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Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans

The Makgadikgadi Pan is a huge so-called 'salt pan' in the north-east of Botswana. This salt lake was created by the great Makgadikgadi Lake, with an initial area the size of Switzerland, thousands of years ago which is completely dry now. Makgadikgadi Pan is one of the largest in the world; the area actually consists of a number of separate pans (Sua / Suwa, Ntwetwe and Nxai) of which Sua is the largest. The pans are vast dry plains with a kind of salt crust and toppings. At the edges of the pans grasses grow, acacias and occasionally a beautiful thick baobab. The Makgadikgadi and Nxai pans form the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Park.

In the west of Ntwetwe you will find the 3900 square kilometres Makgadikgadi Game Reserve, the largest part of the year there is no rain in this area which makes it very difficult for (larger) mammals to live here. But in the wet season it draws particularly large herds of zebras and wildebeest on the grassland followed by hunters like lions and hyenas. Alternatively, after rainfall tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of flamingos are in the Nata Sanctuary which gives an impressive picture. After prolonged rains the surrounding rivers supply for additional water for this otherwise arid region. The Makgadikgadi Game Reserve will have kudus, Oryx, giraffes, grubbing goats, springbok, eland and even elephants.

When driving on the road between Maun and Nata, you actually drive through the Makgadikgadi Nxai Pan National Park. There are many lodges, excursions and safaris in and around Nata and Maun in this area. Most tourists choose to not have to drive into the park but to use the local vehicles and guides providers.

Visitors to the salt pans can visit Kubu Island. This "island" of granite rock is located in the south-west of the Soa pan and is truly a magical place amidst the vast drought. On the island (about a kilometre) grow some beautiful Baobab trees and it inspires amateur and professional photographers. During sunrise and sunset, you can shoot even better pictures than during the day. There is a 'camp' on Kubu Island, but it has no facilities (no toilets, braai places, water or electricity), so you will need to bring everything yourself if you want to stay here, the real camping in Africa! You will not encounter hordes of tourists which make this a lovely quiet and inspiring place.

Please note that all roads in the park are unpaved and only accessible with a 4x4 vehicle! When you yourself drive through the pans, always ensure that you have enough water, food and fuel when you go into the park. It is advisable to drive in convoy of at least two vehicles. Make sure you have a good map of the area as signage lacks.

Your holiday begins at South Africa Specialist.