Makgadikgadi Pan which is the most visible left-over of the super lake Makgadikgadi, formed over more than five million years ago, and has the credit of being the world’s largest salt pan. For more than 10,000 years, Lake Makgadikgadi which had a larger area than that of Switzerland had started drying up because of the climatic shifts. The lake was then turned into large pans with a surface shining with salt.
The Makgadikgadi Pan is technically, not a single pan, but a combination of many pans having sandy desert in between, lies in the southeast part of Okavango delta and the Kalahari Desert surrounding it. These pans which are dry salty clay crusts for most of the year are covered with grass and water seasonally. They then become the refuge for many animals and birds. Though the climate of this arid part of the world is very dry and hot, but it receives regular annual rains. Nata River is the main source of water along with another river called Boteti from the Okavango delta which supplies smaller amount of water.
It has been revealed in the archaeological recovery in Makgadikgadi that the early stone-age people in the era of Homo sapiens dwelled in these regions, as abundant stone tools used by these prehistoric men have been discovered from here. This is an interesting and characteristic feature of Makgadikgadi which has a track record of millions of years.
The Nwetwe pan and the Sowa pan, which are the largest single pans, have an abundance of flamingo population and other water birds during the rainy season, when the rains turn these dry pans into an oasis. During the rainy season which is usually from November to March, a colorful array of water birds as well as the Zebra and wild beasts are attracted to this region. As the pans are a sort of salty desert in themselves, the only plant life which survives here is a thin layer of blue-green algae. However, the baobabs which are prominent trees serve as local landmarks. Makgadikgadi Pans are best to be visited in the winter season which is pleasant and warm with the backdrop of natural beauty.