Makgadikgadi is a place of wide-open, uninhabited spaces under an endless
canopy of blue sky. The remoteness, inaccessibility and danger of the pans
all add to their allure.
It is a
vast expanse filled with subtle hues and surrealistic beauty. Almost the
size of Portugal, the pan covers 12 000 square kilometers and is the largest
saltpan in the world. The pan is only a portion of what used to be one of
the largest inland lakes in Africa.
area is comprised of the Sua and Ntwetwe pans. During the heat of the late
winter day the pans become a shimmering mirage of disorienting and ethereal
austerity. The large number of small villages and the small stone age tools
and other artifacts that can be found scattered around the islands (for
example on Kubu Island), all point to the fact that the Makgadikgadi Pans
have supported human habitation, and their livestock, for a very long time.
At one time the Makgadikgadi Pans was important as a major trade route.
September large herds of antelope, zebra and wildebeest roam the dusty
plains awaiting the first rains. On their arrival the waters turn the pans
into a perfect mirror of the sky, distorting all sense of place and time.
Although these rains are short lived, in December another deluge turns the
edges of the vast pans into waving fringes of green grassland where herds of
wildlife converge to partake in the bounty.
of birds arrive to build their nests along the shoreline of the Nata River,
in Sua Pan, and feed on algae and crustaceans that have been lying dormant
in the salt and sand awaiting the drenching rains.