A land of desolate contradictions

In recent years, the Nxai Pan National Park has become considered a 2,578km² extension of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Together, the fossilised pans from both parks form some of the largest salt pans in the world. A 2.5-hour drive from Maun and often accessed via light aircraft, the park is a worthwhile add-on to a trip to the Okavango Delta.

The dry season makes for notably receded and unpredictable game-viewing but nonetheless fascinating as the park’s remaining inhabitants including springbok, ostrich, and tortoises compete for resources while islands of baobabs silently watch events unfold. When the welcome rains reach the region, the cracked earth melts together and succulent grasses and other plant life spring up from beneath the surface.

The annual zebra migration begins to pass through the area at this time, along with herds of elephant and giraffe. Lions, leopards, and cheetah join the competition for water resources and often pick out their next meal from these spots, ensuring exciting interactions along the banks of these temporary pools. At nightfall, skies are ignited by stars and moonlight, unpolluted by towns and cities nearby.

Highlights

  • The wet season promises excellent game-viewing potential around the pans
  • Miles of hauntingly beautiful desolation await those who visit in the dry season
  • The Nxai Pan is a convenient addition to an Okavango Delta itinerary due to their relative proximity
  • Exquisite star-gazing is guaranteed on clear night

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