Visit Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pans National Park, and check off a visit to the largest individual salt pan on Planet Earth.
Found in the central northeast of Botswana, Makgadikgadi Pan and Nxai Pan are large salt-pans which border the savanna and grasslands of the northern Kalahari Desert region. Known for the desolate open landscapes, with vast vistas and huge skies, the Makgadikgadi Pan and Nxai Pan National Park provides a surprisingly wide variety of wilderness experiences and activities. Home to a diverse host of game and predator species adapted to survival in this forbidding landscape, this park offers a genuine departure from the typical bush safari experiences found elsewhere in Africa’s Eden. An iconic feature of the Makgadikgadi Pan and Nxai Pan National Park is the ancient baobab tree. The park contains some of the oldest examples of this aged species anywhere in the region. Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pans National Park is accessible by road – preferably 4×4 – from Kasane (via Nata) and Maun, and by air to Maun, with light aircraft transfers to some camps. A day’s journey from Livingstone and Victoria Falls, Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pans National Park offer compelling and varied experiences for a visit to Africa’s Eden.
With a dry season stretching from May to October, daytime temperatures reach mid- to high-twenties, and nighttime temperatures can be low, sometimes sub-zero in July and August. The dry season is an excellent time to witness the second largest migration of zebra and wildebeest in Africa as they make their way from the Okavango Delta. Rains fall during the summer wet season in sudden and intense downpours, usually starting in November and sporadically running through to April. These rains accompany higher temperatures, which can reach 40°C during November and December. Rainfall brings the grassland and savanna landscape back to life, with flowers blooming and grasses rapidly thickening.
During any wet season, the amount of rain can vary tremendously, determining the extent of surface water that accumulates on the salt pans. Larger volumes of rain can result in limited access to certain parts of the park, especially some of the remote islands that include stunning clusters of baobab trees. These locations are truly unique, and if access is possible, are an absolute must-see part of any trip to the pans.