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The Makgadikgadi is one of the most incredible natural wonders of the world. Its mind-blowing beauty is matched only by its immense size. But don’t be fooled, this vast expanse of nothingness is very much alive! Most who know it are aware of the fragile harmony that exists between this arid monster and those who attempt to traverse it. A fine balance dictated by its temperamental seasonal moods. With the 2020 Makgadikgadi Moonlight Adventure fast approaching, it was important to pay the beautiful beast a visit and make sure it was keen to have us.   

Like every year, looking for the perfect place to host such an event is quite a challenge. It really is just like negotiating with a monster. You need real guts to take it on, especially with little or no connection to the outside world and no knowing what mood you’ll find it in! Will it be wet and hostile, or will it welcome us with dry, accessible roads? Will it offer up that ultimate white crust that we know makes this trip one-of-a-lifetime…

Will it be wet and hostile, or will it welcome us with dry, accessible roads? Will it offer up that ultimate white crust that we know makes this trip one-of-a-lifetime…

This is where Lola Berrie’s 2020 location scouting story begins. Read further and join the Extreme Events Co-Ordinator of Muddy Face Botswana, as she finds and reveals the Perfect Site for the 2020 event. 

Makgadikgadi moonlight adventure
Seaching for the perfect place

It really is just like negotiating with a monster!

Another location change? 

“Yes! It’s Ross and mine’s ambition to keep things exciting and fresh. Part of the adventure I suppose. Not to mention that changing locations allows for timely rehabilitation of the areas we so fondly tear-up during our 3-days of 2-wheel bliss. Like the article mentions at the start, every year we have to negotiate with a very unpredictable monster. While we search for the best locations, we are at its mercy and have to take what we get.”

How does it all start?

“Let’s start the way it starts for us. As the date draws closer, we hear the rumblings of a waking monster. Whispers from across Botswana of how the rains have been and stories from those who have dared to venture into its drooling wet mouth. Slowly we gather data about what parts are accessible and decide how we will finally approach our scouting adventure.”

kaitshe 2
Kaitshe Escarpment

One inaccessible area just guides us closer towards finding the ultimate place.

The negotiation!

“Sometimes, the monster just isn’t ready to talk. We enter the pans at a planned point and can simply go no further. It doesn’t mean the negotiation is over, it’s just the pan’s way of telling us there is a better place somewhere else. Well that’s the way I take it at least. One inaccessible area just guides us closer towards finding the ultimate place. To be honest, without sounding too cliché, it almost feels a little spiritual. Finding the perfect spot is almost inevitable in such an amazing landscape, but there is one thing the monster always insists on – that we bring a lively, happy, festive spirit with us and allow it to be part of our adrenalin-filled celebrations under the full moon. And, we always happily oblige.”

So where is it in 2020?

“As much as you are holding your breath in anticipation as you read this, so were we as we entered pans this year. Well, we’re super excited to say, we have found a new perfect site … once again in the Southern part of the Salt Pans. It is not exactly the same location as the 2019 site, but fairly close. The point to head to on Google Maps is MOKUBILO FILLING STATION, the rest of the way will be marked with orange day glows to help you get to the exact site. 

A 6 Year Old Traversing Across The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans 

Mark it in your calendar, enter it in your GPS, put in your leave, WE’RE GOING MOONLIGHT RIDING BABY!

So, what makes this site special? 

“As you already know, it has to have a pan area of approximately 30km squared dry enough to ride and drive on. And secondly, it has to have that desired “white crust” to show the moon’s reflection. These are the two most important factors we consider when looking for the perfect site and this site has that for sure. The other consideration is to make sure that the road to the pan is not too tough. We need to transport equipment to the event and we want our guests to enjoy the experience of getting there. Your drive there should be as pleasant as the event itself.”

So, does one need a 4×4 this year?

You will be happy to hear that to get to this year’s Moonlight site, you DO NOT need a 4×4. However, if you want to visit any of the trails, you’ll definitely need a 4×4, some driving skill wouldn’t hurt, and should be prepared for quite an awesome and adventurous trek.

How far is the site from the major city centres of Botswana? 

The site is 130km from Francistown off the Orapa Road. 660km from Gaborone coming through Serowe and Letlhakane. From Maun, it is 450km, and from Kasane 470km. Your last fuel stop is at Mokubilo Filling Station and this is where you should fill your jerry cans with fuel and buy any last minute cool drinks and ice for the weekend. There should also be firewood for sale at the station. PS: We also recommend you leave your worries and stresses there to make room for the happiness and good times we got waiting for you at the site.  

Makgadikgadi moonlight

What do we love about the 2020 site? 

“The answer here should be a short one – it’s the Makgadikgadi. But, that maybe doesn’t cut it for those of you travelling from afar. So here goes! I want to start with the saying: Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself. That is so true for the Makgadikgadi. Standing in this location when we found it, was a deep connection with nature – so empowering. Then when you add a couple of 2-wheel machines, throw in some premix or straight gas, whichever you prefer, twist the throttle and just head off for miles in any direction, you have the making of yet another perfect site.”

Something more to sweeten the deal. 

“The reason the site felt so empowering to us, was that it forms part of the Makgadikgadi Heritage Trail which dates back to AD1000. So the ancestors will certainly be dancing to our nightly drum beats. There is also loads of birdlife around the corner for those who want to venture out for a little bird spotting. AND, for those wildlife lovers, you can hear the laughs of distant hyena and track the spoor of a heard of bull elephants that regularly cross this part of the pans.”

Now you know where, you already know when, and you definitely know what it’s all about. No excuses – see you there!!!!

Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.

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