021) and has been for a long time. When we were there, in the rainy season, the best pans for wildlife were Mpayathutlwa followed by Mabuasehube and then Bosobogolo.
The animals are often far away near the centre of the pans, and only occasionally did we see animals closer to the road. Binoculars* were very useful.
Waterholes of Mabuasehube
The waterholes are 1) on the west side of Mabuasehube Pan (map↑, non-functioning in 2021), 2) on the northern end of Mpayathutlwa Pan (map↑), 3) on the southwestern edge of the smaller of the Monamodi Pans (map↑), and 4) on the northern edge of Lesholoago Pan (map↑). We were there in the wet season when water was plentiful, so the waterholes were only really visited by birds. The best waterhole is in Mpayathutlwa, and driving there also means driving towards the centre of the pan so you are close to the animals.
Campsite Mabuasehube 1 (KT-MAT-01) overlooks the nonfunctioning Mabuasehube waterhole and Lesholoago 2 (KT-LES-02) overlooks the Lesholoago waterhole. Monamodi 1 (KT-MON-01) is near the Monamodi waterhole but doesn’t overlook it.
Mabuasehube 4×4 Drives
The 4×4 drives all require a 4×4 vehicle with low range. Make sure to have enough fuel, especially for the sandy 4×4 trails. Our fuel efficiency decreases by about 20% from 10 to 8 km per litre on very sandy trails (Land Rover Defender 110 TD5). If you haven’t got a 4×4 yourself, you can rent one with Britz* in Gaborone, Maun, Kasane, or Uppington, Cape Town and Johannesburg plus other places in South Africa.
4×4 Drives between Mabuasehube and South Africa
The 170 km Nossob-Bosobogolo 4×4 Access Trail (map↑) is a two-way route that runs between Nossob in South Africa and the Mabuasehube section in the Botswanan side of the park. This trail takes 5-9 hours. There are two individual campsites, Matopi 1 and 2, roughly halfway along the trail. Since it is an access trail, not a wilderness trail, you do not need to book the route itself, only the campsites. While convoys are recommended, single vehicles are allowed, as are trailers.
The 155 km, two-day Mabuasehube Wilderness 4×4 Trail (map↑) travels one way from the Mabuasehube section on the Botswanan side to Nossob in South Africa. There is an obligatory overnight stop at Mosomane campsite (no facilities) along the trail. One group of between two and five vehicles may start each day. No trailers allowed, some challenging sand dunes. Book in advance.
4×4 Drives to and in Kaa, Botswana
The 165 km Mabuasehube-Kaa 4×4 Access Trail is a two-way route that runs between Mabuasehube and Kaa Entrance Gate. This trail is not recommended since it is highly overgrown with bushes covering the trail and the density of wildlife is very low. To get between Mabuasehube and Kaa it’s much better to leave Mabuasehube in the east and take the cutline around the edge of the park. You can still see wildlife on this trail. Camping on the cutline for one night is allowed, as long as you camp on the northern side, i.e. not in the national park. These routes do not need to be booked in advance.
The 80 km Kaa 4×4 Access Trail is a two-way route between the Kaa entrance gate in Botswana and Kannaguass, on the main road 90 km north of Nossob, South Africa. The route is sandy but manageable. Since it’s an access trail, not a wilderness trail, you do not need to book the route. While convoys are recommended, single vehicles are ok.
The 257 km, three-day Polentswa Wilderness 4×4 Trail heads from Polentswa (60 km north of Nossob) to the Kaa Entrance Gate in Botswana and back, in a one-way loop linking some pans. There are two basic camps with no facilities en route. One group of between two and five vehicles may start each day. Book in advance. You must start this trail in Polentswa, so if you arrive at Kaa Entrance gate you first must drive on the access trail down to Polentswa.
The 191 km Kaa Game Viewing 4×4 Trail is a two-way, lightly trafficked, bumpy loop through the northwest of the Kaa section. There are several basic campsites with no facilities on the route. One group of 2-5 vehicles may start each day. Book in advance.
Campsites in Mabuasehube
Camping in Mabuasehube is the only accommodation option. There are no lodges or pre-setup accommodation options such as cabins or chalets. There are only 17 individual sites in Mabuasehube in total, spread over seven locations.
All campsites have a metal rubbish bin but try not to use this as they are only emptied infrequently so animals can be attracted to them and spill the rubbish. It’s much better to take out everything you carry in. All the campsites also have a little concrete slab on the floor for a braai.
Apart from Entrance Gate, all campsites are next to pans and several have bush toilets and bucket showers (bring your own water). Some sites have nothing but shade, see below for details, and Entrance Gate has an ablutions building with flush toilets and showers – but often the plumbing is broken.
We stayed in both a private site (Mabuasehube 1) and a public site (Bosobogolo 2). There is no difference in facilities or maintenance between the private sites and those managed by DWNP, only the price differs and the views. The privately managed campsites, at Mabuasehube and Mpayathutlwa Pan, do have some of the best views and are on the bigger, central pans.
See contact details box for booking. There’s a vehicle limit of 4 per site.
What’s in a Name?
Mabuasehube means ‘Red Earth’ in the local San language. It’s the name of a 30×60 km rectangular area of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Slightly confusingly, one of the main pans in the park is called Mabuasehube Pan and the campsites around it are the Mabuasehube campsites. So when people mention Mabuasehube campsites, it’s sometimes hard to know if they are talking about all the ones in Mabuasehube Game Reserve, or specifically the sites around Mabuasehube Pan.
We stayed at KT-MAB-01 which was the only one free, I think because of the complete lack of facilities. However, when we arrived after driving past the other sites around Mabuasehube Pan I concluded that Site 1 was the best. Sites 2 and 3 have good views but are very close together. Site 4 has slightly less good views and is next to the road. Site 1, my favourite site in the entire Mabuasehube Game Reserve, has excellent views across the pan from the top of a raised cliff and is very far from the other sites (though at night we saw powerful torches coming from Site 4). The main drawback is no toilet and the site is slightly small for a group.
KT-MAB-01 (map↑): Only a firepit, no other facilities but shade-giving trees. Not even an A-frame. Perched on top of a little cliff with fantastic views over the pan. Amazing sunrises over the pan.
KT-MAB-02 (map↑) & KT-MAB-03 (map↑): These two sites are on the edge of Mabuasehube Pan and have great views down the pan. They both have an A-frame and shady trees, but share the shower and toilet.
KT-MAB-04 (map↑): A large site, perfect for a group. Far from other campsites, but right next to the road so some traffic during the day. A-frame, shady trees, shower, toilet and a decent view. Good for sunsets over the pan.
There are two sites at Lesholoago, each on opposite sides of the pan, 1 km away from each other. Site 2 overlooks a waterhole and also has a shower, while Site 1 doesn’t so Site 2 is the better option.
There are two sites 300 m from each other in the bush slightly away from the pan. Site 1 is closer to the pan and has a bit of a view if you stand on your car, but it doesn’t have a toilet or shower. Site 2 has no view of the pan but has a toilet, shower and attached sink.
KT-MON-01 (map↑): A-frame and shady trees but no other facilities apart from a tap (salty water). From the top of your car, you can see the pan. It’s closer to the waterhole than the other Monamodi Site.
KT-MON-02 (map↑): A large site with A-frame, trees, toilet, shower and even a sink (bring your own water). No view of the pan, surrounded by scrub.
Two sites on the southern and eastern edge of the pan, over 2 km apart. Site 1 has a toilet, Site 2 doesn’t but it does have better views. We stayed at Site 2, again because I don’t think many people opt for the sites with few facilities, but I loved it and would choose it again because of the nicer views.
KT-BOS-01 (map↑): A large site with many trees, an A-frame and a toilet. The shower and basin are non-functioning. Fine views to the pan.
KT-BOS-02 (map↑): Site with A-frame and shade trees but no other facilities. Raised on a slope over the pan with great views. I thought this was a great site (even without a toilet).
Mpayathutlwa is a large central pan in the middle of Mabuasehube with a high density of animals. Because of this, it gets the most traffic of any pan, which still isn’t very significant. There are two sites on the western side of the pan, 600 m apart. The northern Site 1 has all the facilities including water (if working) while the southern site has no shower. Views from both sites are similar.
KT-MPA-01 (map↑): A large site next to a road junction with toilet, shower, basin, A-frame and shade trees. Nice views over the pan. Popular with larger groups. It’s popular because it overlooks a large pan with lots of game, it’s a large site with plenty of shade, and there are all the facilities. There is even running (salty) water (maybe). A drawback is its close proximity to a junction in the road.
KT-MPA-02 (map↑): A large site with a couple of trees, toilet, A-frame and (maybe) water. No shower. Good views over the pan. The southern of the two sites.
Overflow Site (map↑): Signed GMP Work Camp, this site has no facilities but a decent view of the pan. It can’t be booked, but if your site is double-booked (sometimes occurs by mistake) you could try here.
Khiding has two sites on the eastern edge of the pan, both with partial views. They are fairly close to each other and share a toilet and (broken) shower.
KT-KHI-01 (map↑): Large site with trees, an A-frame, with toilet and shower (broken in 2021 without the normal showerhead bucket) shared with the neighbouring site. OK views of the pan.
KT-KHI-02 (map↑): Site with a few trees, an A-frame, with toilet and shower (broken in 2021 without the normal showerhead bucket) shared with the neighbouring site. OK views of the pan.
Entrance Gate Campsites
The three sites at the Entrance Gate are fairly close together, and since they share the ablutions building you may well see and hear other people. You can also sometimes hear noise from the staff camp just on the other side of the gate. Because of the close spacing of sites, the lack of views and the noise from outside the park, these campsites are only recommended if you are arriving late or leaving very early the next morning.
The other sites within the park almost all have better views, wildlife encounters and a sense of wilderness. The only benefit here might be the indoor toilets, showers and running water, but when we were there the water wasn’t working, didn’t show signs that it would be fixed soon, and looked as if it hadn’t been working in a while. The toilets were slightly gross.
KT-ENG-01 (map↑): Next to the road but slightly private. Trees, A-frame and shared toilets and showers in a building where the water may or may not be working.
KT-ENG-02 (map↑): Opposite the shared ablutions and between the other two campsites. Trees, A-frame and the shared toilets and showers in a building where the water may or may not be working.
KT-ENG-03 (map↑): Slightly further away from the other two sites and the ablutions. Trees, A-frame and the shared toilets and showers in a building where the water may or may not be working.
Overall Mabuasehube Campsite Ratings
Mabuasehube 1 (KT-MAB-01) because of stunning views over Mabuasehube Pan, though no toilet and quite small.
Lesholoago 2 (KT-LES-02) – nice facilities, views and waterhole and Mpayathutlwa 1 (KT-MPA-02) – large site, facilities, view of a game-rich pan and central location.
Entrance Gate (KT-ENT-01/02/03), though *if* the water is working there are indoor flush toilets and showers.
There is no accommodation near to Mabuasehube Game Reserve and you are not allowed to visit the park without having an overnight reservation within the park.
If you don’t manage to make it to the Entrance Gate before dark, it’s acceptable to camp on the edge of the cutlines as a last resort for a maximum of one night. Make sure to leave no traces, arrive late and leave early. If you reach Mabuasehube Gate after it’s closed, you can find a ranger in the staff camp and camp just outside the park gate.
The Best Time of Year to Visit Mabuasehube
There are two main seasons in Mabuasehube, rainy season (Dec-Apr) and dry season (the rest of the year). The best time of year to visit Mabuasehube depends on what you want to see, and there is never a terrible time. In rainy season the grass is green and the landscape photogenic. Frequent thunderstorms lead to water in the pans which reflect the sunrise and sunset beautifully. However, because of the abundant water, the animals do not concentrate into the pans or near the waterholes. In the dry season, especially towards the end in Sep-Oct, the animals are forced to head to the pans and the waterholes so it’s easier to see the game.
Additionally, the days can be very hot in the summer and the nights very cold in the winter when days are also shorter. The roads are not worsened by the rain as the water drains straight through the sand.
Mabuasehube was one of our first stops on our two-month road trip around Botswana which you can find out more about by reading the travel adventure book I wrote, No Footprints in the Night: On Safari in Botswana*.
The Lonely Planet Guidebook* covers all of Botswana, but not in much detail. The Bradt Guide* has a wealth of information and is great for planning a safari around northern Botswana, but doesn’t cover southern Botswana. The Tracks4Africa Map* is an essential item for driving around the country and its national parks. For more information, see our Best Botswana Guidebooks article.
If you’re interested in other Botswanan Kalahari Desert parks, check out Khutse Game Reserve or Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Just over the border in South Africa, check out Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
FAQS – Mabuasehube
The speed limit in Mabuasehube is 40 km/h.
Mabuasehube means ‘Red Earth’ in the local San language.
The campsite in Mabuasehube are all unfenced so it requires common sense to avoid any potentially dangerous animal encounters. Don’t stray far from your car or walk around in the dark, and children should be closely supervised at all times. Watch out for snakes and scorpions – always wear shoes.
Mabuasehube is in southwest Botswana, in the eastern part of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
You definitely need a 4×4 to reach and enter Mabuasehube. You are not allowed within Mabuasehube Game Reserve without a 4×4 with high clearance and low range.
Mabuasehube is a rectangular game reserve 30 by 60 km, making it 1800 km² in total, slightly smaller than Luxembourg.
How was the pans of Mabuasehube formed, geologicaly
Thanks for the great question!
The pans began to form roughly 20,000 to 25,000 when wind blew sand from the area that is now the pans to the surrounding dunes (often there are high dunes on the southern side of the pans since the wind mainly blows from the north). As small depressions began to form, the climate became wetter and in the period 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, permanent lakes formed in the pans. During this time clay sediments were deposited at the bottom of the lakes and these now form the surface of the pans. Since 10,000 years ago the climate has become more arid, and the permanent lakes are gone. The pans remain, holding water only for a short period after heavy rains.
Brilliant website, thank you.