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Kalahari Lakes & Pans 2021

30 June to 6 July 2021

Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Orapa Game Park, Makgadigadi Pans National Park, Nxai Pan National Park, Goo-Moremi Gorge

 

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This trip takes us to the central Botswana part of the Kalahari Basin– the world’s largest continuous stretch of sand.

The Basin itself stretches from the Orange River up to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has recently been nominated for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Kalahari is not a true desert but rather an arid savanna and is quite densely covered with grasses, shrubs and trees. It is regarded as one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas and is probably one of the largest relatively undisturbed arid savannas in Africa.

Botswana’s great saltpans-Nxai, Ntwetwe and Sua- cover an expansive region known as Makgadigadi, an ethereal and austere landscape like no other place on earth. A portion of this spectacular landscape is conserved within the Makgadigadi and Nxai Pan National Parks.

Destinations

Khama Rhino Sanctuary

A community-based wildlife project, established in 1992 to assist in saving the critically endangered rhinoceros, to restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its former natural state and to provide economic benefits to the local community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources.

The sanctuary is on about 8000 ha of Kalahari sandveld, and is centred on Serwe Pan, a large, grass-covered depression with several natural water holes.  It is home to both Black and White Rhinoceros, 30 other mammal species, and about 230 species of birds.

White Rhinoceros Khama Rhino Sanctuary
White Rhinoceros Khama Rhino Sanctuary

The Makgadikgadi Pans

Covering an area of about 12 000 sq km, are part of the Kalahari Basin and one of the largest salt pans in the world.

The Makgadikgadi Pans comprise seasonally inundated salt-pans, surrounded by grasslands, low tree-and-bush Acacia savanna, and stunted Mopane woodland. There are two main pans, the Sua Pan, fed by the Nata River in the east, and the Ntwetwe Pan in the west.

The great grass plains of Makgadikgadi and the associated pan complexes of Sowa, Ntwetwe, and Nxai are scenically stunning and the first-time visitor is invariably struck by the immensity of sky and horizon of the Botswana landscape. Around January to March, if the rains have been good, the pans flood. When this happens grasses spring to life, flamingos arrive at the nest, and a huge migration of zebra and wildebeest occurs. From May through to November the area is home to herds of zebra, springbok, and wildebeest, accompanied by their predatory followers in the shape of lion, cheetah, and hyena.

Makgadigadi Pans
Makgadigadi Pans

Nxai Pan National Park

Nxai Pan National Park lies just north of the Maun-Nata road and adjoins Makgadigadi National Park on its northern border. The Nxai Pans were once part of the great lake that covered central Botswana which included the Okavango Delta, Makgadigadi and Lake Ngami. The Park is home to the famous Baines Baobabs which are located on the southern side and the Pan itself is a fossil lakebed about 40 sq km in size. The famous artist Thomas Baines arrived in 1861, and painted an unusual group of Baobab trees, which became known as ‘Baines Baobabs’. It is rare to see these trees so close together and as one was growing on its side, Baines named his painting ‘The Sleeping Five’. The landscape is largely covered by grassland and is dotted with clusters of acacia trees and mopane woodland

Nxai Pan is well known for a huge springbok population, as the short-cropped grasses can testify, and extraordinarily large herds of giraffe with up to 30 in a group. Also, to be seen are blue wildebeest, gemsbok, eland, greater kudu and red hartebeest. The more commonly seen predators are spotted hyena, cheetah, leopard and jackal with the elusive brown hyena a rare treat. During the rains buffalo and elephants may also be seen. Once the rains start, game viewing can be good and the birdlife is excellent.

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Goo-Moremi Gorge

Situated deep within the imposing Tswapong Hills, Goo-Moremi Gorge is the source of three permanent waterfalls. The first two are smaller, but fan out into large waterholes, whilst the uppermost falls is a full ten-metres high, giving rise to arresting scenes of clear water cascading over rocky outcrops, then collecting in a deeply hidden, lushly vegetated, fern-fringed lagoon. The Moremi Gorge is a designated National Monument and is managed by the Department of National Museum, Monuments and Art Galleries.

Over 350 species of birds have been recorded in the area, including the endangered Cape Vulture, Verreaux’s Eagle and Black Stork, as well as over a hundred butterfly species.

Goo-Moremi Gorge

Birding Attractions 

Cape Vulture, Verreaux’s ,Martial and Tawny Eagles, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Bateleur, Red-necked Falcon, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owl, African and Southern White-faced Scops-Owls, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Chestnut-banded Plovers, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, Wattled Crane, Secretarybird, Kori Bustard, Northern Black Korhaan, Bronze-winged, Temminck’s and Double-banded Coursers, Orange River Francolin, Yellow-throated and Burchell’s Sandgrouses, Red-billed Spurfowl, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Meyer’s Parrot, Southern Pied Babbler, Eastern Clapper, Spike-heeled, Pink-billed and Fawn-coloured Larks, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Ashy Tit, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Barred Wren-Warbler, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Desert and Tinkling Cisticolas, Pririt Batis, Burnt-necked and Yellow-bellied  Eremomelas, Cape Penduline-Tit, Black-faced and Violet-eared Waxbills.

 

This 8-day tour departs from Johannesburg. We travel in an air-conditioned VW Caravelle, 4-wheel drive Microbus.

Itineraries

Day 1

Date : June 30, 2021

Johannesburg-Maun-Makgadigadi Pans National Park

Depart from OR Tambo International on a mid-morning flight to Maun.
Bird along Thamalakane River before heading for Khumaga entrance of Makgadigadi Pans NP.
Afternoon birding and overnight at Boteti River Camp.

Day 2

Date : July 1, 2021

Makgadigadi Pans-National Park

Early morning game drive in open safari vehicle in Makgadigadi Pans National Park.
Rest of day spent relaxing around camp.
Afternoon game drive in open safari vehicle along Boteti River in Park.
Overnight at Boteti River Camp.

Day 3

Date : July 2, 2021

Nxai Pan National Park

Day trip to Nxai Pan National Park in open safari vehicle.
Overnight at Boteti River Camp.

Day 4

Date : July 3, 2020

Makgadigadi Pans National Park-Orapa

Early morning birding and game viewing around camp.
After brunch head for Orapa via Lake Xau (if lake has water).
Afternoon birding and game viewing in Orapa Game Park.
Overnight at lodge near Orapa.

Day 5

Date : July 4, 2021

Orapa-Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Early morning birding and game viewing in Orapa Game Park.
Depart after breakfast for Khama Rhino Sanctuary.
Overnight at Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

Day 6

Date : July 5, 2021

Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Day spent birding and game viewing.
Night drive in open safari vehicle.
Overnight at Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

Day 7

Date : July 6, 2021

Khama Rhino Sanctuary-Goo-Moremi Gorge

Early morning birding and game viewing.
Depart after breakfast for Goo-Moremi Gorge, near Palapye.
Overnight at Goo-Moremi Lodge.

Day 8

Date : July 7, 2021

Goo-Moremi Gorge-Johannesburg

Early morning birding walk in lodge grounds.
Depart after breakfast for Johannesburg, arriving mid-afternoon.

Includes

The cost includes transport, all meals and accommodation, guiding and entrance fees.

Excludes

All you would need to pay for would be alcoholic beverages, gratuities, and items of a personal nature.