Central Kalahari

The Kalahari Desert offer a wilderness like no other – a place where you can see the curvature of the earth and listen to the still small voice inside you.

Overview

The Central Kalahari Desert covers 80% of Botswana but it’s somewhat overlooked by many visitors. Yet it has its own breath-taking beauty, seemingly untouched by the modern world. At certain times, game-viewing can be amazing, though it is unpredictable depending on the rains. Rather, you come here to experience a wilderness like no other, a place where you can see the curvature of the earth and listen to the still small voice inside you.

The Kalahari desert is not a true desert, but rather an arid savanna wilderness. Despite its poor sandy soils, it sustains a rich diversity of wildlife adapted to the bone-dry conditions.

The Central Kalahari completely transforms after the rains as the plains and pans burst with sweet grasses. This attracts tens of thousands of springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest, giraffe and of course their predators – lion and cheetah. This is one of the best game viewing areas in Botswana at this time of year. Not many people know this, so visitors are few.

Brown hyenas and wild dogs are also found in the area. Honey badgers are regular visitors as well as meerkats. Many an hour can pass watching these fascinating animals.

Bird life is aplenty. The worlds heaviest flying bird – the Kori Bustard is a common sight as well as Ostriches and the Black Korhaan who continuously calls during the daytime. Raptors are also seen regularly – from the pale-chanting goshawk to the rock kestrel, bateleurs and brown and tawny eagles.

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Mari Jacobs

Africa Travel Specialist
Our experienced band of Safari Planners can create a bespoke plan for you. More enriching, more restorative and making more of a difference. Discover how working with a specialist adds value to your African adventure.

Features

Why you may love it

  • The central Kalahari is the second largest game reserve in the world
  • Predators abound with plentiful lions – especially the famous Kalahari black-maned lion, cheetah, leopard and black-backed jackals
  • What is it about the Kalahari which is so attractive to people? We think it’s the sense of escape. Here life is lived as it always has been. There is clarity in its simplicity that speaks to people
  • The San (Bushmen) people are one of the last great nomadic peoples of the world. Their hunting and tracking skills, to provide meat for their families in this harsh dry climate, are legendary
  • Bird life is aplenty. The world’s heaviest flying bird – the Kori Bustard is a common sight as well as Ostriches and the Black Korhaan who continuously calls during the daytime

Explore the Central Kalahari map

When to visit Central Kalahari

Mid-December to March

Summer Rains bring sweet grasses

After the summer rains between December and March, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve completely transforms. The blue sky fills with huge clouds, and the plains and pans burst with sweet grasses. This attracts tens of thousands of springbok, gemsbok and wildebeest, giraffe. There are plenty of baby animals being born, which in turn attracts the predators. Summer is also a great time for birding as the summer migrants arrive. This is one of the best game viewing areas in Botswana at this time of year. But it can be very hot with afternoon thunder storms and rain, causing muddy conditions for your game drive, especially in January and February.
AVG RAINFALL IN MONTH 48 mm
AVG SUNSHINE 10
MAX TEMP 34 ℃ / 93 ℉
MIN TEMP 19 ℃ / 66 ℉

April to May

Migrating animals

As the summer rains dry up in March-April, many plains species such as Zebra start to migrate northwards towards the Okavango Delta. However this is still a good time to visit as the animals are still visible, the rains have stopped and the roads are in a better condition. The grasses start dying down adjacent to the pans. And it is less hot during the day… Game is still plentiful in April. However it becomes less good as the dry season progresses.
AVG RAINFALL IN APRIL 24 mm
AVG SUNSHINE 10 Hours
MAX TEMP 28 ℃ / 82 ℉
MIN TEMP 12 ℃ / 54 ℉

June to October

Dry season in the Kalahari

The dry season continues and it’s not the ideal time to visit the Central Kalahari. Having said this, the remaining animals congregate close to any pans. The grasses are lower and so visibility is better. You can take this time to enjoy interacting with the San Bushmen people. Note that June and July night-time and early morning temperatures can be very chilly in the Kalahari! And the park is gets very dry and dusty towards the end of the dry season.
AVG RAINFALL 3 mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 10 Hours
MAX TEMP 22 ℃ / 72 ℉
MIN TEMP 1 ℃ / 34 ℉

October to mid-December

Prior to the Summer Rains

Temperatures heat up very quickly in October prior to the start of the summer rains. Somewhere in November, the summer rains begin. The pans in Deception valley fill up and attract animals to come and drink.
AVG RAINFALL 28 mm
AVG SUNSHINE 11 Hours
MAX TEMP 31 ℃ / 88 ℉
MIN TEMP 13 ℃ / 55 ℉

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Did you know
  • CultureHome of the nomadic San (Bushmen) people
  • Size52,000 km² - 2nd largest reserve in the world