To the South East of the Okavango Delta, one finds the Magkadigkadi and Nxai Pan region, a stark, beautiful part of Botswana, which changes dramatically between the rainy and dry seasons. With very few camps in the area, it is ideal for truly wild exploring and adventures outside of the normal safari activities one would associate with Botswana. This is a truly magical area and one we would recommend including on any itinerary.
The whole area of the Magkadigkadi used to be a giant lake, which has now been reduced to a vast shimmering salt pan which supports very little life bar a few desert-adapted species and brown hyena that lurk around the fringes. The result is that this is an ideal place for enjoying a multitude of activities during the dry season, including quad bike adventures, sleepouts in the pans and trips to Kubu Island, only accessible by Quad Bike. You can also enjoy guided walks and trips to interact with the San Bushmen, all in the company of an expert guide, many of whom can be specifically hired for a day or more depending on your level of interest. Last but not least are the meerkats, whose semi-habituated colony can be visited in the mornings from a number of camps. Sharing the sunrise with them as they prepare for their day is just wonderful and their comic antics leave a warm glow as you head off to enjoy the rest of your day.
The rainy season transforms the pans and their surrounds, with grasses becoming lush and green, whilst the pans fill with water, leaving you with an idea of what the area looked like when it was a great lake. The zebra and wildebeest migration returns to the area and this is a spectacular sight, only trumped in size by East Africa's Great Migration. Flamingos can also be seen at this time of year, although their movements are very hard to predict and their stay can be short. Visits to the pans cannot be guaranteed during the rainy season owing to access is difficult, but it is still a time of year to be enjoyed.
Accommodation is limited to a small handful of luxury camps, of which the iconic Jack's Camp is the most famous, providing visitors with the most wonderful experience imaginable. More modest, but no less enjoyable options include Camp Kalahari and Nxai Pan camp, where guests get a fantastic feel for the region. Depending on the season, camps can also arrange for sleep-outs on the pans, a truly magical experience.
The pans are a wonderful and much under-visited part of Botswana, easy to include on any itinerary and with a wealth of activities and excursions to enjoy. They are ideally suited to families who want to include a different element to their trip having done the game viewing areas further to the North.
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"The Makgadikgadi Pan is one of the largest salt pans in the world covering an area uninhabited by humans, extending far into the horizon! However, when the rains come it turns into a powder blue lake, offering good wildlife viewing."
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