7 Reasons Why Visiting The Makgadikgadi Pans Should Be On Your Bucket List!

Botswana | 23 / 01/ 2023

By Falcon Safaris
Makgadikgadi Pans

Makgadikgadi Pans are an unusual natural phenomenon that is of exceptional natural history. Spread across Botswana’s semi-arid Kalahari Desert, pans offer rare sightings and experiences that are unique to this place only.

The Makgadikgadi Pans are located in the northeast of Central Kalahari Reserve in Botswana. The present-day Makgadikgadi is not a single pan. They are actually several salt pans within the open grasslands that make up the entire habitat. 

These salt flats are the perfect place for adventure Safaris during Botswana Wildlife Holidays with an extraordinary wilderness experience. So, why not check off a visit to the largest salt pans on planet Earth?

Before that, let’s look at some fascinating features of the mesmerizing desert destination.

History of Makgadikgadi Pans

Learning about the history of Makgadikgadi Pans explains why they are so silent and immensely beautiful.

  • It is established that an enormous Makgadikgadi Lake existed in the same place thousands of years ago. The lake was almost the size of Switzerland. Increased evaporation and decreased flow of rivers to the Lake subsequently dried it up.
  • As the Lake shrank, it created numerous smaller lakes, resulting in a complex Landscape covering 15000 km2. Due to the hot and dry climate of desert areas, salt pans are mostly dry.

This creates beautiful white landscapes of flat salt pans.

When to Visit Makgadikgadi Pans?

Although you can visit, Makgadikgadi Pans throughout the year. But the best time to visit the Kalahari and Botswana Wildlife Safari is between November and April. This is the time when the Pans attract wildlife. The tourists are going to welcome the Largest African animal migration if they visit at this time.

Let’s summarize the main attractions that Makgadikgadi Pans have to offer over different seasons of the year. 

Time of the Year/ Season     Main attractions for tourists
November to March – Wet Summer seasonRains fill the salt pans which turn them into shallow lakes. This attracts zebra, springbok, and wildebeest. The best time for bird watching as migratory birds is present and breeding.A layer of blue-green algae grows in the pans. Several big flocks of flamingos come to feed upon it.
June to December – Dry Winter seasonBest wildlife viewing moths near the river area. Wildebeest and herds of Zebra migrate toward the Boteti River for water. If you want to access the stretches of white salt Pans, then this is the best time. You can drive on the Pans during this time.Desert-adapted wildlife and Meerkats are also spotted.

Why Are Makgadikgadi Pans Attractive To Tourists?

Makgadikgadi Pans is where dry plains and wide open skies stretch till the end of the world. You will encounter the African wilderness at its best. The vast desolate places provide a beautiful atmosphere and give you a never felt experience of a lifetime.

The trees that are present in the pans are Africa Acacias and enormous Baobab.  Both these trees are a photographer’s delight.

Two passing rivers namely Boteti River and Nata River fill the Pans. During the rainfall season, several birds and animals come and flock on it, allowing us to see several birds and animals.

Highlights of Makgadikgadi Pans

Here are a few Highlights Of Makgadikgadi Pans that make it an attractive destination for tourists.

Several Wildlife That Has Adapted To The Desert Doesn’t Disappoint

  • Kalahari is a desert area and wildlife is scarce. Having said that, desert-adapted gemsbok and springbok are present here along with tortoises and lizards.
  • This area is home to some amazing desert-adapted animals including aardwolf, aardvark, bat-eared foxes, and bull elephants. 
  • The third largest carnivore of the continent, the rare brown hyena, is spotted in the Pans. Brown Hyena are scavengers and have a good sense of smell. 

There are great chances that you will spot these animals which are exclusive to Makgadikgadi Pans while you are on for a night drive.

Dazzling Wildebeest and Zebra Migration

  • While taking up a Botswana Wildlife Tours during the wet months (November- March), you are most likely to witness the desert area packed with herds of Zebra and Wildebeest. 
  • As rains hit the salt pans, it brings back the grassland and savannah landscape to life. The grasses absorb nutrients around the pans and grow thick and long.
  • This invites Africa’s second-largest Zebra migration. They are found grazing on the wide-open green grassland plains of the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park.

View The Renowned Flamingo Migration

  • When there is water in the pans in the wet season, then migrating birds such as pink flamingos and white pelicans do arrive at the salt flats.
  • This is a great time for bird watching. This is the best time for tourists to see the flamingos feed, mate, and lay their eggs.
  • The bright pink flamingos breeding against the white salt pans is any photographer’s delight.

Spot The Inquisitive Meerkats

  • Won’t you be excited if you get a chance to roam around with Meerkats while you are on a Botswana Wildlife Safari Tour?
  • Meerkats are little desert animals in the Pans who are habituated to human presence.
  • While guests are on a Botswana Wildlife Safari Tour, they are driven to the den area early morning. As the Meerkats come out in search of their predators and food, you can watch them hunt and socialize.

This is a highlight for many visitors and can be one of theBest Wildlife Safari In Botswana Experiences that you will take along.

So, don’t miss a chance to meet one of the most sociable and resourceful desert-adapted creatures.

Witness The Stunning Landscapes

  • The Makgadikgadi Pans are one-of-a-kind natural wonders. While staying here during Botswana Wildlife Tours, the focus is not only on the pans. But its’ mainly on the stunning landscapes, Boteti River, and wildlife in the area.
  • It’s a paradise for star-gazers with no pollution for thousands of kilometers around.

Imagine sleeping under the night sky in cozy bedding and watching the ceiling of stars above against the pitch-black sky! Nothing comes close to this surreal experience. Also, visitors can spot shooting and falling stars and any passing satellite that passes occasionally.

Meet The Bushmen In The Pans

  • A visit to salt pans gives you a unique opportunity to explore the desert through the eyes of the Bushman.

You get an insight into the ancient customs and culture of one of the oldest communities on Earth.

  • Visitors get a chance to interact with the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen in the most respectable manner. They can learn the survival skills of the men who have survived the extreme desert environment for years.
  • This sensitive program gives employment to the community all year round. 

Quad Biking and Horse Riding

  • This is only done in the dry season when the Pans become some sort of playground with no rain around.  Rains make the Pans inaccessible to vehicles and ATVs.
  • So, for active and adventurous activities, go for quad biking or horse riding.
  • One of the exciting and popular ways to explore the Pans is to get on a quad bike.  Amidst the silence of white salt stretches of the Pans, race through on your quad bike. Definitely, an exhilarating experience to take with you.
  • Another popular way to explore the Kalahari Desert while going on a safari is horse riding.

There are some amazing safari rides available for adventurous travelers out there.

The shimmering white landscape of Makgadikgadi Pans is beautifully remote.  Those who choose the salt pans are rewarded with fantastic experiences all throughout the year.

We would recommend our readers to come and visit Makgadikgadi Pans while coming for Botswana Wildlife Safari Tours. If you are coming for Botswana Wildlife Tours, do consider coming to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve area.

Explore the never seen African wilderness by walking with Kalahari Bushmen and going on adrenaline-inducing activities like quad biking.

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