When planning a trip to Botswana, choosing the best time to visit the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in Botswana and its surroundings is important.
Guests should be aware of the differences in climate, availability, activities and pricing when choosing between the various months and seasons.
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Best time to go to Makgadikgadi Pans: Seasons
Makgadikgadi Pans is a beautiful park to visit regardless of the season and popular with international visitors. Understanding not just when the best time to visit Botswana but to travel to the dry, arid pans is useful during the right season is useful depending on the nature of your visit.
March – October: Dry Winter Season
Sunny & warm daylight hours are matched with extremely cold nights for those going on a Botswana safari. With October being the hottest month, the zebra and wildebeest herds migrate in their thousands to the Boteti river to access the water.
The Makgadikgadi is a harsh, dry environment, suited to Oryx and Kudu, but the river provides a life-giving source of water for the Zebra and Wildebeest utilising the eastern grass plains.
November – March: Wet Summer Season
Witness the desert area teeming with wildlife as herds of Zebra and Wildebeest graze to their hearts’ content on the wide-open green grassland plains of the Makgadikgadi. This is the only time to witness the second largest migration in Africa.
Best time to visit Makgadikgadi Pans for wildlife
The Pans can be visited throughout the year however it should be noted it is a seasonal park and wildlife migrates through it. The actual pans attract wildlife in the wet summer months, from December to May.
Most of the park and lodges are concentrated around the Boteti river area, which is best visited for wildlife viewing in the Dry season from June to December.
Springbok, brown hyenas, wildebeest, zebras and oryx are particularly well adapted to the arid environment of the pans, and they can often be spotted here, even when there isn’t much else around.
Some predators that lurk around the fringes of the pan and can be found at dusk are aardwolf, bat-eared fox and striped polecat.
The best weather is typically from May to August when it’s less hot during the day with dry conditions and trips to the Pans are often combined with tours to the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park.
Climate in Makgadikgadi Pans
The Makgadikgadi Pans are a spectacular place all year round; their appearance changes a lot from the dry season when the arid spaces and the wind that raises the salty powder and the silence affect those who visit them.
Whilst in the rainy season, it becomes a paradise where many animals gather and you can watch one of the largest migrations of zebras and wildebeests, after that of the Serengeti.
Temperatures in Makgadikgadi Pans
The Makgadikgadi salt Pans’ climate is hot and desert-like. As with the rest of the country, the park experiences a distinct Dry and Wet season. In the Dry season, temperatures tumble at night, making it advisable to bring warm clothing for early morning game drives.
Dry season temperatures: April to October
The last rains typically fall in April. The park begins to look parched as the Dry season progresses. June and July represent the most pleasant daytime temperatures, but the mercury starts rising in August, and peaks in October and November.
- April & May – The beginning of the Dry season is mostly dry, sunny and enjoyable. The middle of the day has an average temperature of about 29°C/84°F.
- June, July & August – It is cooler during the heart of the Dry season, with temperatures rising to around 26°C/79°F in the afternoon. Rainfall is very limited. Be prepared for chilly conditions in the early morning (temperatures are about 7°C/45°F).
- September & October – Conditions at night, and in the morning, are agreeable at the end of the Dry season. However, the days get sweltering before the rains finally break. By October, temperatures of 34°C/93°F make the park extremely hot.
Wet season temperatures: November to March
There is great relief when the first rains fall. It immediately cools down a bit, and it’s less dusty. It seldom rains the whole day but short showers are commonplace. It continues to be very warm throughout the season.
- November & December – The end of the year is hot and frequently sunny and only rains sporadically. Early mornings have average temperatures of around 19°C/65°F, making them very comfortable.
- January & February – These months receive the most rainfall. It can rain in the afternoon, but generally not for too long. This time of year is associated with heavy storms.
- March – This month sees a decrease in rainfall, but it can still rain every couple of days, and thunderstorms are still around. Mornings have pleasant conditions with temperatures of about 17°C/63°F.
When to go to Makgadikgadi Pans: Activities
Activities are varied, and combine wildlife with culture, history, archaeology and geology. Most activities on offer all year round including interacting with incredibly habituated meerkats; walking with Bushmen guides; day and night game drives, Chapman’s Baobab trees and birdwatching.
During the dry season (mid April – end of October) activities include quad biking across the saltpans.
Quad biking excursion in Makgadikgadi Pans should not be missed as it is one of the top things to do in Botswana.
Enjoy an afternoon tea session and get ready to explore the fun side of you. Mount on the quad bike to discover the vast and endless plains of the Makgadikgadi Pans.
During your visit to Makgadikgadi Pans, one of the most knowledgeable things you can achieve is the historic trails. Experienced Bushmen guide will take you on historic trails and you will learn about their ancient culture and natural environment.
Featuring wild open plains and mesmerising view of the pan, game drive is one of the exciting things to do in Makgadikgadi Pans. Experience the view of large herds of antelope converging on the great lakes to drink and play.
Makgadikgadi Pans is famous for birding destination and travellers choose to visit this famous attraction in Botswana throughout the year. The greatest number of birds can be seen during the months of October to march as it is their migration period.
What is the best time to visit Makgadikgadi Pans?
Though you can easily visit all year round, the best time to experience the Makgadikgadi Pans is between November and April. It’s green and lush and welcomes the largest African animal migration.
What type of climate does Makgadikgadi Pans have?
The Makgadikgadi Pans’ climate is hot and desert-like. As with the rest of the country, the park experiences a distinct Dry and Wet season.