Nxai Pan National Park | Botswana Travel Tips & Reviews | Africa Point
Nxai Pan National Park
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Nxai Pan National Park
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Nxai Pan National Park


A stunning landscape of wide flat plains, huge African skies and shimmering white salt flats stretch out as far as the eye can see.  Here and there the landscape is punctuated by small oases of flat-top Acacias and Mopani against the arid backdrop; the silence is so profound that you can hear your heartbeat.  And then you hear it - the distant roar of a Kalahari Lion...


Best Time to Visit:

Game viewing is at its best from December to April, after the summer rains have revitalized the salt pans.

Average Visitor Rating:

5 out of 5 'Pawprints' Based on 0 Review(s)
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Solitude and Silence at Nxai Pan

If you hate the idea of dozens of safari vehicles crowding around a good wildlife sighting, then Nxai Pan National Park is the place for you.  The remoteness of this gem of a park in the north-western corner of Botswana means that it receives far fewer visitors than some of the other parks and you will often feel as though you are totally alone in the wilderness. The area once formed part of the great Makgadikgadi Lake, which was an inland sea covering most of central Botswana, which dried up thousands of years ago. Nxai Pan itself is an ancient fossil lake bed about 40km sq in extent and is dry for most of the year.  When the summer rains arrive this pan becomes filled with sweet short grass and the animals come in their thousands to enjoy it, followed by the predators...


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The Green Season, Cheetah, Lion, Zebra and other Highlights

The Green Season

Most African Game parks are at their best during the dry winter months (June to Sept) when short grass makes game viewing easier.  At Nxai Pan it is quite the opposite; when the first summer rains start to fall in Nov/December this part is transformed from an arid wasteland to a veritable Garden of Eden.  The usually dry salt flats become covered with grass and scrub and the animals arrive in their thousands.



Nxai Pan is one of the best places in Botswana for excellent Cheetah sightings; the flat expansive landscape is perfectly suited to these swift animals which can outrun any prey in these conditions. There are regular good sightings all year around, but Cheetah activity also reaches a peak during the Green Season.



During the dry winter months most of the game activity at Nxai Pan is centred around the permanent waterhole, and Lion are regular visitors.  There are several prides of Lion in the Park and they are regularly spotted out in the open, due to the stark landscape which does not offer too many hiding places!  There are also good regular sightings of Leopard.



The world’s second largest Zebra migration takes place here every year when about 25,000 Zebra migrate south from the Okavango Delta to Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pan and back, a distance of nearly 600km.  They reach Nxai Pan around the same time as the summer rains, (Nov/Dec) and this is where the latest batch of baby Zebra is born.  This huge maternity event coincides with that of the thousands of Nxai Pan Springbok and the plains are filled with baby Zebra and Springbok for several months – a feasting time for predators.


Baines’ Baobabs

British artist Thomas Baines visited this area in 1861 and painted a now-famous art work of a group of 5 Baobab trees which have now been named Baines’ Baobabs.  They are thousands of years old, and form a dramatic and unusual sight in the middle of the dry saltpan; they are at their best in the Green Season, when they form a small island of vegetation in the middle of the water-filled pan – an absolute must for photographers.



Safaris in Nxai Pan National Park

The best way to experience this remote Park is by organised Safari; the terrain is only suitable for high-clearance 4X4 vehicles and you really need an experienced guide to make sure you get the best out of your visit. 



Other Activities in and around Nxai Pan


Nxai Pan also has great bird watching opportunities, especially in the wet months.  There are many raptors in the area and Kori Bustards, Korhaans and Red Necked Falcons can all be spotted.  Once the pans fill up after the rain there is a huge influx of Flamingo.


Bushman Interaction

Here you go on a walking trail with one of the local San Bushmen who will give you an insight into the harsh life in this arid land – plant gathering, fire making, hunting and trap setting and other survival essentials are all on the agenda.


Quad Biking

Quad biking safaris across the endless dry salt flats, which can range from a few hours to a few days – are available in Makgadikgadi Park; these only operate during the dry months from June to October.


Jack's Camp

Do you love Meerkats?  One of the best places on the planet to interact with these cute little creatures is at Jack’s Camp in Makgadikgadi, where there are four clans of Meerkat that have been habituated to humans, and will allow you to get really up close and personal.



Accommodation at Nxai Pan

There is only one Lodge inside the Nxai Pan National Park, but there are several on the borders of the Park or in the Makgadikgadi Park with easy access to Nxai Pan.  Whichever option you choose, you can be assured of a very special wilderness experience.  All the lodges offer morning and evening game drives with highly experienced guides who will be only too happy to impart their knowledge of the flora and fauna with you and take you to the best places for wildlife sightings.  Ask your Tour Operator about an overnight camping experience at Baines’ Baobabs campsite – an incredible experience.



How to Get There

By now you will realize that Nxai Pan is somewhat remotely situated!  Most of the lodges are accessed by air in about 25mins from Maun Airport, followed by a short (15min) drive to the camp, which doubles as a game drive!



Best Time to Visit

Nxai Pan is really a year-round destination; dry, quiet and interesting in winter (June-October), green, stunning and full of life during the rainy season (December to April).  It can get really cold in winter so be sure to bring layers of warm clothes for the cold nights and early mornings.



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