The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is enormous. At more than 52,000km2, it covers the entire central part of Botswana – a vast, flat expanse of sandy scrubland and open savannah, sprinkled here and there with seasonal pans. Most of the pans, and the wildlife, are in the north of the reserve and most of the camping areas are concentrated there too. During the relatively wet summer months, from December to April, the northern pans fill with water and attract large herds of oryx, springbok and wildebeest. Cheetah, and the Kalahari’s famous black-maned lion are never far behind.
The Central Kalahari is known for its lion, cheetah and large herds of summer game, but also as a great place to spot some of the savannah’s more unassuming creatures. Honey badgers, Southern African wildcat and the Cape and bat-eared fox can all be found on the Kalahari plains, and there’s also excellent birdlife, with over 250 species recorded.
The Central Kalahari is a year-round destination, but late summer is best, both for good wildlife and better road conditions. During the height of the summer rains, the tracks around the pans can become waterlogged and treacherous, but by March they begin to dry and for the rest of the year the going isn’t challenging. There’s a wide selection of campsites to choose from, some managed by Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks and some by Bigfoot Tours. They all have something to recommend them, but there’s more wildlife around the permanent waterholes and the northern pans. The campsites at Deception, Kori and Sunday Pan are some of the best.