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Nxai Pans

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Last month I had the chance to spend a few days in Nxai Pan. February is one of my favourite times to visit as the summer rains bring a flush of nutrient rich grasses which drive one of the biggest migrations in Botswana.

The highlight at this time of year is the thousands of Zebra that come into the area to take advantage of fresh grasses, giving them the food boost to be able to produce good milk for their newly born foals as well as the chance to fatten up for the leaner dry season that will soon follow. Most of the zebra form part of the migration that covers a circular route from the Boteti River moving west accross the Makgadigadi as the first rains arrive (Nov) and then north to Nxai Pan. As it dries up they then move south and east to the permanent water of the Boteti River. A few thousand will also come from the far north (Chobe River) via the Savute and Mababe Depression. At its peak the total number of zebras in and around Nxai Pan can exceed 10 000 animals – a real blur of black and white stripes!!

There were 2 other highlights of this trip. The first was seeing the famous Baines Baobabs in full leaf with the surrounding salt pans full of water. This only happens every few seasons and is always a very special site.

Finally we were also spoilt with a fantastic sighting of a young male cheetah. After giving up on hunting he revealed the exuberance of youth when he decided it would be fun to play a bit of soccer with some dried elephant dung. If it was not for his size he could easily have been any household cat playing with a ball – great fun to watch.

I hope you enjoy the pics and look forward to seeing you in Botswana sometime soon.


Mark Swaffield