Located in the middle of the dry savanna of north-eastern Botswana, Makgadikgadi Pan is one of the largest salt flats in the world.
The enormous salt pan is all that is left of Lake Makgadikgadi which once covered an area larger than Switzerland, but has since dried up several thousand years ago. The pan is southeast of the Okavango Delta and surrounded by the Kalahari Desert and cover 6,200-square miles. Makgadikgadi is actually made up of several salt pans with sandy desert in between with the three largest being Sowa, Nwetwe, and Nxai. Most of the year, the pans are dry, salty clay crusts yet during the rainy season, they become covered with water and grass making them a haven for wildlife. The main water source is the Nata River. The pans themselves are salty desert whose only plant life is a thin layer of blue-green algae but are ringed by salt marshes and are home to the unusual baobab trees including the famous Chapman’s Baobab.
During most of the year very little wildlife can live here due to the strong hot winds and only salt water. However, following the rains the area becomes an important habitat for migrating animals including wildebeest and one of Africa’s biggest zebra populations. Of course, their natural predators like the black-maned Kalahari lions, hyenas, and leopards are close behind. The wet season also brings migratory birds to the pans such as ducks, geese, and great white pelicans.