Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Imagine a space completely open, stretching for thousands of kilometres under a canopy of azure sky. A space filled with silence, isolation, distance, peace and tranquillity. This space is found at the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan, the biggest salt pan in the world. Covering between 12 000kmē - 16 000kmē the Makgadikgadi Pan's barren flatness is bigger than the whole of Portugal. The pan was once the bed of an ancient superlake that began evaporating leaving the open pan. Abundant stone tools and artefacts have been found in the pans, showing that the lake has been used for thousands of years. Once a year in the wet season the pans fill with water and thousands of birds flock to the area, in particular flamingos - turning the water into a sea of pink. The area is also home to one of Africa's biggest zebra populations; an impressive sight to see.

The Makgadikgadi pan is technically not a single pan but rather many smaller pans separated by desert. The area was declared a game reserve and was then expanded to become a National Park. The National Park is situated halfway between Maun and Nata in the northern region of Botswana and the closest accommodation, fuel and supply town is Gweta, just 45km away. The three major pans in the park are Ntwetwe Pan that is the largest pan in the system and is located to the south of Gweta. Next is the Sowa Pan to the southwest of Nata and finally the Nxai Pan that is located to the north of the Gewta/Maun main road. Experience in 4X4 driving is essential in the park as all roads are rough and can often be very sandy.

The Makgadikgadi Pans are malaria areas and visitors are advised to take appropriate precautions.

Mark Page