Top reasons to visit Makgadikgadi The greatest show on earth.

Attention, Earthlings! Are you ready for an otherworldly experience that’s truly out of this world and far, far from ordinary? Look no further than our top reasons to visit Makgadikgadi Salt Pans!

This colossal natural wonder is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. We’re talking about an area that’s equivalent to the size of Denmark. And if you’re wondering why it looks like the moon, well, let’s just say these pans have an unusual origin story. A result of some cosmic chemistry between volcanic eruptions and ancient river systems (knocked off their course). It’s not every day you get to stand on the remains of a prehistoric super lake, is it? So, pack your bags, strap on your moon boots and get ready to explore the ultimate lunar landscape!

Now, let’s get down to some salty facts. The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans consist of three separate pans: Sua in the south, Ntwetwe somewhere in the middle, and Nxai in the North – at this point, you may need to pull out your atlas. 

Ntwetwe Pan: Salt Flats and Celestial Stargazing

Ntwetwe Pan is in the middle, but for us, it’s the most important because it’s here where the lodges are located, on the edge of this Pan. Here, prepare to be dazzled by the vast expanse of the salt flats that stretch as far as the eye can see. It’s like walking on a shimmering white canvas, where the boundaries between land and sky blur, and you feel as if you’ve entered a realm untouched by time.

Sua Pan: Heli Flips and Flamingo-Filled Picnics

Sua pan is in the south. It’s possible to take a scenic heli flip from your lodge to take your Makgadikgadi adventure to new heights—literally! You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the flamingos below (picture a synchronised dance routine of pink feathered performers, twirling and flirting as if they were auditioning for a reality TV show called “The Real Housewives of Makgadikgadi Pans.”). Your helicopter will land on Kubu Island amidst the iconic baobab trees. They make the perfect setting for a delightful picnic lunch. 

Nxai Pan: The Iconic Baobabs and Spellbinding Sunsets

In the North are the Nxai Pan, and an iconic sight awaits—the legendary Baines’ Baobabs. These magnificent trees are like the rock stars of the botanical world. Towering against the vast expanse of the salt pans, they create a surreal and enchanting backdrop for your journey. These baobabs have stood the test of time, their gnarled branches and weathered trunks serving as silent witnesses to the ever-changing landscape.

Where to stay

The camps in the area are so remote that you’ll start wondering if you accidentally stumbled upon Area 51’s hipster cousin. 

When it comes to where to stay in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, we have three absolutely unforgettable favourites. Let’s start with Camp Kalahari (the more affordable of the 3). CK, as it’s affectionately known, doesn’t compromise on style or character. This place oozes Afro-chic personality, offering a unique experience that will make your heart sing. The camp has an elephant fence, low enough not to be seen but high enough to give children the freedom to run around the camp – freely.

Now, let’s move on to San Camp, where luxury meets the edge of the pans. Situated right on the salt pans’ very edge, this camp’s billowing tents are all dressed in pristine white, perfectly matching the surrounding landscape. Its elegance and tranquillity combined create a genuinely wild (no fences) and romantic experience (no children).

But if you’re looking for the undisputed king of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, look no further than Jack’s Camp. Nestled on a lush green island with a large lap pool and palm trees, this camp exudes regal charm. Its tents, in vibrant green, perfectly blend with the oasis-like surroundings. Part lodge, part museum, Jack’s Camp not only reigns supreme in the Makgadikgadi but also stands among the top three best camps in Botswana and, quite possibly, in all of Africa.

These three lodges each have a unique personality, style, and character, making your stay in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans an experience that will leave you in awe. Whether you choose the more affordable charm of Camp Kalahari, the romantic beauty of San Camp, or the North African grandeur of Jack’s Camp, you’re in for an extraordinary adventure that will stay with you forever.

Desert-Adapted Wildlife

Prepare to embark on a safari like no other, where encounters with the extraordinary are the norm. While you can see elephants and lions, it’s the unique desert-adapted marvels that you’ve come for. Keep your eyes peeled for the enigmatic aardvark, a creature of the night with a passion for excavating the earth in search of its favourite meal—termites. As the sun sets and darkness blankets the pans, you might be lucky to glimpse the mysterious brown hyena. With its shaggy coat and keen senses, this scavenging beauty is a master of stealth. 

And then there’s the charismatic spring hare with its long hind legs and adorable upright ears. 

While these rare gems steal the spotlight, remember the more familiar faces that grace the salt pans. The elegant springbok, with its graceful leaps and striking markings, showcases its agility and beauty in this seemingly inhospitable environment. These are creatures you won’t see in the Okavango Delta. 


So awesome they get a special mention. Meerkats are a common sight in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Some say the Meerkats rule this lunar landscape? With their upright posture and watchful eyes, these curious creatures will steal your heart. A few family groups have been habituated, and you can spend some time observing their social dynamics and playful antics; it’s an experience you will remember. Take a hat because a few curious love to use your head as a lookout post. 

Zebra migration

One of the most extraordinary sights is the zebra migration. Witness thousands of zebras crossing the pans in search of fresh grazing lands. This is Africa’s second largest mammal migration – but without the crowds. It’s a breathtaking spectacle that will leave you in awe of nature’s wonders. They come around Feb and March during peak rain, followed by hungry predators such as lions. 


Another highlight is the flamingo breeding season. When the pans fill with water, they become a haven for these elegant pink birds. Watching them in their vibrant plumage, going about their courtship dances and nesting rituals, is truly a sight to behold.

Walk with Zu/' hoasi Bushmen.

For an authentic cultural experience, embark on a walk with the Zu/’ hoasi Bushmen. These indigenous people have inhabited the region for thousands of years and possess an unparalleled knowledge of the land. They will share their hunting and survival techniques, medicinal plant knowledge, and captivating stories, giving you a glimpse into their rich cultural heritage. Spending a few hours in the company of the Zu/’ hoasi Bushmen is a very humbling activity. We found the experience quite emotional. 

Explore the pans by Horse or by bike

Get ready for an adrenaline-pumping adventure as you hop on a quad bike and zip across the salt pans. Feel the exhilaration as you race over the vast expanse of white, leaving a trail of excitement in your wake. It’s unique. If a quad bike is a little too mechanical for our tastes, horse riding is a more serene way of exploring the pans and often lets you get up close to the wildlife. 

Sundowners and stars

As the sun sets over the Pans, prepare for a visual feast that will leave you in awe. The colours transform, painting the sky in a vibrant tapestry of oranges, pinks, and purples. It’s a moment when time stands still, and you can’t help but feel a sense of profound gratitude for being a part of this extraordinary experience. So, find a comfortable spot, sip on a sundowner, and let the magic of the Pan’s sunsets transport you. 

But the true magic of the Salt Pans reveals itself as darkness descends and the night sky unveils its celestial wonders. Far away from the city lights, the stargazing opportunities are simply out of this world. The lack of light pollution creates a crystal-clear view of the universe, where stars twinkle with an intensity you’ve never seen before. It’s as if the cosmos decided to put on its best celestial show just for you. So, grab a blanket, lie back, and allow the wonder of the universe to unfold before your eyes.

Best time to visit

Dry Season (April to October):

The dry season is your best bet if you prefer mild temperatures and a clearer view of the salt pans. The pans transform into a vast, shimmering expanse from April to October. During this time, wildlife congregates around the remaining waterholes, offering fantastic opportunities for wildlife sightings. The cool, crisp air adds a touch of magic to your explorations, and the absence of rain ensures easier access to different areas of the pans. It’s the ideal time to witness the unique desert-adapted wildlife in action.

Wet Season (November to March):

The wet season is a must for those seeking a more dramatic and transformative experience. The pans undergo a remarkable metamorphosis from November to March as the rains breathe life into the arid landscape. The once-barren salt flats give way to lush grasslands and sparkling waterways. This rejuvenation attracts many migratory birds, transforming the pans into a bird-watchers paradise. The wet season also brings the iconic zebra migration, where thousands of zebras gather to graze on the nutrient-rich grasses. It’s a spectacle that will leave you in awe. 

So, the best time to visit the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans depends on the kind of experience you’re seeking. The dry season offers mild weather, incredible wildlife sightings, and the magical experience of heading out on the pans by quad bike (sometimes impossible in the rainy season). On the other hand, the wet season immerses you in the transformative power of nature, with lush greenery, abundant birdlife, and the mesmerising zebra migration. Whether you explore during the dry or wet season, prepare to be captivated by the enchanting allure of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in all its magnificent glory.

Prepare yourself for a journey into the wild unknown – Are you coming?

Sean Hough "Safari Sean"

Chief Vision Officer

Sean’s a determined dreamer, our CVO, or Chief Vision Officer – the reading glasses are purely coincidental. He’s the big picture guy and it’s his passion for travel that fan the flames of what we do at Hidden Africa.

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