Home of the San (Bushmen)

Similar to Makgadikgadi Pans, Nxai Pan National Park is part of the Kalahari ecosystem, yet completely different to the game reserve. Here the stretch of grassy plains is peppered with fossil beds and smaller pans that attract an array of wildlife. Perhaps the focal point of Nxai Pan is the waterhole, situated only two kilometres from the entrance gate, in the midst of verdant plain dotted with a scattering of thorn trees. Tucked away in this corner and within the mopane woodland, its permanent residents are lion, giraffe, kudu, impala, ostrich, fascinating birdlife and large numbers of springbok, together with a good population of jackal, bat-eared fox and numerous smaller creatures.

Once the rains start, gemsbok, elephant and zebra migrate to the area. At this time, zebra are present in thousands and drop their young at Nxai Pan, rivalling the spectacle of the multitude of young springbok, to further enhance game-viewing opportunities. Within the park there are points of interest worthy of mention. One is the “old trek route”, a trail pioneered in the 1950s and used until 1963, as a shortcut through Ngamiland to Kazungula via Pandamatenga, along which cattle were driven before the advent of the modern veterinary control fences. Also, to the south of the reserve lies Baines Baobabs area, overlooking the Kudiakam Pans: impressive 1,000 years old baobab trees, which have been celebrated by Victorian explorer and painter Thomas Baines in 1862.

Wildlife and attractions in the Nxai Pans National Park

Large animal herds migrate through the Nxai Pans National Park on their way to and from the Okavango Delta, Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and the grasslands in and around the Magkgadikgadi Pans National Park. The park is home to lions, giraffes, kudus, jackals, springboks, impalas, and bat-eared foxes. Elephants, oryx antelopes, and tens of thousands of zebras flood the park during the rainy season, which lasts from December to April. Numerous bird species and ostriches enhance the experience of watching game.

A lot of moms and their young can be seen in the salt pans during the rainy season because many animals give birth around that time, such as springbuck in December and zebras in March/April.

The Baines Baobabs

The Baines Baobabs are another well-known attraction. On the edge of the Kudiakam Pan, they are made up of a collection of seven sizable baobab trees. Over 20 meters tall and about 1000 years old. The trees were made famous in 1862 by the discoverer and painter Thomas Baines. As a result, the trees bear his name. Pictures and photographs from today essentially reflect the same sight as those from 100 years ago due to the incredibly slow growth of trees, which increases the stem circumference by 1mm year.

The Nxai Pan National Park served as the backdrop for the acclaimed IMAX film “Roar: Lions of the Kalahari.”

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