CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE
Nothing prepares you for the immensity of this reserve, nor its wild, mysterious beauty. There is the immediate impression of unending space, and having the entire reserve to yourself. Waist-high golden grasses seem to stretch interminably, punctuated by dwarfed trees and scrub bushes. Wide and empty pans appear as vast white stretches of saucer-flat earth, meeting a soft, blue-white sky. At night the stars utterly dominate the land; their brilliance and immediacy are totally arresting.
The Central Kalahari game Reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remotely situated reserve in Southern Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world, encompassing 52 800 sq kms. During and shortly after good summer rains, the flat grasslands of the reserve’s northern reaches teem with wildlife, which gather at the best grazing areas. These include large herds of springbok and gemsbok, as well as wildebeest, hartebeest, eland and giraffe.
At other times of the year, when the animals are more sparsely distributed, the experience of travelling through truly untouched wilderness, of seemingly unending dimensions, is the draw. The landscape is dominated by silver terminalia sandveldt, Kalahari sand acacias, and Kalahari appleleaf, interspersed with grasslands, and dotted with occasional sand dunes, pans and shallow fossil river valleys.
CKGR is unique in that it was originally established (in 1961) with the intention of serving as a place of sanctuary for the San, in the heart of the Kalahari (and Botswana), where they could live their traditional hunter/ gatherer way of life, without intrusion, or influence, from the outside world. The reserve was closed for about 30 years, until in the 1980s and 1990s, both self-drive and organised tours were allowed in, albeit in small, tightly controlled numbers.
The Botswana government has initiated plans to develop tourism away from the Okavango and Chobe areas, and has allocated concessions for lodge construction, both at the peripheries of and inside the reserve, allowing for fly-in tourists.
The northern deception valley is one of the highlights, principally because of the dense concentrations of herbivores its sweet grasses attract during and after the rainy season (and of course the accompanying predators). It is also the most travelled area of the reserve, with a number of public campsites, and proximity to the eastern Matswere Gate. The other two gates are completely at the other side of the reserve, at Xade and Tsau, where public campsites are also available. Other worthwhile areas to drive are Sunday and Leopard Pans, north of Deception Valley, Passarge Valley, and, further south, Piper’s Pan.
The laidback little sister of Jack’s and San Camp, Camp Kalahari is our understated and affordable base in the heart of the great Kalahari. Set amongst the waving palms and acacia trees of Brown Hyena Island, the 12 funky Meru tents are perfect for families, groups and couples, and are an ideal base for discovering the charms of the desert and the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, a landscape that’s as surreal as it is sublime, and as mysterious as it is magical. Read More
Dinaka is a classic luxury tented camp set on a large private reserve on the border of the stunning Central Kalahari Game Reserve offering an exciting range of activities. The game viewing here makes for a fantastic contrast to that of an Okavango safari and really showcases the variety of Botswana’s wildlife. Dinaka is a smart, well -run camp offering game drives, san bushman walks, a photo hide and sleepout options thereby ensuring a complete and well-rounded desert safari experience. Read More
The charming Jack’s Camp is surrounded by the vast and pristine landscapes of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Reminiscent of a traditional East African, 1940s safari camp, this spectacular retreat offers eight tents, all of which are spacious and stylish. Each intimate tent features a lovely ensuite bathroom, with an indoor and alfresco shower and a private veranda. Enjoy the warmth of the wood-burning morso stove, the coolness of the overhead bed cooling system, and beautiful natural history cabinets. Relax on your private veranda overlooking the Makgadikgadi that includes a sparkling plunge pool, a glorious respite from the heat. Read More
Kalahari Plains overlooks an immense pan with endless horizons and beautiful skies. Its eight en-suite canvas units – airy and insulated to keep temperatures comfortable – are each topped with a sleep-out platform where you can spend moonlit or star-studded nights. The charmingly traditional, wood and thatch main section consists of a lounge, dining area, pool, and deck. Solar power provides all the electricity and hot water in the camp. Healthy wildlife populations are present year round, many seen from vantage points in camp. Read More
Imagine a smattering of billowing white tents, shaded by desert palms and surrounded by a thousand acres of shimmering, sparkling nothingness. You’ve just dreamt up San Camp, our impossibly romantic, seven-bedroom camp on the edge of the Nwetwe Pan in Botswana’s Makgadikgadi. San isn’t a place for frills and fluffiness. The magic is in the minimalism, both at the camp and in the mysterious desert landscape. You can forget the tourist crowds and over-stuffed 4x4s too; it’s just you, the wildlife, and a handful of local San Bushmen, waiting to share their secrets with you. Read More