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Central Kalahari

Central Kalahari

The Central Kalahari in Botswana is one of the harshest places you’ll visit on the African continent. Beautiful summer skies are complemented by excellent game viewing when the water reaches the northern part of the park. Flat grasslands play host to hundreds and thousands of gemsbok and springbok.

This is the largest game reserve in Botswana and is located right in the heart of the country. The area was set aside for the San and Bakgalagadi peoples were hunter/gatherers’ until recently. The San have lived in this area for over 30,000 years. Today there are just around 2,000 inhabitants permanently living here but numbers swell during a good rainy season.

The Bakgalagadi settled in this area around 1750 and are descended from the Sotho-Tswana people. Today both of these groups have adapted entirely to living in this inhospitable environment.

Meerkats in the Kalahari, Botswana

The Kalahari basin is the longest stretch of sand in the world today, covering a distance of 2500 km² from the Orange River to the tropical forests of the Congo. The sand was blown in during a very dry period 3 million years ago creating large sand dunes. This was followed by a wet period which further shaped the landscape by leaving a monstrous lake called Lake Makgadikgadi. Ultimately the lake dried up and left this harsh landscape behind.

At some point deep geological activity also resulted in diamonds forming along pressure points – Botswana’s main source of wealth. Diamond pipes are found at Orapa, Jwaneng, Letlhakane as well as within the Central Kahalari Game Reserve at Gope.

Vegetation consists mainly of acacia woodland, acacia scrub and sandveld scrub. Succulent wild sesame bushes (sesamothamnus lugardii) provide beautiful scenery around Piper Pans, especially when bearing their large, trumpet like flowers.

This is the area where Mark and Delia Owens researched their book “Cry of the Kalahari” and made the brown hyena world famous. The convergence of the animals usually takes place between late November to March, however bear in mind that the rain fall is very unpredictable and it’s a bit of a hit-and-miss situation to judge when it will happen each year. When it does, there is an abundance of lions, brown hyena, cheetah, jackal, bat-eared fox and excellent bird life.

At night the sands come alive with the male barking geckos (Ptenopus garrulous) advertising their availability to any wandering or interested females, while scorpion activity is rife after sunset.

The best season to visit is certainly during rainy season - contrary to the rest of the country which is generally best visited in the dry season. A delightful comparison is to be had if you’re able to spare the time to do a wet and a dry season safari.

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Our Recommended Tours

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