On my previous trips I had indeed visited numerous sites of baobabs, photographed many trees and collected a lot of material. However, for various reasons I did not succeed to visit some of the most important Baobab highlights. Either the sites were out of reach due to lack of suitable transport or we did not have enough time. In 2013 circumstances were perfect to realize my dream: Going on a Baobab-Journey! I spent nearly four months touring to special Baobab locations in the Southern African Region.
Baobabs at Kruger National Park & Musina
It is easiest for me to travel during the dry season – in African winter. I went to see the Baobabs in May/June in Musina and at Punda Maria in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Unfortunately it was not possible at that time to visit all the Baobab sites I had planned to see around Punda Maria due to a severe flooging that had occured in the area. The Baobabs at Punda Maria were once more inaccessible to me. Even one of the famous camps had to be closed due to the damage done – Shingwedzi did not operate for a long time. Punda Maria is still on my to-see list for my next trip.
Lekhubu Island & more Locations in Botsuana
Nevertheless, this time I managed to visit the magnificent baobabs on Lekhubu Island in Botsuana. The name refers to the location – the Baobabs literally live on an island in the middle of the Makgadikgadi salt pans in the North-East of Botsuana. Travelling to Lekhubu Island is a bit adventurous but once a 4×4 vehicle is organised and the directions are clear the trip is manageable. Other phantastic Baobab locations in Botsuana are Baine’s, Green’s and Chapman’s Baobabs which I managed to visit, too. These trees were named after their European “explorers” – of course, the baobabs were known in the region much earlier and were also widely used by local people.
Namushasha in Namibia and the Flushing Toilet
My adventure took me from Botsuana to Namibia. By coincidence I was able to do some research on Baobabs. I investigated how the trees were used in former times and today at Namushasha in the Eastern Zambezi Province, formerly called Caprivi. One of the most incredible forms of use I came accross was the Baobab I found in the North-East of Namibia in a town bordering Zambia. The poor tree in Katima Mulilo was equipped with a flushing toilet in its interior!
Meanwhile a heritage center was built around two huge Baobabs residing at Namushasha. The results of my research and writing about Baobabs can be seen on an information board in said heritage center. I was able to contribute a chapter about Baobabs to a book which has been published in fall 2014 in Namibia.
Baobabs at Mana Pools in Zimbabwe
The last highlight during this Baobab-Journey were the trees at Mana Pools – a very special and very wild National Park in Northeastern Zimbabwe. While we followed the road downhill to the National Park I could make out many Baobabs widely dispersed throughout a large area. It seemed almost like a Baobab forest laid out in incredible designs, shapes and forms. We spent some days in Mana Pools in complete wilderness – without fences for “protection” from the “wild”. The only thing that kept me “safe” at night was the thin layer of canvas of my tent. At night we had lions, honey badgers and hyenas in our tented camp. That was quite a different experience. During the day we were on the road to admire the wonderful diversity of species in the National Park. Of course, I was able to see some great baobab specimens in Mana Pools, too.