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Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pan Region

About Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pan Region

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.

For more information, why not speak to one of our experts on +44 (0) 20 7843 3500 or email info@africatravel.co.uk

Experiences

  • Visit the colonies of semi-habituated meerkats at sunrise and observe their fascinating behaviour as they ready themselves for the day ahead.
  • Interact with the San Bushmen people, whose way of life has barely changed over the last few hundred years.
  • Enjoy the stark, beautiful views out across the flat, white salt pans, which also offer stunning photography opportunities at sunrise and sunset.
  • Day trips out to Baines's Baobabs can be enjoyed, these seven baobab trees are one of Botswana's iconic sights and an interesting day trip.
  • Animals concentrate around the water holes during the dry seasons and this makes for some fascinating interactions, especially between lions and their prey.

Wildlife

  • Zebra, wildebeest, brown hyena, meerkats and lions

Seasons

  • November to March - The rainy season often makes access to the pans impossible, but the region is still worth visiting. The lush green grasses bring the zebra and wildebeest migration into the area, as well as offering the chance to see the elusive brown hyena. The pans sometimes fill with water giving you an impression of the great lake that once existed there
  • April to October - The dry (and very warm) season is perfect for a multitude of activities, whilst game viewing is limited. Meerkats can be visited and brown hyena is found prowling around the fringes of the pans. Quad biking trips, guided walks, horseriding and sleepouts are all available in the dry season and it is a spectacular time to visit the pans

In The Know

    • Quad biking tours, including two nights camping on Kubu Island, can be enjoyed from some lodges, a truly magical experience, especially for families
    • Specialist guides such as Ralph Bousfield can be hired for a day or two. He is an expert on the Kalahari, The Pans and the local Bushmen and is fascinating to spend a day with learning about the area
    • Plan your time to travel carefully, especially if you want to see the saltpans themselves, they are inaccessible during the rainy season
    • The zebra and wildebeest migration that passes through the pans is the second largest of its kind in the world and a spectacular sight
    • Plan a night sleeping out under the stars - it feels like you are spending a night on the moon in this stark, beautiful landscape.

Africa Travel Latest

"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."

Eleanor Govender Sales Advisor, Cape Town

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