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Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

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About Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Country found in: Botswana
Parks total area: 80,000 km² (30,888 miles²)
Year established: 1971
Park wildlife: 33 animals listed
Anti-malarial: Absolutely!

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park map

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park highlights

  • One of the largest salt flats in the world
  • Home to Africa's biggest zebra populations
  • Only breeding population of Greater Flamingos in southern Africa
  • Location of Chapman's Baobab, one of Africa's largest trees
  • Nearby Orapa Game Park is a sanctuary for the rare white rhinoceros

Situated in the center of the savanna of north eastern Botswana, the Makgadikgadi Pan is one of the largest salt flats in the world. The pan is the remnant of Lake Makgadikgadi, an ancient lake 80,000 km² (30,888 miles²) in area and 30 m (90 ft) deep. The lake dried up 10,000 years ago, leaving only a flat expanse of clay crusted with light-catching white salt and other minerals. The pan is located in the Kalahari Basin, along with other commonly-visited pans: Sua, Ntwetwe and Nxai Pans, forming the largest salt pans in the world. The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is situated on the western edge of this region, and the Nxai Pans National Park is located just above it, making it easy to visit them both on one safari. 

As the sun sets over the remote Makgadikgadi Pan in the Kalahari Desert, the vast dome of countless stars are mirrored in the sparkling crystals of the salt flats below, the dried remnants that tell the story of the ancient and enormous lake. Eternity begins here, with unending horizons and soul-expanding isolation marking the enormity of space, while layers of history, from Dr. Livingstone’s famous journey to stone tool relics of pre-human cultures, dig back through immemorial time. 

A visit to Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in the dry season, from March to September, is the best time to experience the otherworldly landscape of the pans. Predators such as lions cheetah, leopards and hyenas are attracted by the migrating herds of wildebeest and one of Africa's biggest zebra populations. Graceful springbok, playful meerkats and elegant ostriches are also common sights.

Less common is the rare white rhinoceros. Orapa Game Park, nearby to Makgadikgadi Pans, is a sanctuary for white rhinos and features one of South Africa’s most respected breeding programs, a crown jewel of endangered species conservation.

The deluge of rains begins in November, and with it come the largest herds of animals seeking relief from the dry, hot summer. Water birds, including Great White Pelicans, ducks, teals, spoonbills and geese flock to the water-filled pans by the thousands. But not to be missed is the flamboyance of a sky full of tens of thousands of pink flamingos. The only breeding population of Greater Flamingos in southern Africa come home to the pan. The heavy rainfalls of the very wettest seasons coax big game such as elephants and buffalo into the area.

Chapman's Baobab is one of Africa's largest trees. Over 3,000 years old and sporting a girth of 25 m (82 ft), this is the most prominent landmark on the lonely savannah. A natural navigational draw, it served as a post office for nineteenth century explorers, who left letters in a hollow in its trunk.

When to visit Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is open year-round. Game viewing is best from April to June. It is best to view the wildlife by air during the wet season, from mid-November to March, as the roads are practically inaccessible.

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Makgadikgadi Pans National Park tour packages

Showing 10 of 24 tour packages. Click here to see all tours.

Tour by: Jobovic Safaris

This safe 13 day safari, either in camping or lodge accommodation, visits the world renown Kruger National Park,...

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$2323

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Tour by: Africa Adventure Consultants

Enjoy this luxury tented camp safari in the heart of Botswana’s premier wildlife areas. These camps, the finest ...

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$12500

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Tour by: Jacada Travel

This is a very comprehensive and luxury tour of Botswana. You will discover in depth its many extraordinary h...

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$13067

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Tour by: Discover Africa

Game viewing by land and water come together at Makgadikgadi, Moremi and the Okavango Delta, treating you to a v...

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$3490

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Tour by: Encompass Africa

- A self drive safari holiday offering great freedom to explore - Highlights are Victoria Falls, Chobe, Makgadi...

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$1350

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Tour by: Afri-can International

Self-Drive Southern Africa For the more adventurous traveller or for those that don’t want to travel in a group...

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$528

per person

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Tour by: Jobovic Safaris

This tour, either in camping or lodge accommodation, will take you on a safe road trip from Johannesburg through...

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$1812

per person

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Tour by: Endeavour Safaris

This safari will take you into four different areas of the Okavango Delta, Moremi, Savute, Chobe, and Makgadikga...

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$5000

per person

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Showing 10 of 24 tour packages. Click here to see all tours.