|The Makgadikgadi pans are roughly located between the Nata – Maun road and Francistown – Oraka- Rakops road, in line with Nata in the north eastern corner. They comprise an area of an estimated 12 000km2. It is extremely difficult to describe the magic and atmosphere enfolding this vast expanse of nothingness and mystique surrounding the Pans. The Makgadikgadi Pans is a relic of what used to be on of the biggest inland lakes of Africa, consisting of two mainPans, namely Ntwetwe and Sowa Pan. Both are surrounded by a myriad of smaller Pans.
The Pans were initially state land, but in 1970 it was declared a game reserve. In 1992 the boundaries were extended to cover it’s present 4 900km2 and was given National Park status. The complete reserve was possibly once submerged beneath the ancient Lake Makgadikgadi and the Boteti River forms the western boundary of the park.
The Makgadikgadi National Park has diverse vegetation habitats, namely riverine woodland, scrubland, pure grassland and salt pans supporting Palmtree woodland on it’s edges. Of the most beautiful parts of the park, is the eastern boundary, where thick Palmtree groves are interspersed by tall yellow grassland.
These same species are found in the Delta. Other species are succulents and prickly salt grass. The interior of the reserve comprises grassland and scrub with a few “islands” of trees in between. The scrub is mainly blueish- grey trumpet thorn. On the Boteti river side of the park very thick sand borders the river valley and the tree species are mainly Camelthorn, Black – thorn, small Sour plum and Silver terminalia as well as other sandveld species.
From April to November the game make a gradual move from the Pans area of the reserve to the Boteti River side of the park. The Boteti river borders the park on the western side, making up about three quarters of it’s border. This is a beautiful heavily-wooded area with bushbuck, duiker and other animals, and during Novemer especially, numerous Zebra.
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The Central Kalahari Game Reserve
This is one of the remotest and most unspoilt , but also harsh parts of Africa. At certain times of the year, especially during the summer rainy season, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the prime game viewing areas of Botswana. The flat grasslands team with thousands of gemsbok and springbok, To be compared with the Serengeti in Tanzania. The Kalahari Game reserve is the largest reserve in Botswana, covering an area of 52, 8000km2. Its location is in the centre of Botswana. The Kuke fence run along it’s northern border, and the Khutse Game Reserve borders it in the south.
The Kalahari Game Reserve was initially set aside for the use of people who choose to continue their traditional hunting-gathering way of life. The San and the Bakgalagadi. The San have lived here for about 30 000 years. The reserve was established in 1961 to protect the recources on which these lifestyles depended.
Vegetation consist mainly of Acacia woodland, Acacia scrub and sandveld scrub. The tow main Acacia species are Bastard umbrella , resembling the Umbrella thorn and Blackthorn. Around Piper Pans the succulent-like wild sesame bushes rpvide stunning scenery, especially when bearing the trumpet like flowers. Among the most notable shrubs are the Trumpet thorn and the yellow - flowered Western rhogozum. Also common during the rainy season is the yellow flowered ground creeper – Devil’s thorn.
The Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the prime game viewing areas of Botswana. This is where Mark and Della Owens conducted their research for their book on the Brown Hyaena “Cry of the Kalahari”. During the rainy season, November to January, this desolute area is transformed into a green paradise, teeming with thousands of Gemsbok, Springbok and Wildebeest. Lion, cheetah and jackal are also plentiful.
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Deception Valley - Northern Central Kalahari
he Northern area of the Central Kalahari Reserve – Deception Valley to Piper Pans is one of the most spectacular areas to visit. During the rains – November to January \ February, vast herds of gemsbok and springbok congregate in this area taking advantage of the sweet sprouting grass. This time there is also an abundance of predators, lion, cheetah, brown hyena, jackal, bat-eared fox and other species. Bird life is also spectacular, especially around piper Pans. Other interesting places in the Central Kalahari Reserve is Sunday Pan, Passarge Pan an Motopi, the traditional Bushmen settlement at Molapo And the biggest Bushmen settlement in the Kalahari – at Xade.