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Veronica and Malcom's Great Makgadikgadi Pan Adventure
article We have just returned from another Makgadikgadi Pans adventure!

I spend quite a bit of time away from my home at Kwa Nokeng these days, and it was a welcome site to be greeted by our resident hippo in front of my house when I walked out of the front door and onto the lawn overlooking the Limpopo River!
Written by Clinton van Vuuren
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Andrew Katay the man behind Katay Racing brought a few riders along and decided to explore the roads of the Tuli before our adventure actually started, they stopped over at my good friend Irma Herbst’s filling station in the small village of Lerala. Irma and her husband Soon are keen Harley fans and are equally passionate about Botswana. Enter Mr. Malcolm from Gauteng, for some reason Malcolm is drawn to these lovely white thorns we have in Botswana!
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There is this really fast section under some power lines that proved too much for Vernon, and he opted to trade his bike for a bicycle, this was not a good decision as Vernon is now known as Veronica! Andrew was very concerned that Malcolm’s love for the thorn will cause him harm and asked me to help, so I called in the services of the Dinyonane traditional dancers to bless our journey into the great Makgadikgadi Pans!
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After filling at Kwa Nokeng at 07h00 on Thursday morning we were on the road and made good time, turning off at Matsumo village some 380km’s from Kwa Nokeng around 11h00. Before long we were on the Pans and made our way to Kubu Island for lunch, we had some mechanical problems with some bikes front wheels, so the guys decided to ride on the back wheel up to Kubu he he!
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Logistics!! At 20h00 on Wednesday at Kwa Nokeng, Shumie phoned from Gweta to announce that the Shell Filling Station at Gweta closed down and we will not be able to refuel there in two days time. We quickly took one of our Kwa Nokeng Oil delivery trailers and loaded close to 800L of the precious liquid for the trip. Alan Willcocks and crew joined our adventure in this awesome Polaris vehicle. It has tents, a fridge, a ice machine, and enough fuel and water on board to be self sufficient for 4 days.
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Being in this vehicle does not mean you get away without a scratch or two though! After a quick lunch at Kubu we made our way past Tswagong Vet Gate and onto our bivouac, it was in one of the thicker sections where Malcolm decided to say hello to a huge thorn bush, he overstayed his welcome and the thorns pulled him off his bike and he bought some proper Real Estate, the price.... one collarbone please! Note the broken bone on the left shoulder.
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Bertus our traditional healer of Outdoor Medical was on the scene to give some morphine to little old Malcolm, check out the expression! Off road adventure riders cares about their bikes a lot, note how everyone is looking at the bike behind broken Malcolm to see if it’s ok!
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Outdoor Medical walks the walk, and before long Malcolm was grinning from ear to ear in the climate controlled 4x4 ambulance of Bertus! We arrived at our bivouac just before sunset to find Shumie waiting for us with the camp set up, showers ready and lots of cold beverage, not too mentioned Shumie’s famous Oxtail dinner!
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We decided to move the tents further apart this year to keep the snoring guys from waking the entire camp, it did not work! Bertus told Malcolm to find something flat to lie on, for the rest of the evening.... the expression says it all! Note the pieces of wood under the legs, it keeps the Tokolosh away says Malcolm! Check his concerned friends in the background.
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Let it be known that Malcolm is 6 foot something and has muscles all over the place, I think Veronica used this opportunity to confess to an immobilised Malcolm that he used to date his sister! The next morning we headed towards Gweta passing by Chapman’s and Greens baobab’s. John Hammond taking in the open spaces that only this area can offer!
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Jason Mac Neill doing his thing here! The open savannah areas are lovely and one has to remind yourself to keep your eyes on the track, John Bredenkamp and Leenert Steenkamp doing what they love most!
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There is this really thick sand section of about 8km’s just before Gweta and there is only one way to ride it, you have to stand up and open up. If you don’t, you are forced to assume “the Flamingo coming in to land on runway 4 style”, as illustrated be Leenert below. I felt sorry for Leenert he looked like an Eskimo that witnessed his first sand storm when he got to the sand, he hung in there though and completed the entire adventure on his bike!
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I love being a Motswana, every time I travel through my country I see something that makes me proud of being one! We took Malcolm to the local clinic in Gweta for a once over, the friendly and efficient staff did an x-ray scan of his collarbone, gave him some more muti, the place was spotless and rivals most private hospitals! After a lovely lunch at Gweta Lodge we made our way back through some more thick sand and arrived at our bivouac well before sunset, this allowed us to take out some toys and play! These radio controlled petrol driven cars are wicked, powered by a 26cc weed eater two stroke machine they race across the pan at close to 80 km/h, Frikkie Kruger (to my left) introduced me to this sport a while ago and I must say I may have found something to do when I am too old to ride my bike one day! He is also a master at flying model planes, me not so much I have that middle ear thing going, and I don’t know which side is up!
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Terry of Gweta Lodge loaned us a three wheeled kite buggy, but there was no wind on our last night so I asked our camp guy Godfrey to provide some momentum but it did not quite work, it’s nice to pretend though! The sunsets over the pans are unreal, Bertus says that every time you come to the pans it keeps a small piece of your soul behind, forcing you to return again and again, the only problem is that it takes a little more every time you come here! Nico Schmulian leaving a little bit behind.
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Once the sun sets, the night sky is filled with stars that you will only see again if you fall like Malcolm, it’s awesome to lie in our Kwa Nokeng hammock and take in the night. Be warned though if you stare for too long you will start missing friends and family that you haven’t met yet! Here is Veronica missing Malcolm’s sister. The next morning we were gone, a quick ride over the pans making our way toward Tchai Vet gate and then onto Orapa.
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The day was not without incident with Neil one of the Polaris crew hurting his melon, he claims he jumped into the roll bar, hitting his head on a bolt when they drove over a bump, I heard that he got poked with a cattle prod from Alan for not passing the ice quick enough, this is what made him jump and hit his head! Our Medic Rudi taking care of business!
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John Hammond had a three day puncture on his bike that he kept nursing along the adventure, this is what it’s all about, keep the bike running for as long as you can, pull over and make a plan. I lost count of the plugs in that front tyre but it was well over 6, the tyre lasted the entire 450km route. Some of you may remember that in one of my previous stories I wrote about this little settlement on the edge of the pans were we stopped and found a child with a burnt and infected ear, her mother poured cooking oil into her ear to get an insect out, needless to say the hot oil damaged her ear quite badly causing an infection and high fever, Bertus took care of the ear and gave the mother a course of antibiotics for the child. We stopped by the village and I am happy to report that the child is currently in school at Gweta and is doing well. Outdoor medical brought some fly traps to keep the insects at bay. The family was very happy to receive the traps!
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We had a great time on our Patti Pan adventure, our next one is in August so put in sick leave, lie to the wife but get on board the Patti Pan train!! For bookings please contact Celia of Bike Bookings at info@bikebookings.com. I will leave you with this photo of Veronica showing Malcolm how to eat crisps with two hands. And the feeling you get when you come ride with us, or maybe he is just checking if he flossed correctly!

Kwa Nokeng Greetings
Clinton van Vuuren
MANAGING DIRECTOR
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