General Info about the Salt Pans Ultra Marathon in Botswana

The Salt Pans Ultra 2020 is a 3 Day Ultra Trail Marathon. The race will start on the Eastern Part of Sua Pan on Kokonje Island.

  • The Makgadikgadi Pans are 3 huge salt pans situated in the middle of the dry savanna of North-Eastern Botswana.  They are collectively one of the largest salt flats in the world. The pan is all that remains of the formerly enormous Lake Makgadikgadi, which once covered an area larger than Switzerland, but dried up several thousand years ago.
  • Lying South East of the famous Okavango Delta (1,000th World Heritage Site) and surrounded by the Kalahari Desert, Makgadikgadi is technically not a single pan, but many pans with sandy desert in between, the largest being the Sua (Sowa) and the others are Nwetwe and Nxai Pans. The largest individual pan is about 1,900 sq mi (4,921.0 km2).
  • Very little wildlife can exist here during the harsh dry season of strong hot winds and surface salt water, but following a rain the pan becomes an important habitat for migrating animals including wildebeest and one of Africa’s biggest zebra populations.
  • The Salt Pans Ultra Marathon is a 3 day Stage Race.
  • The Salt Pans Ultra is deceptively tough. What you lack in height gain you will make up for in heat, distance and soft or wet going under foot.
  • After the dry winter season there can be extreme conditions on the pans. Strong, dusty and hot winds, daily high temperatures above 35 degrees, headache inducing snow like white sand, a relentless beating sun and believe it or not; chilly nights. Did we mention no visible landmarks for miles?
  • Many parts of the pans are only accessible by foot.
  • The border of the pans are mainly dry and underfoot is firmer. Into the pans it can get muddy and even wet.
    • The Salt Pans Ultra Marathon is a semi-self sufficient foot race in the desolate Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. You can look forward to 2 1/2 days of extreme running covering a total distance of approximately 100kms.
    • Each participant must carry all his/her supplies for the duration of each race day. Essential equipment and supplies may be checked by a race official before the start of each race day and may be checked during the race.
    • The organisers will provide water stations at 10kms intervals which will also act as waypoints to confirm you are on the right route. Some sections of the run will not be accessible by vehicles.  Participants must self navigate their way using GPS.
    • The route of this trail race is entirely in and around the salt pans. Going underfoot may vary from dry and hard to wet and muddy.  There may be segments with water crossings. It is NOT PERMITTED to detour from the downloaded route and deliberately take a short cut across open ground to reduce the distance and to gain advantage. Therefore, any participant seen deliberately taking a short cut off the route to shorten the distance of the downloaded route will be considered a NON FINISHER of the event.
    • Early and late starts are to expected.
    • Tents for the overnight stay at Kukonje Island will be provided if booked. Runners can also bring their own tents.
    • The organisers reserves the right to modify any part of the race due to prevailing conditions on the ground and to ensure the safety of the runners.
    • Participants must reach the finish each day before sunset.
    • Participants can be withdrawn from the race if instructed by the Race Director, or on the advice of the medical team if it is clear that they are not coping with the extreme conditions that this event may present.
    • No smoking is allowed during the race.
    • No littering is allowed on the pans.  This includes toilet paper.

Event Entry Fee

  • Catered race entry which includes a tent and mattress and all meals P4,500.00
  • Self accommodated race entry which does not include a tent and mattress but includes all meals P4,000.00
  • SPOT GPS device rental P750.00 for 3 days


We offer transport from Gaborone or Maun to Kukonje Island and back

  • Gaborone – Kokonje Island – Gaborone P1,500
  • Maun – Kokonje Island – Maun P1,500

Non running/supporter options

  • Food only – P 750 per person
  • Food, tent and mattress – P 2,550
  • Camping Fee – Self catered with own tent – P 500

We do not encourage children attending the event.

  • Each finisher receives a finishers medal.
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd male and female finishers will be recognised with trophies and/or medals.
  • Prize for 1st male and female finishers
  • Event Sign In will take place between 2pm and 4pm on the Saturday 3 October  before the start of the first stage that evening.
  • Anyone not present for registration will be regarded as a non-starter.
  • Participants may be asked to show their medical insurance, compulsory equipment, and provisions for the duration of the race.
  • In the event participants are checked then anyone without the relevant documentation and compulsory items will be regarded as a non-starter.
  • Participants must declare ALL medication to the medical doctor.
  • Participants must carry enough nutrition to sustain themselves during the race.
  • The organisers recommend a MINIMUM of 2000 CALORIES PER DAY. Participants need to ensure that they get to know the requirements of their own bodies, and increase this amount if needed. It is critical that participants pack enough food and do not rely too much on energy supplements for energy during the day.
  • It is at the discretion of the organisers and event doctor at inspection to ascertain if participants carry sufficient food.
  • During the event, should a participant become dehydrated or if the medical team feels that the participant is undernourished and is endangering himself/herself, the participant will be re-hydrated orally or intravenously.  Should such a participant require two (2) intravenous drips or regular oral re-hydration, he/she will be withdrawn from the race.
  • Breakfast, a light lunch and dinner will be provided on race days.  Breakfast will also be provided on the day after the race ends.
  • Check points during the event are approximately 10kms apart. Each participant will receive up to 2 litres of water at each check point.
  • Drinking water will be available at camp. As it will be hot during the day the organisers advise participants to have a small spare bottle of water with them in case of an emergency. 500ml is recommended.
  • 5 litres of water will also be availed for a hot wash each day.
  • The inner pans are generally free of wildlife. Elephants, ostriches, wildebeest and zebra have been seen. Please keep your distance in the unlikely event you come across them.
  • No assistance may be accepted from any person or facility not directly connected to the event or crew i.e. no seconding during the race.
  • No participant may carry equipment or supplies for another participant unless in an emergency.
  • A full medical team will be in attendance throughout the event.
  • Any medication to be taken during the event MUST be declared and approved by the race doctor at registration.
  • Any medication taken during the event that has not been approved by the doctor will result in disqualification.
  • The medical team is there for the participants’ well-being and safety on and off the pans. 
  • The medical team will attend to feet at their discretion,especially relevant to severe cases where infection may set in.
  • Participants must carry and apply strapping to prevent chafing themselves.
  • If the medical team is required to assist with strapping as a result of infection or raw skin, this strapping will be charged for. This does not include strapping for injuries such as sprains, pulled muscles, etc.
  • An Air Ambulance (Okavango Air Rescue) will be on standby in Maun.  Included in the registration fee is medical evacuation to Maun, if needed as directed by the medical staff.  Once stabilised in Maun at the air ambulance clinic the patient’s medical insurance will kick in for onward evacuation as needed.
  • Base Camp on Khukonje has very limited cellular signal with BeMobile.
  • An operations/race control centre will be established at Base Camp Kunkonje throughout. There will be satellite communications available for emergencies.
  • SPOT tracking devices are available to rent.  
  • The Race Director or medical team reserve the right to retire a participant if they are concerned for their physical well being.  Any decisions to retire a participant are final.  These decisions will not be taken lightly and are only taken in the best interests of the participant.
  • A GPS device capable of uploading gpx tracks and at least 12 hours of battery life. You can use a handheld device.  Spare batteries to be carried if needed. Garmin and Suunto GPS watches are solid choices.
  • A fully charged cellphone with an inbuilt GPS
  • Backpack
  • Head cover (Cap)
  • Eye Protection / Sunglasses
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Water containers or bladder to carry minimum total quantity of 2 litres
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Blister treatment kit
  • Anti-chafe cream
  • Sun block lotion
  • Toilet paper or tissues
  • Zip lock bag for toilet paper
  • Space blanket
  • Race nutrition (2,000 calories for day 2 and 3)
  • Race Number Bib (to be provided by organisers)

The Salt Pans Ultra Marathon Entry Fee includes the following:

  • Goodie bag with various sponsored items
  • Tent and mattress (bring sleeping bag, pillow and towel) – if included in entry fee
  • Drinking water every 10kms at checkpoints
  • Spot tracker (if rented)
  • Medical evacuation cover to Maun
  • Full medical support 
  • Drinking water and hot water to shower at the camps each night
  • Professional photographer
  • Professional videographer
  • Social media updates with photos and videos
  • Supper, light lunch and breakfast
  • Snacks
  • Prize giving function
  • Finisher medal and official photo (sent digitally)
  • Chill out zone
  • A bloody awesome experience 
  • 1x 30 minute sports massage.  Additional massage is P150/30 minutes

The Salt Pans Ultra Marathon Entry Fee excludes the following:

  • International travel to Botswana
  • Travelling to the Start
  • Personal items, refreshments and additional alcoholic drinks.
  • All personal food and supplements for the race.
  • Saturday 3 October – Full moon 20kms night run/overnight on Pans
  • 12-4pm – arrival and race registration
  • 5pm – night run brief
  • 6pm – overnight bags delivered to main area
  • 6.30pm – race start 
  • 6.30. – 8.30pm – race to overnight camp on Pans
  • 8.30pm dinner

Sunday 4th October – 50kms day run to Kukonje Island 

  • 4.30am – reveille and breakfast
  • 6am – race start
  • 12.30pm – 3pm – light lunch
  • 7pm – dinner and next day race brief 

Monday 5th October 

  • 30kms day run from and ending at Konkonje Island
  • 4.30am –  reveille and breakfast
  • 6am. – race start
  • 12.30 pm lunch
  • 3pm –  prize giving
  • 6.30pm – dinner

Tuesday 6th October

  • 6.30am –  breakfast
  • 7.15am – transport departs

Subscribe to our Newsletter

* indicates required

Race Sponsors