Makgadikgadi Pans

Review Date: September 2012 Updated on:


5 stars Average
  • Value for money: 8.0
  • General Quality of the Trial: 8.0
  • Range of Trails: 2.0
  • Route Markings: 2.0

Riding Experience


3.5 stars Poor
  • Accessiblity: 2.0
  • Secure Parking: 2.0
  • Attractions in the area: 8.0
  • Child Friendly: 2.0

Facilities and Services

This month we have the first ever Bike Life cross border expedition as part of our involvement in the Rovos Rail Ride, which is an amazing and luxurious train and mtb ride from Pretoria to Vic Falls, via the Pans and Hwange Game Reserve.

Bike Life has been asked to do all the route design and guiding for the event which is both a great project and a great chance to get into Southern Africa and film at some of the best geographic locations on offer.

As part of our recce trip we headed down to the world famous Makgadikgadi saltpans to check out the option in terms of riding on the pans.

So little is know about riding bicycles on the pans and from all the research we did, it seems no one has actually done any kind of real riding out there, so we were pumped to get onto the crusty surface and lay down a real challenge.

This challenge came in the form of doing the first ever, unsupported crossing of the pans, from the small town of Sowa on the North Eastern corner, down to Kubu Island, a really unique rocky outcrop featuring ancient Baobab trees dating back to 2000 years, and then back again all in a day.

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Test Crew Wisdom

Doing something like riding across the Pans is a serious undertaking that could be potentially life threatening. Between us we have decades of expedition experience in extreme climates so we know how to prepare and how to handle these environments. If you don’t know, hire someone who does, or do some serious homework and preparation before attempting something like this; otherwise the consequences can be fatal.



  • Riding where few have ever ridden before
  • Kubu Island is a must visit place
  • Being in the middle of no-where with a 360 degree horizon line


  • Its super hot and dry
  • Be careful with your 4x4 on the pans, all the horror stories are true as we discovered.

What's on offer

  • Very basic Makgadikgadi Lodge on the edge of the pans
  • Swimming pool to wash the dust off.
  • Surreal scenery and riding experience