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.


Popular Botswana Safaris

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

 | Makgadikgadi Pans and Okavango Delta Safari Adventure (7 days)

Makgadikgadi Pans and Okavango Delta Safari Adventure (7 days)

From desert to delta, this safari will show you the two stunning contrasts of beautiful Botswana...

Camp fire | Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta and Chobe Safari (7 days)

This three-in-one journey will show you the majestic Victoria Falls, the massive elephant bulls of Chobe and the natural wonder that is the Okavango Delta...

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

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

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

 | Photographic tour of Botswana (10 days)

Photographic tour of Botswana (10 days)

Let us take you one the adventure of a lifetime through the Chobe National Park, Khwai Community Area and Moremi Game Reserve. ...

 | Delights of Moremi Game Reserve Safari

Delights of Moremi Game Reserve Safari

Explore the secrets of Botswana's famous Moremi Game Reserve in this short and affordable safari ...

 | Victoria Falls and Chobe Encounter (5 days)

Victoria Falls and Chobe Encounter (5 days)

Encounter the smoke that thunders and explore the land of giants in the Chobe National Park...

 | Waterfalls and Wildlife: Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park Journey (7 days)

Waterfalls and Wildlife: Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park Journey (7 days)

Experience the smoke that thunders and enjoy spotting elephant, buffalo, lion and hippos on the Chobe River...

 | Epic Botswana Adventure (9 days)

Epic Botswana Adventure (9 days)

A tour de force of the Chobe, Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pans in only nine days...

 | Enchanting Moremi Mobile Camping Experience (7 days)

Enchanting Moremi Mobile Camping Experience (7 days)

Moremi Game Reserve in the beautiful Okavango Delta is well-known for self-drive camper vanning. Explore this exciting way of travel with us ...

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