With a surface of 12,000 square kilometers, the Makgadikgadi is one of the largest salt pans in the world
Most of the time of the year, this desolate area remains waterless and due to this extreme drought large mammals are absent. But during and after years of good rains, the two largest pans – Sowa in the east and Ntwetwe in the west – fill with water and attract wild animals as zebras and wildbeasts on the grassy plains and most spectacularly, flamingos at Sowa and Nata Sanctuary. Flamingo numbers can run in the dozens and sometimes even hundreds!
The rainwater that falls down on the pans is supplemented by seasonal river floods. The Nata, Tutume, Semowane and Mosetse Rivers in the east and in the year of the exceptional rainfall, the Okavango via the Boteti River in the west.
During this time, the pans can be turned into a powder blue lake, the water gently rippling on the shores, and rinsing over the pebbly beaches – a clear indication of the gigantic, prehistoric lake that the Makgadikgadi once was. Research shows that the Makgadikgadi is a remnant of what once was one of the largest lakes Africa has ever had.
In fact Makgadikgadi is a series of pans, the largest being the Sowa and Ntwetwe, both surrounded by a large number of smaller pans. To the north of these two pans are Kudiakam Pan, Nxai Pan and Kaucaca Pan. Alternating between these pans you will find sand dunes, rocky islands, peninsulas and desert areas. Because of the salty soil you will not find much vegetation. Only the edges are covered with grasslands and some large Baobab trees.
The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve covers an area of 3900 square kilometers and also includes the western side of Ntwetwe, with vast grasslands and acacia forests. On the northern side it borders the Nxai Pan National Park, separated only by the Nata – Maun Road.
The Makgadikgadi National Park is less crowded than the famous parks in Botswana, but since a number of years that the Boteti River flows again, the park is a fantastic place to spot various wildlife. Even elephants migrate south of Maun and have even been observed in the Kalahari Desert. Large herds of zebras and wildebeasts migrate along the Boteti and in the dry season the riverbed is a spectacular arena where hunting by lions and leopards takes place. Further wildlife such as the Oryx, Kudu, Bushbok, Divers, giraffes and Red Hartebeast populate the area. In short, definitely worth a few game drives!
People have inhabited the areas of the pans since the Stone Age and have adapted to the geographical and climatic changes when they have occurred. Archaeological sites on the pans are rich with Early Man’s tools, and the bones of the fish and the animals he ate. Human occupation has continued with the current day and a number of villages, including Mopipi, Mmatshumo, Nata, Gweta and Rakops, are on the edge of these pans.
Populair trips to this destionation
14 days Start From € 3.795,- (pp based on 2 persons, excluding tickets)
16 days Start From € 3.375,- (based on 4 persons, excl. airline tickets)