Photographer's Note

Botswana is a country with much to offer when it comes to National Parks and wildlife. You can go for many days in the Chobe National Park and the Okavango Delta and see many species of different African animals, some of each in thousands, such as elephants or impalas. You will also see wild cats - lions, cheetahs, leopards -, buffalos, antelopes and zebras, crocodiles, hippos, the occasional rhino, baboons and monkeys, numerous birds, etc, etc.

However, no trip to Botswana will be complete without a visit to one of the most amazing places on earth, the Makgadikgadi Pans.

The Makgadikgadi Pans is a large saltpan complex located in Central Botswana, some 160 km to the east of Maun.

The Pans of Makgadikgadi were once the centre of a great lake that has been dry for at least two thousand years, and is today thought to be the largest saltpan in the world. These saltpans cover 16,000 km2 and form the bed of an ancient lake that started evaporating 10,000 years ago. After the summer rains the pans fill up to a depth of a few centimeters, alerting the fish and shrimps from where they have been lying dormant in the mud. This forms the breeding ground for the fabulous flamingos and pelicans, which are attracted by the rich food supply. The grasslands of Makgadikgadi National Park are home to a large number of antelope and one of Africa's biggest zebra populations, which attract an impressive range of predators.

Makgadikgadi is technically not a single pan but many pans with sandy desert in between, but it is all counted in the area estimate. The largest individual pan is about 5,000 km2, and it is frequently covered with water. The main water source is the Nata River, called Amanzinyama in Zimbabwe where it rises at Sandown about 60 km from the city of Bulawayo.

Usually only quad bikes are permitted on the fragile plains. And that is exactly what we did. We went deep inside the pan to admire a beautiful sunset and to spend the night in sleeping bags looking at the most spectacular sky we ever had the opportunity to see, without the disturbance of any single man made light. In the morning we were greeted by a magnificent sunrise over an endless flat landscape.

The only regret is my camera was getting worse and worse and I could not make a decent picture of that amazing night.

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Additional Photos by Antonio Ribeiro (ribeiroantonio) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4806 W: 470 N: 6473] (22730)
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