Driving, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

Makgadikgadi Pans

A place of extremes – from a lush watery expanse in summer to a golden wilderness in winter.

Measuring almost 40-metres deep, over an area of eight million hectares, Lake Makgadikgadi, was once one of the world’s super lakes. Formed millions of years ago, this covered the Kalahari before drying up and creating what is now part of one of the world’s largest salt pans – and one of Africa’s most unusual travel experiences.

Flamingos, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
Flamingos, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

The pans in the summer

This landscape here changes dramatically with the seasons. With the summer rains (November to April), the pans are transformed creating shallow lakes which attract thousands of flamingos and extraordinary birdlife.

Down on the western boundary, the game-rich Boteti River area sees the migration of thousands of zebra and wildebeest, and the predators who hunt them – second only the great migration in the Serengeti.

Quadbiking,Makgadikgadi, Botswana

The pans in the winter

During winter (May to October), the pans dry out again and the famous black-maned Kalahari lion stalks this empty expanse for prey. With the change in landscape, activities turn from traditional game viewing to quad bikes expeditions onto the lunar-like pans, Bushmen walks, horse riding and meerkat visits.


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Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

Explore the Pans

Visit remote archaeological sites, walk with Bushmen trackers and meet some friendly meerkats.

Suggested camp

Zebra migration, Boteti River, Makgadkgadi Pans, Botswana

Botswana’s Migration

Witness southern Africa’s largest zebra and wildebeest migration on the Boteti River.

Suggested camp

boy with meerkats, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

Watch the local Meerkats

Spend time watching the antics of a habituated group of meerkats at Jack’s Camp.

Suggested camp

Flamingos, Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

Birdwatching in Makgadikgadi

Discover the excellent birding, with flocks of flamingos in their thousands.

Quadbiking,Makgadikgadi, Botswana

Quad biking on the Pans

Race across the endless pans on quad bikes, heading deep into this wilderness. At night, sleep on a bedroll, beneath a sky filled with stars.

Suggested camp

Where to stay

Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.

Jack’s Camp £££££

  • Botswana
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Jack’s Camp is located deep in the Kalahari Desert on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans, the largest saltpans in the world. This classic desert safari camp has ten large walk-in tents (romantically lit by paraffin in the evenings).  

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Camp Kalahari £££££

  • Botswana
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Located on Hyena Island at the edge of an ancient super lake and adjacent to the Makgadikgadi National Park, is the classically quaint, Camp Kalahari. Accommodation consists of ten classic safari tents of which one is a family unit. Main camp facilities include a thatched library, lounge, dining area and a swimming pool which has a deck with thatched shady comfortable seating.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Rachael Tallents

Adventure, discovery and my curiosity for people and the natural world is what drives my love of travelling.  I am grateful for my parents’ desire to explore, and from an early age my eyes were open to diverse landscapes, cultures, and underwater worlds.

For the last 16 years, I have worked for a leading luxury tour operator designing incredible journeys for discerning clients and travelled to some magical places. I am excited to have joined Steppes Travel, and to be working for a company with such strong ethical and sustainable values.

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Illona Cross

Born in a small South African town, I have always followed my passion for nature and discovery. After studying Nature Conservation in Pretoria, I was one of the first women to complete a very tough cadetship in the Natal Parks Board. It was here where I cut my teeth in African wildlife management.

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Chris Johnston

Chris is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Africa.

25 years ago, my first trip to Africa took on a life of its own. I planned for three months, I stayed for two years. Whilst there, I was mistaken for a priest, attacked by sharks and arrested. Yet the countless, clattering journeys opened my eyes to the beauty of the landscapes and the grace of the people. My recent trips are undoubtedly more comfortable, but the welcome is as warm as ever and the best experiences are still those I never see coming.

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