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Romance on the Makgadikgadi Pans

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Having worked in the travel industry for quite some time, I thought that planning my wedding photo shoot to the Makgadikgadi Pans would have been a piece of cake..… For someone like me, who likes planning, order and detailed itineraries,  I really made a hash of this day.

We had a limited time frame with our photographer, so we had to do the Makgadikgadi Pans photos the day after our wedding celebration, not a wise decision given our 3am bed time.  Following breakfast with family and friends, a sorry group of four of us set off for what turned into a very long day!

From Maun we headed out towards the Pans, not an easy route, taking many twists and turns along the way.  Stopping for a quick break at Green’s Baobabs 3 hours into our journey I realized that 2 bottles of water, a packet of biscuits and 4 fruit juices were not going to sustain our sorry selves for the day. After 6 months of wedding planning and pulling off an amazing wedding and reception the day before, how could I have forgotten to plan a packed lunch for us??  We were far from any civilization and heading deeper into nothingness.

We came to terms with our lack of sustenance and continued onto the magnificent Chapman’s Baobab for our first stop of photos. My husband and I did a quick wardrobe change back into our wedding clothes and then climbed right up into the ancient Baobab for our first set of photos. After a jammed packed 30minutes, in and out of the tree, we were really feeling the effects of a late night and the heat, but we soldiered on and continued onto the edge of Ntwetwe Pan.

As we got closer to the pans we realized that they weren’t as dry as they should have been at this time of year due to late rains! We had to be very careful of how we navigated to the edge of the pan – imagine trying to dig the car out of the clay pans in a wedding dress!! Once we had safely found our way onto the edge of Ntwetwe Pan our trooper of a photographer got right to work and let her imagination go wild! Another 45 minutes of photos and we were done – yes we had travelled 4.5 hours one way, for just over an hours worth of possible photos!

Packing gear, dress and ourselves back into the car we had a very long drive back to Maun ahead of us… It was in darkness that we navigated the last 200km tar road section dodging cattle, goats and the dangerous pot holes that sneak up on you. Reaching Makalamabedi Gate (and phone signal at last) we realized we hadn’t planned for dinner either!!  I made a quick phone call to order dinner to be waiting for us in Maun. On arrival we all scooped down our dinner and finally crawled into bed at 11pm…

Waiting on the photos was agonizing, I worried that we had wasted our time and had travelled 12 hours ‘just for photos’ that were nothing special. I still think we were completely mad to do it, but every time I open our wedding album I realize every moment of it was worth it!

Joanne Shacks