The Pans are a collection of huge salt pans that make up the northern reaches of the Kalahari Desert. They’re some of the largest salt pans on the planet and one of the last remaining homes of the San Bushmen.
Surprisingly, many visitors miss the pans altogether, choosing to spend their time in the lush big-game environments of the Okavango, Linyanti and Chobe. However, travel in the wet season from December through to April, and the Okavango and Chobe’s migratory herds bring the area to life.
The most famous pans are the Makgadikgadi, consisting primarily of the vast Sua and Ntwetwe pans. Makgadikgadi is a truly unique destination that can be visited at any time of year, with guests exploring the unique lunar landscape and spending time with the San Bushmen.
Over the last few years, the meerkat community here has also received much publicity. Nearby Nxai Pan is a wet-season reserve that’s superb from December through to May, but one that has little game viewing on offer throughout the dry season.
What you really need to know
If you are traveling to Botswana to view big game, the pans are not for you – the Okavango, Linyanti and Chobe are much livelier regions. The only exception to this rule is the wet season, from December through to early May, when the herds really do bring the area to life. The zebra migration during the early part of the year is a truly beautiful sight.
However, camps along the Boteti River boast big game at any time of year and offer very good value away from the premium private reserves to the north. Overall, the pans work very well as a contrast to the wet, lush areas that house Botswana’s best game. We recommend that clients try to visit the area if they intend to spend over a week in the country.