Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans

Very few places remain where you can gaze into a night sky that is so clear the stars seem to be painted, where you can stand in an area devoid of any landmarks and truly feel like you are the only person left on the planet but the surreal landscape of the Makgadikgadi salt pans is like nowhere else on Earth.

This may not be a destination for big-five list-tickers, but its alternative activities – including quad-biking, horse-riding, bushman walks and walking with endearing meerkats provide the perfect antidote to hours spent cooped up in a gameviewer.

The pans themselves lie just outside the Makgadikgadi Pans national park, which is separated from the smaller Nxai Pan national park by the road that leads to Maun. The wildlife is free to roam between all of these and during the rainy season, one of the country’s largest zebra migrations moves from the Boteti River in the west of the park to the edge of the pans in the east, attracting lions and other predators in its wake. There are plenty of lesser known species as well – brown hyenas, aardwolfs and even aardvarks can be spotted here if you are fortunate enough.

Nxai Pan is also home to the majestic Baines Baobabs, seven gigantic trees nestled on the edge of a stark pan adjacent to some of the country’s most impressive campsites. There is a single lodge on the other side of the park and a handful of others spread throughout the Makgadkigadi, which cover a range of budgets. Both parks are open to self-drives and mobiles but they tend to be even quieter than Botswana’s other reserves.


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