Crunch Crunch below the Milky Way
Imagine a place of peace, solitude and intense silence only broken by the moaning sound of the wind. Where it could just be you for miles and miles with no other living soul.
Imagine standing in the middle of an ancient lake that dried up thousands and thousands of years ago. A place that has a wealth of archaeological sites, yielding both fossil remains and tools from the Stone Age and Early Iron Age. A place that looks the same as it did thousands of years ago
Yes, it does exist!
Located in the north-east of Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve and south-east of the Okavango Delta lies a complex of huge, flat salt pans, collectively known as the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. The word Makgadikgadi derives from the word “kgala” which means thirst or dried up.
These pans capture the heart and imagination with its startling, moonlike landscape that cover an area of 12,000 km², they represent the ultimate escape back in time maybe, the only place where you can be transported to 1000 years ago. The landscape is entirely flat, creating a delusional feeling of eternity.
If you have spent an evening in nature you will know that magical feeling of looking up and seeing the night sky flood with stars. You are reminded that we share the universe is with all sorts of fascinating objects, each one more perplexing than the next.
Just before sunset, a dark red band lays about the western horizon while to your east the sky is filled with ribbons of pink, lilac and blue-grey. Jupiter and Saturn come out first thing at nightfall and start their journey across the sky setting below the southwest horizon. As the night gets deeper a bright object rises in the east sky, she is Venus, you get a good glimpse of her before sunrise. As you keep looking at the east sky just after midnight you see the yellow-orange shine from the Red Planet (Mars). The sky is truly there to put on a show for you. Its dry climate and remote location make its night skies among the clearest and darkest in the world. On a moonless night the Milky Way arcs over you like a giant swathe of smoke.
The granite basement, flanked by the Karoo rocks, within the Kalahari Sand give a crunch, shattering the salt-crusted surface underfoot. A combination of arid climate and soaring temperature on the vast Ntwetwe and Sowa Pans make it quite inhospitable for most of the year; with no bird insight (apart from the odd crow, of late) not an insect, tree or shrub that disrupts the horizon.
In contrast, during the wet/summer season Sowa Pans becomes flooded and turns into a sea of endless water. The myriad of powder blue lakes and verdant landscapes form to become a hub of wildlife activity. The pans attract huge flocks of Lesser and Greater Flamingos making the sky bright pink creating a picturesque view against the blue and whites.
During the dry season, November/December the rains in the Makgadikgadi area triggers the Zebra migration, the second largest migration in Africa, where the herds will travel for a few weeks from the Okavango Delta/ Moremi area to feed on the nutritious grass of the Makgadikgadi. They settle in for around three months, with March being when Zebras are massing for the return trip north or east to their dry feeding grounds.
Our visits to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans have always left our heart full of feeling completely immersed in nature. It’s desolate and beautiful.
Desert and Delta’s Leroo La Tau and Natural Selection’s Meno A Kwena offer a complimentary Makgadikadi Pans sleep-out experience for guests staying 3-nights or more. The experience may be requested and booked between July and October.
TIP: Include a scenic helicopter flight as a transfer (30mins) for a truly remarkable experience