Central Kalahari

Central Kalahari

Home of the black-maned lion


Classifying this area as a desert is a hard idea to take in for the average traveller, you will not find the classic wind swept sand dunes anywhere here, nor will you see any camels padding their way into the distance. The area is generally a flat sand base covered in grassland and bushveld scrub interspersed with salt pans and fossilised river beds.


At over 50,000 km², this vast delicate environment borders up to the Ghanzi area in the west but is dominated by the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) stretching out to the east. Further out beyond the National Park borders of the CKGR you will find Khama Rhino Sanctuary, one of the few places that you will find the elusive rhino in Botswana.


The San Bushmen, having been in the Kalahari region for many thousands of years, leading a nomadic existence, applying the art of the hunter-gatherer with exceptional skill, have moved to the outskirts of the region as the CKGR gained prominence as a protected area and National Park. They do however form part of the attraction here and visitors to the region can be guided by bushmen and shown examples of their survival skills. The Kalahari can sometimes feel empty compared to regions such as the Okavango Delta, but these amazing people can stand you on one spot and show you the diversity right around you that you never noticed.


The Central Kalahari area is awe inspiring for its vista alone. Whereas in some areas the best time to visit is in the dry seasons of winter, from May to October Kalahari temperatures soar and the ground offers little water for the game, the area however comes alive in the rainy season. Between roughly November and April the rains arrive and provide the region with a spectacular carpet of beautiful flowers and nutritious grasses. Magnificent cloud formations give rise to dramatic Kalahari thunder storms, giving the photographer amongst you a scenic shot that rivals anywhere in the world.

As the rains come, gemsbok gather in vast numbers in the Central Kalahari

How to get there

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The peak season for an area can differ and is dependent on wildlife movements and the weather itself



Peak Season

Summer is between November and May.

The opposite to the north of the country, its the rainy season which is peak season in this area. The rains which start roughly in January bring all the game into this spectacular region.



Off Season

Winter is between June and October

With the drier and colder start in June, the animals can disperse to other areas in search of water. October marks the start of the reasl change to blistering heat in readiness for summer again



Large herds of gemsbok and springbok number into the thousands, generally permanently based in the region, their numbers concentrate in the northern regions such as Passarge Valley and Deception Valley when the rains arrive.


It is an excellent area to see Cheetah, jackal and brown hyena together with the large black-maned lions, famous in the region.


Birdlife here is well suited to the arid region and one can typically see the larger Kori Bustard and secretarybirds walking through the long grass. Witness the fluttering antics of the ant eating chat and the extraordinary flying display of the clapper lark. The Kalahari region also remains as one of the few places in Africa where one can find original populations of Ostrich.



As ever, activities within the National Park itself are restricted.


Only daytime drives are allowed which unfortunately reduces the chances of seeing the nocturnal species especially the rare brown hyena. The two Lodges within the park boundaries do however allow bushmen walks, an experience which is simply not to be missed.


The Lodges outside the park will offer trips into the CKGR, it should be noted though that however close they are to the park boundaries it may take quite a while to travel into the park itself and get to the better areas, so their options for at least an overnight stay in the parks is something to considered.


Their own private areas however offer excellent additional excursions and they concentrate on bushmen cultural activities and walks together with the ability to conduct night drives within their concessions.


At the Lodges outside of the park boundaries, because of their ability to conduct nights drives etc, you do have more of a chance to see brown hyena and the other nocturnal species.

Selection of our Central Kalahari Tours


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Transvaal Gardenia Tour

4 nights Nxai Pan and Kalahari

from $2,743

Buffalo Thorn Tour

12 night exclusive multi region tour

From $6,830

Sausage Tree Tour

6 nights Nxai Pan, Kalahari and Okavango

From $4,290



There are only two exclusive lodges in the National Park itself, Tau Pan Camp and Kalahari Plains Camp, both excellently appointed and offering the best of areas to the visitor. Just outside the park to the north are Deception Valley Lodge and Haina Kalahi Lodge and Dinaka, both of which are in private areas and as such are able to offer activities not available in the National Park itself.


Further afield and to the west towards Ghanzi are the equally excellent Edo’s Camp and Grasslands Safari Lodge.


Most Mobile Tented Safari operators visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve allowing you to stay with them in private camp-sites, which take full advantage of the regions offerings. Please view or Mobile Tented Safaris pages to see our offerings in more detail.


Lastly, self drivers are accommodated in public camp-sites which are situated within the more appealing regions in the park. Safari Lifestyles offers 4X4 car hire for the intrepid Self Driver.... please see our selections here.

Lodges in the Central Kalahari area


As the rains come, gemsbok gather in vast numbers in the Central Kalahari
As the rains come, gemsbok gather in vast numbers in the Central Kalahari

How to get there

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As the rains come, gemsbok gather in vast numbers in the Central Kalahari