Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
The stark landscape of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park gives many visitors a somewhat haunting feeling of freedom and isolation. Located in Botswana, the park itself covers about a third of the 4600-square-mile pans (roughly the size of Portugal).
The second largest zebra migration in Africa occurs here. During the dry season, herds concentrate in the west near the Boteti River, a source of permanent water. Once the rains come in November or December, the herds migrate to the eastern part of the reserve where they are often seen until April. In addition, large herds of blue wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok and thousands of flamingos may be seen here at this time. The charming little meerkat also makes its home here; a highlight for many visitors is spending time with a habituated troop of them. This is also one of the best places to see the elusive nocturnal brown hyena. Therefore, game viewing is best in the west during the dry season and the east during the rainy season.
Quad bike excursions are a fun way to experience the vastness of these pans during the dry season. On evening excursions deep into the pans, you may experience the most “deafening” silence and brightest stars imaginable. Once one of the world’s largest prehistoric lakes, most of the Makgadikgadi Pans are now barren salt plains fringed with grasslands and isolated “land islands” of vegetation, baobab and palm trees.