Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana

The Makgadikgadi is an extraordinary region of Botswana, characterized by inhospitable salt pans stretching as far as the eye can see, rocky granite islands and open grasslands that spring to life in the wet season. Plains surrounding the saltpans are dotted with ostrich, zebra, springbok and oryx, closely pursued by dark-maned lions. There are beautiful clusters of palm trees and odd stunted baobabs that have stood for millions of years.

Botswana's baobab trees are a beautiful reminder of nature standing the test of time

The Makgadikgadi pans are all that is left of an enormous ancient lake that was once fed by the Okavango, Chobe and Zambezi Rivers, running south-eastwards via the Limpopo River and into the Indian Ocean. These watercourses changed over time, influenced by the tectonic shifting of the unpredictable Kalahari-Zimbabwe fault-line and also by a gradual rise of temperature, perhaps as a result of climate change.

The oryx strikes a formidable pose against the backdrop of the Kalahari Desert

In 1970, the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park was declared, which today comprises an area of 4,900 sq km. The Makgadikgadi’s two largest pans, Ntwetwe pan and Sua pan (sometimes called Sowa pan) do not fall within the park’s boundaries but are reachable by 4x4 in dry season. These are both spectacular places to explore for those who seek freedom in solitude. Nata Bird Sanctuary, on the north-east of Sua Pan is run by a community trust to protect the multitude of water-birds that flock there annually.

On the western border of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is the Boteti (or Botletle) River, a prime drinking and bathing spot for domestic cattle as well as migrating zebra and elephant.

Nxai National Park is one oof Botswana's many drawcards

Nxai Pan National Park is another special area to explore where, in the peak of wet season, travellers spend a good deal of the night listening to the evocative roaring of lions that ambush both springbok and impala at waterholes during daylight hours.


Our Recommended Itinerary

Makgadikgadi Pans and Okavango Delta Safari Adventure (7 days)

day 1 to 2

Arrival in Botswana | Magadikgadi Pans National Pa

day 3 to 4

Off to the Okavango Delta | Moremi Game Reserve

day 5 to 6

day 7

End of Journey

View Full Itinerary

Popular Botswana Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Highlights of Northern Botswana (8 days)

Highlights of Northern Botswana (8 days)

Experience two of Botswana's best safari destinations; the Savute region and Okavango Delta ...

 | Nature, Romance and Exclusivity - A Complete African Honeymoon (14 days)

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This exclusive African honeymoon through East and Southern Africa is the perfect way to celebrate the start of your new journey together...

 | Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa Safari Adventure (19 days)

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This Southern Africa safari adventure will take you to the tip of the African continent...

 | Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Camping in Moremi Game Reserve (5 days)

Watch the Okavango Delta come alive with the sounds of bird calls, the roar of lions in one of the most beautiful reserves in Botswana...

Sunset Ride | Horse Riding Safari on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (6 Days)

Horse Riding Safari on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (6 Days)

Saddle-up for a horseback riding adventure through the semi-arid thirstland of the Kalahari....

 | Journey through the Highlights of Southern Africa (13 days)

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Exploring these areas of the Southern African continent should on top of your bucket list...

 | Classic Botswana Family Safari (9 days)

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Connect as a family while tracking wildlife and incredible landscapes through some of the most remote stretches of Botswana....

 | Botswana Green Season Safari (7 days)

Botswana Green Season Safari (7 days)

Experience three of Botswana's highlights – the Central Kalahari, Okavango Delta and Kwando Linyanti – wilderness areas that take you from arid desert to lush wetlands...

Boating on the Chobe River | Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Quick Victoria Falls and Chobe Experience (5 days)

Visit Livingstone, Zambia, to marvel at the Victoria Falls – or 'the smoke that thunders' – before going on safari and a river cruise in Botswana's Chobe National Park...

Wildlife  | Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)

Best of the Okavango Delta Safari (6 days)

Explore Botswana's Moremi and Selinda reserves on foot, in a safari vehicle or a mokoro for unforgettable wildlife encounters with big game and rare birds...



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