Makgadikgadi Pans of Botswana, a vast open lifeless land devoid of human habitation, one of the world's largest salt pans on the planet awaits. A truly special place that is only really accessible in the dry winter months, visit the amazing Kubu and Kukome Islands for those breathtaking sunsets and sunrises.
Yes, a vast area of the pans is not easily accessible, but for those who are willing to go off the beaten track, the experience is like nothing else.
Makgadikgadi Pans Facts
- Size: 16 100km²
- When to visit the park: Mar - Sep is prefered; do not attempt to cross in the rainy season (Nov - May)
- Climate: Summer, hot with extreme daytime conditions (40°C and upwards). Winter, hot to mild during the day
- Rainfall: Between 450mm and 500mm per annum
- Altitude: 900m - 1000m above sea level
- Location: Eastern Botswana, east of Maun, just south of the A3 road (Maun to Nata)
- Accommodation: Lodges In The Kalahari Desert
Where are the Makgadikgadi Pans located?
The pans are located to the east when looking at a Botswana map, although, not too far east, think more along the lines of a central-eastern location, and one would be spot on. Around 100 kilometres from Maun and +- 30 kilometres from Nata.
Having said what we had said above, access to the Makgadikgadi will depend on what part you will be visiting. Will it be the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Nwetwe Pan or Sua Pan? All three of these are far apart from each other; as an example, getting from Makgadikgadi Pans National Park to Sua Pan is one long day out and a few 100 kilometres.
To view the Makgadikgadi location from a Google Map, click here: Google Map - Makgadikgadi Pans
Information On the Makgadikgadi Pans
One of the world's largest salt pans, the great Makgadikgadi Pans, a vast open lifeless land, devoid of human habitation.
Once an ancient great lake in central Botswana and now a dried up lunar expanse, the Makgadikgadi Pans fill with water just once a year when the rains fall, attracting a plethora of game and birdlife to this region of Botswana. During the day, the dusty Makgadikgadi, with whirlwinds skirting across a seemingly endless desert, offers the best way to come face to face with true isolation.
The Makgadikgadi flood between January and March, if it rains enough. This causes grasses to burst into life, flamingos to arrive by their thousands to nest, and a great migration of countless zebra and wildebeest to arrive. When this happens, it is one of Africa's great wildlife spectacles. Unfortunately, this huge water spectacle becomes practically inaccessible by road at this time, but anyone fortunate enough to fly over the area during the wet season sees a water wonderland of incredible scenic beauty.
Wildlife here includes black-maned Kalahari lion, leopard, wild dog, cheetah, springbok, gemsbok, herds of wildebeest and zebra, brown and spotted hyena, and eland and other antelopes.
Best Time to Visit the Makgadikgadi Pans?
A simple answer to this question is winter; the pans will be dry and easily accessed or driven over. In summer, the minute the pans get wet, they instantly become a no go area; if one gets stuck, you may have to leave your vehicle as it becomes unrecoverable.
The same principle applies to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park area, with winter being best for wildlife and accessing different areas of the park.
A bonus of summer when the pans are flooded is the 1000's of flamingoes that are viewable, especially from the Nata Bird Sanctuary.
Main Attractions Of the Makgadikgadi Pans
- Migrations of wildebeest and zebra during the rainy season
- Kubu Island and Kukome Island
- Boteti River on the western side of the Pans
- Seasonally home to thousands of flamingos
- A night out or two wild camping on the pans themselves
- Jacks Camp, San Camp and for the more budget orientated Planet Baobab
- Driving across the Pans when they are dry