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Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

Sydney, Australia
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Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

We are planning a self drive Namibia/Botswana trip for September 2015. We may have only a 2 x4 vehicle and not a 4x4. I read CKGR is best in Jan/Feb so it might not be worth spending $$$ for a lodge stay. We are not camping. What game would we see at that time of year?.

Re the Nxai pans area I have read cheetah sightings are a possibility, while Makgadikgadi can be good for lions. The Ntwewe pan area has exclusive $$$ lodges. Are there other less expensive options in the pans, with some interesting game at that time of year?. I am looking at Planet Boab near Gweta as a cheaper option but there might be others.

Is it worth it to visit both MGR and CKGR in September OR NOT? If so, any suggestions for the areas to visit and accommodations, is appreciated.

6 replies to this topic
Maun, Botswana
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1. Re: Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

If travelling in a 2x2 you will be very limited as to where you can go.

Planet Baobab would be ideal as a base to explore the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans - but you would need to use the tour vehicles that PB offer, not drive yourself - unless you can use a 4x4.

Game in this area during September is not very good. As you say, the best time to visit is during the migration after the rains arrive. The Kalahari Lions - which are extremely impressive to view, are not really in the Makgadikgadi or Nxai area - but more in the Central Kalahari - Deception Valley Lodge and Haina Lodge are good lion viewing bases - but you will need a 4x4 to get there.

In September, the Pans are worth visiting, but don't expect much game.

To be honest, taking a 2x2 to Botswana is going to be so limiting, I really wonder if it will be worth it.

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for Zambia, Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park
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2. Re: Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

I thought I'd let someone with more self drive experience than me wade in first, but I had some similar thoughts. I was just wondering- if you do skip MGR and CKGR, where are you intending to go in Botswana? Just want to check that you realise that if you want to go to the northern parts of Botswana- eg Moremi/Savute/Chobe, you will definitely need a 4X4. So without a 4X4 you are very limited.

Also, if you are not camping, I slightly question whether self drive is the way forward in Botswana. As you're finding, a lot of lodges are expensive and all inclusive (ie including game drives). So I'm not sure I see the point of paying to rent a vehicle then just having it parked outside a lodge for the whole stay. You might as well fly in, pay for road transfers, or do a mobile safari. Self driving would work better if you are prepared to camp for at least some of the time.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

Thanks Safari Child and Stokeygirl

I thought the 2x2 might be an issue. I have had doubts about the 2x2 idea. it was suggested to me by a Namibian TA to save costs since we are not 4X4ers & not into camping or at least climbing up ladders even though fit seniors. We are self driving as we prefer the freedom of it and it is cheaper the longer the hire (24-28 days including Nam), which will probably be from Avis Jnb where we fly into SA. We are driving from Etosha to Caprivi where we will stay - Divindu and near Mamili NP and then probably to Kasane to Nata onto Gweta (Pans) and then to Maun. We will fly into the Delta from there and leave the vehicle for a 2 night stay at a wet camp. From there drive back to Jnb via the CKGR.

We will look into 4x4 hire with Avis SA i.e. Toyota Fortuner auto which we hired last year (2x4) for our 21 day SA self drive trip. Any comments on all this is appreciated. I knew the Botswana side of the trip needed refining so useful information is v helpful.

Gaborone, Botswana
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4. Re: Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

If you are driving through the CKGR you will def. need a 4x4

Manchester, United...
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5. Re: Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

We're doing a similar trip soon (Sept 12 - Oct 5). We decided against hiring a vehicle in JNB and instead are flying to WDH and picking up a camper van for 20 days.

We will be limited to 2WD roads but have the choice of whether to sleep in the van or splash out on pricier accommodation. we've booked really cheap campsites in Etosha and have some idea of where to stay for the other nights, including Planet Baobab but don't want to pre book and restrict ourselves too much in case we find somewhere really nice that is work staying several nights at.

Itinerary is similar to yours. WHD - Etosha - Caprivi strip - maybe Livingstone / Vic Falls - Kasane - Nata - Gweta - Maun - WDH which is quite a long round trip but better than including JNB.

The idea is that at Etosha we can just park up the van by a water hole for the day and wait for wildlife, its dry season so we're hoping that the untarred 2WD roads will be fairly navigable.

Solana Beach, San...
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6. Re: Makgadikgadi GR/Pans/Central Kalahari GR - Sept or Skip?

Hi, I have driven in all the areas you have spoken about and Moremi and Chobe too many times when I used to work for Safari Drive.

You will definitely need a 4x4. The soft sand to get to Nxai Pan alone will conquer you alone.

As for best game viewing at this time I would say Moremi and Chobe by a mile and Pans always interesting at any time but not much game as per Stokey Girl comment.

Lodges in Moremi and Chobe will be very expensive but most did do a self drive rate. I would suggest if you have the budget and really want to drive lodge to lodge and not camp you get a 4x4 and work with an expert so you better understand distances, road conditions and time needed.

I hope this helps and good luck.

John Spence - Owner - Aardvark safaris, California

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