The Central Kalahari Desert covers 80% of Botswana and yet is 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 and migration patterns. 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. Indeed you could say that no visit to Botswana is truly complete without experiencing this ‘desert’.
The Kalahari desert is not a true desert, but rather an arid savanna wilderness. Despite its poor sandy soils, it manages to sustain a rich diversity of wildlife adapted to the bone-dry conditions.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
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 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 are aware of this – so the visitors are few.
Predators abound with plentiful lions – especially the famous Kalahari black-maned lion, cheetah, leopard and black-backed jackals. Brown hyenas and wild dogs are also found in the area. Honey badgers are regular visitors as well as meerkats and many an hour can be wiled away watching these fascinating animals.
Bird life is aplenty. The worlds heaviest flying bird – the Kori Bustard is a common site. as well as the Black Korhaan who continuously calls during the daytime. Ostrich are seen roaming free. Raptors are also seen regularly – from the pale-chanting goshawk to the rock kestrel, bateleurs and brown and tawny eagles.
As mentioned, game is plentiful after the summer rainfall. It is less good in the dry season. 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.
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.
There are two other camps in the Botswana Kalahari- Ta Shebube Rooiputs and Polentswa. These are not in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve but in the far south-west of the Botswana Kalahari Desert, part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The camps are accessed from the south from South Africa so we have listed them with the Kgalagadi region.