Similar to Makgadikgadi Pans, Nxai Pan National Park is part of the Kalahari ecosystem, yet so different to the game reserve. Grassy plains are peppered with fossil beds and smaller pans, growing sweet grasses that attract a diverse range of hungry animals. The magnificent scenery here is complemented by fantastic game viewing and the area transforms into a true Garden of Eden in the rainy months.
Nxai Pan National Park is open year-round, with the best wildlife viewing during the rains, between November and April. Game viewing is unpredictable, as are the rains, so come with an open mind and appreciation for this outstanding and unique landscape.
Nxai Pans was declared a game reserve in 1970, having previously been government land, but it wasn’t until 1992 that it expanded its borders to become the current size of 2,578 square kilometres, and also gained national park status. The landscape of grassy pans is interspersed with acacia ‘islands’ providing shade to numerous species. The Nxai Pan itself is approximately 40 square kilometres; a fossil lakebed that was once a part of the great Makgadikgadi super-lake, with rich clay-like soils and thick sand dunes at the rim.
Around 30 kilometres from the entrance to the park you will find Baines Baobabs, where Thomas Baines, a famous 19th Century explorer, once stood and painted what he saw. Surrounded by and overlooking the crusty white Kudiakan Pan, the seven large, gnarled baobabs remain seemingly unchanged when you reference Baines’s painting. Lion, giraffe, kudu, ostrich and jackal can all be found in the park, usually resident around the large waterhole. Unusually both springbok, which are abundant, and impala live here together, despite their usual differences in preferred habitat. Large herds of zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok and eland can also be spotted, as well as more unusual animals, such as bat-eared fox, hartebeest, brown hyena and even cheetah.
Nxai Pan Camp in the national park, located on the western edge of a fossil pan, offers breath-taking views of vast grasslands and hosts the second-largest zebra migration in Southern Africa. Baines' Baobabs, ancient trees immortalized by Thomas Baines in 1862, are a must-see attraction, maintaining their majestic allure over the centuries.
Engaging in a guided walk with San bushmen trackers from the camp provides an enriching experience, offering insights into their nomadic lifestyle, hunting methods, and traditional knowledge of plants. This authentic encounter consistently ranks as a favourite among guests.
Beyond natural wonders, Nxai Pan encourages exploration of historical and cultural aspects, fostering a deeper connection with the unique landscape and the rich heritage of the San people.