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.
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.
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.
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.
The Nxai Pan National Park has a wide variety of permanent wildlife, due to the mopane woodlands. Good populations of jackals 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.
Nxai Pan is home to a number of raptors including kestrels and goshawks. During the wet season, both water and land birds flock to the area, turning it into a birdwatcher's paradise.
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 temperatures, 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.
Use the Google map to explore Nxai Pan National Park. Feel free to Print the Street Map when you're ready.
Explore Southern Africa's safari highlights on this budget, overland camping safari to Botswana's Okavango Delta and Chobe Park, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Kruger National Park in South Africa. A scenic cultural and wildlife safari!
Trip Style Nxai Pan National Park Overland Safaris
An affordable exploration of Botswana - visiting Makgadikgadi Pans and game viewing in the Moremi region of the Okavango Delta, and Chobe Park. Also explore Hwange and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe on this budget lodge safari.