A Makgadikgadi Pans safari in Botswana is more about the landscape and the sense of space than about the wildlife as the region does not support many animals. There are however interesting plants and animals that have adapted to this uncompromising environment.
The flora of the Makgadikgadi area varies during the different seasons. The extreme and arid conditions in combination with the presence of excessive mineral deposits do not create favourable conditions for plant life. During the summer rains, however the landscape is transformed, welcoming a large variety of annual plants that sustain the area.
Wildflowers such as (Hibiscus calyphyllus) grow among lush grasses. The Tsama melon (Citrulluslanatus) grows in certain areas and its moisture provides sustenance for animals. The most common trees found here are the Camelthorn (Acacia erioloba) and the Umbrella Thorn (Acacica tortillas) which are covered by large thorns to protect their leaves from animals. These trees also have complex and extensive root system that allows them to tap into deep reserves of groundwater.
Possibly the most iconic trees in this area are the Baobabs (Adansonia digitata). These trees have stood the test of time due to their ability to efficiently retain water. These oddly-shaped, corpulent trees are scattered around various parts of the pans, and can also appear on rocky outcrops such as Kubu Island.
Larger mammal sightings are extremely rare on these pans. As a result of an uncompromising climate and Cattle fences, which deter herds that would ordinarily have been more frequent visitors to the region. Groups of dispersed Springbok are able to withstand the terrain through their phenomenal ability to retain water for long periods of time. On other occasions, one will be able to spot smaller herds of Zebra or Gemsbok trekking through the blazing heat.
As a result of the lack of herbivores and animosity from Cattle farmers, predators are very thin on the ground in the Central Kalahari. Smaller predators such as the Brown Hyena and the Black-Backed Jackal are able to survive on the smaller mammals such as Spring Hares, various species of rodent and carrion. Aardvarks and Porcupines and Springhares are also found feeding on dry shrubs and insects.