7 Secret Things to Do in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans


All activities can be booked from our on-site activity office at Nata Lodge.


The best thing to do in Nata is to visit the Nata Bird Sanctuary

Ok fine. Our first activity is not so secret, but perhaps you didn’t know that the Nata Bird Sanctuary was Botswana’s first community-based conservation project.

Most famous for its thriving flamingo population and ephemeral lake, the sanctuary is set inside the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan network and is the easiest way to access this fantastic landscape.

Nata Lodge offers daily three-hour sunset drives in open game drive vehicles to support the community-run reserve. 

Established in 1988 by Nata Conservation Committee, with assistance from Kalahari Conservation Society and Nata Lodge, this little reserve protects the northeastern slice of Sua (or Sowa) Pan. Jointly managed by four local societies (Nata, Maphosa, Sepako and Manxotae), these communities share proceeds from the sanctuary for development projects.

The Nata River delta feeds the Sua Pan in the Nata Bird Sanctuary and forms the breeding grounds for many water birds, including pelicans and flamingoes in their thousands when the correct conditions conspire.

While the flamboyant flocks of flamingoes are seasonal, your chances of photographing dazzles of zebra, snorting gnus and speedy ostriches against a golden grassland backdrop are virtually guaranteed year-round.


See the modern face of Nata on a responsible cultural village tour

Led by a resident, our village outing goes beyond the main tarred road and explores the daily sprawl of dusty tracks that wind between mopane trees and grasslands of the Makgadikgadi.

The immersive tour begins at the core of all Batswana culture with a visit to the Kgotla. This traditional meeting place is the most significant site within any village and is recognised as a place of respect. It is frequently found in the middle of the town or under the largest tree. When the village head (kgosi) is present, guests can meet him to ask more about his vital role in society. 

Botswana has no single tribal culture, and Nata is a great example of regional diversity. The San — also known as the Bushmen or Basarwa in Botswana — are the original inhabitants of southern Africa and Nata owes its name to these indigenous people. Nata means 'Wow!' and is named for the Nata River because it brings vitality and life to the arid region. Being home to such a life-giving water source and a transit hub at the intersection between Zimbabwe and Maun, Kasane and Francistown, Nata has attracted people from various backgrounds and has a population of roughly 11,000 people.

A traditional homestead visit is next to learn about the circular huts and their fascinating architecture. Termite mounds reach staggering size here out. in the Makgadikgadi – some a lofty five or six metres tall. Many houses exploit the strong concrete concoction secreted by termites to make their mortar.


Greet the day from below a Baobab tree on the Salt Pans

Explore the salt pans at sunrise before tucking into a sumptuous breakfast spread lovingly prepared and laid out by Nata Lodge.

Nata marks the start of an unofficial baobab capital. Known locally as mowana, these trees love the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. You can find several special specimens from the Nata Bird Sanctuary (where endangered vultures like to roost) to Gweta to Nxai Pan National Park, where the famous Baines’ Baobabs have stood sentry for centuries. (It’s just a three-hour drive to visit them from Nata).


Discover a wilderness haven! Shaded by indigenous trees, the grounds of Nata Lodge are a sanctuary for many species.

Grab your binoculars and take a slow walk through the campsite. Meyer’s parrots like to nest in the palm trees, boring a hole into the towering trunks.

At dusk, Lesser Bushbabies bounce between the acacia trees. Open the doors of your veranda and step onto the deck quietly, and you might spot a delicate duiker treading across your view.


Brainstorm your best business ideas

Meetings in the Makgadikgadi are just that much more memorable. Book a boardroom in the bush with loads of natural light to focus on the company and colleagues in a comfortable, inspiring, flexible, and relaxed setting.

Enjoy team camaraderie at the dinner table and celebrate a successful seminar with a sunset cheers at the salt pans. Executive equipment includes a projector with screens and speakers, water and refreshments, stationary and seating.


Soak up the scenery from a canoe on the Nata River

Grab a paddle and explore the rural river on your own from Eselbe Camp or get a guide to lead the way. If the water level is high enough after the rainy season, you can explore all the way into the Nata Bird Sanctuary.


Get married in an unforgettable setting

Choose the most magical Makgadikgadi wedding venue! Let Nata Lodge take care of your catering, guest accommodation and venue logistics so you can focus on the vows. 

Imagine it: a romantic couple photoshoot on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and your first dance below a star-studded sky. Let’s plan an unforgettable African wedding. We can cater for roughly 100 guests.

Safari is in our Soul!