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LUXURY TRAVEL: Salt pans sleep out, BOTSWANA

Secluded, Deserted, Isolated, Barren.  

These are words that The Luxury Travel Bible usually never uses to describe our travels. But they are true for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and nothing has ever come close to how much of a luxury experience a night on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans was. 

The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans are one of the largest salt pans in the world covering an area of over 30,000 km2. From Leroo La Tau we travelled across the plains towards the  Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. To travel to the Pans by road will take around six hours but, for a more memorable and comfortable transportation, guests can upgrade to be flown there by a 30 minute helicopter ride.

As we flew over the beautiful scenery we spotted Zebras and Elephants but the further we journeyed away from the lodge, the less and less habitable the area becomes.


Having spent the week on safari actively trying to spot wild game it was reassuring to be informed that the pans are so remote, and covered in a thick layer of salt, that no wildlife or insects venture here. The area is also completely devoid of any light or noise pollution. Landing here felt like we had arrived in a different world. It was a somewhat strange experience to look around and see nothing on the horizon and just nothingness for as far as the eye can see. Landing here you are completely cut off from the world and I absolutely loved it.

As we arrived at our home for the night we were greeted by our welcoming committee. Our guide and the kitchen team (who we had last seen at breakfast), had set up the most beautiful camp for us with distinctive areas; seating, sleeping, kitchen, dining – even a bathroom area. 

Within moments I had a Gin & Tonic in my hand from the little pop-up bar area – this really was the ultimate camping experience. 
As the sun set and day turned into night, shadows were being cast across the landscape creating a beautiful and dramatic scene. This was when I truly could experience how quiet, peaceful and tranquil the location was. 


For dinner we sat down at a tableclothed table and were served on China plates and drank from wineglasses - this is the kind of camping I appreciate! 

Chef Marlie and two sous chefs had created a wonderful 3-course bush meal (despite the remote location and temporary kitchen set-up) and we were served the most delicious and tender lamb.   

The rest of the evening was spent sitting round the campfire, chatting, telling stories and playing silly games before venturing off to our beds. Desert and Delta Safaris have really thought of everything and my comfortable camp bed with bedroll was incredibly cozy and warm (due to the remoteness it can get very cold at night).

In the middle of the night I woke up and found myself lying in my bed, looking up at the canopy of stars. There was a surreal sense of calm and wonderment at this unique location. Let’s face it, who needs 5-star luxury when you can be lying in a camp bed stargazing and spotting the odd shooting star shooting against the pitch black background.

Waking up from quite possibly one of the most restful and peaceful nights’ sleep I have ever had, my fellow campmates were also starting to rise and making their way over for breakfast for a cup of expertly brewed coffee made by our guide over the campfire. 

Sadly all good things must come to an end even this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and  it was time to return back to reality, albeit back to the luxury of Leroo La Tau. Taking off from the Salt Pan and flying across miles and miles before we spotted our first signs of life really did reiterate just how isolated and remote we had been for the night. 

A night spent sleeping out on the Salt Plains was unforgettable. Not only was it in a unique part of the world but the hospitality put on by the Desert and Delta Safaris crew was so special. In terms of an extraordinary, unforgettable and truly unique experience, the Salt Pan Sleepout is the ultimate luxury.      

Luxury Links: www.desertdelta.com

Sarah Bryans, 14/08/2023
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