Makgadikgadi / Nxai Pans

Makgadikgadi Desert


The Makgadikgadi is a place of wide-open, uninhabited spaces under an endless canopy of blue sky. The remoteness, inaccessibility, and danger of the pans all add to their allure. It is a vast expanse filled with subtle hues and surreal beauty. Almost the size of Portugal, the pan covers 12 000 square kilometers and is the largest saltpan in the world.

The pan is only a portion of what used to be one of the largest inland lakes in Africa. In September large herds of antelope, zebra and wildebeest roam the dusty plains awaiting the first rains. On their arrival the waters turn the pans into a perfect mirror of the sky, distorting all sense of place and time. Although these rains are short lived, in December another deluge turns the edges of the vast pans into waving fringes of green grassland.

It is here that herds of wildlife converge to partake in the bounty. Flocks of birds arrive to build their nests along the shoreline of the Nata River, in Sua Pan, and feed on algae and crustaceans that have been lying dormant in the salt and sand. Thanks to an elevated wooden hide, which is a beautiful vantage point, you will have the best possible views of the pans. If there is water in the pan thousands of flamingoes, ducks, geese and pelicans are to be seen. It's a sight to behold!

Nxai Pan National park is set on the northern fringe of the Makgadikgadi basin and includes Nxai Pan, an ancient lakebed that was once part of the ancient lake Makgadikgadi. In 1992 Nxai Pan National Park was declared a national park and enlarged to an area of 2578 square kilometers, which includes Baines' Baobabs. These 7 impressive baobabs, originally known as the Sleeping Sisters, were immortalised for posterity by the artist/adventurer Thomas Baines. An outing to the incredible ‘Baines' Baobabs’ in the Nxai Pans, will certainly be one of the highlights of your safari.

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