All you need to know about the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Imagine an area the size of Portugal, largely uninhabited by humans. Its stark, flat, featureless terrain stretches, seemingly to eternity, meeting and fusing with a milky-blue horizon. This is the Makgadikgadi, an area of 12 000 sq km, part of the Kalahari Basin, yet unique to it, one of the largest salt pans in the world and the remains of a huge super-lake that covered much of this part of Africa many years ago.

When to visit Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

From January through to May, the pans are full of life as the migratory herds pass through as this is the wet season. Rains transform the pans into lush, nutritious wetlands and provide a habitat for migrating animals. The longest zebra migration finds their way here, as do wildebeests, elephants, and other animals. At this time of year, the pans are definitely worth visiting for game viewing alone, however, the remainder of the year, from June through to November, sees a dramatic exodus of all game animals, it is at this time of year, however, that the pans are arguably at their most magical and the huge expanse of nothingness is easiest to explore.

How to get to Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

The harsh environment of the pans changes from wet to dry season, and although only accessible by
helicopter during the wet season, the dry season brings the opportunity to explore the pans in their
full beauty. Quad biking at this time is a great way to explore the pans, and an activity you cannot do throughout the beginning of the year. The Makgadikgadi pans can be explored by vehicle, on foot, or by quad bike, the latter being one of the best ways to investigate.

What to do in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Quad biking across the pans and sleeping under the stars – Take a quad bike deep into the Makgadikgadi Pans, one of the largest in the world where one can see one of the only places on earth where the stars meet the horizon. Here you’ll have dinner around a fire pit before getting into the open-air bedrolls that have been set out for you to sleep under the stars in the middle of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. A truly unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Meerkat excursion – The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are one of the best places to see these fascinating creatures. The meerkats are semi-habituated to human presence through years of research teams getting close, so you’ll get closer than you might think to the cheeky creatures! After waking up with the fresh air and early morning sunshine, you will take the quad bikes back to where the salt pans meet the grasslands, and so begin the search for the local group of habituated magical meerkats. This is definitely a highlight for many!

What else to see in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

To the north, the pans have a wonderful array of desert life, and their grasslands mark the point
where the Kalahari meets their emptiness. Wildlife that can be seen here includes the reclusive
brown hyena the occasional cheetah and of course the fascinating meerkats. Other amazing sights of interest in the area are Chapman’s Baobabs and the unusual Kubu Island, a granite Outcrop in the middle of the pans, covered in ancient Baobabs.

If you’d like to visit the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, please take a look at our epic experiences in Botswana. Should you have any questions or decide you’d like to join them please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@untravelledpaths.com.

Written by Lucy Kaufmann, Untravelled Paths