The Transformation From A Salt Pan To The Garden Of Eden

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 short cut 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

At Nxai Pan National Park you can expect to see lions, giraffe, kudu, springbok, impala, zebra, ostrich, together with a good population of jackal, bat-eared fox. Along with numerous smaller creatures, and an abundant array of birds are also in the region.

Seasonal Information

January is the rainy season in Nxai Pan National Park. During this time the pans are replete and, as a result, dramatic migrations of wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok, and zebra take place. They are followed by lions, cheetah, and hyenas. If the rains are strong enough, the salty surfaces of the pans fill with mirroring waters of incredible scenic beauty. This attracts flocks of up to 30,000 flamingos, the colours of which tint the water to a deep pink. It is unfortunate that this huge water spectacle becomes practically inaccessible by road at this time, but anyone lucky enough to fly over the area during the wet season will see a water wonderland.

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