Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Often a favourite of many of us who live here, in the rainy season the Central Kalahari transforms into one of Botswana’s premier game viewing destinations. During the hot summer months it is possibly less appealing in terms of the dryness and heat, but offers a destination in complete contrast to the Okavango delta – possibly what the delta would be without the water.
Central Kalahari indepth
Perhaps better suited to the true explorer or second time visitor to Botswana, this 52,000km2 reserve with its wide open skies and some unique wildlife, is situated in the centre of the country. It is characterised by large plains and grass covered dunes and relics of ancient river beds. It is the second largest game reserve in the world – larger then Switzerland or Denmark!
It is not a true desert in that the rainfall fluctuates tremendously – anywhere from 100 to 700mm annually. The reserve was originally set aside as a place where the Bushmen or San people could still carry out their hunter/gather type existence. However in recent times they have largely stayed in semi permanent settlements in the southern part of the reserve.
In the late nineties and early 2000, the government tried to get the Bushmen relocate to proper settlements outside of the reserve but this was ruled as unconstitutional and they were allowed back in late 2006.
The northern part of the reserve was made famous by Mark and Delia Owens who spent many years researching brown hyena, their book “The Cry of the Kalahari” focused on the impact of various veterinary fences but also made the name Deception Valley one of those places that the true explorer dreamed of.
Game viewing in the reserve can be stunning depending on time of year and when the last rains fall. Huge herds of springbok, oryx and wildebeest are reasonably common as well as most of the big cats and even wild dog. However it is the smaller mammals that make the central Kalahari unique, cape fox, brown hyena, meerkats and bat eared fox to name a few.
Temperatures are probably more extreme here then any other part of the country ranging from minus 10C in early winter mornings and going up to well in to the late 40’s at midday in summer