Nxai Pan National Park is adjacent to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and is approximately 2,578 km² in size. Visitors are able to self-drive into the park, however only 4x4 vehicles should attempt the journey.
The Nxai Pan is one of Makgadikgadi's salt flats, located on the northern border of the park. In 1992 it was declared a National Park, with the outstanding and unique feature of a waterhole, situated in the centre of the park in a large grassy plain.
Approximately 20km south-east of Nxai Pan, is the beautiful Kudiakam Pan complex. Apart from the abundance of wildlife, Kudiakam Pan is significant as the site of 'Baines' Baobabs', a clump of seven Baobab trees, known as the 'seven sisters' or the 'sleeping sisters' commemorated on canvas by painter and explorer Thomas Baines on 22 May 1862. It is commonly believed that if Thomas Baines were to repaint these Baobabs today, 140 years later, there would be no visible difference.
Nxai Pan National Park is one of the more accessible areas of the Makgadikgadi, a mere 50km from the main Maun to Nata road.
Larger pans are now grassed, and are scattered with islands of acacia trees; smaller pans fill with water during the rainy season, thus providing rich resources for wildlife.
If the rains have been good, December to April is the best time of year to visit. Masses of herbivores, such as zebra, springbok, wildebeest, elephant and giraffe migrate to the area to feed on the new grass.
Other interesting aspects of this park are the historical Baines' Baobabs, which were visited by many ancient travellers, including Thomas Baines' who immortalised this magnificent and unusual sight in a painting.
Nxai Pan National Park is renowned for its magnificent scenery unique, as well as incredible game viewing. Once the rains start, wildebeest, gemsbok, elephant and zebra migrate to the region and zebra give birth to calves. Massive herds of giraffe can be seen with up to 30 in a group.
These large herds of zebras, springbok, and wildebeest attract many predators like lion, cheetah, jackal, both spotted and the elusive brown hyena, as well as the endangered wild dog and the secretive leopard.
There are large numbers of bat-eared fox and raptors that prey on the rodents and reptiles. At times, rhino has been sighted. Also to be seen are the eland, greater kudu and red hartebeest. The birdlife is incredible, once the rains have started.
The famous Baines' Baobabs stand tall as an oasis of life in the middle of the white salt pan in the dry season, which is well worth a visit.
January to April is considered the best time to visit Nxai Pan National Park. These are summer months, and bring a certain amount of rain, but not enough to be off-putting. The water feeds the dry pans and produces new greenery, which invites the game.
By May and June, winter has taken over and the air becomes clear and crisp, while ground frost starts to present and the temperatures drop.
From July to September, there is no rainfall at all and the park becomes barren of greenery taking on a vast, empty appearance. It becomes quite a hot time of year with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius, while nights can drop below freezing.
From October, temperatures become almost unbearably hot as the climate turns to summer. This is the preparation for the rains, and by November the skies should have succumbed to short-lived showers, bringing about the new grass and migratory game.
Since becoming a National Park in 1992, Nxai Pan has only accumulated one permanent camp within its borders. It is a unique experience to spend time at this destination.
Nxai Pan Camp was opened in February 2009. It is modern and spacious, run by a fantastic, cohesive team who are passionate about the area they work in and offer a genuinely warm welcome. It is built at an unusually vegetated part of the park overlooking grassy surroundings and the high numbers of herbivores that flock here to feed.
There are camp sites located in Nxai Pan National Park, for visitors embarking on a self-drive 4x4 holiday.
Guests staying at surrounding lodges can incorporate a visit to Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi Pans into day trip safaris, particularly recommended in the Green Season, when the herds of springbok and impala gather to feed on the new grass.
Nxai Pan National Park is a remote and exceptional destination for those wanting to explore the expanse of these salt pans.
There is only one permanent camp within the Nxai Pan park, while other guests may enter for day drives with their safari guides from camps located outside the borders.
Sun Safaris arranges guests' flights to Maun, the safari capital of Botswana, and from there, the connecting light air transfers that will take guests to an airstrip at Nxai Pan.
Guests will be met by their safari guides at the local airstrip and driven to their booked accommodation in this wild and unique area of Botswana.