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Makgadikgadi and Nxai Salt Pans

Makgadikgadi and Nxai Salt Pans

There was once a vast lake in north-eastern Botswana. The salt pans are what’s left of it today. It’s flat and featureless for the most part, yet this doesn’t really sum it up at all. In the dry season the dirty white salt-encrusted land is quite mesmerising in its nothingness, especially at sunrise and sunset, and even nights are special with nothing to distract you from the full intensity of the starry African skies. Ntwetwe Pan and the smaller Sua Pan are the two most spectacular salt pans, and most of the region’s camps are on or near Ntwetwe Pan. Sua Pan is where you find Kubu Island with its strangely-shaped baobab trees, the many fossils and archaeological remains (which show of), testament to the islands use for very early human habitation – including a circular stone wall. It is a magical place to visit but takes several days by quad bike from the camps at Ntwetwe. Over in the far north east of Sua Pan, is Nata Bird Sanctuary. This is an award-winning community conservation project, and when there is water in the pans, thousands of flamingos, pelicans, ducks and geese congregate here.

Don’t come to Makgadikgadi expecting large herds of animals unless you are here after the summer rains (around late December/January to the end of March, sometimes into April) when Africa’s second largest zebra migration brings about 20,000 zebra and wildebeest through this region to enjoy the new grasses on the rain-filled pans. That is quite a spectacle, and the predators tag along too of course! Huge numbers of flamingos can also be found here. This is a great time for wildlife viewing on the Pans. In the dry season wildlife is found, albeit in much small numbers. One of the cutest creatures you’ll find here are the meerkats. There about 3 groups which have been habituated to humans, and meeting the meerkats is a wonderful experience. Rare brown hyenas are also found as residents here, as well as aardvarks, mongooses, ostriches, and reptiles.

Safari activities in the Makgadikgadi, Nxai and Boteti

  • Sleep under the stars on the pans (from Jacks CampSan CampCamp KalahariMeno a Kwena) – not in rainy season
  • Cultural walks with the Basarwa people (from Meno a KwenaCamp KalahariJack’s Camp & San Camp)
  • Follow the migration
  • Meeting meerkats (from Camp KalahariJack’s Camp & San Camp) – easiest in dry season. This is one of the few places in the world where you can get really close to these incredible animals.
  • Experiencing the Boteti River, including the ‘eye-level’ hide at Meno a Kwena
  • Day and night game drives
  • A chance to see white rhinos (Leroo la Tau)
  • Experience the wildlife viewing at the dry season waterholes of Nxai Pan
  • Exciting horseback safaris
  • Visit the famous Baines’, Chapman’s and Green’s Baobabs
  • Walking safaris
  • Visiting a traditional cattlepost
  • Birding, including visiting Nata Bird Sanctuary
  • Quad bike on the pans (from Camp Kalahari, Jack’s Camp & San Camp)  Please note that helmets are now provided by these lodges, but they don’t actively encourage you to wear them. Be aware that NOT wearing a helmet negates your travel insurance. Without a helmet, if you have an accident you will not be covered at all. Please wear a helmet.  

Makgadikgadi and Nxai Salt Pan safari holidays

Below you will find some Makgadikgadi and Nxai Salt Pan safari itineraries that we’ve put together as recommended suggestions. You might find one of these is perfect for your needs as we’ve put a lot of thought into including some wonderful experiences in each of these safaris, and we really love what they offer. However, if none of these quite fit the bill for you, do call us and let us know what you’d like. We ready to help you plan your perfect Botswana safari holiday..

Lion Safari

Prices from £2,225 pp for 16 days
(exc. flights)

A great value, semi-participation mobile safari adventure covering a number of Botswana’s highlights, and the Victoria Falls.

Delta & the Pans Safari

Prices from £5,305 pp for 11 days
(exc. flights)

This adventure covers the best bits of Botswana, staying in remote locations and lovely camps.

Places to Stay

Makgadikgadi and Nxai Salt Pans has a host of different types and levels of accommodation, so there is something to suit all tastes and budgets.