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Iain Wallace visits Deception Valley in the wild and immense Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and learns survival skills from Bushman trackers
Two Naro Bushmen dig up an ostrich egg they had filled with water and buried to keep it cool.
ARIADNE VAN ZANDBERGEN

Once upon a time there was a mighty river, slap bang in the middle of Botswana. Millions of years ago, it may have flowed into what is now the glittering salt pans of the Makgadikgadi, but today, save for a few old maps, there is very little sign of any water course.

In fact, there is not a single drop of flowing water. All that remains is a valley of blue-clay soil, which, together with the searing heat of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, creates the impression of a lake. Yes, it’s all a mirage; welcome to Deception Valley.

The illusion can be very real and it must have been heartbreaking for weary travellers arriving for a much-needed drink only to discover nothing before their blistering eyelids but blue-grey clay. The deception is most noticeable from the air, and even today there’s many a seasoned pilot who has been taken in by the effect.

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About Travel Africa

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