The Central Kalahari Game Reserve covers 52,000 km2 of Central Botswana and is the second largest protected area in the world. The reserve was created in 1961 as a sanctuary for the Bushmen or San that traditionally live in the area, before being opened to visitors in the 1980s, although some areas remain the exclusive preserve of the San. Their presence means that, in addition to their safari experience, visitors can enjoy interactions with the San, escorted by highly knowledgeable guides and can learn more about one of the last true hunter-gatherer people found anywhere on the planet.
The area is characterised by dense bush with Kalahari acacia trees and Kalahari apple-leaf, leading to huge open saltpans and grasslands dotted with sand dunes. The landscape is truly extraordinary, especially at sunrise and sunset as the flat topography makes for stunning sunscapes. A number of ancient riverbeds, full of fossils run through the reserve, with Deception Valley being the best known of these.
Whilst this is an area where game viewing can be thoroughly enjoyed, you will not see the large herds of animals that one would traditionally associate with Botswana. Rather, you will enjoy an extraordinary diversity of animals which have adapted over the years to thrive in this harsh desert environment. Plains game include gemsbok and springbok, as well as small numbers of eland, giraffe, kudu and ostrich. Naturally, wherever one finds plains game the predators are not far behind and the Kalahari boasts large numbers of leopard, cheetah, wild dog, jackals and of course, the legendary black-maned Kalahari lions.
The number of lodges within the boundaries of the reserve is limited, with Kalahari Plains Camp and Tau Pan being the two that we would recommend. However, there are some lodges on the outskirts where you can still enjoy the Kalahari experience but keep the cost of your stay down, with Haina Kalahari Lodge and Deception Valley Lodge always proving very popular.
The Central Kalahari is much under-visited for such a beautiful area and the diversity of game you see really surprises visitors. It works superbly well as the end of an itinerary as it offers you the chance to sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful desert scenery.
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