Botswana :: Makgadikgadi
Category: Protected Areas :: Protected Area
About two million years ago, there was a vast body of water in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, called Lake Makgadikgadi. It's believed to have covered an area of about 80 000 km² to a depth of up to 30 metres. As the millennia passed, climate change and cracks in the earth’s crust led to this lake drying up. This is turn, led to the formation of a series of smaller pans separated by sandy desert and rocky islands, covering 10 000 km². Today, these are what's known as the Makgadikgadi Pans. The largest are Sowa (Sua) Pan, Ntwetwe and Nxai. Baines’ Baobabs are located at the smaller Kudiakam Pan. The lesser-known Kaucaca Pan is found just northwest of the A3 near Nata.Traveller Description
In the southwest, the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park consists of extensive grasslands, dense acacia woodlands and the western edge of Ntwetwe Pan. There are two campsites in the park, with ablutions featuring running water and flush toilets.
A strip of grassland separates Ntwetwe from Sua Pan in the east, which is one of just three sites in Africa where Lesser Flamingos breed on a regular basis before migrating to Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa. (See Nata)
Lekhubu Island (fondly known as Kubu Island) on the western edge of Ntwetwe Pan, is one of the most popular destinations in the Makgadikgadi Pans. From this rocky outcrop you can gaze across the vast white salt expanse of Sua Pan, it's so big and flat that one can literally see the earth's curvature. At sunset and sunrise, the baobabs are bathed in red light in stark while the pan itself shimmers silver at full moon.
There's a campsite with chemical toilets, but no showers or water. The campsite is operated by the local community who also offer guided walks to archaeological and historical remains on the island.
Kukonje Island is on the eastern edge of Sua Pan and has a few campsites but no facilities. Camping is free but visitors have to sign in at Kwadiba Veterinary Checkpoint (open 06:00 - 22:00). During the rainy season, Kukonje isn't accessible and even in the dry season the going is pretty bumpy and may be wet near the pan's edge. It's best to enquire about road conditions at the Kwadiba Veterinary Checkpoint before you continue to Kukonje.
In the northwest, Nxai Pan National Park incorporates Nxai and Kgama-Kgama pans which fill with water in the wet season; this draws herds of antelope that graze on the grassy edges, and they're followed by predators. Campsites are available at South Camp, these have running water and flush toilets.
Baine's Baobabs, 30km south of Nxai Pan, is a rocky outcrop with seven enormous baobabs that's surrounded by Kudiakam Pan. Baine painted these trees in 1862 while accompanying fellow explorer John Chapman to Victoria Falls. The trees grow so slowly that it's extremely difficult to discern any difference between the trees in the painting and the trees as they are now. There are three campsites near Baines Baobabs, they have no facilities.
|+267 397 1405
|+267 318 0774
|Host Website :
|Cellphone Reception :
|Best Time to Visit :
|January to April
|Gate Opening and Closing Times :
|Apr- Sept (Winter): 06h00-18h30; Oct - Mar (Summer): 05h30-19h00
|Reception Opening and Closing Times :
|Office hours: 07h30-16h30 on weekdays. Closed weekends.
|Park entry fee: BWP120pp (International); BWP30pp (Residents); BWP10pp (Citizens) & BWP50 per day foreign registered vehicle. Children 8-17 half price and under 8 free. (Mar-2022)
|Lodging, Camping, Airstrip
|Landing Strip, Safe Parking Available
|Game Viewing, Game Drives, Quad Bikes, 4WD Trails, Picnics, Guided Walks, Bird Watching
|Game to View :
|Wildebeest. Zebra. Lion. Cheetah. Hyena. Giraffe. Gemsbok. Eland. Gemsbok. Springbok. Red Hartebeest. Steenbok. Elephant.
|Notes on Activities :
|(Some activities may be offered nearby).
|Closest Main Route :
|A3 & B300
|Closest Town :
Travellers will have to do their shopping in one of the villages; here you’ll find basic supplies and some frozen meat. So pack some pre-cooked meals. At the time of writing there was a ban on bringing in chicken from SA due to avian flu.
Travelling to the pans from the south, Letlhakane is the best place to stock up with supplies and the last place to refuel.
Very limited supplies are available in Kumaga Village, near the entrance to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park where there’s a small supermarket with basic supplies and frozen meat. Fourie’s Butchery in Nata will vacuum-pack and freeze pre-ordered meat.
There is no longer fuel in Gweta so travellers are advised to fill their tanks in Maun, Nata or Letlhakane before heading into the pans. (2022).
Park entry fees are payable to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP). You can contact them at +267 39 714 05 / +267 31 807 74 or pay the entry fees at the gate.
When travelling from Maun to the Makgadikgadi Pans, no uncooked beef may pass the Makalamabedi Veterinary Control Gate.
Fourie’s Butchery: +267 744 53598 / +267 621 1226, email Belinda Horn on [email protected]
In the rainy season, the pans fill with water, and Lekhubu Island, Kukonje Island and Baines Baobabs
become inaccessible. If you’re visiting just after the pans have dried out, you’re strongly advised to stay on the
main track - don’t detour onto the pans. The surface may appear dry and hard but your vehicle will almost certainly
break through the thin dry crust and become hopelessly stuck in the underlying mud.
The road from the A3 north to Baines Baobabs and Nxai Pan, as well as the roads in the Makgadikgadi National Park,
are deep sand, so one should deflate tyres and engage 4WD and diff-lock.
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