Botswana’s thriving Deserts, Parks & Pans

The breathtaking beauty of Botswana is not limited to the famous Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park. For Africa connoisseurs there is also the vast Nxai Pan National Park and Makgadikgadi National Park where endless herds of Zebra kick up the dust during April/May, and watchful predators stalk unsuspecting grazers amidst the waving grasses. Come and visit the completely revamped Leroo La Tau Lodge or the newly built Nxai Pan Lodge and take a step back in time!

Visitors considering something a little different to the usual Okavango Delta safari circuit will be excited to learn about Leroo La Tau Lodge which has recently been completely renovated, and the totally new Nxai Pan Lodge. Both are located in the vicinity of the Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi National Parks in Botswana’s interior.

Leroo La Tau accommodates 24 guests in luxurious en-suite chalets, each raised on an individual raised wooden platform. The main lounge and dining area with its inviting wooden and thatch finishes, offers guests the opportunity to sit back and relax at the bar while listening to the wide variety of night sounds so characteristic of the African bush. Alternatively you can lounge around the pool while appreciating the herds of zebra and wildebeest which are often seen around the lodge grounds and the waterhole. The lodge offers both day and night drives.

The Boteti River is the natural boundary for the Makgadikgadi National Park and it is on the banks of this dry river course that you will enjoy the comfort of Leroo La Tau. The Boteti River last flowed in 1993, climate change and erratic weather cycles have caused the once crystal clear waters to dry up. Leroo La Tau is built on cliffs over 15m high above this arid riverbed, and in the dry season wildlife concentrates around the waterhole in front of the lodge. The main reception and lounge area of Leroo La Tau is located on the top of these cliffs, so the raised vantage point ensures unsurpassed views of these desert inhabitants as they congregate below to quench their thirst.

However, Leroo La Tau is not only about lion, zebra and wildebeest. Leroo La Tau also boasts Chobe bushbuck, leopard, brown and spotted hyena, impala, kudu, jackal, porcupine, genet and caracal, to name but a few. In addition, there is also the possibility of seeing the rare white rhinoceros. Most unique however, are the crocodiles and an amazing pod of hippo which have survived in extremely adverse conditions for over 12 years. The hugely contrasting seasons and terrain make this area of the Makgadikgadi a unique haven for large herds and predators alike.

Nxai Pan Lodge boasts eight purpose built tents accommodating a maximum of 18 guests. The main area consists of a dining room, lounge area and viewing deck. The lodge also offers a swimming pool, library and curio shop. Game drives are offered in 4×4 vehicles, as well as walking trails and historical tours to Baines Baobabs and Pandamatenga Cattle Trail.

Nxai Pan National Park was declared a game reserve in 1970, and then a National park in 1992 when the boundaries were extended to include Baines Baobabs. The Pan was once part of the great super lake that covered central Botswana. In pre-historic times, this was the largest inland sea in Africa – 80,000 square kilometres in extent, and up to 30 metres deep. Now, in the wet season, this vast area of salt pans interspersed with low-lying grass islands is the destination of herds of migrating Zebra. It has an unspoilt beauty unlike that of any other part of Botswana.

Nxai Pan is well known for its huge springbok population and once the rains have started gemsbok, elephant and zebra migrate to the region in large numbers. At this time zebra come in their thousands to deliver their young at Nxai Pan, an amazing sight. Extraordinarily large herds of giraffe can also be seen with up to 30 in a group. These large herds of plains game inevitably attract many predators – lion, cheetah, jackal, spotted hyena and the elusive brown hyena, as well as the rare wild dog and the secretive leopard. There are large numbers of bat-eared fox and at times rhino have also been sighted. The area is also excellent for birding, especially following the rains, and many raptors circle over the plains preying on rodents and reptiles. Both lodges are a short 25 minute flight from Maun, and can also be reached by 4×4 vehicle.