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Introduction To Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is a unique safari destination in Africa, and one of Botswana’s offbeat and contrasting park when compared to the popular Moremi in Okavango Delta or Chobe. It is located south-east of the Okavango Delta within the Kalahari Desert ecosystem. The Makgadikgadi Pans are salt pans that approximately cover an area of 12000 sq. km, a remnant of the famous and ancient Lake Makgadikgadi that was once larger than Switzerland drying up thousands of years ago. Today, the Makgadikgadi National Park boundary measures up to around 3900 sq. km stretching up from the western end of its extensive grasslands and acacia woodland to the northern boundary where it meets up Nxai Pan National Park, divided only by the Nata- Maun Road. The ancient lake reduced in size as a result of geologic processes, which were assumed as a result of warping and tectonic activities. These had caused the lake to form large and small shorelines progressively that gave beauty to the pans. The park gets water mainly from the Nata, Tutume, Semowane and Mosetse Rivers in the east with a small amount from the western Boteti River outflow sourced from the Okavango Delta. The Makgadikgadi is not a one large pan; it is composed of many pans that dotted the whole of the area bordered from each other within its arid desert i.e. Sowa to the east, Nwetwe to the west followed by Nxai, Baines’s Baobabs and Kudiakam Pans – all being part of the complete Makgadikgadi Pan ecosystem. The pans are dry for the most part of the year, and they form a layer of salty clay that gets hardened by the sun’s heat during the dry season. The pans occasionally get watered during the rainy season that transforms these pans into excellent habitat for wildlife. As one of the largest salt flats in the world, Makgadikgadi Pans was recognized as a game reserve in 1970. In 1992, it was declared a national park and its coverage was extended.

Flora & Fauna Experiences Of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

This Africa safari park in Botswana known as Makgadikgadi literally infers as one vast open dead land. Its African safari experiences offers stark nature viewing that is striking and contrasting when compared to the Okavango Delta. Even though Makgadikgadi Pans are termed as dead lands, it boasts of a diverse ecosystem that houses palm groves and Baobab trees coupled with the dynamic changing of seasons from dry to wet resulting to a migratory wildlife annual coordination. The pans when dry form a layer of salty clay that occasionally gets watered during the rainy season transforming them into excellent seasonal habitat for wildlife. Most of the park is composed of riverine woodland, grassland and scrubland, a unique and harmonizing destination that could be one of the best safaris in Africa that you can experience when compared to mainstream Africa safari experiences. The Makgadikgadi National Park is home to a variety of wildlife like genet, caracal, lion, impala, zebra, wildebeest, jackal, bushbuck, cheetah, leopard, brown and spotted hyena, kudu, porcupine, to name but a few. There is also the possibility of seeing the rare white rhinoceros. There are also tortoises, snakes, lizards, rock monitor and spiny agamas that roam the wilderness and give visitors an unforgettable African safari viewing by focusing and appreciating smaller wildlife behaviors in complete seclusion. The Makgadikgadi meerkats are illustrious for their curiosity, and visitors may be able to get up, close and person with them. During your Makgadikgadi Pans safari, you will encounter an abundance of birds of different species such as white-backed and lappet-faced vultures, martial eagles, bateleur, snake eagles, lanner and red-footed falcons, gabar, goshawks, red-billed and orange river francolin, ostrich, guinea fowl, secretary bird, korhaan, kori bustard, crowned plover and many more.

When To Visit Makgadikgadi Pans National Park For Your African Safari In Botswana

A Makgadikgadi Pans visit is best in both seasons depending on your preference of activities and interests i.e. scenic pans vs wildlife viewing. From a wildlife perspective, the wet summer season from November to April allows you the possibility to experience the spectacular migration of zebra and wildebeest – the second biggest in Africa, and the last remaining in Southern Africa. Visiting the pans during the wet season is not available and subject to accessibility in between seasons. The dry winter season runs from May to October offering the best time to visit salty Makgadikgadi Pans as they start to dry out. The focus is on activities such as quad biking across the lunar expanse of the pans, heading out on the pans as the sun sets and watch the planetarium show unfold with horizon-to-horizon stars – these activities are experienced during the dry winter season. The wildlife migrate towards the Boteti River in search for water and better pasture as the salt pans start to dry out thus wildlife viewing is limited during the dry winter season. Resident desert habituated wildlife remain e.g. meerkats, ground squirrel, steenbok, honey badger, wildcat, caracal, genet, spring hare, jackal, kudu, aardwolf, mongoose etc. Wet summer season is good for game viewing, although animals are also roaming the vast area as water is available everywhere during this time of the year. The wet season is abundant time to enjoy the birding and the robustness of the pans. One of the attractions of a Botswana safari in Makgadikgadi Pans is the view of the pink color of the Sowa Pan due to the presence of over 30000 flamingoes breeding on the pan taking your breath away. This is only accessible on a private aerial safari as road are not accessible. The pans are exploding with herds of animals in the wet season including predators such as spotted and brown hyena, cheetah, lion and leopard. Once the wet season sets, your heavenly Africa safari in Makgadikgadi is great for birdlife. You can encounter sandpipers, greenshank, stilts, ruffs, pratincoles, storks, egrets, cranes, lesser and greater flamingos, terns, teals, spoonbills, ibis, Montagu's snake, steppe, eagles, lesser and rock kestrel, swallows and many more, They look like nature’s designer decors spread all above and among the luscious grasslands of the pan. Many animals are drawn in by the sheer robustness and greens of the lands resulting to an eventful African ornithological safari viewing.

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park Activities During Your Safari In Botswana

Your Botswana safari in Makgadikgadi Pans is not limited to the standard year round game drives only. You will also experience a cultural twist by walking with the native Zu/’hoasi Bushmen Trackers, encounter the sweet meerkats very up close and personal, enjoy quad-biking the pans (subject to season) and the greater expanse of the desert that seems endless, visit archaeological and historical sites such as Chapman’s Baobab, campsite of Livingstone and Selous etc. Your Makgadikgadi Pans safari lets you experience a rare ecosystem during your Africa safari in Botswana. You are treated to unique scenery, wildlife and a fascinating ecosystem exhibition like no other. Traversing around the captivating wilds of Makgadikgadi with its many pans gives you the feeling of crisscrossing the birth of nature at the start of time. It is almost like you want to tiptoe not to disturb the pounding silence of this wilderness nor disturb their greatness that naturally holds, control and evolves with time. This is the Makgadikgadi, a rare African safari destination like no other!

Makgadikgadi Pans Camp & Lodge Accommodations In Botswana

Click here for listing of camps and lodges in Makgadikgadi Pans


What are our Customers saying about our safari holidays?

  • On behalf of myself, my wife and my two adult daughters, I want to sincerely thank you and AfricanMecca Safaris for our fabulous recent safari. Everything you promised exceeded our expectations and was superb, which is saying a lot since this was our second trip, having had a wonderful Botswana Safari 10 years ago. Do not ever hesitate to use me as a reference.
    Robert Schenkein - prVision Photography Studio - Colorado, United States
  • Chobe was delightful, less than half full. Sussi and Chuma, very nice, again only 13 people in all. All the game drives and river cruises were excellent. We had great weather. The ability to get really close is in inspiring. EVERYWHERE we went, the people were warm, helpful and charming. Thank you so much. We will be recommending your services to all.
    Thomas Kelch - California, United States
  • Raza Visram at AfricanMecca planned the most amazing trip for my friend and I. I wanted to go to 4 countries in 15 days and he made it happen. It was an aggressive itinerary and Raza planned it so well, that the transitions were seamless. The last leg of the trip was Botswana for another Safari and we stayed at the most beautiful lodge. The excitement in seeing the animals so closely is indescribable.
    Karin Alsdorf - New Jersey, United States
  • I had a wonderful trip to Africa and I would highly recommend your company.I have been to Africa many times and I have never had such wonderful service. The guide and safari vehicle were both great and all the lodges were outstanding. We will be going to Africa again the year after next and I assure you I will be contacting you. Thanks again for arranging such a great trip.
    Ronald Price, President, Ron Price Motors Group - California, United States
  • Our Botswana safari was FANTASTIC! It truly was a luxury, but rustic enough, safari. We really loved our trip! We saw everything here. From lions to leopards to elephants to buffalos. Our guide, Rams was truly amazing. He really knew his stuff! While on the bush walks we encountered zebras, warthogs and much more. Thanks for your help! We will definitely do another trip within a year.
    Duncan Rosen - Florida, United States
  • Thank you for everything; we had an amazing honeymoon. Words really can't describe our experience, all we can really say was that it was the most amazing experience of our lives and we would recommend AfricanMecca to anyone. We hope to visit Africa again sometime next year! Thank you & all of your staff for an amazing & perfect honeymoon.
    Rick Sagoo - London, United Kingdom


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