During this time, the pans are often transformed into a powder blue lake, the waters gently rolling onto the shorelines, and flowing over the pebble beaches serving as a clear indication of the gigantic, prehistoric lake the Makgadikgadi once was. Geologic records indicate that the Makgadikgadi is a relic of what was once one of the largest inland lakes Africa has ever had.
Africa’s most famous explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, crossed these pans in the 19th century, guided by a massive baobab, Chapman’s Tree, which is believed to be 3000 to 4000 years old and remains the only landmark for hundreds of miles around. Seeing this amazing tree today on safari, you are given entry to an era when much of the continent was uncharted. The Makgadikgadi is in fact a series of pans, the largest of which are Sowa and Ntwetwe, both of which are surrounded by a myriad of smaller pans. North of the two largest pans are Kudiakam pan, Nxai Pan and Kaucaca Pan. Interspersed between the pans are sand dunes, rocky islands and peninsulas, and desert terrain. No vegetation is able to grow on the salty surface of the pans, but the fringes are covered with grasslands. Massive baobab trees populate some of these outer areas, their silhouettes creating a dramatic landscape against a setting sun.