Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans National Park

The Makgadikgadi Pan is a huge so-called “salt pan” in the north-east of Botswana. This salt pan was created because the large Makgadikgadi lake, with an original surface area as large as Switzerland, completely dried up thousands of years ago. Makgadikgadi pan is one of the largest in the world, the area actually consists of a number of separate pans (Sua / Suwa, Ntwetwe and Nxai) of which Sua is the largest. The pans are vast dry plains with a kind of salt crust as the top layer. Grasses, acacias and the occasional beautiful thick Baobab grow on the edges of the pans. The Makgadikgadi and Nxai pans together form the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Park.

In the west of Ntwetwe you will find the 3900 square kilometer Makgadikgadi Game Reserve, most of the year there is no rain in this area which makes it very difficult for (larger) mammals to live here. However, in the wet season, large herds of zebras and wildebeests in particular travel across grasslands followed by hunters such as lions and hyenas. After rainfall you can also see tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of flamingos in the Nata Sanctuary which gives an impressive picture. When it rains heavily for a longer period of time, the surrounding rivers provide even more water for this otherwise dry area. The Makgadikgadi Game Reserve also includes kudu, gemsbok, giraffes, rooibok, springbok, moose and even elephants.

When you drive on the road between Maun and Nata, you actually drive through the Makgadikgadi Nxai Pan National Park. Many lodges in and around Nata and Maun offer excursions and safaris in this area. Most tourists choose not to drive in the park themselves, but to use the vehicles and guides from the local providers.

Those who visit the salt pans cannot really miss a visit to Kubu Island. This “island” of granite rocks is located in the south-west of the Soa pan and is truly a magical place in the midst of the extensive drought. On the island (about a kilometer long) a number of beautiful Baobab trees grow and this inspires both amateur and professional photographers. During sunrise and sunset you can shoot even better pictures than during the day. There is a “camping” on Kubu Island, but it has no facilities (no toilets, braai places, water or electricity), so you will have to bring everything yourself if you want to spend the night here, the real camping in Africa! Hordes of tourists you will not find what makes this a wonderfully quiet and inspiring place.

Note: all roads in the park are unpaved and only accessible with a 4×4 driven vehicle! When you drive through the pans yourself, always make sure you have enough water, food and fuel when you enter the park. You will also have to bring your own wood so that you can make a fire for lighting, heat and preparing meals. It is strongly recommended to drive at least two vehicles in convoy. Make sure you have a good map of the area since there is no signage.
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One of our customers documented his visit to Botswana in 2017:
– Nxai Pan:
– Kubu Island:
– Makgadikgadi Pans:

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