Go beyond the famous Okavango Delta. Discover the Makgadikgadi Pans, a hidden treasure, on a Botswana safari. This awe-inspiring region boasts a landscape like no other. Vast salt flats stretch as far as the eye can see, creating a shimmering mirage. Formed over a million years ago by a huge lake, the famous Makgadikgadi Pans in northeastern Botswana are one of the largest saltpans in the world. The pans are what remains from Lake Makgadikgadi, once an area larger than Switzerland. It dried out tens of thousands of years ago. Today the landscape ranges from moon-like terrain to grasslands surrounding it. Occasional palm trees dot the horizon. Additionally, there are places in the pans where the view is so vast you can see the curvature of the earth. Nxai Pan National Park lies to the north of the Makgadikadi Pans. Within Nxai Pan, you'll find Baines' Baobab, a cluster of millennia-old baobabs. A safari in this extraordinary setting is unforgettable. Unique wildlife encounters, cultural immersion, and natural wonders await on a Botswana safari. 

A Botswana Luxury Safari in the Makgadikgadi Pans

Often overshadowed by the Okavango Delta, its more famous counterpart, the Makgadikgadi Pans offer a unique and unforgettable Botswana luxury safari experience.

Embark on a thrilling game drive across this extraordinary terrain, spotting diverse wildlife that has adapted to this unique environment. 

Even though the vast pans are desolate and inhospitable, they are one of the most important breeding spots for flamingos in Southern Africa. Summer rains briefly flood the area. With the rains come a variety of wildlife and birdlife, including enormous flocks of flamingo and pelican. Meanwhile, plains game and predators patrol the perimeter.

It's hard to imagine this inhospitable environment as home. However, the San Bushmen have lived in these desert plains for centuries. An interaction with the San Bushmen is one of the most rewarding experiences you'll have visiting the saltpans. Take a peek into their vanishing culture while learning some of the unique skills they employ to survive and prosper in the harsh environment.

Jack's Camp

Exploring the Vast Salt Pans 

The Makgadikgadi Pans stand as a testament to nature's boundless creativity and the delicate balance of ecosystems. Each season brings something new and exciting to the pans. 

During the rainy season, the pans transform into a boundless lake, drawing thousands of flamingos and an array of waterbirds. As the waters recede, the pans unveil a surreal panorama of cracked earth.

Venturing onto the pans is an exciting experience. The expansive terrain beckons travelers to embark on exhilarating drives. For those seeking a more intimate connection with the pans, exploring them on foot or horseback is an option. 

The Makgadikgadi Pans hold a profound significance, deeply intertwined with the history and culture of the region. They served as a vital trade route in ancient times. The remnants of settlements whisper tales of bygone eras. The local communities hold a deep reverence for the pans, believing them to be the dwelling place of divine beings. Visitors are invited to delve into this rich cultural heritage by interacting with the welcoming locals and exploring the nearby villages to gain insights into their traditions and beliefs.

Spotting Wildlife in the Makgadikgadi Pans

The Makgadikgadi Pans are home to a variety of animals, including zebras and wildebeest, which are plentiful in the area. They are often seen grazing on the short grass that grows on the salt flats. Meerkats are another popular animal in the Makgadikgadi Pans. The small, mongoose-like animals live in colonies and are known for their habit of standing upright on their hind legs to keep a lookout for predators.

Jack's Camp

Flamingos are one of the most iconic birds in the Makgadikgadi Pans and are often seen wading in the shallow waters of the pans, feeding on algae and small invertebrates. It is common to see pelicans and storks in the Makgadikgadi Pans as well. 

Experiencing the Unique Lodges and Camps

There are a variety of lodges and camps in the Makgadikgadi Pans. From luxury lodges with private plunge pools and gourmet dining to rustic tented camps where you can sleep under the stars, there is something for everyone.

Jack's Camp is a favorite of Ker & Downey's. This intimate camp is designed in the traditional safari style of the 1940's era, with roots that date back to the 1960's. Meerkats are the undoubtable star of the experience, with a family of meerkats who are regular visitors to the camp. Jack's Camp also operates a five-day fly camp option to Kubu Island with quad bikes for parties of at least four guests. 

Jack's Camp

San Camp is a sister property of Jack's Camp. The classically-styled tents sit in a reef of palm trees. The land is so flat that you can see the curve of the Earth here. Open only during the dry season, a Botswana safari at San Camp offers a rare opportunity to spot the elusive brown hyena. In fact, it's one of the only places in the world where you can spot one. 

Activities focus on game drives in open 4x4 vehicles custom designed for the terrain and the use of 4WD quad bikes on the salt pans. Horseback riding is also available - with simple, two hour rides for all levels to multi-day safaris for experienced riders. 

San Camp

Tips for Planning a Makgadikgadi Pans Safari

Make the most of your luxury African safari to the Makgadikgadi Pans with these tips:

  • Choose the right time to go: The best time to visit the Makgadikgadi Pans is during the dry season, from May to October, when the pans are transformed into a surreal landscape of cracked earth and wildlife viewing is at its peak as animals congregate around the remaining water sources. 
  • Book your trip in advance: Due to the unique and fragile nature of the Makgadikgadi Pans, the number of visitors is limited. It is advisable to book your safari well in advance, especially if you are traveling during the peak season.
  • Pack appropriately: The Makgadikgadi Pans can experience extreme temperatures, so it is essential to pack accordingly. Bring comfortable, lightweight clothing, sturdy walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen. Don't forget your camera to capture the breathtaking scenery and wildlife encounters.
  • Respect the environment: The Makgadikgadi Pans are a fragile ecosystem, so it is crucial to respect the environment and follow responsible tourism practices. 

A Botswana Safari in Makgadikgadi Pans with Ker & Downey

Each of Ker & Downey’s itineraries are handcrafted from start to finish. To start planning your Botswana luxury safari in the Makgadikgadi Pans with Ker & Downey, contact a Ker & Downey designer to get started today. 

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