Khutse May 2015

On Friday afternoon 22 May 2015 only Henri and I left Johannesburg for Khutse Game Reserve.  We took the Disco with trailer and within three hours found ourselves at the Skilpadsnek border crossing, an entire new entrance and buildings on the South African side.  Same as September 2014 when we passed through that border post on our way to Namibia, we were delayed because of our list of camera equipment that had to be captured on computer.  The previous list was already more than six months old, so a new one had to be created - off course the old one could not be found on their system!  When the clerk saw the list of equipment, however, she resorted to only capturing Henri's quick summary he was making on the run... so many camera bodies, so many lenses, so many laptops, binoculars, etc..... and we were out of there!  Because we only left home in the afternoon, for the first night we camped at Mokolodi Game Reserve about 9 kms before Gaberone. We can recommend it, but do have the mosquito spray handy!

Because of its proximity, and relative accessibility, Khutse game Reserve is a favourite retreat for Gaborone visitors and other Botswana residents but also for us South Africans. The only almost 600 km drive from Johannesburg to the reserve gate takes one through Kalahari villages, including the 'gateway to the Kalahari,' Molepolole.  Adjoining the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to the north, and with no fences separating the two, the terrain of the 2 500 sq kms reserve combines most types of Kalahari habitat – rolling grasslands, river beds, fossil dunes and grassed and bare pans.  The reserve is part of an ancient river system that once flowed northeast to fill the prehistoric Lake Makgadikgadi. Khutse's Pans and dry river valleys are remnants of this river system.

Officially declared a protected area in 1971, Khutse (meaning 'place where you can kneel down and drink') was the second game reserve in Botswana to be established on tribal land (Moremi game Reserve in the Okavango was the first).

There is a series of rather picturesque pans (signposted) where wildlife often congregate, particularly during and following good rains; and indeed game drives are focused around the pans. These include the Motailane, Moreswa and Molose pans. Water is pumped at artificial waterholes at Moreswa and Molose, making for good game viewing year round.  We spent three nights each at Moreswa, Molose and Maharushele camps.  You will see three pics of our three camps.  From Maharushele pan, where there is no waterhole, we drove 11 kms towards Khutse camp where there is a magnificent waterhole.  Contrary to what we thought, Khutse did not have that much rain and some areas proved to be quite dry, however green grass was evident on all the pans and specifically at the Khutse waterhole near Khutse camp.

From previous trips to Khutse we remember it as the game reserve with many of the big cats, lion, leopard and cheetah but we were unfortunate this time in that we only heard lion roar early one morning.  We, therefore, have no pictures of any cats to show, but do enjoy the ones we published below. On 31 March we left the gate of the Khutse game reserve at 9:30 and we were back home 8 hours later at 17:30, quite an easy drive.  For us it was one of the most memorable trips we've done to date, whether it was the absence of cats or the old brown hyena that visited our campsite at Molose or just the solitude of Khutse and its stretched out pans, we don't know, but it was great!