Nxai Pan National park is set on the northern fringe of the Makgadikgadi basin and includes Nxai Pan, an ancient lakebed that was once part of the ancient lake Makgadikgadi. Nxai Pan, Lake Ngami, Lake Xau, the Mababe Depression, Ntwetwe Pan, Sua Pan and the Okavango Delta are all remnants of this gigantic lake.

nxai pan map 1When Nxai Pan National Park was first proclaimed in the 1970's it was only 1 676 square kilometers. In 1992 it was declared a national park and enlarged to an area of 2 578 square kilometers, which includes Baines' Baobabs.

Nxai Pan National Park consists mainly of a series of fossil pans, all of which are covered in short nutritious grasses. On the pans are "islands" of Acacia trees that form shady spots in which the animals often rest during the day. Today Nxai Pan consists mainly of rich, clayey soils and very thick sand dunes on the periphery of the pan. This makes for beautiful scenery and is unique to Nxai Pan. The short, sweet grasses on the pans provide excellent grazing, particularly for the springbok, which is almost always abundant in this area.

Interestingly, both impala and springbok can be seen in this park, where as they are usually separated by different habitat preferences. Although the habitat is more suitable for springbok, the impala can survive because of the surrounding mopane veld and the availability of permanent water.

The area is also the breeding ground for large herds of zebra, wildebeest, gemsbok, and eland. Unusual game species that can be seen here are the hartebeest, bat-eared fox, brown hyena, and cheetah. Note that the game viewing can be rather unpredictable in Nxai Pan, especially during the dry season.