Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Travel Guide
Once a magnificent inland sea, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana are all that remain in this desolate northern area. Timeless and empty, a safari here is a journey of self-discovery.
Let a Siyabona Africa Consultant advise you on the best Makgadikgadi safari options.
Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Experience
- Brilliant night skies
- Incredible atmosphere
- Isolated stillness and silence
- Fossils and ancient artefacts
- Moon-like flat landscape and cobalt skies
- Total transformation after the rains
- Golden grasslands and palm trees on the edge of the pans
- Exhilarating Quad-Biking
- Game drives and cultural excursions
- Walks with Bushmen
- Learning about bush lore and history
- Exploring the different Salt Pans
- Flights over the pans in the rainy season
- Elephant, Zebra and Wildebeest migrations
- Flamingo migrations and breeding on the Sowa Pan
- Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan National Parks
- Nata Bird Sanctuary, Kubu Island, Baines' Baobabs
SeasonsThe Dry Season is from April to September, with strong winds August to November. April to July is best for game viewing. March to September is the best period for exploring the pans. The winter period is very cold at night but quite pleasant in the day.
Wet Season starts in November and goes through to March, although the pans may retain the water as far as April or May. Most of the Pans become inaccessible at this time and it is extremely dangerous to venture in without an experienced guide. The best way to view Flamingo flocks is from the air. Daily temperatures are high at this time but mild at night.
Nata, MakgadikgadiOn the eastern edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana is Nata, a small but important village on the crossroads going west to Maun and north to Kasane. The village provides a welcome stop for refuelling and accommodation. It is also the site of a great community eco-tourism project called Nata Bird Sanctuary and is a must-see for visitors passing through.
The main inhabitants of the Sanctuary are birds - 165 species ranging from Kingfishers to Ostriches, Bee-eaters to Eagles and Bustards. Visitors can also see plenty of woodland and savannah species. The Nata River empties into the Sowa Pan in the rainy season at the end of the year, attracting huge numbers of water birds such as Flamingos and Pelicans, Spoonbills, Teals, Ducks and Geese.
Other animals that can be seen at Nata Bird Sanctuary, Botswana include many types of antelope such as Kudu, Reedbuck and Hartebeest. A feature of the Sanctuary is an ancient Baobab that crashed over in 1992; this giant of a tree continues to grow even in a horizontal position.
- Nata River
- Nata Bird Sanctuary
There is a camping area at the entrance to the Nata Bird Sanctuary with barbeque sites, hot showers and flush toilets. Other Makgadikgadi accommodation can also be found in the vicinity of the town.
Nata is located 190km (118 miles) west of Francistown. From Nata it is 100km (62 miles) to Gweta (last stopover for fuel / supplies before Maun). It is 300km (186 miles) from Nata to Kasane or to Maun, Botswana.
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