James Bainbridge
United Kingdom UK

James is a travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guides, including senior author of the guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Category: Best Kept Safari Secrets

Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans are a remarkable desert environment, where waterholes are magnets for thirsty animals and baobab trees brush the sky.

In northern Botswana, a few hours’ drive east of Maun (gateway to the Okavango Delta), the Makgadikgadi Pans have a surreal landscape of salt flats and towering baobabs. Seeing animals in this harsh environment makes a dramatic change from the usual African bush. We were lucky enough to spot a steely lioness leading her clumsy, big-pawed cubs through the desert to a waterhole. The hazy, dust-filled sky gives photos an almost apocalyptic flavour, particularly when combined with a cracked white pan and a simmering, orange-ball Kalahari sunset. Typically for Botswana, there are many luxurious lodges in the pans, but a great option for midrange travellers is Planet Baobab. It offers accommodation in traditional Bakalanga huts, and safari packages such as ‘Meerkat Mania’, which includes a night in Ntwetwe Pan.

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