Overview – Makgadikgadi Pans NP
Makgadikgadi is part of the Kalahari basin and has some of the largest saltpans in the world. The shimmering, cracked, salty crust doesn’t look as if it could support any form of life. After good rains, however, this desolate landscape transforms when new, green grass attracts thousands of Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest. When the pans fill up, flocks of pelican and flamingo settle in as well. The national park is located on the western border of the pans, covering only a small part of it.
Pros and Cons
- Amazing geological feature of the salt pans
- Off-the-beaten-track and little visited
- Open plains make wildlife viewing better
- Good concentrations of animals at the Boteti river in the dry months
- Animal migration to the pans in the wet months
- Less wildlife than in Chobe or Moremi
- Little accommodation in and outside the park
- It is very hot and dry
Most wildlife activity in the park is at the Boteti River, and this is where most of the lodges are situated. This area gets jam-packed with grazers in the Dry season. Burchell's zebra, blue wildebeest, giraffe and greater kudu all gather here. Lion, leopard and spotted hyena are regulars as well. When the grass starts to grow in the Wet season, these animals migrate east to the pans.
The park has a variety of habitats. The Boteti River has beautiful, riverine forest on its banks. The pans in the east of the park don’t have much animal activity in the dry, winter months, but this is when their stark beauty is best appreciated. At this time, 4x4’s can drive onto the pans to experience this strange environment up close.
Weather & Climate
Makgadikgadi Pans has a desert climate with two distinct seasons. The Wet season (November to March) is consistently warm, with the average daytime temperature hovering around 32°C/90°F. Temperatures in the Dry season (April to October) are anything but consistent. They start off warm, drop to cool in the middle of the year, then crank up to very hot in October.
Best Time to Visit
Depending on the time of year you visit Makgadikgadi, you’ll spot different animals around the park. The Wet season (November to March) is the best time to see birds. If you’re lucky, you’ll see enormous flocks of flamingos congregating at the pans. The Dry season (April to October) is when herbivores and various predators head down to the Boteti River.
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Makgadikgadi Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
Brian is an award winning travel writer, author of safari books and regular contributor to magazines such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa.
The Big Empty
The Makgadikgadi is an extraordinary place. Once, 20,000 years ago, there was a lake here, twice the size of Lake Victoria. Then it vanished, leaving the mosaic of soda pans you’ll see today. In the dry season you can drive by quad bike...
Latest User Review
While I'm not a birder, it's a great place to see a lot of birds. The harshness of the land there and high salinity of the water mean that not that many animals can live there. Still there are wildebeests around and zebras.