User Reviews – Nxai Pan NP
Email Ian | 65+ years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
Arriving at the Nxai Pan gate, we were greeted by another track masquerading as a river and informed that we could only be admitted at our own risk. This was a no-brainer as our camp was already set up in there and there was no alternative. As it was getting fairly late, we did a short game drive and repaired to camp for dinner and bed.
Next morning all was well and we set off to see what Nxai Pan had to offer. It was to turn out to be a day mainly consisting of bird sightings, apart from hundreds of Zebras, which was the reason we were there anyway. They were even more plentiful than the Oryx had been in Central Kalahari and our guide estimated we saw between three and five thousand in Nxai Pan. However, the vast amount of rain and the affect it had on the vegetation meant the Zebras didn’t need to migrate so far as in most years. Had it been a normal year he estimated we would have seen three to four times that number.
My first impression of Nxai Pan was how big and open the area is, although only a fraction of the area covered by Central Kalahari. It is classic Cheetah territory and that was what I was hoping to see. I didn’t have to wait long on our second day and we found a female with two young cubs, probably about nine months old. We spent best part of an hour with them as they slowly moved around their range and the cubs played happily with each other, before they moved into cover and we left them.
Next up was another herd (dazzle) of Zebras, and another brief Cheetah sighting, but much of the day was spent looking for Lions. After lunch, we were successful, even witnessing a (distant) mating session. There was a torrential thunderstorm later on in the afternoon, but once this moved through we had another Cheetah sighting, which turned out to be the brother of the female we had seen in the morning.
That brought us to the end of our two full days in Nxai Pan and just left us with a game drive to the gate next morning. We had been trying, unsuccessfully, to photograph a European Bee-eater since we arrived, but every time our guide killed the engine, the bird would fly. Finally we were successful as we found one in an Acacia bush and it didn’t move. Also added a Bradfield’s Hornbill to our list as it posed beautifully beside the track.
My overall impression of Nxai Pan is somewhat mixed. Certainly we saw exactly what we went there for, so we have no complaints on that score. But there are vast areas of the reserve that are inaccessible due to the no off-roading policy. I understand the reasons for this policy and agree with it, but it only works if there are adequate roads to use and that is where Nxai Pan suffers.
Our safari (our first!) was more than we expected it be. Once in a lifetime adventure!
Nxai Pan was our first stop on our two week mobile tent safari. Took the better part of a day to drive from Maun with our first stop being Thomas Baines Baobas. Wow! Breathtaking. When we were told the legend that the trees were thrown to Earth below, we could understand why! Since we were there in winter, the leaves were gone and the branches look like the roots. We stayed 2 nights in Nxai Pan and we were treated to our very first view of 2 magnificent male lions lounging in the sun. Still my very favorite memory of the trip. Of course, other wildlife is abundant and hundreds of bird species. Our weather was perfect; cold in the mornings but beautiful and comfortably warm by 10am. Our guide was Alwyn Myburgh of Yambo Safaris. Very knowledgable guide & tracker. His crew was outstanding! The food was out of this world.......better than anything I could ever cook at home and they were cooking on a open fire. Seriously.....fresh bread daily and chocolate mousse? Alwyn had arranged for everything we would ever need during our two weeks in Botswana. I would love to go back and take the family some day. What a special trip!
Email Ross | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
Nxai Pan National Park Is Well Off the Beaten Path...Which Is Why You Want to Go There
There are two great reasons to visit Botswana’s Nxai Pan National Park east of the city of Maun.
First of all, you’ll see wildlife here on this baobab-dotted salt pan that you may not see elsewhere in Botswana. First on my list is the Oryx or Gemsbok. These shy, stocky antelope, incredibly well adapted to life with limited water, roam this sandy wilderness where their long, sharp horns and striking black-and-white faces signal their presence in the tall grass. Two other “boks” of note are the small and light-footed springbok, with facial markings reminiscent of kabuki dancers, that graze the dry pan in significant numbers, and the even smaller Steenbok, a Bambi-like creature with markedly oversized ears that lives a more solitary life. I also saw hartebeest here, as well as bat-eared fox, honey badger and brown hyena – these in addition to the more familiar attractions: giraffe, elephant, kudu, lion, cheetah, wildebeest, zebra, jackal, et al. And for those more keyed into the feathered set, you’ll be wearing out your binoculars for sure. You won’t need them to see the many ostriches, but you will want a closer look at all the eagles (including brown snake, booted, tawny, martial and bateleur) and the pale chanting goshawk, lanner falcon and Dickinson’s kestrel. I can drop plenty more names – kori bustard, red-billed quelea, ant-eating chat, northern black korhaan, double-banded courser, swallow-tailed bee eater, African hoopoe – but need I go on? And one side note – park management keeps the Nxai Pan waterhole supplied with water all year round, so you can always find wildlife there taking advantage of this government handout.
And second of all, though in the high season (Botswana’s winter) you may not see as many animals here as in a park like Chobe, for instance, there is one species you’ll be happy to see less of, and that’s people. In Nxai Pan, you’ll often feel like you’re the only one who thought of taking a safari in Africa. Part of the reason for this is Nxai Pan’s relative inaccessibility – once you drive through the gate, expect at least a two-hour drive along a treacherously sandy “road” to get to the campgrounds (I say at least two hours since you may spend a third hour or so helping some unfortunate fellow visitor get their mired vehicle moving again). But don’t let this scare you off – after all, this is why you came to Africa instead of some safari park in Florida.
All told, if you’re in northern Botswana and feel like getting off the well-beaten path to Chobe and the Okavango, visit Nxai Pan – it’s well worth it.
Email Horst M. Vogel | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
Gosh, we enjoyed this park too with elephants at the campsite and a leopard sitting on top of a termite mound. It's remote and that's what makes it very beautiful indeed ... provided you love solitude. Nxai Pan was also once our springboard for an adventureous trip along the historic cattle trail all the way up north to Pandamatenga. Afterwards, our radiator needed a thorough cleaning from seeds though.
50-65 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
Day trip to Baine's Baobabs was great - wonderful scenery on route and lots of wildlife.
20-35 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
We went in November and the wildlife was mostly gone from the park. The scenic beauty and solitude of the park are unmatched though.
65+ years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
it was very dry and the water hole was nearly dry, the guide explained that the period was not good,
Not a popular venue but does boast the famous "Baines' Baobabs, a must see if you visit here.
It offers everything that the Central Kalahari Game Reserve offers and some very interesting salt pans and baobab trees, too. Kwando Safaris gave us an experience very similar to that of Central Kalahari Game Reserve and I fulfilled a lifelong dream of meeting my first San Bushman who was our tracker. Our guide was Lucky Garenamotse who owns Lucky Tours and Safaris and who was on loan to Kwando for 3 months. I would recommend Lucky to anyone! He knows everything about the birds and plants in Botswana and a whole lot more, too. Sweet guy, great driver, lots of fun.
Email Eric Donnelly | 35-50 years of age | Experience level: first safari
An excellent introduction to Botswana.
My partner and I went to the Nxai Pans in September 2011 arranged by Far and Away, before heading off into the Delta with Letaka (through Naturetrek).
We stayed in Nxai Pans National Park at one of the government run camps, sleeping in tents and using the excellent solar showers at the camp. Our guide drove us on almost all of the tracks within the park, especially to the water holes which were teaming with birds and mammals. Although there were no big predators it was great to see so much wildlife on my first trip to Africa. On the last full day we went to the pans on route to Baines Boababs. The Pans were amazing; flat, hot and as far strecthing as you could see. The Boababs were an amazing place to stop for lunch! On the way back to camp on the very sandy road we had to rescue a couple who had stuck thier 4WD. I would recomend being driven!