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Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans

The Greater Makgadikgadi includes two parks – the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP) and Nxai Pan National Park. Both are physically and ecologically connected and are part of the “Kalahari Desert,” being very dry for most of the year. The Makgadikgadi Pans are the largest salt pans in the world. Visible from space, it is a former “super-lake” that dried up due to changing climatic and geographical conditions. The deepest parts of the lake are now completely barren, moon-like salt flats, devoid of visible life – supporting no vegetation at all.

Parts of this salt pan system are surprisingly full of life, and fortunately have been protected in the form of National Parks with infrastructure – including private, remote campsites. Desert adapted antelope like springbok and gemsbok (oryx) occur in good numbers as well as decent populations of giraffe, elephants and other general game. Predators too are generally thriving in the well protected core areas of these parks.

We like this region because it remains largely untouched and provides intrepid visitors with adventure, unique wildlife sightings and even more unique landscapes.

The salt pans and the seasons

During the rainy season (November to March), the salt-saturated clay pans fill with rain water, and the grasses at the edge grow sweet and lush. This attracts thousands of zebra and wildebeest during their annual migration. To be sure of seeing this “migration,” it would be best to locate a mobile camp on the Eastern side of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP) during these months.This is where the zebra should be, however their movements vary year-to-year and month-to-month depending on the amount of rain. Once the rains are over and the water in the pans has dried up, the migration heads West, back to the Boteti River. The number of zebra on the Boteti usually reaches a peak between June and October. This is when we would recommend a mobile camp in the West of the MPNP

The arrival of the rains (November – March) can make the salt pans almost inaccessible, but we can mostly access our private campsites all year. An influx of incredible birdlife, blooming flowers and a general explosion of life accompanies the rain in these desert ecosystems. The dry season (May – October) brings changes, but we  still know where and how to unearth the secrets of the salt pans.

Nxai Pan National Park Experiences

  • Small park with great private campsites
  • Often underrated, but surprisingly productive
  • Waterhole game viewing for most of the year when the park is very dry
  • Large desert elephants can be seen here
  • Resident pride of lions hang out near the waterhole as well as cheetah, leopard and occasionally, wild dog.
  • This is where you can see the famous Baine’s Baobabs
  • Zebra migration arrives here during first rains (December) and depart usually by around April.
  • Exploration mobile safaris through the pans
  • Spot the elusive brown hyena

Makgadikgadi Pan National Park Experiences

To do in Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans

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