Boteti River – Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

Boteti River - Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

The Makgadikgadi National Park is where the Okavango Delta finally fades into desert. The Boteti River draws a line in the sand, separating the dry Makgadikgadi from the thirst lands of the Kalahari beyond. This is the ultimate last chance for hundreds of zebras and wildebeest that crowd the water’s edge to quench a desert-drawn thirst.

The Boteti is the last finger of the Okavango Delta, reaching down to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Years have passed without the river being fed a drop at all; becoming a long sandy riverbed with shrinking waterholes, where zebras jostle for space under high-flying sheets of dust. At other times, the Boteti swells up fat and full, spilling into saltpans hundreds of kilometers from its source before evaporating into thin air. This is the place to watch plains game crashing through sharp acacia trees, gathering under lofty palms and lurking in the shade of the riverine woodland, keeping close to the water. When the Boteti River is full, big elephant bulls can often be found playing in the water and browsing in the reeds while the sun sets on the day.

Sunsets here sink slowly through the sky, growing pink and red the closer they drop to earth. Here, you can watch the sun hit the ground from almost anywhere, with only an acacia tree or two lying between you and the horizon.

Although the park’s eastern edges touch the Makgadikgadi saltpans, its unlikely you’ll see them during your stay. Where the saltpans are about landscapes, the Boteti is about a more traditional safari experience. Explore the banks by game drive, drift along the river by boat (when water levels allow), or wait for the wildlife to pass by from the sanctuary of a hide. Once the rains arrive (October – November) the zebras and wildebeest abandon the Boteti, migrating to the saltpans and only returning in the winter (April – May). During the green season the Boteti’s banks become a quiet green landscape of technicolour sunsets and an explosion of birdlife.


Good To Know

Best Time To Travel

  •  December – March, best time for a game experience, Along with the rains comes the Zebra & Wildebeest migration
  •  April – September, best for a full pans experience, Dry season allows the pans to be accessible for Sleep-outs & quad bikes etc.
  • However, weather patterns nowadays are unpredictable so no guarantees
What To See

  • Zebra and Wildebeest migration, early rainy season
  •  Meerkats, Gemsbok, Brown Hyena, Kalahari Black Mane Lion
  • Unbelievable moonscape and 360-degree horizon
  • Endless canopy of stars
  • Incredible sunrises and sunsets

What To Do

  • Activities depend on which lodge is booked
  • Visits to habituated Meerkats
  • Overnight sleep-outs on pans, dry season, weather dependent
  • Quad bikes, dry season, weather dependent
  • Cattle post and local village tours
  • Bushman Experience
  • Horse riding
  • Endless star gazing
What Makes This Area Unique

  • All that remains of a Great Lake that once covered most of Northern Botswana
  • Unforgettable landscapes, putting into perspective how small we are on the planet
  • Blinding white salt flats reaching far into the 360-degree horizon
  • Incredible Sunrises & Sunsets with nothing blocking your view
Expert Travel Tips

  • ALL Makgadikgadi pan activities are weather dependent
  • Sleep-outs & Quad bikes offered only in dry season, but note that rains are unpredictable
  • Perfect for families breaking away from game drives
  • Great combination of Culture and adventure
  • Always check what activities the lodges offer, no guarantee of visiting the pans
  • A sleep out on the pan feels like camping on the moon, an experience not to miss if possible

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