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.