© Lioness on the prowl in Nxai Pan
The pans have been formed by a process that may have begun more than five million years ago. At that time, the Okavango river, the Chobe and the upper Zambezi flowed along somewhat different courses to those of today. Travellers are always struck by the immensity of sky and horizon of the Botswana landscape.
Nxai Pan itself is an extensive grass plain, part, once again, of the old lake bed, which is more generously covered with acacia trees. In the south of Nxai Pan, Baines' Baobabs comprise a clump of large baobab trees, rendered immortal in 1862 by painter Thomas Baines, a member of Livingstone's expedition.
The Nxai Pan National Park:
The Park was originally state land. This area of 1676 square kilometres was declared a game reserve in 1970 and then in 1992 the boundaries were extended to include Baines Baobabs to give the current total area of 2578 square kilometres and National Park status was granted.
The Nxai Pan National Park is basically a salt pan. After a good rainfall water flows into the pan and on the grass country. The way into the pan should be travelled only by a all-wheel-driven vehicle. In the park there are two Campsites.
In the park there are two small public camping grounds with ablution facilities; one in the south on the edge of the plain, less than 2 kilometres from the entrance gate, and the other in the north, 8 kilometres from the gate, within mopane woodland. In addition to this, informal camping is permitted at Baines Baobabs, although no facilities are available and the nearest water supply is at the Game Scout Camp situated near the entrance gate.
The fossil pans of Nxai Pan offer spectacular, seasonal game-viewing in the rainy season (November - March). Huge herds of Zebra, Wildebeest, Springbok and Gemsbok attract many predators - Lion, Cheetah and both brown and spotted Hyena. There are large numbers of Bat Eared Fox, which preys on rodents and reptiles.
This is one of the few areas in Botswana that is more interesting during the rainy season - when huge herds hit Nxai's grassy pans. The numbers can be staggering; wildebeest, zebra and gemsbok appear in their thousands, along with large herds of other Antelope and Giraffe. Perhaps the focal point of Nxai Pan is the water hole, situated only two kilometres from the entrance gate, in the midst of a large grassy plain which is dotted with a few clumps of short umbrella thorn trees.
Here, and within the mopane woodland, 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, are permanent residents. Once the rains have started, gemsbok, elephant and zebra migrate to the area.
At that 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. Whilst many other parks and reserves are not considered to be at their best during the rains, Nxai Pan becomes a veritable Garden of Eden.
There are no facilities at Nxai Pan's campsites, and you'll need a 4WD to get here. The park is about 500km (310mi) north of Gaborone.
Two small camping sites with ablution facilities and water. Also read more about Nxai Pan Camp situated on the edge of Nxai Pan National Park.
Situated in Northern Botswana, this 2590 square kilometer reserve is mainly forest and savanna woodland and large areas of open grassland. There are two Pans - Nxai ( a fossil lake bed about 15 km wide and covered with short grass), and Kgama-Kgama Pan. Located close by is the 2,578 square kilometre Nxai Pan National Park.