Once you leave one of the few main roads in this area, you generally need to be in a self-sufficient 4WD vehicle. Bringing along all your food and water with you is always a good idea, as whilst you will find water in some places, there is very little in the way of shops!
If you're venturing off across Makgadikgadi, then you really should take at least two vehicles and have a GPS and a compass; an environment of flat salt without any landmarks at all can be very disorienting, especially during a windstorm. In such a situation, breaking through the pan's crust and getting stuck can create a life-threatening situation.
The 'usual suspects' both cover this area well – the Shell tourist map of Botswana
map and the Contimap
. Both have a variety of useful GPS points. Although I find the Shell
map a little easier to use, with its more detailed maps on the reverse side, the Contimap
is much newer (2001). Take both if you can.
If you plan on exploring a lot of the pans, then you should also get hold of a copy of the excellent Visitor's Guide to Botswana
by Mike Main (see Further Reading
). This has a number of carefully described routes through the area – as well as much interesting general information. However, note that the most recent edition that I'm aware of was 1996, and some of the tracks will have changed since then.
Booking and park fees
If you want to stay in either of the national parks then you must book ahead for a campsite.
Similarly Nata Sanctuary, Jack's Camp and Makgadikgadi Camp are certainly best booked in advance – though most of Sua and Ntwetwe Pans are not controlled, and so you can sleep anywhere.