Botswana’s northern landscape abandons the lush hues of the water-drowned delta for the burnt colours and shimmering whites of The Kalahari Desert. Its stark terrain is marked with the largest network of salt pans in the world – Makgadikgadi. The seasonal Boteti River carves its path through the region – and the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park – carrying lifeblood for parched wildlife and spurring the great migration of zebra and wildebeest.
The 490,000ha park extends from the Boteti River in the west to the Ntwetwe Pan in the east, encompassing sweeping grasslands and acacia woodland. The return of water to the Boteti River draws wildlife to its banks, along with a myriad of water birds. Zebra and wildebeest gather in their thousands, closely pursued by their predators. Even at low levels, the river is the only permanent source of water in the reserve.
Cheetahs are fond of the horizon-less pans of Nxai Pan, while the African wildcat prefers the baobab’s shade. Archaeological sites on the pans reveal the remains of early human presence – hunting tools lie embedded in the flaky, pastry-like surface, along with ancient bones of fish and animals. A number of traditional villages fringe the saltpans, including the dust-bowl town of Nata.
- Makgadikgadi Pans National Park encloses part of the largest network of saltpans in the world
- The Boteti River spurs the great migration of zebra and wildebeest who gather in their thousands at its banks to drink
- The river attracts a myriad of water birds, such as ruffs, greenshank, greater flamingos, teals, and Wahlberg’s eagles
- Archaeological sites on the pans reveal the remains of early human presence
- Cheetahs can sometimes be spotted on the Nxai Pan