The Mabuasehube area in Botswana is a wildlife reserve consisting of several pans offering basic camping accommodation. Normally big game concentrations can be seen on the pans and the area is renowned for its lions frequently visiting the unfenced campsites.
Have a look at this video that went viral a few years ago, just to see how close the lions can get.
The reserve has only 13 A-frame campsites which allows for a more intimate wildlife experience. There’s a good chance you will only see one or two other vehicles while driving around the pans.
In January 2019 we set off to visit the reserve for 8 nights. We were hoping to see Mabuasehube right after the summer rainfall, but unfortunately, the rains were late. The area was still very dry with the majority of animals yet to return to the pans. Despite this, we had some very unique sightings.
How to get there
The route from Nossob to Mabua is a sandy 170km two-way track crossing multiple dunes and can only be driven by 4×4 vehicles. If you are feeling ambitious you can drive the full distance in one day, but it will be a long day of driving. Alternatively, one can opt to make an overnight stop at one of the two camps on the route, Matopi 1 or Matopi 2. Both these camps are very basic with no running water, only a few trees for shade and a long drop. You can only book Matopi campsites for one night as it serves as a stopover camp only.
When we drove the route from Nossob to Mabua, the road was in a very poor condition due to the corrugation. It took us 4 ½ hours to drive the 95 km to Matopi 1. I am glad we made the overnight stop not only to get a break from all the rattling, but the area is untouched and one can only fully experience it from outside your vehicle. At Matopi 1 we spotted a few animal species for the first time such as the Barn Owl and Tree Mouse. The barking geckoes will start their calls as soon as the sun sets and it’s a magnificent experience to hear so many together in one place.
Mpayathutlwa is one of the bigger pans in the area and we were welcomed by two massive black-maned lion brothers lying next to the waterhole. It seemed like one of the brothers had a scuffle with a porcupine as a few quills were still lodged in his skin. At the time we visited Mpaya was one of the only two pans with a working waterhole in the reserve. This waterhole was frequently visited by the lion brothers, springbuck, kudu, black back jackals, and lanner falcons.
There are two official campsites at Mpaya pan plus an overflow camp area.
- MPA01: A-frame, shower, washing basins, long drop, braai
- MPA02: A-frame, tap, long drop, braai
- Overflow camp: No facilities
We stayed at MPA01 which has a nice view of the pan and having a working shower was very convenient, especially in summer. However, on our next visit, I will definitely choose to stay at MPA02. MPA02 has a nice big tree for shade and is set closer to the pan with an unobstructed view.
Monamodi is a smaller pan located about 20km from the Mabuasehube East Botswana entrance gate. This was the only other pan to Mpaya that had running water and a working waterhole. Monamodi has two campsites, neither has a view of the pan or the waterhole.
- KT-MON-01 : A-frame, tap
- KT-MON-02: A-frame, long drop, shower
Mabuasehube Pan is located in the center of the area and has 4 campsites.
The waterhole at Mabuasehube has been dry for the past 4 years, but you can still expect to see great game here. The track around the pan is a beautiful drive with red sand and green vegetation.
- KT-MAB-01: No facilities but is elevated with a partial view of the pan. Nice private road to a lookout point.
- KT-MAB-02: A-frame, and shared shower cubicle (no water) and long drop with KT-MAB-03
- KT-MAB-03: A-frame, and shared shower cubicle (no water) and long drop with KT-MAB-02
- KT-MAB-04: A-frame, long drop, shower cubicle ( no water) and big tree for shade.
We stayed at KT-MAB-04 , this site has a nice view of the pan and a few surrounding trees and is about 600m away from KT-MAB-02/03.
One day there was a pride of lions with 5 cubs resting at KT-MAB-01. They remained at the site from the morning until dawn. We were fortunate to spend more than 3 hours alone with them, something that’s not likely to happen in any other wildlife reserve.
Apart from a Spotted Eagle Owl and a few ground squirrels we had no visitors at our campsite KT-MAB-O4, but did find leopard tracks in camp the last morning of our stay.
A smaller pan with a more secluded feel to it as it doesn’t get as much traffic as Mabua and Mpaya. We saw lots of animal tracks on our drive to the pan.
- KT-LES-01: A-frame, long drop and no shower enclosure or shade.
- KT-LES-02: A-frame, long drop in stone house and spiral shower cubicle with water and washbasin. The site has a nice big tree for shade and concrete table next to braai.
Two camps are situated next to each other sharing the long drop and shower cubicles.
The video of the lions licking the tent was taken at this pan.
- KT-KHI-01: A-frame, two long drops in stone house, shared shower cubicle (no water) with site 2, site has some shade.
- KT-KHI-02: A-frame, long drop, shared shower cubile (no water) with site 1, nice view of the pan.
- KT-BOS-01: A-frame, long drop and shower cubicle (no water).
- KT-BOS-02: A-frame, the site does not have a long drop or shower facility. The site has a nice view of the pan but not a lot of shade.
How to Book
The Mabuasehube Pan and Mpayathuthlwa Pan campsite are privately managed sites and can be booked through the Inter-Tourism Group:
Inter-Tourism GroupTelephone: +267 350 0999
Cellphone: +267 71 116 090
Fax: +267 391 0847
Note that park fees are directly payable to the DWNP offices.
All other sites, including Matopi can be booked with the DWNP:
Park -managed Sites
Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP)Address: PO Box 131, Gaborone, BOTSWANA
Telephone No: (+267) 318 07 74
Fax No: (267) 318 07 74
Physical location: in the Government Enclave of Gaborone, off Khama Crescent, opposite the end of Queens Road
We made all our Mabua bookings through Botswana Footprints, you can contact them here:
Need to know
- Water at camps is not a guarantee so you’ll need to be completely self-sufficient during your stay. Some campsites do have shower cubicles where you can hang your solar shower or fill up a bucket with your own water for a bucket shower.
- All of the camps are unfenced, be wary of roaming animals.
- No power supply at all camps.
- The last fuel stop is located at Nossob, if you coming from Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, or Sekoma if you enter via Botswana.
- Have your binoculars handy to view game on the bigger pans such as Mabua and Mpaya.
- There are no park officials or staff at the camps, staff for the park is based at the Gate on the eastern border.
For more Mabuasehube inspiration and to view our full experience in the reserve, check out my husband’s (Juba’s Journey) video below: