Nxai Pan National Park Budget Travel


Nxai Pan National Park is situated in north-western Botswana directly north, and part of, the Makgadikgadi Pans.

It is an area of stark beauty, with its shimmering mirage on the horizon of the desert bushveld, dotted with Baobabs and thorn bushes.

Highlights

  • Experience the sensation of being in the middle of nowhere - African bush at its best - silent, desolate, achingly beautiful
  • Spot giraffe, impala, lion (to name a few) on the vast plains
  • Explore the beauty of the enormous and mythical-looking baobab tree, including the world-famous 'Baine's Baobabs'
  • Star-spotting has never been better, with no light pollution for thousands of kilometres
  • During the rainy season, see thousands of migratory animals, including huge herds of wildebeest and zebra

About Nxai

The Nxai Pan National Park's central point is the waterhole in the pan, which provides drinking water (and a gathering place, perfect for our game-spotting) to the wildlife of the area.

Covering over 2 500 km2, the park is a visual feast for visitors both in the wet and dry seasons. 

Flora 

This is desert, but while that means it is vast and arid, it doesn't mean there's nothing to see from a plant point-of-view!

Different to the saltier pans further south in the Makgadikgadi, the Nxai Pan National Park is largely covered by grasslands (especially in the rainy season), providing ample grazing land for the wildlife.

The plains are dotted with thorn trees and baobabs, both of which provide beautiful models for that essential 'Out of Africa' safari picture. This is real Africa.

Mopane woodlands are also found in the area and are the habitat for many of the permanent animals of the park,including the elusive leopard.

Baine's Baobabs

This group of baobabs, 1000's of years' old, are situated in the southern part of the Nxai Pan National Park.

The reason for their name? They were immortalised in a painting by Thomas Baines in 1861/2. Incredibly, to see them now, they look hardly different from the painting which was made over 150 years' ago!

With their Dr Suess-like build, and seeming to have their roots in the air, these ancient trees have a magic about them that can only be fully realised up close.

Wildlife

The Nxai Pan National Park has a wide variety of permanent wildlife, due to the mopane woodlands. Good populations of jackal and bat-eared foxes share the area with antelope like springbok, impala and kudu, and lion and giraffe.

During the wet season, when the plains turn into a grassy smorgasbord, enormous herds of migratory animals arrive. Wildebeest, zebra, elephant and some of the biggest herds of giraffe flood the plains, closely followed by the predators who prey on them - lion, cheetah and hyena.

Birdlife

Nxai Pan is home to a number of rapotors including kestrels and goshawks. During the wet season, both water and land birds flock to the area, turning it into a birdwatcher's paradise.

Climate & When To Visit

Unlike other parts of Makgadikgadi, where the wet season may turn large areas into inaccessible mud ponds, Nxai is accessible all year.

Temperatures are high, even in mid-winter, seldom dropping below the mid-20s (Celcius) during the day in winter and reaching the high-30's to 40 (Celcius) mid-summer. Night-time teperatures, however, can drop to almost freezing mid-winter (July) and a far more temperate high-teens, in summer.

The rainy season, when it comes - some years are drier than others, this is the desert, remember - is between November and March.


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