The mere mention of the name Kalahari conjures up images of romance and adventure. It is derived from the word “Kgalagadi” which means “The Great Thirst” or “Waterless Place”.
The Central Kalahari Reserve itself lies right in the middle of the country and is Botswana’s largest national park. The desert habitats here and the species which they attract are very different to the rest of the country’s main safari areas so it can make for a wonderful contrast on longer trips.
There is no surface water here besides a few pans which fill up for a few days during the wet season. At this time (December – April) this desolate place suddenly flushes with green growth and gives rise to a temporary abundance of life. The fossil riverbeds, remnants of those which flowed through here thousands of years ago, attract large numbers of desert antelope and their predators. During the rest of the year (May – November) this is a stark and barren place, where the local inhabitants eke out a harsh existence. At this time the game viewing can be challenging, especially considering the absence of elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo. Experienced safari aficionados, however, will appreciate the sheer desolation, the stark landscapes and the lack of other people.
This vast wilderness, with only two permanent camps, offers one of the lower visitor densities anywhere. Tau Pan and Kalahari Plains are of a very similar standard and which one you choose will depend largely on the other camps in your itinerary. The safari here is focused mainly on game drives during the day with the odd Bushman walk. No night drives, off-road driving or walking safaris are allowed so your safari activities are fairly restricted. There are a handful of other properties just outside the national park which offer more flexibility and they will also make forays into the park itself. These are generally of a lower standard but the stand out is definitely Deception Valley Lodge.
Central Kalahari FAQs
Where is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve located?
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an extensive national park in the Kalahari Desert area of Botswana. Established in 1961 it covers an area of 52,800 square kilometres (20,400 sq mi) which is larger than the country of Netherlands, and covers almost 10% of Botswana's total land area, making it the second largest game reserve in on earth.
When is the best time to visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve?
The best time for viewing game in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is during and just after the summer rains between late November and April. During these less dry months, the wildlife gathers in the valleys and pans transforming the reserve into one of Botswana's top game viewing destinations.
Tau Pan camp is set in a very remote location in the Central Kalahari atop a ridge looking down over the plains and a nearby waterhole. The only waterhole for many a mile. The views across the plains are quite something with a welcome breeze floating up to bring welcome relief from the heat.
It is a relatively small camp accommodating its guests in 8 large guest rooms all with outdoor showers. They are simple in design and décor and yet somehow feel much more luxurious than they are?! ... Read more
Kalahari Plains camp is set in the heart of the Central Kalahari game reserve and is a real quirky but very cool camp. This huge park has only 3 real options for accommodation separated by absolutely miles of vast open plains. The sense of remoteness here is extraordinary.
There are 10 guest accommodations all with an upstairs sleep out deck for those wishing to sleep under the largest most amazing night sky. The rooms are well spaced apart and all have commanding views across the plains. The main area is very pretty with a campfire out in front of it and a decent size swimming pool to cool off in the heat of the day ... Read more
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