Nata Bird Sanctuary
Distance about 566km.
We left Ntubu Camp feeling that we will definitely be back some time again, especially since it is only 338km from Pretoria making it a fantastic bush retreat for a long weekend. The border post was quiet and we moved through with no problems whatsoever. The staff on both sides were amazingly friendly and helpful.
From Ntubu Camp to Nata Bird Sanctuary
Nata Bird Sanctuary lies 172km north of Francistown and 18km south of the village of Nata, on the eastern tip of the Makgadigadi Pans. About half of this sanctuary consists of pan surface which fills up with water only when the Nata River starts flowing after the summer rains in Zimbabwe.
The salt pans known collectively as the Makgadikgadi Pans are remnants of a huge lake that covered a large part of northern Botswana thousands of years ago. Now they are mostly dry, but fill up during the rainy season and then attracts great numbers of aquatic bird species.
The two huge salt pans, the Ntwetwe and Sowa, are the largest in the world. While there is not a lot of game around these pans there are tens of thousands of greater and lesser flamingos that breed in the shallow waters in the early part of the year.
The Ntwetwe Pan is bigger than its eastern counterpart, Suwa Pan. It was once fed by the waters of the Boteti River, but they were diverted at Mopipi Dam to provide water for the Orapa diamond mine and the pan is now almost permanently dry. The western shore of Ntwetwe Pan is probably the most interesting in the Makgadikgadi area, with landscapes of rocky outcrops, dunes, islets and channels.
The Nata Bird Sanctuary was established in the early 1990s and is the only protected reserve in the area, apart from the Makgadikgadi National Park and the Nxai Pan National Park. It is a local community project managed by a board of trustees selected from four nearby villages.
A campsite with barbecue sites, hot showers and flush toilets can be found near the park entrance.
We departed from Ntubu Campsite at about 8:00 and reached Nata Bird Sanctuary about 16:30 after a long drive. We skipped shopping at Francistown as time was not on our side.