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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.


What do you really love doing? We curate your itinerary especially for you.

Botswana’s Migration

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

Suggested camp

Watch the local Meerkats

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

Suggested camp

Birdwatching in Makgadikgadi

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

Suggested camp

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

Explore the Pans

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

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). Facilities include a mess tent for dining and a tea tent with Persian carpet cushions for socialising. After the rains (December to April), enormous herds of wildebeest, zebra and springbok will appear on the open grasslands and their accompanying predators of course. The summer rains also leave a warm shallow layer of water that entices waterfowl and flamingos. Activities are seasonal and include game drives, quad biking, guided walks with a Bushman tracker and a visit to Chapman’s Baobab, the historical baobab tree used by Livingstone, Selous and other early explorers.

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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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San Camp £££££

  • Botswana
  • Safari and Wildlife Lodge

Situated on the edge of the vast and mysterious Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the midst of the Kalahari Desert, is one of Botswana’s most romantic camps, San Camp. The camp lies amongst sparsely dotted fan palms and grasslands, with 360 degrees of nothing-ness crossing the eye but the bowl of the sky and curvature of the earth. The six large, white traditional canvas tents face the shore of a sparkling salt pan, privately set apart in dramatic locations.

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Need Inspiration?
Browse our Botswana holiday ideas.

Our experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

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.

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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  • 01285 880 980

Chris Johnston

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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  • 01285 880 980

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