Bushmen making fire in Kalahari

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a birder’s paradise. Also, there is plenty of game that gather at the infrequent waterholes. This increases your chances of witnessing a dramatic chase and kill.

About Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Situated right in the center of Botswana; this reserve is characterized by vast open plains, salt pans, and ancient riverbeds. Varying from sand dunes with many species of trees and shrubs in the north, to flat bushveld in the central area, the reserve is more heavily wooded in the south, with mopane forests to the south and east. Rainfall is sparse and sporadic (from 170 to 700 millimeters per year). The Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is larger than Denmark or Switzerland. Furthermore, it is bigger than Lesotho and Swaziland combined! At 52,800 square kilometers, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second-largest game reserve in the world.

The Owens, who lived on the pan for seven years studying the brown hyena that live here, wrote the book, “Cry of the Kalahari”. This book brought the attention of readers to this previously little-visited area and even today many people refer to the Central Kalahari simply as Deception. The name “Deception” comes from a pan; the dry surface of which sometimes appears convincingly full of water until one gets right to the edge.

When to travel

Kalahari safaris are best between December and April when the animals tend to congregate in the pans and valleys. Temperatures are extreme and can exceed 40°C in the day but may drop below -14°C at night!!

Central Kalahari sunset with wildebeest
Central Kalahari sunset with wildebeest

What to expect

Deception Valley is all that remains of a sprawling riverbed that has long since dried up. Stretching across 80km of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve’s north; the valley is now covered with short grass, dotted with the occasional island of bushy trees. Some roots of the larger trees extend as far as 50m below the surface, to the water table, enabling them to survive the dry winters.

The low canopies of these tree grove islands provide shelter for the game during the heat of the day and one can often see lions dozing in the shade of these thickets. They are usually made up of umbrella thorn and buffalo thorn. This is a common & wonderful sighting in winter in Africa. In the early mornings and later in the afternoon the road retains some heat whereas the shade of the ‘bush’ will be much cooler. This is one of the main reasons why early morning and late afternoon game drives are the best times for a safari and to spot the wildlife. In summer, they don’t really need to do this.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve Accommodation