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Dry, vast and utterly remote, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a land of extremes. Established in 1961, it’s the second largest game reserve in the world, and at 52,800 square kilometres (about the size of Croatia), it covers almost 10% of Botswana’s land area.
The reserve is one of the most untamed wilderness areas in the world, with most of it inaccessible to humans. The stark desert landscapes are marked by rolling sand dunes, fossil river valleys, saltpans, and the occasional mopane or Kalahari apple tree.
Despite the desolate environment, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a goldmine for unique, desert-adapted wildlife. There are the famous Kalahari black-maned lions, large concentrations of meerkats, and the rare nocturnal brown hyena.
Head to Deception Valley in the north, made up of fossilised river systems and grasslands, and you’ll find large herds of springbok and gemsbok, giraffe, honey badger, cape fox, African wild dog, plenty of big cats including cheetah and leopard, and over 220 recorded bird species.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is also home to the nomadic San people, Africa’s last hunting Bushmen, and one of the most ancient peoples on earth. There are estimated to be only 5,000 San left in the region, and visitors can head out into the bush with the San, as they share their deep wisdom of the region.
Remote and pristine, the Kalahari is only seen by a few visitors each year. With endless horizons, breathtaking landscapes, and exclusive safaris, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the perfect place for a secluded and special adventure into the African desert.
The best time to visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is during the wet season from December to March. The desert landscapes light up in greenery and attracts more wildlife, which congregate around the pans in the Deception Valley. However, the rain can make muddy roads become impassable, particularly during the hottest rainy period around January. April and May are also great months to visit as the rains are retreating and there are still a lot of animals to see. As it’s a seasonal park, you can spot migrating wildlife at any time of the year.
We can customise any Botswana holiday to include time in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. We recommend combining a visit to the Kalahari with time in the nearby Great Salt Pans, and the Okavango Delta, to showcase two of the most magnificent, yet contrasting, landscapes in Botswana.