First wild Flamingo sighting

Flamingos, Makgadikgadi, Botswana

Greater Flamingos

To see Flamingos on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is a major attraction and a sought after experience by tourists and movie-makers alike.

As they are only on the pans when the pans are flooded, getting to witness this sight is extremely difficult.

So when a friend of ours mentioned he had seen flamingos on a smaller pan just west of us we jumped at the opportunity and headed out there with him.

There are two flamingos in southern Africa, the Greater and Lesser. Both classed as near threatened.

The Lesser Flamingo, no great surprise, is the smaller of the two and is richer pink in colour. The one you would imagine when thinking of flamingos. It is also the more common of the two.The Makgadikgadi is only one of 3 places in Africa where they breed successfully on a regular basis.

It gets the pink colour from the food it eats (microscopic blue-green algae and diatoms). The Greater Flamingo eats aquatic invertebrates and hence does not take on the full pink colour and is whiter with touches of pink on the wings.

DSC_0041We travelled across a few dry small pans which were beautiful, the whole area was stunning with small pans dotted all around and little islands popped up here and there. We rounded a corner and the scenery opened up on a much larger pan covered in water. And there they where, 21 Greater Flamingos.

Flamingos, Makgadikgadi, BotswanaWe got an amazing view of them although they were a bit far and as we approached they moved off, making photography difficult.

We pressed on to a massive pan and way in the distance you could make out a pink tinge.

We travelled miles around the edge of the pan trying to get to them – only to find that we had been deceived up an optical illusion and they where actually closer to the opposite edge of the pan.

Flamingos, Makgadikgadi, Botswana

A flock of Lesser Flamingos

There were 100’s and the rich pink colour indicated that these were the Lesser Flamingo, but unfortunately they were far and moving quickly away from us.

We returned to the Greater Flamingos and relaxed on the edge of the pan to contemplate this amazing sight. Not only did we get to see flamingos, but we had seen both species. Of course we had a couple of well deserved beers to celebrate.

DSC_0050It was actually like sitting at the beach, the fine white sand and the water before us. The water was salty as well, but I guess the main difference was that if you waded in you DSC_0069never got more than knee deep in water.


Another highlight of the afternoon was watching the small Kittlitz’s Plover running along the waters edge with its two tiny chicks.


I am not sure if this pan had a name, but I believe I will always refer it to as Flamingo Bay 🙂

See more pics



About PeteMorrie

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2 Responses to First wild Flamingo sighting

  1. pauline says:

    Beautiful Pete

  2. Suki says:

    Never knew there were 2 types.
    Smiled at the food fact that they eat blue/green algae and yet flamingos are pink!
    What a lovely experience – people tell me that they are one of the most elusive to photograph.

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