Sua Pan Story

The time we got stuck in a Botswana pan, Sua Pan, for 2 days….

We were driving from Nata to Kubu Island, it’s a dirt road as you see many in Africa. The road is about 3km west of the pan. At some point you can also drive along the pan, which we did, at this time of the year it’s still pretty safe.

Along the way we saw an abandoned truck rear cabin, it looked like a whole truck was in the ground from afar, we decided to go check it out, it was about 50 meters from the edge of the pan, the pan looked very dry. We got there and thought wow this person was stuck bad, had to remove the cabin to leave and we looked at the hole he digged to get out…impressive. Little did we know we had a similar experience coming.

When we try to reverse to go back to the edge of the pan, the car didn’t move, oh shit. Put the all wheels drive on… Car doesn’t move, it’s starts to dig in… Wow we are stuck.

Got off the car and saw that under the dry surface there’s a lot of humidity and mud. We try some other maneuvers but there’s no way that the truck is not moving.



We are getting deeper into the mud, it’s 11am, we need to find another solution, there were trees about 1.5km away from where we were, trees is traction, exactly what we need, we went out there to cut some wood and bring it back to the pickup, it was very hot, the sun is strong and there’s not a single cloud around.

Luckily we were preparing to go far into the Central Kalahari after the trip to Kubu Island so we had plenty of water, food and diesel to keep the fridge cold and the a/c on.

The bad parts was we didn’t have proper tools, a simple original truck jack, a small ax and a small shovel.

We tried to put the trees under the wheels, it was pretty hard since the mud doesn’t hold the pressure of the car on the jack. We did the best we could but the car wouldn’t move, we were tired and it was time to get some food and sleep, we didn’t feel like putting up the tents so we slept in the car.

The next morning we woke up hopeful to do a better job and get out of there.

We digged and digged, the mud is sticky and annoying, lifted the car on some rooftop bars we removed and put underneath the jack, we were able to lift the rear wheels and put some wood under the wheels. It was time to see if our improvements would work.



The car finally moved but it was far from enough to get out of that hole, we adjusted some of the wood and tried again, no way José. This was a hard blow for the moral.

Here’s a video of our hopeful attempt:

We are stuck good, we need help. It’s about 10am the sun is getting hot, my dad decides to walk to the “main” road about 3km away to wait for one of the few cars and get some help.

This is the “main road”:



After getting there he saw a guy in the distance, it was a local cowboy, riding his horse and also had some donkeys, that guy stayed with him while he waited for a car to drive by. Finally some guys from South Africa on their way to Kubu Island stopped and brought him to the nearest cattle post. The cowboy came to me and told me about it, it was a bit of a relief, we saw some hyenas the night before we never know what can happen when you walk in places like that,  with the heat, the wildlife who knows…



At the cattle post, a group of guys were just about to leave in their pickup. After some talking they said we were in their community and they would come help for sure. (for a fee). Those guys were pretty funny.

There was 4 of them plus the cowboy who also helped a lot, with some “better” tools and a lot more wood. They arrived around 3pm, after 3 attempts they couldn’t get the car out… We were a little bit worried and disappointed but they kept going and kept saying not to worry we would be out of there this evening. All the while they were drinking some homemade alcohol (Chibuku Shake Shake), they probably had 15 liters of that stuff , they also smoked some herbs that seemed to have a buzz. It looked like the drunker they got the better they worked, so much so that the sun went down but they kept going and finally at 8pm they took the car out, what a relief.






The crew left, we installed our tents and had supper, the cowboy stayed there with us and enjoyed a meal and a tent, he usually just sleeps outside. Next thing you know, after supper, we saw car lights coming far away, it was the crew, they came back, but why, they were lost hahaha, they were drunk as hell, cold, but still very entertaining and funny. We explained them many times, how to get to the main road and off they went, not before having about of 4 liters of grey water from our cooler that we told them not to drink! Hopefully they found their way.

We slept there and came back to Nata the next morning to take the day off. What an encounter and adventure.



A drone view of the situation: