"The salt pans for which this park gets its name lie at the northern fringes of the Kalahari. They comprise vast, shallow depressions that fill up after the rains, and to which flamingos and other water birds flock in their thousands. Fresh growth on the surrounding grasslands also lure large herds of zebra, wildebeest, springbok and other grazers, which continue west towards the Boteti waterfront, where elephant, lion and other big game also occur. Resident wildlife year-round includes brown hyenas, meerkats and other more unusual arid-country fare. Meanwhile, the hauntingly evocative pans offer other attractions and activities, including prehistoric relics, islands of baobabs and game tracking with the San bushmen”

- Mike Unwin

Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pan National Park

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, together with neighbouring Nxai Pans just to the north, protects a unique environment, where the acacia savanna at the northern fringes of the Kalahari surrounds several huge salt pans that flood seasonally to form shallow lakes. At times, fresh growth brings large herds into the area. At other times, it can appear a desolate region – but there are always subtle and fascinating attractions to discover.

The pans themselves offer a haunting landscape of empty horizons and huge skies. Resident wildlife includes many species adapted to arid regions, from brown hyenas and meerkats to ostrich and sandgrouse. Fresh growth peaks in March/April, when large herds of zebra and wildebeest gather for the grazing, along with springbok, hartebeest and oryx – the signature Kalahari antelope. At this time, large flocks of lesser flamingos join a host of breeding water birds at the pans. With luck, you might also encounter lions and other predators that pass through. Game viewing is not the only focus, however, and the few permanent lodges that operate in this region offer numerous other ways to explore the region’s unique attractions, from visiting the baobab islands that punctuate the pans’ fragile soda crust, to game tracking with traditional San guides, searching for prehistoric relics and simply star-gazing.

The western fringes of the park lie in a transition zone between the Kalahari and Okavango delta, and protect a sweep of the Boteti river – part of the Okavango’s overspill. The game viewing here can be spectacular in season, with elephant joining the zebra herds that mass along the river, while lion, leopard and cheetah are among the predators that arrive to take their chances.

When to go

Find out when is best to visit

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  • Poor
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WET SEASON

This is the peak of the wet season, yet days with rainfall are very spread-out. A season of change as the landscape totally transforms to a green flowering ‘desert’, a beautiful time to visit. Great birding with migratory species present and the chance of spotting flamingos on the pans. The migration of thousands of animals takes place during this period, ultimately offering some great game viewing potential.

Midday temperatures high during this period, averaging 31°C/88°F. Mornings are more comfortable, though can occasionally be cool, so do pack a light fleece.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

WET SEASON

This is the peak of the wet season, yet days with rainfall are very spread-out. A season of change as the landscape totally transforms to a green flowering ‘desert’, a beautiful time to visit. Great birding with migratory species present and the chance of spotting flamingos on the pans. The migration of thousands of animals takes place during this period, ultimately offering some great game viewing potential.

Midday temperatures high during this period, averaging 31°C/88°F. Mornings are more comfortable, though can occasionally be cool, so do pack a light fleece.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

WET SEASON

This is the peak of the wet season, yet days with rainfall are very spread-out. A season of change as the landscape totally transforms to a green flowering ‘desert’, a beautiful time to visit. Great birding with migratory species present and the chance of spotting flamingos on the pans. The migration of thousands of animals takes place during this period, ultimately offering some great game viewing potential.

Midday temperatures high during this period, averaging 31°C/88°F. Mornings are more comfortable, though can occasionally be cool, so do pack a light fleece.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

WET SEASON

This is the peak of the wet season, yet days with rainfall are very spread-out. A season of change as the landscape totally transforms to a green flowering ‘desert’, a beautiful time to visit. Great birding with migratory species present and the chance of spotting flamingos on the pans. The migration of thousands of animals takes place during this period, ultimately offering some great game viewing potential.

Midday temperatures high during this period, averaging 31°C/88°F. Mornings are more comfortable, though can occasionally be cool, so do pack a light fleece.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

DRY SEASON

Whist the occasional shower is still possible, May is the beginning of the dry season. The landscape will still be many shades of green following the rains, with great game viewing opportunities. Midday temperatures are pleasant, but the mornings are cold, with an average minimum low of 9°C/48°F, so do pack a light fleece.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape is rapidly returning to a semi-arid desert. Game viewing opportunities remain strong, especially around the Boteti river area. Access onto the Pans also improves throughout the dry season.

Midday temperatures are pleasant, averaging around 26°C/79°F. The mornings are very cold, with an average minimum low of 6°C/43°F. Sub-zero mornings very possible, so do pack appropriately for those early game drives!

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape is rapidly returning to a semi-arid desert. Game viewing opportunities remain strong, especially around the Boteti river area. Access onto the Pans also improves throughout the dry season.

Midday temperatures are pleasant, averaging around 26°C/79°F. The mornings are very cold, with an average minimum low of 6°C/43°F. Sub-zero mornings very possible, so do pack appropriately for those early game drives!

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape is rapidly returning to a semi-arid desert. Game viewing opportunities remain strong, especially around the Boteti river area. Access onto the Pans also improves throughout the dry season.

Midday temperatures are pleasant, averaging around 26°C/79°F. The mornings are very cold, with an average minimum low of 6°C/43°F. Sub-zero mornings very possible, so do pack appropriately for those early game drives!

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, the landscape is rapidly returning to a semi-arid desert. Game viewing opportunities remain strong, especially around the Boteti river area. Access onto the Pans also improves throughout the dry season.

Midday temperatures rising, averaging around 32°C/90°F midday. The mornings are cool, with a minimum low of 15°C/59°F.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

DRY SEASON

Clear skies still dominate, though as the heat builds towards the end of the month so does the likelihood of thunderstorm. Game viewing opportunities remain strong around the Boteti river area.

Temperatures are the highest of the year, averaging 34°C/93°F midday, but occasionally temperatures can climb over 40°C/104°F. Mornings are more pleasant with an average minimum of 19°C/66°F.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

WET SEASON

A season of change as the landscape totally transforms to a green flowering ‘desert’, a beautiful time to visit. This great birding with migratory species present and fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities.

Temperatures are the highest of the year, averaging 34°C/93°F midday, but occasionally temperatures can climb over 40°C/104°F. Mornings are more pleasant with an average minimum of 19°C/66°F.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

WET SEASON

A season of change as the landscape totally transforms to a green flowering ‘desert’, a beautiful time to visit. This great birding with migratory species present and fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities.

Temperatures are the highest of the year, averaging 34°C/93°F midday, but occasionally temperatures can climb over 40°C/104°F. Mornings are more pleasant with an average minimum of 19°C/66°F.

Like the rest of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Silt Pans area has very distinct wet and dry seasons; rain occurs sporadically usually in the form of sharp thunderstorms from November through to April, the rest of the year clear skies dominate. Although the region offers great game viewing throughout the year we would generally recommend visiting the area at the back end of the rains, when wildlife is drawn to the flooded plans. This period also corresponds to the second largest migration of African ungulates, as approximately 30,000 animals (Burchell’s zebra and blue wildebeest) move from the Boteti River to the Makgadikgadi salt pans to take advantage of fresh lush grasses. It can also be possible to see flamingos on the pans over this period.
Outside the summer/ wet season the pans are a truly spectacular sight to behold. Game viewing can still be good, the best of which can be found along the banks of the Boteti river area.

Experiences

Up-close encounters with our habituated meerkats

Meet friendly meerkats in their natural habitat for a fun and engaging family activity. Your guide will escort you to meet these endearing creatures who may even use your head as a look-out post.

Quad bike across the salt-crusted pans

Head out on four wheels with nothing but a bedroll and a blanket to cross the Makgadikgadi Pans to Kubu Island. Descend upon prehistoric beaches, gigantic boulders and baobab trees as you reach the 2.7 billion year old granite island rising from the vast pans.

Witness Botswana’s great zebra migration

Observe the scattered herds of zebra grazing their way between the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pans. Recognised as the second largest migration of zebra in Southern Africa, visit Botswana’s national animal journeying their way over miles of shimmering salt pans towards the waterholes and lush grasses of the Boteti River.

Embark on an adventurous two-hour horseback safari

Ride alongside migrating herds and experience the wilds of Africa by horseback. With a perfectly flat and vast surface to roam, saddle up and trot into infinity across the salt-crusted pans for a two-hour adventure.

Join the Zu/’hoasi Bushmen on a bush walk

With origins tracing back 30,000 years, step back in time with the Zu/‘hoasi Bushmen for a gentle introduction to life on the pans. Crossing the ancestral lands, you’ll learn of their survival skills including hunting, food-gathering and an ancient knowledge of plants and animals.

Explore Makgadikgadi Pans and Nxai Pan National Park Properties

San Camp

San Camp

Sitting on the edge of the vast and pristine Makgadikgadi Pans is San Camp, an oasis within its dramatic and beautiful location. With views that run towards the horizon, Morrocan-style tents and a dreamy atmosphere, San Camp is a ..

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