Central Kalahari & Surrounds

About Central Kalahari & Surrounds

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.

For more information, why not speak to one of our experts on +44 (0) 20 7843 3500 or email info@africatravel.co.uk


  • Ensure that you take one of the cultural excursions on offer from the lodges to interact with the local San people. This is a fascinating experience as they way of life hasn't changed in hundreds of years
  • Learn about the way the animals that you see have adapted to life in this harsh environment, especially during the winter months when water is very scarce
  • Sightings of the famed black-maned Kalahari lions are common in the reserve and these encounters are always a truly spectacular experience
  • Watching the sunrise from your room, or indeed sunset on the lodge deck with a cool drink in your hand is a stunning sight and one enjoyed time and time again in the Kalahari
  • During the rainy season large herds of antelope congregate on the plains which makes for some wonderful photography opportunities as they are pursued by the predators


  • Desert animals such as gemsbok and springbok, giraffe, kudu and ostrich
  • Black-maned Kalahari lion,wild dog, cheetah, brown hyena, black-backed jackal, and caracals


  • November to March: Game viewing season in the Kalahari, as the rains turn the grasses a lush green and fill the pans with water. Large herds of antelope congregate on the plains, closely followed by the predators
  • April to October: The dry season turns the grass a beautiful golden colour whilst the vast dry pans dry up and resemble a vast, shimmering lake. Game viewing is sparse but the scenery is beautiful


In The Know

    • A stay at either Kalahari Plains or Tau Pan will offer the best San Bushmen interaction experiences as they have the best developed relations with the local people
    • Do not let the fact that November to March is rainy season put you off going, this is the best time to visit as the grasses are lush and green making for wonderful game viewing
    • Horseback safaris are a wonderful way to enjoy the area and really add to the feeling of peace and tranquillity that the area is synonymous with

Africa Travel Latest

"When it rains the desert comes to life, with a number of animals to be seen across the plains, giving you some of the most magnificent summer game viewings"

Shaun Obery Sales Support, Cape Town

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