CENTRAL KALAHARI GAME RESERVE (CKGR), BOTSWANA
In depth guide to the seasons, animals, birds and wildlife habitats of the African safari region
of Central Kalahari desert in Botswana.
request a private safari tour of the
Central Kalahari in Botswana, click
Kalahari is the largest sand basin
in the world, stretching 1,560 miles (2,500km)
from the northern part of South Africa, through
Namibia and Angola and ending in the DRC (Congo).
It may have no permanent surface water, but
unlike the image of most deserts, the Kalahari
is well vegetated with a wide variety of habitats
including acacia trees and areas of flat grasslands
that seem to stretch forever.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is
the largest game reserve in the world, and has
until recently been closed to the public. Its
remoteness, unforgiving climate and harsh terrain
have kept it pristine and only the fully self-sufficient
traveller would venture into the reserve alone.
Those that do are rewarded with untamed Africa
at its best.
CKGR was originally created as a refuge for
the San Bushmen - the inhabitants of the Kalahari
for the past 30,000 years. They lived in nomadic
hunter-gatherer family groups only taking what
they needed to survive - which is an art form
in the Kalahari. Their simple lifestyle became
anathema to the sophisticated Europeans who
colonised Southern Africa and the Bushmen found
themselves the hunted rather than the hunter.
survival became an issue in 1961 when Botswana
was still a British Protectorate, and the Central
Kalahari Game Reserve was formed as their homeland.
Most have now intermixed with other tribes such
as the Bakgalagadi, and live in villages at
the southern end of this reserve. Their traditional
lifestyle is all but gone but some bush survival
knowledge is still passed down from generation
lodges based in various parts of the Kalahari
often hire people of Bushman origin to guide
visitors into the desert and to impart their
wisdom of how to survive. Often dressed in traditional
animal skins and carrying a bow and arrow, they
show you how to find water-filled tubers in
the sand and explain how to catch an ostrich
- which is no easy task! Bushmen are great storytellers
and like nothing better than to embellish a
tale with elaborate and hilarious demonstrations,
accompanied by their fast and furious clicking
language. At the end of the day they take off
their working clothes - in this case animal
skins - and go back to their village. The romantic
dream that Bushmen might still be able live
as they once did is not a reality, and even
the CKGR is no longer theirs as diamond mining
companies are taking over what was once Bushman
After the summer rains
arrive in the northern section of CKGR, from
Deception Valley to Piper Pans, the vast plains
burst with sweet grasses and it becomes one
of the prime game-viewing areas in Botswana.
Not many people seem to be aware of this and
visitors are few. The clear blue sky fills with
gigantic clouds and the stage is set for an
amazing transformation. Into the scene enters
thousands of gemsbok, springbok and wildebeest,
with plentiful lion, cheetah and jackal in attendance.
This gathering of animals is a sight to behold
and can be compared with the Serengeti/Masai
Mara migrations of Tanzania and Kenya.
in the bush, the ceaseless daytime call of the
Black korhaan is replaced at night by the continuous
loud cough of the male barking gecko, and under
the cover of darkness scorpions emerge. Those
with thick tails and small pincers are the most
dangerous, while the ones with small tails and
big pincers give a painful but harmless sting.
Rainy season: Summer rains are expected to fall
on northern CKGR between November and March,
but as rainfall is erratic this is by no means
certain. Rainstorms are frequent but fast and
roads can become very muddy and a fully equipped
4x4 vehicle is essential.
Dry season: May to October is hot, dry and dusty
in the Kalahari with little water and limited
animals. October is the hottest month.
KALAHARI GAME RESERVE SPECIALITIES
· Magnificent cloud formations during
the summer rains
· Thousands of grazing animals on the
grass plains of northern CKGR from February
· Fascinating reptiles, scorpions and
· Beautiful Deception Valley
· Starry nights of spectacular proportions
CKGR is the largest game reserve in Botswana
covering 32 808 square miles (52,800 square
It is located right in the centre of Botswana
This is a malarial area
Follow the links below to Botswana's premier wildlife regions
and game reserves
Reserve Index | Wildlife