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.

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.

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Quad biking in Botswana
If You Do Three Things
Quad Biking to Kubu Island

An adrenaline rush-inducing way to experience the other-worldly Makgadikgadi Pans is on a quad biking adventure to Kubu Island, where you'll spend two nights under the stars. The 2.7 billion year old granite fist that rises dramatically out of the flat salt pans is home to fossil beaches, baobabs and granite boulders the size of buses.

Meerkats in the Kalahari
If You Do Three Things
Visiting the Local Meerkats

Make friends with a habituated meerkat colony, getting up close with these loveable and extremely social animals. With the help of an expert guide, inspect and interpret the animals' behaviour without impacting their daily routine. This is one of the only places you can enjoy this unique experience in southern Africa.

Stargazing in the Makgadikgadi Pans
If You Do Three Things
Stargazing and Lessons in Astronomy

Spend time stargazing on the Makgadikgadi Pans and learn about the Southern Hemisphere's constellations with a local expert. The first-hand bush stories that you'll be told along the way are a fascinating insight to life as a local. You don't have to be an astrophotographer or a rocket scientist to enjoy this out-of-this-world experience.

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The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans
The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans
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Kalahari bushmen
Deeper Cuts
Head off the beaten track and uncover the little-known gems of a destination
Kalahari Bushmen Experience

Spend time with the Bushmen of Botswana, known as the San people, immersing yourself in their traditional ways and learning the secrets of the Kalahari, which have been passed down through the generations. The Bushmen have an intimate knowledge of the area and its flora and fauna, and can give you a fascinating insight into how they survive off the land.

Map of The Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Pans

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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.

Itinerary Suggestions

Super Safaris, Bushcraft Skills & Meeting Meerkats: A Family-Friendly Wildlife Adventure in Botswana

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Botswana: From Desert to Delta

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