Nxai Pans National Park

National Park in Makgadikgadi & Nxai Pans

This 2578-sq-km park is one of the most accessible places to experience the salt pans that are a Kalahari speciality, although it's more about smaller pans surrounded by grasslands and scrubby vegetation than the vast, salty wastes that you find further south. Wildlife is a highlight here, with elephants, giraffes and jackals pretty much guaranteed, and good chances to see lions and cheetahs as well.

The grassy expanse of the park is interesting during the rains, when large animal herds migrate from the south and predators arrive to take advantage of the bounty, but it’s also impressive when the land is dry and dust clouds migrate over the scrub and umbrella acacias.

The main waterhole is good for elephants, jackals and other plains wildlife, while Baobab Loop, a 12km circular route in the park's northwest, has a good combination of sheltering scrub, seasonal waterholes and open grasslands. The eastern reaches of the park get very few safari vehicles and feel wonderfully remote, while the pans in the far northeast are often deserted.

Ask at the park entrance for the latest lion and cheetah sightings, and for the photocopied park map, which shows the waterholes and major routes through the park. Some 35km north of the park entrance (18km north of the Baines' Baobab turn-off) is a second entrance, where you may need to sign in. There's also a small kiosk here selling biscuits, soft drinks and the like.

The park also occupies an important historical area – crossing the park is the old Pandamatenga Trail, which once connected a series of bore holes and was used until the 1960s for overland cattle drives.


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