Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana Largest in the World

Explore the vast expanse of Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Witness surreal landscapes, unique wildlife, and the magic of Botswana’s untouched beauty. Learn more now

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana is an enormous flat landscape making up one of the largest salt flats in the world. Home to ancient pan systems, huge baobab trees, and huge salt formations, this rugged area provides a surreal and unforgettable experience.

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana Largest in the World

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana Largest in the World Summary

  • Attraction Name: Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
  • Country: Botswana
  • Continent: African
  • Capital Name: Gaborone
  • Language: English
  • Currency: Botswanan Pula
  • Nationality: Citizen of Botswana

Tell us about Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are one of the largest inland salt flats in the world, located in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana. The brilliant white landscape, dotted with ancient baobab trees, stretches sixty miles in every direction, across multiple pans that mark the prehistoric lakebeds of an ancient sea that has long since dried up.

The area is home to many different species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as the unique fossilized footprints of extinct megafauna. During the wet season, the pans fill with water and become a series of shallow lakes, attracting numerous species of waterfowl. During the dry season, it is possible to drive across the flats, taking in the incredible landscape – it’s a must-see during any visit to Botswana.

What are the things to do in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana?

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is an incredible place to explore and experience, with a plethora of thrilling opportunities to entertain and excite. Located in the middle of Botswana, this immense and ancient salt pan is one of the largest in the world, covering over 3,900 square miles. It’s an incredible sight to behold with its vast open expanse and seemingly endless possibilities. Here are some of the best things to do in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

  1. Game Drives: Game drives are a great way to explore the unique and stunning landscape of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. During the dry season, game drives will take you across the ancient landscape, visiting various waterholes and rocky outcrops, where you can spot large herds of wildebeest and zebra grazing, accompanied by large prides of lions.
  2. Hot Air Ballooning: Hot air ballooning is a fantastic way to get an unparalleled view of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. The sunrise and sunset hot air balloon tours allow you to view the vast and unpopulated expanse of the salt pans from a birds-eye view.
  3. Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is one of the best ways to explore this stunning landscape and is a great way to get around. It allows you to get up close and personal with the beautiful wildlife inhabiting the area while getting to experience the beauty of the salt pans from a unique vantage point.
  4. Wildlife Viewing: Wildlife viewing in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is a must for any nature enthusiast. The area is home to numerous species of animals and birds, with some of the most notable being the rare brown hyena, bat-eared fox, and enormous bird varieties such as pelicans and flamingos.
  5. Stargazing: Makgadikgadi Salt Pans offer an unforgettable star gazing experience. During the dry season, when the night skies are at their clearest, you will be able to witness the Milky Way and its wonders.

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is a wonderful place to explore and experience. Its vast open expanse boasts a variety of activities and sights that will ensure your trip is truly unforgettable. From game drives to hot air balloon rides to wildlife viewing, there is something for everyone to enjoy and take in the natural beauty that it has to offer.

What are the best foods at Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana?

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana are known for their stark, otherworldly landscapes rather than culinary offerings. Visitors exploring this unique destination often stay at lodges or camps that provide meals tailored to the natural surroundings. While the focus is on the outdoor experience, accommodations typically offer well-prepared meals. Common types of foods at lodges near the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans include:

  1. Barbecues and Grilled Meats: Enjoying a barbecue (braai) with grilled meats is a popular outdoor dining experience, taking advantage of the natural surroundings.
  2. Traditional Botswana Dishes: Some lodges may incorporate traditional Botswana dishes, offering a taste of local cuisine with stews, porridges, and other specialties.
  3. Fresh Salads: Crisp salads with locally sourced ingredients provide a refreshing option in the outdoor setting.
  4. Vegetarian and Vegan Options: Lodges often cater to various dietary preferences, including vegetarian and vegan options for guests with specific dietary requirements.
  5. Picnic-style Meals: Given the outdoor activities around the salt pans, lodges may provide picnic-style meals for guests to enjoy during excursions.
  6. Bush Dinners: Some lodges organize bush dinners, allowing guests to dine under the starlit African sky, creating a unique and memorable experience.

While the culinary offerings near the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans may not be as elaborate as in city settings, the focus is on providing satisfying and well-prepared meals in the midst of the natural beauty that surrounds the region. It’s advisable to communicate any dietary preferences or restrictions to the lodge or camp in advance to ensure a comfortable dining experience.

What are the best hotels to stay in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Botswana?

The best hotels to stay in Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are:

  1. Kalahari Plains Camp
  2. Jack’s Camp
  3. Camp Kalahari
  4. Gweta Lodge
  5. Planet Baobab
  6. Makgadikgadi Camp
  7. Meno a Kwena
  8. Khwai Bush Camp
  9. Camp Paradiso
  10. Island Camp Nxai Pan

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After immersing in the wonders of Botswana, elevate your exploration with our curated guide to the next must-visit tourist destination. Click below to unveil the next chapter in your journey, where captivating landscapes, rich cultures, and extraordinary experiences await. Continue the adventure beyond with new destinations and experiences. Let the journey unfold and captivate your senses. Explore now!

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Frequently Asked Questions: Your Guide to Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Explore the Latest Destination Attraction with ease through our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions guide. Discover insightful answers to common queries, providing a seamless experience. Your journey begins with clarity and confidence as we address uncertainties and offer essential information. Let this guide enhance your adventure, ensuring you make the most of the latest destination attraction, leaving no question unanswered.

What are Makgadikgadi Salt Pans's nearby must-visit attractions or landmarks?

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana are expansive and captivating, offering a unique landscape and a variety of attractions. While the pans themselves are a major draw, there are several nearby landmarks and attractions that visitors may find interesting:

  1. Nxai Pan National Park:
    • Located northeast of the Makgadikgadi Pans, Nxai Pan National Park is known for its wide-open grasslands, the famous Baines’ Baobabs, and diverse wildlife, including springbok and giraffes.
  2. Kubu Island:
    • Situated on the edge of Sowa Pan, Kubu Island is a granite rock island with ancient baobab trees. The island is a cultural and historical site and provides panoramic views of the surrounding salt flats.
  3. Baines’ Baobabs:
    • Although more commonly associated with Nxai Pan, Baines’ Baobabs are part of the larger Makgadikgadi ecosystem. These iconic baobab trees, named after the explorer Thomas Baines, create a striking silhouette against the horizon.
  4. Boteti River:
    • The Boteti River flows along the western boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans, providing a lifeline for wildlife during the dry season. It’s a good area for birdwatching and observing the movement of animals.
  5. Gweta Village:
    • Gweta is a nearby village that serves as a gateway to the Makgadikgadi Pans. Visitors can experience local culture, and some accommodations offer cultural excursions to interact with the community.
  6. Makgadikgadi Pans National Park:
    • The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park encompasses the salt pans and surrounding areas. Exploring the park provides opportunities to witness the vastness of the pans and encounter wildlife adapted to this unique environment.
  7. Planet Baobab:
    • Planet Baobab is a lodge near Gweta known for its quirky and baobab-themed accommodations. It’s a popular stopover for travelers exploring the Makgadikgadi Pans.
  8. Nata Bird Sanctuary:
    • South of the Makgadikgadi Pans, the Nata Bird Sanctuary is a habitat for various bird species, including flamingos, pelicans, and other waterbirds. It’s a great spot for birdwatching.
  9. Chapman’s Baobab:
    • This historical baobab tree was a famous landmark for early explorers. Unfortunately, it collapsed in 2016, but its remnants are still a point of interest.
  10. Jack’s Camp:
    • Situated on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Pans, Jack’s Camp is a luxury safari camp known for its unique desert experience, wildlife viewing, and cultural interactions.

Exploring these nearby attractions enhances the overall experience of visiting the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Travelers should plan their itinerary based on their interests, the season, and the specific experiences they seek in this extraordinary natural environment.

Is Makgadikgadi Salt Pans a suitable travel destination for solo adventurers, honeymooning couples, or those traveling with families?

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana can be a suitable travel destination for various types of travelers, including solo adventurers, honeymooning couples, and families. However, the experience may vary based on individual preferences and travel styles. Here are considerations for each group:

Solo Adventurers:

  1. Adventure Activities:
    • Solo adventurers can partake in thrilling activities such as quad biking, off-roading, and exploring the vast salt flats, providing a sense of freedom and adventure.
  2. Cultural Experiences:
    • Some camps and lodges offer cultural experiences, including interactions with the local San Bushmen community, providing a unique and immersive cultural encounter.

Honeymooning Couples:

  1. Romantic Setting:
    • The Makgadikgadi Pans offer a unique and romantic backdrop, especially during sunrise and sunset. Private dinners under the stars and the serene atmosphere can create a memorable honeymoon experience.
  2. Luxury Accommodations:
    • There are luxurious lodges and camps around the salt pans that provide upscale accommodations, adding to the romantic and exclusive nature of a honeymoon.


  1. Educational Opportunities:
    • Families with children may appreciate the educational aspects of the region, including learning about the unique ecosystem, wildlife, and cultural heritage.
  2. Family-Friendly Activities:
    • Some lodges offer family-friendly activities, and the wide-open spaces of the salt pans provide opportunities for outdoor adventures suitable for children.

Considerations for All Travelers:

  1. Seasonal Variations:
    • The experience can differ between the dry season and the wet season. Wildlife viewing is often more prominent during the wet season, while the dry season offers a surreal, desolate landscape.
  2. Remote Location:
    • The Makgadikgadi Pans are remote, and facilities may be limited. Travelers should be prepared for a more isolated experience, with fewer amenities compared to urban destinations.
  3. Specialized Activities:
    • Travelers with specific interests, such as birdwatching, photography, or adventure activities, can find specialized experiences tailored to their preferences.
  4. Accommodation Preferences:
    • Accommodations range from luxury lodges to more basic campsites. Travelers should choose accommodations that align with their preferences and level of comfort.
  5. Advance Reservations:
    • Given the limited availability of accommodations and the popularity of the region, it’s advisable for all types of travelers to make advance reservations, especially during peak travel times.

Before planning a trip, it’s essential for travelers to research and select accommodations and activities that match their interests and preferences. Communication with lodges or tour operators about individual needs and expectations can ensure a more tailored and enjoyable experience in the unique and remote setting of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

Why should you visit Makgadikgadi Salt Pans?

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in Botswana are a unique and mesmerizing destination, offering a stark and captivating landscape. Here are several reasons why you should consider visiting the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans:

  1. Vast Salt Flats:
    • The Makgadikgadi Pans are one of the largest salt flats in the world, covering an extensive area. The flat, white expanse is visually striking and provides a sense of endless space.
  2. Otherworldly Landscape:
    • The landscape of the salt pans is often described as lunar or otherworldly. The vast, desolate terrain creates a surreal and dramatic backdrop, especially during sunrise and sunset.
  3. Stargazing:
    • The clear skies over the salt pans make it an ideal location for stargazing. The absence of light pollution allows for spectacular views of the night sky.
  4. Migratory Wildlife:
    • During the wet season, the pans transform into a temporary oasis, attracting migratory wildlife, including zebras and wildebeests. The sight of vast herds moving across the pans is a unique wildlife spectacle.
  5. Kubu Island:
    • Nearby Kubu Island is a granite rock island in the salt flats with ancient baobab trees. The island is a cultural and historical site with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
  6. Birdwatching:
    • The Makgadikgadi Pans attract a variety of bird species, especially during the wet season. It’s a haven for birdwatchers, with opportunities to see flamingos, pelicans, and other waterbirds.
  7. Cultural Experiences:
    • Some camps and lodges in the area offer cultural experiences, allowing visitors to interact with the local San Bushmen community and learn about their traditional way of life.
  8. Quad Biking and Off-Roading:
    • The flat expanse of the salt pans provides an ideal terrain for quad biking and off-roading adventures. Some tour operators offer thrilling experiences exploring the pans on four-wheelers.
  9. Photography Opportunities:
    • The stark contrast of the white salt pans against the blue sky or the vibrant colors of sunrise and sunset creates incredible photographic opportunities. The unique landscape lends itself to creative compositions.
  10. Remote and Tranquil Atmosphere:
    • The remoteness of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans provides a sense of tranquility and isolation. Visitors can experience the solitude and silence of the vast wilderness.
  11. Seasonal Contrasts:
    • The contrast between the dry season (when the pans are desolate) and the wet season (when they come alive with water and wildlife) provides visitors with diverse and ever-changing experiences.

When planning a visit to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, it’s essential to consider the seasonal variations, as the landscape and wildlife experiences differ between the dry and wet seasons. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, photographer, or adventure seeker, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans offer a unique and unforgettable journey into one of Africa’s most striking landscapes.

How to go to Makgadikgadi Salt Pans?

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are located in northern Botswana, and accessing this remote and expansive area typically involves traveling to nearby towns or cities and then making your way to specific camps or lodges in the region. Here are general guidelines on how to go to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans:

By Air:

  1. Fly to Maun or Kasane:
    • Maun and Kasane are common entry points for travelers heading to the Makgadikgadi Pans. Both towns have airports with regular domestic flights.
  2. Chartered Flights to Camps or Airstrips:
    • Many visitors opt for chartered flights from Maun or Kasane to specific camps or airstrips near the Makgadikgadi Pans. Several lodges and camps have their own airstrips.

By Road:

  1. From Maun:
    • Maun is a gateway to the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi Pans. You can hire a 4×4 vehicle or join a guided tour for the journey to the pans.
  2. Guided Transfers:
    • Some lodges and camps in the Makgadikgadi Pans offer guided road transfers from Maun or other nearby areas. This can be a convenient option for those who prefer not to drive themselves.

Important Tips:

  • Charter Flights: Given the remote nature of the Makgadikgadi Pans, charter flights are a common and efficient means of transportation. They provide an opportunity to appreciate the vastness of the landscape.
  • Road Conditions: If you choose to travel by road, especially during the rainy season, be aware that road conditions may vary, and a 4×4 vehicle is often recommended for certain routes.
  • Accommodation Reservations: The Makgadikgadi Pans offer various camps and lodges. It’s advisable to make advance reservations at your chosen accommodation, as the area can be popular, particularly during peak travel seasons.
  • Guided Tours: Joining a guided safari tour or having a local guide can enhance your experience by providing insights into the landscape, wildlife, and cultural aspects of the region.
  • Seasonal Considerations: The best time to visit may depend on the specific experiences you are seeking. The dry season (May to October) is often preferred for wildlife viewing, while the wet season (November to April) can offer a different perspective with migratory birdlife.

Before planning your trip, it’s recommended to check with your chosen accommodations or tour operators for the most up-to-date information on transportation options, road conditions, and any specific requirements. The Makgadikgadi Pans are a unique and captivating destination, and careful planning ensures a rewarding experience in this remote part of Botswana.

Are there any halal food options around the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans?

The region may not have specific restaurants or eateries in close proximity to the salt pans that cater explicitly to halal dietary preferences.

When visiting remote natural attractions like the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, visitors often make arrangements through lodges, camps, or tour operators that provide meals as part of the overall experience. In such cases, it’s essential to communicate your dietary requirements, including halal preferences, in advance.

Here are some general tips:

  1. Inform Your Accommodations:
    • If you are staying at a lodge or camp near the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, inform them in advance about your halal dietary requirements. Many establishments are willing to accommodate specific dietary needs with prior notice.
  2. Catered Safaris or Tours:
    • If you’re participating in guided safaris or tours in the area, check with the tour operator about meal arrangements. They may be able to provide halal options or make arrangements based on your dietary restrictions.
  3. Bring Snacks:
    • Considering the remote nature of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, it might be a good idea to bring along some halal snacks or non-perishable items to supplement your meals, especially if you have specific dietary requirements.
  4. Communication is Key:
    • Clear communication with the staff at your accommodation or tour operator is crucial. Discuss your dietary preferences and any specific restrictions you may have to ensure a comfortable dining experience.

It’s important to note that the availability of halal food options may vary, and the culinary offerings in such remote areas might be limited compared to more urbanized locations. Always check with your accommodations or tour organizers to make the necessary arrangements and ensure an enjoyable and suitable dining experience during your visit to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.

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