Makgadikgadi Pan and Nxai Pan, the largest salt pans in the world offer unique safari experiences, with great game viewing and bird watching challenged by spectacular scenic views and natural isolation. Open all-year round, these parks offer rare safari opportunities particularly in the green season.
Perhaps the focal point of Nxai Pan is the water hole, situated only two kilometres from the entrance gate, in the midst of a large grassy plain which is dotted with a few clumps of short umbrella thorn trees. Here, and within the mopane woodland, lion, giraffe, kudu, impala, ostrich, fascinating birdlife and large numbers of springbok, together with a good population of jackal, bat-eared fox and numerous smaller creatures, are permanent residents. Once the rains have started, gemsbok, elephant and zebra migrate to the area. At that time, zebra are present in thousands and drop their young at Nxai Pan, rivalling the spectacle of the multitude of young springbok, to further enhance game-viewing opportunities. Within the park there are points of interest worthy of mention. One is the “old trek route”, a trail pioneered in the 1950s and used until 1963, as a short cut through Ngamiland to Kazungula via Pandamatenga, along which cattle were driven before the advent of the modern veterinary control fences. Also, to the south of the reserve lies Baines Baobabs area, overlooking the Kudiakam Pans: Impressive 1000 years old baobab trees, which have been celebrated by Victorian explorer and painter Thomas Baines in 1862.
A sister to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, and located close by, is the 2,578 square kilometre Nxai Pan National Park, Nxai Pan, the name of which is claimed by some to be that of a hooked metal rod used to remove springhares from their holes, and by others to simply mean a pan.
Nxai Pan is open to visitors throughout the year, although road conditions can become difficult during times of heavy rain. Whilst many other parks and reserves are not considered to be at their best during the rains, (from mid-November to March) Nxai Pan becomes a veritable Garden of Eden.