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Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

In one of the most remote regions of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert lie the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Southeast of the famous Okavango Delta, the pans cover an area larger than the country of Switzerland. Dry for millennia, the salty plains are the sole remnant of an ancient super lake that is thought to have been home to some of the earliest humans. And to this day explorers continue to uncover new fossil beds.

The Makgadikgadi is technically not a single pan but many intertwined with sandy dessert. The largest single pans are Sua, Nwetwe, and Nxai. Its outer borders gradually give way to salt marshes, then grasslands and savanna. Within the pans, the only flora are infrequent baobab tress (that understandably serve as key landmarks in this monotonous terrain) and the thin layer of blue-green algae that lives on the salt crust.

Very little wildlife calls this region its year-round home, but during the wet months one of the world’s great migrations occurs. As the seasonal rains create temporary fresh-water lakes and reinvigorate the lush grasslands, herds of innumerable wildebeest and zebra make their annual trek, followed closely by large predators. Additionally, the rains attract intense concentrations of migratory birds including ducks, geese, Great White Pelicans, and southern Africa’s only breeding population of Greater Flamingos.

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