Kaa Kalahari Concession Area – Hukuntsi, Ukwi, Ngwatle, Nkang, Manong, Zutshwa and Masetleng Pan
Traveling in the Kaa concession area
Although many have traveled the Kaa Concession area alone, due to the remoteness of the area it is better to travel with another vehicle in case of emergency. A 2X4 with a diff lock should manage on the “main” roads in the area. A “soft” 4×4 (all wheel drive like a Subaru) will manage, although the ground clearance will be an issue in some sections of the road, slowing you down considerably. Generally the sand in the Kalahari is a lot easier to drive on than beach sand.
When traveling between Ukwi and Hukuntsi use either the road via Ngwatle and then either via Manong, or via Zutshwa. The road that goes directly from Ngwatle to Hukuntsi is 80 km of sand. The quickest way to travel from Ukwi to Hukuntsi is to go via Ngwatle and then Manong. The road is rough gravel but you can travel a comfortable 70km per hour. There is a stretch of about 10km or so of thick sand, that is quite bad, as you leave Ukwi. The only place you can get fuel is in Hukuntsi just as you leave town towards Kang, on the right hand side, 1 KM from the 4 way stop. So – make sure you carry extra fuel when traveling the area. If there is no fuel in Hukuntsi, the next nearest reliable fuel source is Kang, 110 km away!
Cell phone coverage in the Kaa concession area
The only cell phone provider that gives any form of cell phone coverage to the villages in the area is B Mobile. If you plan on using roaming find out which network (B Mobile, Orange or Mascom) your phone will be using when in Bostwana. If you are thinking of getting a sim card for Botswana, make sure you get one for the B Mobile network if you are going to travel in the Kaa area. The other providers, Orange and Mascom only offer coverage in Hukuntsi.
Camping in the in the Kaa concession area
Although camping is only permitted in designated camping areas, due to the remoteness of the area you can basically pull off the road anywhere and camp overnight with out seeing another soul. Having said that, the small amount you pay to camp at the “designated” camping area does provide something for the local community and gives you peace of mind that you are “playing by the rules”.
Inquire at any of the villages where the best place to camp would be. The villagers at Ukwi are particularly fussy that you introduce yourself to the Nkosi (village chief) if you plan on stopping in their area. If you intend camping in the Kaa area you will need to bring everything – there is absolutely nothing except wilderness, even at the designated camping areas.
Camping at Masetleng Pan
Masetleng Pan is about as remote as you can get in the area. Getting there involves 28 odd Kms of nothing more than a sand track through the bush. Unless you have a 4X4 with low range, make sure you travel with another vehicle. If you are coming from Ukwi you will find the turn off to Masetleng Pan just after you turn towards Ngwatle and not at the intersection as shown on some maps. The track is sign posted, but as you can see from the picture, it is seldom used. Make sure you have a GPS. The road to the pan from Ngwatle is clearly sign posted and is found close to the main intersection. Ask at Ngwatle about paying for the privilege of camping at the pan.