The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans: An Overview

The grasslands of the Kalahari and the lunar-like expanse of the Makgadikgadi saltpans highlight the sheer diversity of Botswana's terrain. So much so that it can at times be hard to believe you are on the same continent let alone the same country as the Okavango wetlands.

Image of Ra D'Arcy Clark

Ra and Louise Fitzgerald are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • You can take a trip out on the Makgadikgadi Pans at night to watch the planetarium show unfold overhead with horizon-to-horizon stars
  • We can arrange walks with Zu'hoasi Bushmen trackers for a glimpse into their ancient culture.

Kalahari Desert Safaris: The Details

We would certainly suggest a trip to Botswana to include desert as well as delta, and during the green season (November - April) the area becomes a lush fresh food source, attracting tens of thousands of springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest, giraffe and, of course, their predators. This is also home to the second largest migration in Africa - the Zebra migration that takes place during this time. The Kalahari also has the last of the traditional Bushman (San) communities, some of the only people on earth who can survive in a land without permanent water.

The Makgadikgadi Pans are the remains of the world's largest super lake and are like nowhere else on Earth. The onset of rain here forms shallow lakes that attract not only animals but also spectacular birdlife including thousands of flamingos, pelicans and cranes.

During the dry season (May - October) the grasslands turn to gold and only the hardy, rare and fascinating desert adapted species - unique to the Kalahari - such as the brown hyena, meerkat and springbuck remain.

The camps and lodges in this area have developed ways of exploring during both seasons, with quad-biking, walking and 4x4s just some of the options and also recently launched horseback safaris in to the pans.


Original Highlight

Image of Ra D'Arcy Clark

The Kalahari Desert has for thousands of years been the traditional home of the legendary Bushmen - and a morning with them is one of the fascinating experiences I've ever had.

Ra, Original Traveller

A note on price

Skinted: Three nights in the Makigadikgadi Pans and three in the Delta (low season), plus international flights, will cost you around £6,000. Minted: a luxury, ten-day trip consisting of three nights in the Pans, three nights in the Delta and three nights further north, in the Linyanti, will cost more like £12,000. Learn more about our pricing

Weather in January January February March April May June July August September October November December
  • Average Temp. — 25°C / 77°F
  • Rainfall — 8cm / 3.3 inches
Flight from London

10:45 hrs

Time Difference

GMT +2 hrs

Top picks for The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

Spotting giraffes at Ride Makgadikgadi Pans, luxury camp in Botswana

Ride Makgadikgadi Pans

The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

Yes, yes, the Okavango Delta offers incredible scenery and extraordinary wildlife encounters, but there are other places to visit – and ride – in Botswana. Take the ancient and parched lunar expanse of the Makgadikgadi salt pans.

Where to stay

San Camp, luxury camp in Botswana, Africa

San Camp

The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

Following a major revamp in 2011, San Camp has the art of pared down safari elegance down to a tee.

Where to stay

Sleeping Under the Stars

Sleeping Under the Stars

The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

Sleeping under the vast starry skies of the Makgadikgadi Pans is an experience you will never forget.

What to do

Kubu Island Quad Biking

Kubu Island Quad Biking

The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

Quad biking is just one way to experience a Botswana safari, and by far one of the most exhilarating. Our five night departure includes two nights under the stars on Kubu Island, and we recommend combining it with three nights at either Jack’s Camp, San Camp or Camp Kalahari to make the most of a quad biking adventure.

What to do

Horseback riding at Camp Kalahari, luxury camp in Botswana, Africa

Camp Kalahari

The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

Jack Bousfield, a legendary hunter and crocodile catcher, spent many years exploring the remoter parts of Botswana, and set up a camp on the ‘shores’ of the Makgadikgadi Saltpans. Now his son Ralph has created a camp here among the acacias and Mokolwane palms on Hyena Island, on the edge of the ancient super lake and adjacent to the Makgadikgadi National Park – Camp Kalahari.

Where to stay

Jacks Camp, luxury camp in Botswana, Africa

Jack's Camp

The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

An oasis of comfort in the middle of Botswana’s Kalahari desert, Jack’s Camp is pitched on a low grassland knoll in an oasis of desert palms and Kalahari acacia, and is one of the original luxury camps in the area.

Where to stay

Re-entry to the real world has been busy after the amazing trip you put together for us. Absolutely everything you arranged was extraordinary... many great memories! Thank you


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