Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan
Endless horizons packed with adventure

Best Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan Experiences

  • Sleep-out under star-strung skies on the bleached, white Makgadikgadi salt pans
  • Follow the Boteti River to find countless zebras and wildebeest lining the water's edge
  • Marvel at the San people as they teach you the art of survival in the desert
  • Hug a baobab tree and fall drastically short of linking hands around its middle
  • Watch the waterholes at Nxai Pan for predators making easy pickings of thirsty animals

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Makgadikgadi National Park and Nxai Pan offer three distinctly different desert experiences with one common theme - they're off the beaten track. Forget your typical day on safari, things are done differently here. We recommend these areas as a stark contrast to the lush Okavango Delta when you're staying a little longer.

Watch countless zebras and wildebeest kick up clouds of dust by the Boteti River without ever leaving the comfort of camp. Head over the river to the Makgadikgadi National Park and drive the desert landscape, hugging the water's edge in search of birdlife and desert-adapted animals.

Heading east from the Boteti River, you'll find the world's largest salt pans where all kids (big and small) can run wild. The draw card here is the lunar landscape; zoom across the endless expanse on a quad bike and spend a night out of your tent and under the stars instead. To get your fix of animal spotting, spend a morning curled up with habituated meerkats as the sun pops up over the pans.

Further north at Nxai Pan, the focus changes again. Spot desert-adapted wildlife against grasslands patched with white - a hint of the pans further south. Wait by the waterholes where the arid environment forces predators and their prey to interact out of desperation for a drink. Throw in some gnarled and ancient baobab trees and you've got a great setting for a great safari experience.

All these places offer the chance to meet the San people and learn about survival in the desert. Talk to us and find out which camps will get you to more than one of these areas, what time of year has the best action on the Boteti River and when to see Nxai Pan at its greenest.

Combine with: A water-based camp in the Okavango Delta for contrasting landscapes, a mobile safari through Moremi and Chobe to add intensive game viewing or the Linyanti to keep your safari completely remote.

Zebra Herds

Spot the wildlife Special Wildlife to Spot

Zebras, visiting these areas seasonally and present in their thousands.

The elusive brown hyena, a once in a lifetime sighting.

Our favourite camps

Best Value: Nxai Pan Camp

Best Value: Nxai Pan Camp

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan

Good things come in small packages. Nxai Pan is a relatively small national park with a modest game drive route, offering a diverse and excellent-value desert experience year-round. Wait by the waterholes for the game to come to you in the dry season, catch the amazing migration during green season or just enjoy the open pans, magnificent Baines' Baobabs and guided walks.

Family Friendly: Camp Kalahari

Family Friendly: Camp Kalahari

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan

Endless white nothingness, unimaginable silence and magnificent clear skies open your imagination and set your soul free. Introduce the kids to meerkats with character, set off on quad bikes across miles of salt, go tracking with the San people and enjoy the clearest view of the milky way - ever!

Iconic: Jack's Camp

Iconic: Jack's Camp

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan

It's easy to picture the likes of Ernest Hemingway hanging out in this 1940's-style tented camp, bedecked with heavy brocades and an astonishing array of artefacts. Take advantage of the in-depth guiding to reveal layers of natural history from lion skulls to ancient stone tools. Explore the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans by quad bike, converse with the San Bushmen and meet the resident meerkats.

Out of the Ordinary: Meno a Kwena

Out of the Ordinary: Meno a Kwena

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan

A labour of love, this character-filled camp is a long-standing favourite, reflecting its owner's individuality and passion for Botswana. Enjoy the amazing view perched high above the Boteti River with views across to the Makgadikgadi National Park. The dry season offers fantastic game viewing from camp and the floating hide, as well as sleep-outs on the blinding white salt pans.

Most Romantic: San Camp

Most Romantic: San Camp

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan

The ultimate camp for romance. Simple, yet overwhelmingly stylish white tents sit perched at the edge of an endless, glistening sea of salt. Move your focus from traditional game viewing to the small things, creating a BIG experience remembered long after the safari. Get up close and personal with meerkats, discover your inner speed demon on a quad bike and gain privileged insight into the lives of the San Basarwa people.

Splurge: Jack's Camp

Splurge: Jack's Camp

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, National Park & Nxai Pan

It's easy to picture the likes of Ernest Hemingway hanging out in this 1940's-style tented camp, bedecked with heavy brocades and an astonishing array of artefacts. Take advantage of the in-depth guiding to reveal layers of natural history from lion skulls to ancient stone tools. Explore the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans by quad bike, converse with the San people and meet the resident meerkats.

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