Bespoke tours in Southern Africa

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Northeast of Africa’s Kalahari Desert and southeast of the Okavango Delta, lies one of the largest salt pans in the world, with an unearthly beauty. It was once the site of one of the largest inland seas on Earth, that dried up thousands of years ago. The collection of salt flats covers roughly 30,000 square kilometres (10,000 square miles) amidst desert and dry savanna in Botswana. Located in Makgadikgadi National Park and Nxai Pan National Park, the salt pans are rivalled in extent only by the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. 

For much of the year, the salt pans glimmer in white. They are flat and arid, parched by the sun and the salt, and allowing little more than algae to grow. But during the rainy season (roughly November to March), the area can be transformed into a crucial wetland. Water can flow in from the Boteti and Nata rivers, filling ephemeral ponds, watering holes, and shallow lakes and creating short-lived but abundant grasslands. The pans are then home to the second largest zebra migration in the world. The event draws from the Okavango migrating wildebeest and zebras (up to 25,000 zebras!), as well as the predators that hunt them. The waters fill with ducks, geese, pelicans, and flamingos—one of just two breeding spots in southern Africa for the long-legged birds.

Several suricates (also called meerkats) colonies there are now semi-habituated to humans, after researchers studied them for many years. Excursions from nearby lodges often include a visit to such a colony, learning more about their behaviour. The best time to observe them is early morning, while it is still cold enough and they spend some time out of their burrows. Another popular activity in the area, offered only during the dry season, is riding a quad bike, discovering the vast and endless plains of the Makgadikgadi Pans. For the more adventurous, spending a night camping there is a great way to experience the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere!



Tours visiting Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

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