The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park includes a portion
of these enormous Makgadikgadi Pans, which are almost devoid
of human habitation. However, villages on the periphery
and in between the pans is evidence that the area has supported
people as far back as the stone age. Today the area contains
large numbers of animals who migrate to grasslands in the
west of the park after the rains.
Journeying into this magical land and across the desolate
pans, you somehow feel its ancient mystique. The subtle
hues at sunset transform Makgadikgadi into a surreal wonderland,
which is unlike anywhere else. During the day the dusty
pans, with whirlwinds skirting across a seemingly endless
desert, offer the best way to come face to face with true
The park contains four main vegetation types; riverine
woodland, scrubland, pure grassland and salt pans. The pans
support palm groves and peculiar looking Baobab trees whose
branches look more like roots, giving rise to the name 'upside
down tree. These are interspersed with short spiky yellow
grass found on rises between the pans, known as 'prickly
salt grass'. This is extremely saline resistant to the extent
that salt crystals can sometimes be seen on the leaves.
The interior of the reserve comprises scrub and grassland
with a few 'islands' of Real Fan Palms and Camel thorn acacia.
From April to November game such as springbok,
and zebra move slowly
from the pans area in the south east of the park, to the
Boteti River on the western side. During this migration
animals accumulate in their thousands. The heavily wooded
areas beside the river also contain shy antelopes like
duiker and bushbuck.
If the rains arrive with enough force and river water floods
into the Makgadikgadi salt pans, there is nowhere more complete
in its transformation than here.Tiny crustaceans hatch and
algae blooms to provide food for the largest breeding flocks
and lesser flamingos in
The surface of the pans turns a deep pink from 30,000 breeding
pairs of these birds. This occurs mainly in the pans to
the east of the National Park, particularly Sowa Pan. Other
water birds are also abundant and a good place to see them
is at Nata Bird Sanctuary, just off the main road at the
northern end of Sowa Pan.
As animals and birds
are most prevalent during the rainy season in areas normally
inaccessible by vehicle, the prime objective in visiting
this reserve is not to view game, but to experience true
remoteness and absolute isolation.