Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve
This 12000-sq. km’s is part of the Kalahari Basin and is one of the largest saltpans in the world. It’s thought that this saltpan used to be a huge prehistoric lake and may have even been one of the largest inland lakes in Africa. There are two main pans, the Sowa in the east and the Ntwetwe in the west. During times of good rain, these pans flood, attracting wildlife like zebra and wildebeest and other buck back to the plain. Most notably are the thousands of flamingos that congregate at the pans.
There is no vegetation growing on the actual pans when dry, but along the edges are grasslands and massive baobab trees. There is a very old and very large Baobab tree, called Chapman’s Tree, which is the only landmark for hundreds of miles. It’s thought to be over 3000 years old.
Kubu Island is one of the more popular destinations and is near the Sowa Pan. This island has a shore of prehistoric pebbles and even fossilized guano, proving that once upon a time water birds graced this land. Kubu is rich in archaeological and historical remains of early human life. There are stone age tools and arrowheads that have been found here , as well as the ruins of a settlement suggesting that the great Zimbabwe empire may have stretched this far.
The Nata Sanctuary is a community-based initiative to provide easy access to the pans and affordable, pleasant camping facilities. The area is encompasses both the pans and the grassland areas. This Botswana’s first community based conservation project. The local communities of Nata, Maphosa, Sepako and Manxotea manage and staff the project. They moved large herds of cattle out of the area in order to preserve the wildlife that does reside here. There is a bird hut on the edge of the pan for bird lover’s to view the thousands of flamingos and other bird life that congregate here when there is water.