Formed over a million years ago by a huge lake, the famous Makgadikgadi Pans in north-eastern Botswana are one of the earth’s 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.

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 flamingo, and pelican. Meanwhile, plains game and predators patrol the perimeter.

It’s hard to imagine this inhospitable environment as home. However, the San Bushman 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.

A Safari to the Makgadikgadi Pans

For an unforgettable safari to the Makgadikgadi pans, book a stay with Ker & Downey at Jack’s Camp or San Camp. From there you can explore the pans via quad bike, visit and interact with meerkats, and get to know the San Bushman culture in a personal way. Combine your Makgadigadi pans safari with a stay in the lush Okavango Delta for a wholly different safari experience. To start planning a safari unique to you, contact a Ker & Downey designer.