User Reviews – Makgadikgadi Pans NP

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Overall rating
4/5

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.

Overall rating
4/5

Let me qualify this review -- I went to the pans in the winter (July) which is not the height of its wildlife season. If you can get there in the African summer when the rains are falling and animals are bearing their young and the birds are migrating, I think it would be a very different experience.

Overall rating
4/5

Nice detour/side-visit between Chobe and Okavango. Not as great as those but still good for a sunset drive into the pans. May be different (much better) in low (water) season.

A Night on the Moon
Overall rating
4/5

It’s like being on the moon. The horizon is perfectly flat and you can’t see where it ends. I was there at the end of dry season so there was a delicate crust where the mud had dehydrated, lifted up all pitted and mottled, curling in spots like a decaying leaf. When you walk on this crust it poofs around your feet in little clouds as it turns into incredibly fine dust that gets into every crevice. At first – the only sounds are those you make – so quiet you can hear yourself breathing. Every step crunches so loudly I found myself wanting to tip toe. Despite the fact that there are no plants or animals to be seen, after about 20 minutes you hear a loud drone – you think maybe an ultralight is heading your way – and then you realize the mosquitos have found you! How? Where did they come from? No idea but since you are the only thing out there to feast on – you had better hope you have good bug spray! Because there is nothing on the horizon, sunset and sunrise seem to last much longer and turn the whole world pink. It feels like you’ve been dropped into a sci-fi movie. I found myself whispering – not wanting to disturb the surreal quality of the experience.

A tough motorcycle ride that should only be done by experienced off-road riders
Overall rating
4/5

In September, the pans are very dry, so the wildlife is scarce. September is still very hot (42 degrees Celsius) and the wind was also very strong. With no trees for shelter, camping on the pans was difficult. The Pans are surrounded by deep soft sand, making it difficult on two wheels.

Camping on the open Pans in an awesome experience. You will never feel such solitude when looking across the Pans at absolutely nothing.

Kubu Island with its mystical history is a must see

Loved this Park
Overall rating
4/5

this has been a wonderful travel for me. I really enjoyed it. The scenary was spectacular, the weather awesome. I really loved it.

5 months in the harsh but beautiful Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
Overall rating
4/5

I have been volunteering in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park for the last 5 months with the charity Elephants for Africa (http://www.elephantsforafrica.org/) so this review might be a little different from others. I arrived in Makgadikgadi at the end of May. Having visited other national parks one of the first things I noticed was the harshness of the environment. Around the Boteti river which has only started flowing in 2009 after 20 years of being dry there is some green vegetation but the further you go into the bush the drier to gets to the extent you start to wonder how anything can survive but out in the grasslands you can see gemsbok, steenbok, ostrich and the elephants and zebras making their long trek to the river. The river is where everything happens with large herds (sometimes up to 30 individuals) of male elephants playing in the river and cooling off. Since I have been here we have started seeing female herds moving into the area but they are very nervous around vehicles and tend to move off very quickly.

Lions can be herd at night and there is a local pride in the area but you have to work hard to see them. Early starts down at the river trying to pick up their trails are your best chance but like any safari it can come down to luck like when we bumped into two cheetah in the middle of the day. Wild dogs have also been seen in the area as well.

I'm not a birder but there is plenty of action down at the river in this department with fish eagles, lappetfaced vultures, tawny eagles and a mix of other birds to be seen.

The road network in Makgadikgadi isn't very extensive and if only here for a short period focusing time around the river would be the best use of effort. If you start heading North after the river or too far South of the Khumaga gate you just end up following the national parks fenceline. If you are staying for longer it might be worthwhile travelling east towards the pans and the open grasslands to get a feel for the harshness of the area. However, if you do this you need to be very self sufficient as there is not a lot of traffic in the park so if you get stuck you need to be able to get yourself out.

I stay in the parks area where the SKL office is but have visited the SKL campsite where they have a very nice ablution block where you can get hot water for showers and wash up after a busy day in the field. The SKL guys are also really useful. If you ever get into difficulty they have a vehicle and are willing to go and help you if you get stuck anywhere.

4wd is a must in the park as it can get quite difficult to drive in the sand.

In terms of weather it was warm back in May during the day and cold in the evening but now in October the temperature has really increased and has got up to 40 degrees celsius during the day and still warm during the nights.

In this park you really have to put the time in and if you are expecting to see lions and cheetah left, right and centre this is maybe not the right park for you. However, when you do get these sightings it makes it much more rewarding. That said I might be biased on this but there is nothing better than seeing a herd of elephants playing in the river in the afternoon and makes for some very scenic views.

Also something I forgot to mention but at the moment at the Khumaga gate because of the Boteti river flowing and vehicles being unable to cross there is now a small car ferry that charges Pula 130 each way which often tourists don't know about.

Overall rating
4/5

In the dry season, the pans are accessible, but wildlife viewing is difficult. In the wet .... be ready to dig in the mud.

Overall rating
4/5

Stay at Planet Baobab, one of the quirkiest hotels anywhere and take an organised trip on quad bikes out onto the pan, where you will camp overnight sleeping under the stars. There is absolutely nothing there, but never has nothing been so magnificent as sunset or sunrise on this massive pan.

Worth going, but plan your trip carefully.
Overall rating
4/5

The places is beautiful, and the scenery depends so much on the season. We visited the place in late Oct, and our planned camping in the salt pans was canceled last minute due to the rain. From what I heard, the wet season is full of migratory animals. In the dry season, you can ride out in the pans on dirt bikes, which we did for a only a few minutes until the rain hit. So go there during either season, but not during the transition season or else your trip may not turn out as planned. The meerkat colony is a must see!

Average User Rating

  • 4.5/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star 15
  • 4 star 12
  • 3 star 1
  • 2 star 0
  • 1 star 0
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