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Nxai Pan on a Botswana Safari.

Visit the Nxai Pan part of the Makgadikgadi Pan System on your Botswana Safari.

Nxai Pan is a part of the greater Makgadikgadi Pans system in Botswana – these are fossil salt pans formed around 10 – 15000 years ago – the last vestiges of a super lake that was formed by waters flowing out rivers today known as the Chobe/ Kwando and Okavango, into the Zambezi and onto the Indian ocean.

Seismic shifts led to drastic changes in the direction of the rivers’ flow. Across the eastern side of the modern day Kalahari quite notable fault lines i.e. ridges are evident and these prevented the rivers from following their previous course to the ocean. Another obvious sign of these huge changes is the 90 degree turn the Kwando River makes becoming the Linyanti, then the Chobe before joining the Zambezi.

More recently the Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi Pans were an important destination for hundreds of thousands of migrating animals, such as zebra and wildebeest. The animals left the Okavango with the arrival of the rains to graze on the open grasslands of the pans and Central Kalahari, returning only as the rain filled pans dried up, forcing them back to the permanent waters of the Delta.

This migration of game was the second largest in the world after that of the Serengeti, until the much maligned vet fences of the late 70’s were raised. While today, ironically, these same fences are a protector of Botswana’s wildlife, as they prevent encroachment of livestock into wildlife areas, they were undoubtedly the cause of the decimation of thousands of animals during the drought years of the 1980’s. Quite simply the animals had no water and couldn’t reach the Delta. However they today are guardians of our wild areas and have prevented the encroachment by livestock over the last forty years, which posed (and still does) the far greater risk to the long term survival of Botswana’s protected areas.

Today the Nxai Pan and Kalahari regions are still an important summer grazing destination in Botswana for several species and recent research is showing that zebra are once more making their way from the Pans to the fringes of the Delta. Nxai Pan is essentially the summer retreat of many animals from the northern regions of the Chobe and Okavango, large herds of zebra and wildebeest join the resident species such as gemsbok, springbok, impala (it is the only place that springbok and impala are found living naturally side by side). Due to the pumping of water all year round, many species that would naturally have moved back to the more permanent waters now reside all year round, and are found side by side with those species adapted to survival without water. In a sense Nxai Pan is where delta meets desert. There are plant, bird, insect and animal species that are found in both habitats and palm trees and elephants (and even rhino, though rarely) alongside gemsbok and springbok. It is entirely unique in this sense and in many respects reminds me of the vistas of east Africa – wide open spaces dotted with umbrella acacia.

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Cost per person: 3000 - 4000       4000 - 5000       5000 - 6000       6000+
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