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The dramatic, eerie landscape of the Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana is one of the world’s largest salt pans. It is the remains of an enormous water mass, Lake Makgadigadi, which dried up approximately 10 000 years ago. You can still see the shorelines left behind by the shrinking Lake Makgadigadi. This is most visible at Gidikwe Ridge in the south western part of the Makgadigadi Pans.
The Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana, with their glistening crust of white salt, actually comprise a series of pans, separated by desert. The three largest pans are Nxai, Sua and Nwetwe Pans.
The Sua Pan contains two “islands” – ethereal outcrops of rock in the vast emptiness known as Kukome Island and Kubu Island. The ghostly Kubu Island is a national monument and contains a number of baobab trees.
The Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana is not only a nature lover’s paradise. Archeological excavations have confirmed that this region was home to prehistoric man. Stone tools from the Makgadigadi Pans have been dated to before the era of Homo Sapiens and the Fossil Pans contain many examples of fossils.
Although the Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana are bone dry for most of the year, they turn into a refuge for birds and animals when the annual rains come. The wet season starts in November. Rain falls in Zimbabwe and the Okavango Delta and is fed via the Nata and Boteti River into the Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana. The Makgadigadi Pans then turn into a haven for migrating animals and birds.
Large herds of wildebeest and zebra are followed by their predators, while flocks of white pelicans, Greater Flamingos, ducks and geese cover the pans. The fringes of the Makgadigadi Pans in Botswana are grasslands. Apart from reptiles such as tortoises, snakes, lizards (for example the endemic Makgadigadi spiny agama), the grasslands also contain a number of gigantic baobab trees. One of these trees, named Chapman’s Baobab, was used as landmark and post office by early travelers and explorers.
Accommodation around the Makgadigadi Pans range from supreme luxury and comfort at Gweta Lodge and Jack’s Camp, with its tents reminiscent of the explorer days of the past, to the fun Planet Baobab. Indeed something for everybody!