Central Kalahari Game Reserve was created in the year 1961 and at the moment it is the largest conservation in Botswana. At the beginning of everything, the reserve was created so that the San who live in the area were well catered for and that their culture was preserved together with the animals that habitate within the Game reserve. There are many tourist attraction sites within the reserve and some of these include wildlife viewing, birding, trekking and many more others.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is located in the central part of Botswana and covers the largest part of the country , with a good landscape filled with plains, pans and due to the semi-arid weather that it experiences, one should prepare extremely well for the journey so as to have maximum fun on the trip. A trip to the reserve is what everyone needs as it will definitely relax your mind with all the fun activities that you will carry out in one of the largest reserves in the whole world.
There are many fun activities that tourists can involve themselves in when they visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve because it is the activities that will make your visit to the game reserve worthwhile.
Interact with the Bushmen
Taking nature walks to the villages where the locals live will give you a chance to interact with the Bushmen who are believed to have been the first and earliest settlers in the Kalahari Desert. There are several huts clustered all over the village and you will also find some domestic animals littered all over their narrow compounds. The san are welcoming people and although they have not fully embraced civilization like other people in the country, you will enjoy your stay with them as they tell you the story of their origin through an interpreter. The government at the moment is trying to make them leave the reserve so that they can expand it but you can still spot them just right outside the reserve.
Hiking through the reserve
The central Kalahari reserve is a good place for one to go for hiking due to the hike routes that are located within the game reserve. Hiking through the reserve is mostly done during the green season of the park or the dry season but can only be allowed if you have a tour guide to take through the routes. This is also another way to enjoy watching the animals although you will need to be careful so that you do not bump into the predators and the hikes are best done in the morning when the sun is not so hot.
Take a nature walk through the reserve
The nature walks in the central Kalahari game reserve are normally done in the presence of the Bushmen warriors who are always armed. The Bushmen trackers have a clear knowledge of which routes to use while taking the nature walks due to the many years that they have stayed in the area and in case of an attack which is extremely rare, they are always there to help protect you and all this is done at a small fee.
Game drives through the Reserve
Game drives within the Kalahari are carried out either during the day or night. The night drives are becoming extremely popular especially since there are few people who go for these and you can easily spot a few animals like the Oryx, the jackals, hartebeest and after that you can enjoy camping as you gaze up on the stars although you will need to carry insect repellent to avid bite from insects and bugs.
Most of the game drives are carried out during day and these are best done during the dry season because this is the easiest time for one to spot the different animals in the Park and during this period, the roads are also easily accessible because they are not flooded and slippery. Some of the animals that habitate within the reserve include the white rhinos, cape wild dog, the south African cheetah, the bat eared fox, buffalos, both the spotted and black hyenas, leopards, blue wildebeest and many more other species.
Birding in the Central Kalahari Game reserve
The Central Kalahari game reserve has over 250 bird species that have been recorded and these can be viewed during the wet season. Most of the bird species that habitate within the central Kalahari reserve are raptors and this is due to the fact that there are many tiny animals that habitate within the reserve. Some of the bird species that can be seen in the reserve include the black bustard, ostriches, the red crested bustard, the white backed white heron, the pel’s fishing owl, Kori bustard and many more other bird species.
There are several equipment that you will need to go for birding in the Central Kalahari reserve that is you will need a camera, binoculars, hides, a recognition book, lots of snacks and water and not forgetting insect repellent. All these are necessary if you want to enjoy your safari to the central Kalahari game reserve.
Enjoy a photo safari through the reserve
Photo safaris refer to capturing your whole journey through the Central Kalahari reserve. All you need is a good camera and if you do not have a camera one is provided and you are shown the ropes that come with photography. It is one way to actually explore the whole reserve behind the lens but note that the best time for you to go for a photo safari in the central Kalahari reserve is either in the morning or evening when the lighting is okay for the photos.
Accommodation facilities in the Central Kalahari Game reserve
The accommodation facilities that are located within and outside the Central Kalahari game reserve are divided into three categories that is the budget accommodations, the mid-range accommodation facilities and the luxury accommodation facilities. You can talk to your tour operator and find out which accommodation facility fits your needs and book earlier enough especially if you are visiting during the peak season. Below are some of the accommodation facilities that you can check out before making a selection.
The Deception valley lodge
The deception valley lodge is located at the border of the central Kalahari game reserve and it is one of the few accommodation facilities that offers tourists a true touch of the African culture. All their rooms are designed perfectly with African designs and they are self-contained providing one with all the privacy they need and they also provide good meals to the visitors throughout their stay at the lodge.
The Tau Pan Camp
The Tau pan camp is one of the accommodation facilities where you can rest from while on visit to the Central Kalahari game reserve. It is a luxury camp that has private bathrooms, working space, decks and provide a good view of the reserve. The camp’s location gives you a chance to experience the wild nature in the reserve while having all the modern things at hand. They provide good meals both local and international throughout your stay at the camp and some activities that the camp provides include night game drives where you will get to see animals like the black maned lions, leopards, hyenas and other small wild animals that are nocturnal.
Accommodation comes in different settings and those that love camping, there are several camps that you can use or if not there are tents out for hire for anyone who wants to enjoy the wild.
When to visit the central Kalahari Game Reserve
Botswana experiences two seasons that is the wet and dry season and it is these two that highly determine when you should visit the Central Kalahari reserve. And unlike what many tourists know, the game viewing time in the central Kalahari reserve is not the same as in other Parks in the country.
The rainy season in the reserve comes between the months of November to May and this is the right time for all those that love birding and game drives. This is one of the times that animals can be seen moving around the park due to the presence of enough water and food. These same months are when the country experiences their summer and it is also a good time to visit as the weather is cooler and the Park is covered with a beautiful green especially towards the end of the rainy season.
The dry season comes in the months of May to October and unlike other parks is actually not the best time for one to go for game drives around the park. This is also the peak season of the park and you will have to get ready for all the crowds that you will find during this period but all in all, you should not forget to carry lots of water as the heat sometimes becomes unbearable.
The Kalahari Desert that stretches from Namibia into Botswana occupies the heart of Botswana, but not all is lifeless within this vast desert. The open savannah plains of the Kalahari are home to several species of wildlife thus gazetted into the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is actually the second largest game reserve across the world stretching over 52,000sq km. the reserve is made of large savannah plains, sand dunes covered with short grasses, trees and shrubs, dry river beds (for the dry seasons) besides it rich wildlife. Small groups of Bushmen remain resident of this reserve as it has been throughout the traditional hunting session of Botswana people.
This reserve (especially the north) was made famous by the writings of Mark and Delia Owens in their book Cry of the Kalahari that focused on preserving the reserve and its wildlife
Game viewing in Kalahari
The abundant desert reserve is visited all year round. The rainy season bring new life to the reserve attract several herds of wild game to the valleys between the rolling sand dunes. Some of the regular game sighted here includes blue wildebeest, Giraffes, warthog, brown hyena, wild dog, oryx, eland, kudu, springbok, bat eared fox, cape fox, meerkats and red hartebeest. Predator can not fall short in this prey rich reserve; Lions, jackals, leopards, cheetahs are encountered once on a fruitful game drive in the reserve. As the prey herds collect in the valleys for the rainy season, many of these predators find and opportunity to feast! It is best to visit Central Kalahari Game reserve for Game viewing opportunities between December and April, when the animals congregate in the pans and valleys.
The Basarwa or San people have been residents of this reserve for several years and live harmoniously in the wild, hunting and feeding to game meats. Overtime, the Bushmen have evolved their lifestyle to settles just around the reserve in villages and also focus on game conservation, sometimes stepping in as guides. Enjoy and get to know their lifestyle when you visit central Kalahari Game reserve.
How to get there
There are about three gates that lead you to the reserve; Khutse in the south, Xade gate in the west and in the northeast through Matswere gate. The northern region is very abundant with wildlife accessed through Matswere gate. Matswere is reached from Maun, drive north to Rakops via Motopi, Kumaga and Tsoe. Alternatively, the southern route from Mahalapye takes you through Serowe, Letlhakane and Mopipi and then reach Matswere gate.
Central Kalahari Accommodation.
Organizing a short trip to Central Kalahari reserve is easy. Accommodation should not even worry you for a single moment. There are basic camps, tented camps, safari lodges and a few overnight options for Central Kalahari.
Meno Kwena Tented camp is a good choice with excellent game viewing over the salt pans. From Xade gate is Xade Wildlife camp with basic camping facilities, three star Haina Kalahari lodge and Grasslands Bushman lodge. Deception Valley Lodge is a beautiful place to stay while visiting the central Kalahari-stylish accommodation, game viewing is good over the verandah and dining is delightful. Other camps to enjoy include the new private camps called Kalahari Plains camp and Tau Pan camp (for luxury overnight accommodation)
If you are considering bush camping, stock up on supplies such as fuel, food, water and anything else you may end on a wild camping trip. Camp fires and any rubbish must be buried before leaving a particular place you stayed for overnight.