Nxai Pan National Park

The Nxai Pan National Park consists of smaller salt pans than those found in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Grassland and shrubs that attract certain wildlife species surround these pans. The park is well known for its amazing cheetah sightings as they can easily be spotted in the low-lying vegetation. After rainfall, the pans become lush and new grass feeds massive herds of zebra, wildebeest and many other animals. One of Nxai Pan National Park's attractions are Baines' Baobabs. These are a spectacular sight, as they stand tall in contrast with the flat grasslands of the pans. The Nxai Pan National Park offers excellent wildlife viewing, stunning scenery as well as many other memorable sights and experiences.

  • Best Time To Go

    December - March

  • Average Safari Cost

    $200 to $1,500pp/day

  • Highlights

    Game drives, horse riding safaris, the Nxai pans, Baines' Baobabs, guided walks and many animals to see

Why Visit Nxai Pan National Park?

The Nxai Pan National Park is an excellent destination for wildlife viewing, especially for cheetahs. Many different wildlife species can be found grazing within and around the pans after the rainy season. A permanent waterhole offers incredible wildlife sightings right from the comfort of the main camp.

The campsites within the park offer a rustic camping experience surrounded by the bush and exquisite scenery. Elephants may even pay a visit to your camp looking for water. If you're looking for something more comfortable, the Nxai Pan Camp offers chalets with perfect views of the waterhole, where you can see an abundance of animals gathering to drink.

From safaris on horseback to learning the historic significance of Baines' Baobabs, a visit to the Nxai Pans is a truly enriching experience.

Pros And Cons

  • Quiet and not crowded with tourists
  • Open land makes wildlife sighting easier
  • Popular for cheetah sightings
  • Beautiful scenery
  • Animals can easily be found at the pan during the wet season
  • Unspoiled, natural environment
  • Wildlife is not as diverse as you find in some of the other parks
  • It can get uncomfortably hot

Best Time To Visit

November to March

While the Nxai Pan National Park can be visited at any time during the year, the animals migrate to different areas depending on the season. Wildlife is much more abundant during the wet months, November to March, when the dry salt pans become lush and green after rainfall. Massive herds of zebra, wildebeest and other animals migrate to the pans with predators trailing along.

This is also the best time for birdwatching as migratory species can be found. The land is beautiful, green and full of flowers during these wet months. The days are very warm and pleasant with inconsistent rain showers that provide relief from the heat. Unfortunately, rain and thunderstorms may disrupt travel plans and activities. But they offer some grotesque earthly scenery unlike anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere! Temperatures average about 88˚F (31˚C) during the day and 63˚F(17˚C) at night.

April to October

There is less wildlife to be found during the dry season - April to October. However, roads are dry and more stable than in the wet months. It is almost always sunny and pleasant during the day with temperatures averaging about 79˚F(26˚C). The nights are cold with temperatures reaching 45˚F(7˚C). June to November is the low season and because these months are less popular, and there is less wildlife to be seen, safari rates are generally lower.

For more details about when to visit broken down by months/seasons see our Botswana overview.

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Wildlife And Birds

While the dry environment of the Nxai Pan National Park doesn't sustain as many species of wildlife as some of the other parks in Botswana, cheetah and lion can be spotted in the shrubby plains of the park. Massive herds of grazers migrate to the pans during the wet months; and the predators follow. Newborn animals can also be seen during these months.

With over 200 recorded bird species, the Nxai Pan National Park is a very good birding destination.

List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Giraffe

Frequently Seen Animals:

  • Giraffe
  • Lion
  • Cheetah
  • Zebra
  • Wildebeest

Rare Animals:

  • Leopard
  • Wild dog

Nxai Pan National Park is a great birding destination, especially in the wet season, when migratory birds can be seen. There are multiple habitats in the park, which can support many different bird species.

Endangered birds: Wattled crane

Getting There And Safety


All foreign visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after their visit. Visas are not required by visitors of many nationalities, who will receive a 30-day entry permit upon arrival.

For more details about visas see our Botswana Safari - Complete Travel Guide.


The vaccinations recommended for Botswana are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid. Boosters are recommended for measles, tetanus and diphtheria. There is a high risk for malaria in the Nxai Pan National Park so taking anti-malarial drugs is advised. It’s better to check with your local medical authority which vaccinations are required.

For more details about vaccinations see our Botswana Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in Botswana. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check the World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

What To Pack

You will need to pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get very hot during the day and quite cold at night depending on what time of the year you go. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours. Other essential items are a hat, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, binoculars and camera.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.

Camp Facilities
The ablution facilities are well-maintained and very clean. They are also elephant-proof as elephants like to wander into the camps in search of water. There are solar geysers in the main camp so you can enjoy hot showers, however, water may be scarce during the dry season. There is a small shop at the gate to the park that stocks basic items.
Electricity In Camps
Situated on the edge of the park, the Nxai Pan Camp is the main camp within the park. It has nine chalets linked together in a semi-circle around the waterhole. The camp has a solar power system that generates electricity for the chalets. There are two smaller campsites within the park that are very basic.

Botswana is commonly entered through Maun Airport. Nxai Pan National Park can be reached by travelling from Maun via self-driving, booking an organized safari drive or by flying to one of the airstrips at the lodges. Charter flights can be booked online or are often booked as a part of a tour package so check with your operator. If you are self-driving make sure that you have enough fuel in your tank as well as a back-up supply.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to Botswana.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to Botswana.

For more details about flights see our Botswana Safari - Complete Travel Guide.