Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Experience The Beauty Of Ancient Riverbeds, Dunes, And Wildlife Of Botswana's, Kalahari Desert
The Central Kalahari is all about vast open plains, salt pans, ancient riverbeds, dunes, desert bushveld, and experiencing and photographing that amazing desert wildlife, all the while being in one of the world's most isolated game reserves.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is located in Botswana and is one of the largest national parks in the world, by far the largest in southern Africa.
Known for its vast open plains, salt pans, ancient riverbeds (including deception valley), and dunes. Visitors to the park can enjoy watching and photographing the amazing desert wildlife reserve. The park is also home to the Central Kalahari Bushmen (hunter gatherers), who have lived in the area for centuries.
The park is home to many different types of wildlife sightings, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, honey badgers, and plains game.
There are also many different types of birds in the park, such as flamingos, eagles, and vultures. If you take your time, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve can be very rewarding for those interested in spotting and photographing birdlife.
Combine with Botswana's Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park for the ultimate wildlife viewing safari experience.
Before a safari here, read the amazing book by "Mark and Delia Owens" called "Cry of the Kalahari", a superb read.
Central Kalahari Game Reserve Facts
- Size: A jaw-dropping, massive land area of 52 800km²
- When to visit the park: Winter months are preferred; summer months are extremely hot (be warned)
- Climate: Summer daytime temperatures may exceed +40°C. Winter nights can drop well below -5°C
- Rainfall: 150mm per annum (southwest) and 500mm (northeast)
- Altitude: ranges from 600m to 1600m. Most of the region lies above 1000m.
- Location: Central Botswana, slap bang in the middle of the country
- Accommodation: Kalahari Desert Lodges
Where Is The Central Kalahari Game Reserve located?
With the emphasis on 'Central', the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is located in the centre of Botswana, pretty much in the middle. Directly south of Maun, east of New Xade, south-west of the Makgadikgadi Pans and north-west of Gaborone.
Most probably one of the easiest locations we have had to make on the location of any game reserves in Southern Africa.
To view the Central Kalahari's location from a Google Map, click here: Google Maps - Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Information On The Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second-largest game reserve in the world (Yellow Stone being the largest). Although admittedly, the game reserves is hardly ever on a safari itinerary for a first-time visitor to Botswana, it is most certainly added when people travel the country for a second time or more. A completely wild and remote game reserve where 95% of it is still inaccessible by travellers is one of our personal favourite destinations in Botswana.
It is that moment when one comes across those famously large Kalahari desert lions that a safari here becomes worth it in every way possible. Even at night, with the barking geckos and the distant roar of those lions, there is very little in Africa that can compare with a Kalahari safari.
Visitors to the park get a chance to view predators like the lion, cheetah, leopard, spotted hyena, brown hyena, wild dog, aardwolf, caracal, black-backed jackal, honey badger, African wild cat, black-footed and striped polecat, common genet, bat-eared and Cape fox, meerkat and banded, yellow and slender mongoose. Other animals include springbok, hartebeest, gemsbok, wildebeest, duiker, springhare, porcupines and Brants' whistling rat. For a desert environment, wildlife sightings are nothing short of spectacular.
Deception Valley and Pipers Pan are two of the absolute highlights and must be up near the top of all bucket list destinations when on safari in Botswana.
The Central Kalahari is a birder's paradise, and the communal nests of the sociable weaver can be up to 6 m long and 2 m high. Their nest's cam accommodated as many as 300 birds in a 1000 kg nest. Other bird species include raptors, secretary birds, martial eagles, giant eagle owls, falcons, goshawks, kestrels and kites.
Thriving on eggs and smaller birds and rodents are reptiles such as the Cape cobra, boomslang, puff adder and rock monitors. Smaller reptiles include geckos, lizards and skinks. Scorpions and insects abound.
Central Kalahari Lodge options are far, and few between due to the remoteness of the area; but have a look at the following;
Best Time To Visit The Central Kalahari Game Reserve?
We would highly recommend visiting the Central Kalahari in the dry and mild winter months, wildlife and birdlife are attracted to the watering holes, and the roads are in generally good condition.
Summers are extremely hot, and as an example of this, on our last visit (beginning of December 2019), our vehicle was reading an outside temperature of 48°C. This was unpleasant even for us used to heat, especially in the evenings when trying to sleep. But on saying that, we had a superb time with exceptional game viewing, lion, wild dog, antelope, and exceptional desert birding.
With summer rains, the roads can become a bit of an issue as most roads run in the river bed, and that river bed is clay. Even experienced drivers get stuck for a few hours or more.
Main Attractions Of The Central Kalahari Game Reserve
- Central Kalahari wildlife adapting to the semi-arid conditions
- Magnificent cloud formations during the summer rains
- That wild and remote feeling
- The first time you spot those massive Kalahari lions, what a feeling
- A visit to Pipers Pan, Sundays Pan and Deception Valley
- Wild Dogs near Sundays Pan
- Sunsets are utterly spectacular
- Khutse Game Reserve in the south
- The sand road between 'Xade Gate' and the rural village of 'New Xade', try and not get stuck :)
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the most underrated safari destinations in Botswana. With an abundance of wildlife, including predators, and some of the best birding in Africa, it's a must-visit for any safari lover. The only downside is that there are few lodge options in the area, so be prepared to rough it a bit.
Perfectly paired with the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park and even Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe or Zambia).
But it is definitely worth it for the experience of a lifetime.