MAKGADIKGADI PANS NATIONAL PARK
Imagine – if you will – an area the size of Portugal, largely uninhabited by humans. Its stark, flat, featureless terrain stretches – it would seem – to eternity, meeting and fusing with a milky-blue horizon. This is the Makgadikgadi – an area of 12 000 sq kms, part of the Kalahari Basin, yet unique to it – one of the largest salt pans in the world.
For much of the year, most of this desolate area remains waterless and extremely arid; and large mammals are thus absent. But during and following years of good rain, the two largest pans – Sowa to the east and Ntwetwe to the west – flood, attracting wildlife – zebra and wildebeest on the grassy plains – and most spectacularly flamingos at Sowa and Nata Sanctuary. Flamingo numbers can run into the tens – and sometimes – hundreds of thousands, and the spectacle can be completely overwhelming.
The rainwater that pours down on the pans is supplemented by seasonal river flows – the Nata, Tutume, Semowane and Mosetse Rivers in the east, and in years of exceptional rains, the Okavango via the Boteti River in the west. During this time, the pans can be transformed into a powder blue lake, the waters gently lapping the shorelines, and flowing over the pebble beaches – a clear indication of the gigantic, prehistoric lake the Makgadikgadi once was. Research suggests that the Makgadikgadi is a relic of what was once one of the biggest inland lakes Africa has ever had.
Africa’s most famous explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, crossed these pans in the 19th century, guided by a massive baobab, Chapman’s Tree – believed to be 3 000 to 4 000 years old, and the only landmark for hundreds of miles around. Seeing this amazing tree today, you are given entry to an era when much of the continent was uncharted, and explorers often risked their lives navigating the wilderness on oxcarts through rough and grueling terrain.
The Makgadikgadi is in fact a series of pans, the largest of which are Sowa and Ntwetwe, both of which are surrounded by a myriad of smaller pans. North of these two pans are Kudiakam pan, Nxai Pan and Kaucaca Pan. Interspersed between the pans are sand dunes, rocky islands and peninsulas, and desert terrain. No vegetation can grow on the salty surface of the pans, but the fringes are covered with grasslands. Massive baobab trees populate some fringe areas – and their silhouettes create dramatic landscapes against a setting sun.
The Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve – with an area of 3 900 sq kms – incorporates the western end of Ntwetwe, extensive grasslands and acacia woodland. At its northern boundary, it meets the Nxai Pan National Park, separated only by the Nata- Maun Road. In the wet season, this reserve can offer good wildlife viewing, particularly when large herds of zebra and wildebeest begin their westward migration to the Boteti region. other species include gemsbok, eland and red hartebeest, as well as kudu, bushbuck, duiker, giraffe, springbok, steenbok, and even elephant, with all the accompanying predators, as well as the rare brown hyena.
Humans have inhabited areas of the pans since the Stone age, and have adapted to geographical and climatic changes as they have occurred. Archaeological sites on the pans are rich with Early Man’s tools, and the bones of the fish and animals he ate. Human inhabitation has continued to the present day; and a number of villages, including Mopipi, Mmatshumo, Nata, Gweta and Rakops, are situated on the fringes of the pans.
Situated on the banks of the Boteti River, a tributary originating in the core of the Okavango Delta, lies the Boteti Tented Safari Lodge. This important river maintains its flow throughout the dry season when most other river systems are dry. Continuing its meandering course-way and feeding life to the Mkagadigadi salt pans and Kalahari dessert, resulting in spectacular game concentration along its way. The remote location is situated away from all man made distractions allowing one to truly submerge themselves into the splendor of pristine and untouched natural surroundings. Through careful design, well planned safaris and highly skilled and passionate guides our aim is to have all guests staying with us, capture and immerse oneself in unravelled wildlife encounters, culture and traditions of Botswanas splendor! Read More
Leroo La Tau is situated on the western bank of the Boteti River, which forms the boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The Boteti River provides a lifeline for the wildlife which inhabit the arid national park and is a critical link in the annual zebra migration. Leroo La Tau is the perfect base from which to explore this truly unique piece of Botswana paradise. Read More
It is situated on tribal land on a cliff edge overlooking the Boteti River, which began to flow again in late 2008, having been dry for over 15 years. The name Meno A Kwena is the local name for the area, which translates as ‘teeth of the crocodile’. Read More
The vast salt pans and grassy plains the Makgadikgadi creates a unique oasis and the perfect setting for Nata Lodge. Dotted by palm islands, the surrounding Nata sanctuary forms the breeding ground for a host of water birds including pelicans and flamingo in their thousands, transforming the shore line into a pink haze blending into the western sky. Nata Sanctuary is situated off the main road, 10 km from Nata village. This is the junction to the Okavango, Chobe and Francistown areas. Read More
The lodge is uniquely located 185km north of Francistown and 4km south of Nata at the eastern tip of Makgadikgadi Pans and next to Nata Bird Sanctuary. Pelican Lodge and Camping is an ideal place to stopover when you are ion a Botswana Safari travelling to Chobe National Park in Kasane, Victoria Falls in either Zambia or Zimbabwe and Maun to Okavango Delta and Moremi game reserve. This 66 beds facility has got a beautiful African Map swimming pool, two restaurants; BOMA and a’la carte, two bars, camping site with private ablutions and a male and female classic ablution block, 200 seat conference Center. Read More