Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

A striking lunar like landscape and fantastic contrast to the Okavango Delta.

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans offer a unique safari experience, suitable for every type of traveller.  At first glance, it may seem a landscape devoid of anything – except the lunar salt crust – but looking closer will reveal a fascinating environment that attracts adventure and animals.  The two main seasons here are the wet (Nov-April) and the dry (May-Oct).  Both seasons are special and unique.  It can be difficult to decide when to come!

During the wet season, local rains transform the dry, powdery basin into a vast lake.  Literally overnight, these wetland lakes become noisy, animated playgrounds for a spectacular range of African water birds.  Thousands of Greater Flamingo, Pelicans, Storks, Cranes, Ducks, Geese, Plovers, Terns and Herons change the mirage effect to shades of pinks and blues.  A beautiful and wondrous sight.  Whilst the Pans themselves fill with water, the grasslands on the periphery spring to life becoming a carpet of lush pasture – the favourite grazing for Zebra, Wildebeest and Springbok.  The plains become covered – Serengeti style – by thousands of these animals drawn to these nutrient-rich grasses.  This migration from Nxai Pan and even Chobe area to the north and the westerly section of the Park is the second largest in the world and far less known!  Where plains game travel, predators are never far away.  Bountiful opportunity for the Black-maned Kalahari Lion.

During the dry season, which coincides with the colder months of the year, the Pans become a different sort of playground – perfect for adventure and excitement.  Quad-biking across the surface is exhilarating and fun.  The thrill is compounded by the paranormal setting.  The thread of bikes and riders streaming across the crust leaves a trail of lunar-dust behind.  Simply awesome!  For those keen on star-gazing and looking for an adventurous night in the wild – camping overnight is an unforgettable experience.  Bundled in thick clothing and cosy bedding, watching the ceiling of stars above, spotting shooting and falling stars and the occasional passing satellite – one appreciates the enormity of the universe – and the remoteness of this location.

Whatever the season, there are always entertaining visits to the Meerkat colonies.  Here, these energetic and endearing creatures are relaxed and comfortable in people’s company.  Quietly follow them as they dash from point to point, jumping on a grassy knoll – or possibly your knee – to check the next place to forage for scorpions or beetles.

Makgadikgadi Pans area is also an important landmark for the San Bushmen where a sensitive program gives employment to the community and an opportunity for visitors to engage with them in a positive and respectful way.  Interesting and entertaining walks with a family, comprising community elders and down to the youngest toddlers are also available year round.  This unique and authentic insight into the ancient customs and culture of one of Earth’s oldest communities is captivating and illuminating.  Seeing the desert through Bushman eyes gives a perspective that few modern people have the opportunity to experience.

Whilst the migration of Zebra and Wildebeest is transient and predictable, other desert-dwelling animals are always resident.  Whilst shy and nocturnal, so not always easily seen, expert and knowledgeable guides will take you to the Brown Hyena den.  These bear-like canines have a thick and shaggy coat to protect them against the harsh desert climate.  They are shy of people but lovingly social with each other.  They cavort and nuzzle and provide a lovely display of affection.  Aardvark and Aardwolf, Springhares and Ground Squirrels, Bat-eared foxes and Jackal, Ostrich, Kgori Bustards, Secretary Birds, Korhaans remain year round.

Accommodation in this Area

From $110 per person

Planet Baobab

Aimed at self-drivers, Planet Baobab is a simple but charming, and rather off-the-wall, establishment just north of the Makgadikgadi Pans, near Gweta village. A unique property set around 4,000 year old baobabs with basic accommodation but plenty of character. Rooms come in the form of traditional Bakalanga mud or grass huts with quirky touches. An affordable base from which to enjoy some superb activities in the Kalahari including meerkat visits, quad biking and bushwalks.

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From $1795 per person

Jack’s Camp

One of Africa’s most famous camps, Jack’s rises like an oasis of luxury among the lunar like Makgadikgadi Pans. Elegantly styled to capture the sense of adventure of the original explorers without compromising on comfort, Jack’s Camp is unique in style and experience-with some of the most original desert experiences in Africa. Exploring by 4x4, on foot, quad bike or even horseback the secrets of the desert are revealed by some of the best guides.

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From $1495 per person

San Camp

The breath- taking Makgadikgadi Pans form the backdrop for impressive and elegantly- styled San camp. Fringed by palm trees with sweeping views over the salt pans, San Camp is an achingly romantic and truly enchanting Bedouin-style oasis in the Kalahari. This chic camp offers a luxurious desert safari and an impressive range of exciting activities- with day and night game drives, san bushman walks, meerkat visits, quad biking and much more.

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From $620 per person

Camp Kalahari

On the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, beneath the rattling palms on Hyena Island, lies Camp Kalahari. This is a simple and relaxed camp with buckets of charm and an ideal base for guests exploring the Kalahari salt pans. The desert safari experience here is excellent, with a captivating list of activities including game drives, San bushman walks, quad biking and meerkat visits. Popular with all looking for something different, especially families.

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