Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

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About Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are one of Botswana’s main tourist attractions. They are natural remnants of what was once the largest inland sea in the world some 2 thousand years ago. Today, they are the largest salt pans in the world and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They represent beauty, nature and uniqueness.

Best time to visit

The Makgadikgadi pans are mainly populated with wildlife in the wet summer months, from December to about April. This is also the best time for bird spotting, the flamingos also visit around this time. On the river side the best time is from June-December, during this dry time of year you can also drive on the pans.


Large herds of migrating zebra can be found here at the end of the dry season. Other animals that reside here are monkeys, baboons, leopards, lions, hyena’s (both spotted as well as brown), wildebeest, eland and if you’re lucky you ay spot a white rhino.

What To Experience

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Travel Guide For Makgadikgadi Salt

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Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Map

The salt pans are situated in the North-Eastern part of Botswana. They are also south of the Nxai Pan National Park and are to the south-east of the Okavango delta. They cover an area of over 30 000sq km and are surrounded by the Kalahari.

Makgadikgadi Facts

  • The salt Pans cover 20% of the Makgadikgadi National Park
  • David Livingstone, the Scottish Missionary who discovered the Victoria Falls, crossed the salt pans in the 19th century.
  • There are incredible colonies of flamingo in the area.
  • It supports one of the largest zebra populations in Botswana during the rains from January to March. (about 20 000)
  • Most common animals are the brown hyena and meerkats

About The Popular Migration In Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

The second-largest migration of African ungulates is the Makgadikgadi Migration. They travel 35 kilometers round trip from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans in northern Botswana, with the bulk of them being zebra. As soon as the rains start, millions of Burchell's zebra and blue wildebeest migrate to the Makgadikgadi pans to eat on the delicious summer grasses and benefit from the high mineral content of the salt pans. The greatest time to witness the biggest herds is during the first two weeks of March, in our opinion. This is because the majority of the migration will still be in the area, assuming the rains have not been exceptionally low.

How To Get To The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans ?

The enormous, flat Salt Pans are situated in the northeastern Kalahari Desert, inside the national park in Botswana that bears their name, and they span an area of several thousand square kilometres. They are the only trace of a vast inland super-lake that once existed but slowly vanished over thousands of years, leaving the pristine, salty-white landscapes of today.

The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is 162 kilometers east of Maun. A self-drive safari, a guided mobile safari, or a fly-in safari are all options for getting to the park. The quickest and most convenient way to reach the park is to take a chartered flight to one of the lodges' airstrips on the park's western edge. While some campsites for mobile safaris are located closer to the actual pans, all lodges are quite a distance from them. Another option is to travel into Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls Airport (VFA) and start the adventure there. Victoria Falls is 550 kilometres (340 mi) away.

What You Need To Know About Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

The Okavango Delta, Linyanti, and Chobe National Park are livelier locations if you're visiting Botswana to see big game; avoid the pans. The only time this is not true is during the wet season, which lasts from late December to early May and is when the herds truly bring the place to life. The zebra migration during the year is beautiful to see in the Makgadikgadi.

Best Time To Visit The Makgadikgadi

The Best Time To Visit Makgadikgadi Pans is during the wet season (Dec.-Apr.), when the park will have the most wildlife, while the roads may be occasionally muddy. The pathways will be submerged, so you won't be able to go to the edge of the big salt pan itself either. The enormous, empty salt pan in the southeast of the park can be seen during the dry season, and animals will concentrate around the Boteti River, which forms the park's western border. The river is brimming with water from the Angolan Highlands at this time of year, while the area around it is completely dry.

They are home to desert-adapted fauna like meerkats and provide a breath-taking view of endless stretches of white salt as far as the eye can see during the dry months. The rains turn the salt pan into a spectacular shallow lake during the rainy months, drawing a great deal of zebra, springbok, and wildebeest (the second-largest migration after that in the Serengeti), as well as flamingos that are in breeding season. You won't soon forget it because of the fantastic atmosphere created by the vast, empty areas and nothingness.

What To See And Do In Makgadikgadi

Flamingo Feels
From the perspective of birders, the cooler, wetter winter months are also a fantastic time to spot flamingos because both the greater and lesser flamingos migrate to the pans for food, mating, and egg-laying. One of the most significant flamingo breeding areas in Africa, the brilliant pink flamingos stand out strikingly against the saltwater lake.

Zebra Migration
The rains radically alter the ecosystem during the wetter months (December to March). Predators like cheetahs and lions follow closely behind the second-largest zebra migration in Africa as it moves west from the Boteti River to graze on lush grasses that absorb the nutrients around the pans.

Njuga Hills & Xhumaga
The Makgadikgadi Reserve contains two places that are particularly of visiting. The Njuga Hills are one, while Xhumaga on the Boteti River is the other. An old dune with particularly vast dimensions is called Njuga. As the sun sets on another day, one can observe the boundless grasslands turn gold while listening to the barking geckoes. On the left bank of the Boteti River, on the opposite side of the Xhumanga settlement. It is remarkably situated in the ecotone between Makgadikgadi Reserve's grasslands and riverine woods. As the Boteti has historically been a river that empties into the sand, there is an abundance of birds and interesting landscape.

Walk With The Bushmen
Another important area of research is understanding about the Zu/'hoasi Bushmen's abilities and knowledge, as well as how they have managed to live in the harsh desert environment. Their knowledge is deep and to have the chance to get out and explore on foot with them is a real honor.

Game Drives/ Quadbikes
All year long, game drives are also an option, but it's vital to consider the weather. Rainfall gradually fills the salt pans throughout the humid summer months, creating a massive shallow lake that blocks access for cars and ATVs. The winter months are the greatest for exploring the salt pans because they are dry and a thrilling way to move around them is on a quadbike. This thrilling activity, which has no impact on the pans, is accessible to all visitors as part of their stay at Jacks Camp, San Camp, and Camp Kalahari.

Marvel At The Saltpans
The Makgadikgadi salt pan is the biggest and most remote in the entire globe. It’s a truly amazing landscape of dazzling white salt that can be seen to the horizon and the lack of light pollution adds some incredible star gazing at night as the stars pop out against the pitch-black sky.

See Desert Animals
The main advantage of the Makgadikgadi is its ability to provide sightings and experiences which you will not find anywhere else. Desert adapted animals such as the aardwolf and brown hyena are numerous here, and the chances of stumbling upon one during a night game drive are high. The lack of grassland around the saltpans provides a clear space to spot animals from a distance a making night drives a must.
You should thoroughly consider your motivations for going to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. The Things To Do In Botswana offered by the camps and the camps themselves are significantly dissimilar. The dry, lush lands that are home to Botswana's top game are contrasted admirably by the pans. If a customer is planning to stay longer than a week in the country, Falcon Safaris advise that they try to explore the area; nevertheless, it is crucial to talk with an experienced adviser and learn about the advantages of visiting at various seasons of the year.

Best Month to Visit Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

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Botswana Safari in January

This is one of Botswana’s highest rainfall months with an average of 100mm falling in often unpredictable and heavy downpours, and as a result January is not the most popular time to visit. It does mean that prices are a lot lower, making this prime safari destination more accessible to travellers on a lower budget. Birding is excellent at this time of year; however the water levels in the Delta are low, and the presence of water means wildlife is scattered.

Botswana’s climate is fairly regular and consistent, with hot, wet summers and mild, dry winters. The north gets the most rain, and precipitation decreases steadily as you head south. December and January are the wettest months, with average daily temperatures between 30°C and 35°C, and hot days approaching 40°C. The most extreme conditions are in the Central Kalahari, but even there nights seldom drop below 15°C.

Botswana Safari in February

Perhaps Botswana’s rainiest month with long showers, and hot and humid weather, temperatures ranging from mid-20s to 30s(C).

The heavy rain makes some parts of the parks (i.e. Moremi) either inaccessible or very tricky to navigate by road, but in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the landscape is a green, grassy paradise with lots of newborn antelope and a great variety of birds.

Botswana Safari in March

The steady drop in temperature and rainfall continues throughout March, but hot days across the country can still reach the mid 30°C’s. In the south and centre of Botswana, cold nights can drop to 10°C, but tend to stay between 15°C and 20°C in the north. There are still afternoon thunderstorms every few days, which keep the atmosphere clear. March remains an excellent month for spectacular landscape photography.

Botswana Safari in April

The April/May shoulder season is an excellent time to visit Botswana. By April, rainfall has almost completely ceased across the country, although there may still be a few scattered showers. Everywhere is still green and most pans still hold some water, but what is available is getting scarcer, forcing both predators and prey to stay near. Average daytime temperatures are now about 30°C and nights hover around 15°C – pleasant enough for long evenings around the campfire, while also allowing for a more comfortable sleep.

Botswana Safari in May

May is the beginning of Botswana’s dry winter season and there’s usually no rain at all anywhere in the country. Average daytime temperatures range from 25°C to 30°C, and it’s generally slightly warmer in the north and cooler in the south. Evenings in the north are now regularly below 15°C and by the end of the month, nights in the Kalahari can fall close to freezing. May is one of the best all-round months for visiting Botswana, with good to excellent game viewing, mild, dry weather and relatively quiet campsites and parks that get much busier later in the season.

Botswana Safari in June

June is another excellent month to visit Botswana, although the parks get busier from around the 20th as schools in neighbouring South Africa break for winter holidays. These usually run from the last week of June to mid-July and campsites across Botswana book up quickly. Late June marks the start of the high season in Botswana and July to October is the busiest time. Make sure you book your campsites well in advance.

June and July are Botswana’s coldest months and night-time temperatures in the Kalahari can drop below freezing. In the north, it rarely freezes, but lows of 5°C are common and morning game drives can be very cold. Daytime temperatures are roughly the same across the country, averaging between 20°C and 25°C. As ever, the north is warmer and hot days may still reach 30°C.

Botswana Safari in July

July is the start of Botswana’s busy season and camps and lodges can book out far in advance. Botswana’s parks and reserves don’t have that many public camping areas and most are small and spread far apart. This makes finding space tricky during peak times, but also means that even when the campsites are at their fullest, Botswana’s parks never feel overly crowded.

Botswana Safari in August

August remains extremely dry across Botswana, although by the end of the month there may be a brief shower somewhere in the south. Temperatures, however, are already beginning to rise and while nights in the Kalahari can still fall below freezing, sub-zero mornings are the exception not the norm. Daytime temperatures also climb rapidly during August and hot days across the country will regularly top 30°C. August is very a popular safari month in Botswana and campsites and lodges should be booked far in advance.

Botswana Safari in September

Northern Botswana stays completely dry during September, but the centre and south may receive a few scattered showers. Temperatures climb rapidly throughout the month and no longer drop below 0°C, even in the Kalahari. Average lows are between 10°C and 15°C, a bit cooler in the south and warmer in the north. By the end of September, the days are hot everywhere, averaging over 30°C and approaching 40°C in Maun and Kasane. September is another busy month in Botswana, and the popular northern camps should be booked well in advance.

September and October are particularly impressive along the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers. Thousands of animals rely on these waters for survival, especially elephants, which can drink up to 200 litres of water a day. After a long, hot day foraging for food, hundreds of elephants gather along the river, often running the last few metres, trumpeting wildly in their excitement and thirst.

Botswana Safari in October

October is Botswana’s hottest month and temperatures can exceed 40°C in the north of the country. The south is a bit cooler, but not by much. Nights in the south average between 15°C and 20°C, and in the far north are often much warmer. In the south and centre the rains usually come earlier, with the first afternoon thunderstorms bringing some relief. In the north, it rarely rains until the end of the month and the rainy season doesn’t start properly until mid-November. Despite the heat, October is a popular safari month, especially along the Chobe River which is famous for its herds of thirsty elephant.

Botswana Safari in November

November is the spring shoulder season in Botswana, a time of soaring thunderclouds, returning migrant birds and, once the rains arrive, fields of new-born calves. It’s still very hot, with daily highs of 35°C to 40°C across the country, and it can get even hotter in the north where nights are humid and often well over 20°C. The start of the rainy season is always hard to predict, but good years can see early November rainfall in the south and central Kalahari, while Moremi and Chobe usually have to wait until later in the month.

Botswana Safari in December

December and January are Botswana’s wettest months, with afternoon thunderstorms a regular feature across the country. The rains are cooling, but daytime temperatures remain high, averaging in the low 30°C’s, but with hot days of up to 40°C or more. Nights tend to be humid and warm, often not dropping below 20°C. The clear atmosphere and thunderclouds make for excellent photographs, and you can expect a spectacular thunderstorm every few days.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes, Makgagikgadi Pan is the largest salt pan in the world. It is located northeast of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and southeast of the Okavango Delta.

The largest salt pan in the world, Makgadikgadi, is the place where you can watch the second largest wildebeest migration after Serengeti. For, those who love flamingos, there can be no better place than this. The white salt pans look spectacular from above, a truly incredible site.

Makgadikgadi salt pans are located in Botswana. Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are the largest salt pans and the world. Here you can watch Africa’s second largest zebra migration, after Serengeti. The Bushman interaction is also an integral part of visiting Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

Makgadikgadi Salt Pan is the largest salt pan in the world. At night you get an amazing view of millions of stars sparkling in the sky. This magic happens because of the zero light pollution.

The salt pans in Botswana are in the Makgadikgadi, which is located in the southeast of the Okavango Delta and the northeast of Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Mkagadikgadi salt pans are the largest salt pans in the world.

The nearest town to the Makgadikgadi Pans is Maun which is 162 km. Visitors can fly to the western boundary of the park by charter planes. Makgadikgadi Pans can be easily reached by self-drive, an organized safari, or fly-in-safari.

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