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Botswana - The Pans & Central Kalahari

The Nxai and Makgadikgadi Pans are the largest salt pans in the world and their appeal lies in their hypnotic sense of endless, expansive nothingness, their otherworldly landscapes such as Kubu Island or the famous Baines’ Baobabs, comprising of seven huge, gnarled baobab trees overlooking the Kudiakam Pan, and their unique game offerings – Springbok, brown hyenas, aardwolf, endearing meerkats, flamingos and pelicans.

Located in the central Kalahari region of Botswana, these pans are the remnants of a long lost lake. For most part of the year, the pans are dry and crusty with mirages forming in every direction.

But come November, and the rainy season, these pans fill with water and mostly retain their water into April or May. The "thirst lands" are then transformed into great sheets of water, which attract an amazing variety of water birds and cause impressive migrations of wildebeest and zebra into this region. The best place to see this migration in early December to late April would in Nxai Pan or on the eastern side of the Makgadikgadi pans. Once the rains are over and the pans start drying up, the migration heads to the Boteti River where their numbers reach a peak between June and July and can best be viewed from the banks of the Boteti River.

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest and most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world.

The harsh, sprawling terrain of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve covers a large section of central Botswana. It is dominated by small shrubs and grasslands, home to lion, cheetah, brown hyena, ostrich and bat eared fox.

During and shortly after good summer rains, the flat grasslands of the reserve’s northern reaches teem with wildlife, which gather at the best grazing areas. These include large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest, eland and giraffe.

At drier times of the year, when the animals are more sparsely distributed, the experience of travelling through truly untouched wilderness, of seemingly unending dimensions, is one of the highlights of this area.

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