If you are looking forward to visiting an endowed African destination not thronged by tourists, then Nxai Pan National Park of Botswana is your perfect choice for authentic safari experience. The Park comprises of Nxai Salt Pan, one of Makgadikgadi Pan Flats which is so far the largest salt pan in the whole World but this Park is found within the north-eastern side of this South African country, on the northern edge of the Makgadikgadi basin.
Nxai Pan National Park is a haven to a cluster of a thousand year (millennia) old baobab trees, also known as the Baines’ Baobabs named after Thomas Baines, the man who allegedly discovered them and are so far one of the most desired and sought after tree species by tourists in Africa especially to Botswana. Established in 1992, this site is contiguous to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park but extends for an area of 2578 square kilometers with the main tourist feature being the waterhole at the heart of the Park in a vast grassy plain.
While here and within the Mopane woodland is where animals such as bat-eared foxes, giraffes, jackals, zebras, Cape wild dogs, greater and lesser kudus, Aardwolf, Springbok, impalas, elephants, impalas, wildebeests, Aardvarks, lions and other smaller animals in addition to beautiful bird species such as Ostriches can be spotted.
Most interestingly, this National park is a significant area where large herds of migrating herbivores that attract predators especially leopards, cheetahs, lions, African wild dogs and hyenas can be experienced. As much as most National Parks are perfect for game viewing during the dry winter months (from June to September) when the short grasses make game viewing easier but that is not the case with Nxai Pan National Park where the first summer rains starting from November to December offer a perfect Garden of Eden for tourists visiting the Park.
The rainy season is the home to the seasonal zebra migration where large herds of zebras accompanied by some predators can be seen within the vast open grasslands amidst the shade of Acacia trees while the dry season is when the other wildlife species can be spotted within Nxai Pan National Park.
This National Park offers wonderful birding opportunities during the wet months where numerous species of raptors, red-necked falcons and Kori Bustards among others can be spotted. When the salt pans are filled with water after rains, there is definitely a heavy influx of flamingos.
Some of the adventures offered by the Nxai Pan National Park include nature walks, game drives, Quad biking, bird watching and cultural encounters with the local San Bushmen (and enjoy traditional activities such as trap setting, fire making and hunting).
- Best Time of the year to visit Nxai Pan National Park
This Park is open for visitors from January to January but wildlife species are abundant from December to April much as the rains are heavy during this time and the roads may be difficult to pass through. However the Park is more accessible in the dry season from June to September but is also the time when wildlife converge around the permanent water sources that suddenly become a beehive of activities with predators such as leopards and lions choosing these places for hunting their prey-zebras, springbok and gemsbok among others.
- Where to Stay?
There is currently only one Safari Lodge and two Campsites within this National Park but there are many others within borders of the Park or the neighboring Makgadikgadi Park that undeniably has easier access to Nxai Pan National Park.
- How to Get There?
It is obvious that the National Park is remotely situated thus easily accessed by air from Maun Airport lasting 25 minutes followed by a short drive (15 minutes) to the Park. The main entrance to the Park is 136 kilometers out from Maun on the Maun-Nata road or only 65 kilometers from Gweta turnoff if traveling from the east.