The stark beauty of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans evokes a sense of awe in all those fortunate enough to travel to this expansive (12 000 square kilometres), flat and mystical destination. This is one of the largest salt pans in the world, comprising a series of pans, and for most of the year, it is desolate—but as the rains begin in mid-November, the pans come to life.
Flocks of flamingos, numbering in their tens of thousands, swoop overhead in flashes of luminous pink to settle on the pans with their life-giving lakes of water, and these are joined by thousands of zebra and wildebeest on their annual migration to the Boteti region, and a host of others, including giraffe, antelope, elephant and the ever-present predators. In this “green season”, which lasts till March, the pans resemble the pre-historic lake it once was. Those who lose themselves in the mesmerising landscape need only look for the ancient and massive Chapman’s Tree, a baobab believed to be more than 3 000 years old. And testament to those who once inhabited this harsh land are Stone Age tools and arrowheads that have been found on Kubu Island.
Mystical, magical and surreal, Makgadikgadi Pans will appeal to those looking to elevate their African safari experience to something extraordinary.