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A short flight from the lush delta, but a starkly different region...
Botswana Safaris in the Makgadikgadi Pans
The Makgadikgadi pans; the remnants of a superlake over 30 metres deep and covering more than 80,000² km that has now submitted to climatic change and become no more than an expansive lunar like dust bowl stretching into the horizon.
The Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana are amongst some of the largest pans in the world. The vast open lifeless land, devoid of human habitation was once an ancient great lake in central Botswana fed by the same waters from Angola that floods the delta each year. The pans now resemble a lunarscape, dried up and dusty with whirlwinds dancing across the crust. This is true isolation at its best.
The Makgadikgadi pans represent a haunting and fascinating environment the absolute contrast to the flourishing Okavango Delta. The Makgadikgadi will submit and almost begrudgingly flood between January and March, if there is enough rain. This causes a plethora of activity and growth and the grasses burst info life, flamingos to arrive in their thousands to nest, and a great migration of countless zebra and wildebeest to arrive.
The Makgadikgadi Pans is a place like none other. Vast expanses of land shimmer white and salt deposits glint into the seemingly endless horizon. To the edges of the pans grow coarse grasses which bend in the wind and ancient baobabs that tower towards the sky, proffering a resting place to vultures that circle on the thermals. The vast pans offer prehistoric beaches, Stone Age ruins and salty wind devils that spin over the cracked earth. The pans are littered with fossils and are home to wildlife that is both hardy and nomadic.
A safari in Botswana and specifically a visit to the Magkgadigadi Pans is likely to offer encounters with Meerkats, mongooses, brown hyena, aardvark and aardwolf which are present all year round offering a wide variety of game viewing opportunities when combined with perhaps the Linyanti or Okavango Delta.
Through the reed grasses step Secretary birds, ostrich and korhaans as bateleurs soar elegantly overhead. Once the rains are established and the pans begin to return to their former glory a pink cloud decends across the pans as thousands of flamingos claims residence. There are just two unique camps that we use in the Makgadikgadi, Jacks camp and San Camp and whether you stay in the dry or rainy season they both offer a unique Makgadikgadi experience remote and peaceful and entirely in contrast to the other safari destinations of Botswana.
Whilst on safari in the pans during the wet season which runs from November through to March you’ll head out on game drives in 4x4 jeeps which make a rough terrain easy to navigate. You’ll drive past huge herds of zebra and wildebeest migrating along well worn pathways and spot Wattled crane, ducks and flamingos at feeding and breeding grounds. At some safari camps you may have the option of quad bike use dependent on recent rainfall levels which are an exhilarating way to explore this unforgiving area.
There are also night-drives where you might come across, Brown Hyena, Aardvark and Aardwolf and game walks to see the desert inhabitants such as Gemsbok, Meerkat and Springbok and you may even visit the indigenous San tribes who survive in this seemingly uninhabitable land.
If you visit in the dry season you are much more likely to use Quad bikes out on the pans, along with all of the afore mentioned activities additionally you could also enjoy a fly camp option where you stay out under the stars and really get to know Botswana.