The Nata Sanctuary Trust is comprised of community members living in the vicinity of the northern part of Sua Pan where the Nata River enters the pan. In 1988, the Nata Conservation Committee recognised the need for a protected area in the Nata district with its ecologically delicate and ornithologically valuable grasslands, pan surfaces and the Nata River Delta. The result is a community-based project, the management of which falls under a board of Trustees, with representatives from the four surrounding communities of Nata, Maposa, Mmanxotae and Sepako. Surplus revenue is used for capital development within these villages and for the further education of their inhabitants in matters of conservation and eco-tourism. Further funding has been obtained from the Swedish Biodiversity Foundation.
The Nata Sanctuary is part of the Makgadikgadi Pans Important Bird Area (IBA), and as such is one of Botswana’s premier birding destinations. After good rains, hundreds of thousands of globally threatened Lesser Flamingos, along with Greater Flamingos, Chestnut-banded Plovers, Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans, and a host of other waterbirds converge on the nutrient-rich waters of the pans. As the pan dries out, the Sanctuary hosts the largest congregation of Lesser Flamingos in Southern Africa – a flamboyant spectacle and a must for any bird enthusiast.
How to get to the Sanctuary
The Nata Sanctuary is situated 170km northwest of Francistown, on the northeastern tip of the great Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. It covers approximately 230 square kilometres, 45% of which is pan surface area. The Makgadikgadi was once the site of the largest inland lake in southern Africa, which dried up between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. Today remnants of this great lake exist in the form of two large salt pans, Ntwetwe Pan in the west and Sua Pan in the east, that flood only temporarily in the wet season.
Facilities and activities for birders
The Nata Sanctuary provides affordable camping in the Mophane woodland near the entrance of the park. Enjoy a private campsite complete with braai place and table. Ablutions consist of hot showers and flush toilets. Luxury tents are under construction at present.
Nata Sanctuary is a birdwatchers’ paradise but varies greatly throughout the year. In order to see the birds at their best, it is advisable to enquire from staff about conditions within the Sanctuary.
Comprehensive checklists of birds found in the Sanctuary and the whole Makgadikgadi IBA can be obtained off the BirdLife Botswana website. Please click here for the list.
A viewing platform/hide provides panoramic views of the pan and sunsets