Kalahari Central

About Kalahari Central

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the biggest reserve in Botswana and the second largest reserve in the world. It is situated in the middle of the Kalahari Desert and it is by far the most remote reserve in Southern Africa. It covers an area of 52000 square kilometres. It is home to an ancient hunter-gatherer society, the San Bushmen. They have managed to live through their hunting skills and ability to adapt in the harsh desert.

Best time to visit

The Best Time To Visit Central Kalahari is from December to March, during Botswana's wet season. This period allows for spectacular wildlife viewing as numerous animals congregate around water sources. The landscape turns lush and green, perfect for observing nature's marvels and animal movements. For easier travel, April and May are advisable due to improved road conditions and continued good wildlife sightings. Additionally, July and August present a unique opportunity to see a large game at waterholes, offering a distinct and equally fascinating experience.


With the arrival of rains, the harsh desert environment of the Central Kalahari bursts into life. It draws a huge number of herbivores such as wildebeest, oryx, and springbok to Deception Valley's watering holes. This is where you'll find the Central Kalahari Wildlife like striking black-maned lion and fast cheetahs on the prowl. Dawn and dusk are prime times to see hyenas. The desert also shelters smaller animals such as bat-eared foxes and suricates, showcasing the diverse ecosystem of this unique region.

What To Experience

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Travel Guide For Kalahari Central

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Map Of The Kalahari Game Reserve

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is located in the heart of Botswana right in the middle of the Kalahari Basin. Descriptors like "vast" and "extensive" don't do justice to the sheer size of this massive reserve, which spans over five million hectares of arid bush veld. Several private conservancies have successfully converted former farmland to its original state along its borders, and the protected area is supplemented to the south by the 250,000 hectares of Khutse Game Reserve. People normally combine their visit to (CKGR) with a visit to Khutse.

Kalahari Central Map

When To Go To The Kalahari Game Reserve

Unlike other Botswana Safari destinations, the Best Time To Visit Kalahari Game Reserve is from January to April. During Botswana's rainy, 'green season,' the beautiful inter dune valley becomes lush with vegetation, attracting thousands of springboks and gemsbok (Oryx), as well as ostriches, herds of wildebeest, and giraffes. The green season also marks the beginning of the calving season, when hundreds of new-borns enter the world, making for some truly exciting predator-prey interactions and fantastic photographic opportunities.

It’s good to visit during the wet months, from November to March. It is a good opportunity to see wildlife however, roads can get very muddy around this time and to avoid that you can travel from April through to early June. There will still be a lot of animals around and the roads will be in a better condition.

How To Get To The Kalahari Game Reserve

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is located 250km south of Maun. The most convenient mode of transportation is by light aircraft, which can fly directly to your preferred lodging. The majority of the luxury lodges are located in the CKGR's northern section. The nearest international airport is Maun, from which you can take a light aircraft transfer. You can also arrange a mobile tented safari with a local tour operator, departing from Maun or Gaborone and entering through the Northern and Southern gates, respectively.

When travelling during the rainy season, the CKGR is also accessible by vehicle, but self-driving should be reserved for those with advanced driving experience. The roads can be deceptive, particularly when driving across a dry surface that may conceal a bottomless mud pit beneath. It is therefore advised to travel in a convoy so that if one car gets stuck, the other can assist.

There are three entrance gates, one in the North at the Matswere Gate, 3-4 hours from Maun, most visitors use this gate, another one in the west at Xade Gate about 6 hours from Ghanz. There is another one in the south at Khutse about 4 hours from Lethlakeng to Khankhwe campsite.

Main Attractions In Central Kalahari Game Reserve

  • Wildlife in the Central Kalahari adjusting to semi-arid conditions
  • Spectacular cloud formations during the summer rains
  • That wild and remote sensation
  • What a rush it is to see those massive Kalahari lions for the first time.
  • Pipers Pan, Sundays Pan, and Deception Valley
  • Wild Dogs in the vicinity of Sundays Pan
  • Sunsets are breath-taking.
  • Khutse Game Reserve is located in the south.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve Entrance Fees & Rate

The Central Kalahari Game reserve opens from 6.30am – 6.30pm from April through to September and between October to March it opens from 5.30am – 7.00pm

Below Are The Entrance Fees To Central Kalahari National Park.

For tourists and guests, the entrance fee to the Park is:

  • -$10 USD for children over 15 years
  • -$5 for children aged 8 to 15 years
  • Children under 8 years old go in free

Vehicles have an entry fee for just USD $1 for all vehicles with local registration and only USD $4.50 for a vehicle with foreign registration. Amounts are paid per entry per day.

Camping Rates
The campsites at the CKGR are located in the north of the park and offer basic amenities.
Prices are from $20 per person per night.
Having with you some Pula (BWP), the Botswana currency will come in handy when paying for smaller food, snacks or ticket items.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve Tips

If a self-drive safari into the CKGR isn't for you, a stay at Duma Tau or Deception Valley Lodge will include a fly-in transfer, taking a lot of the stress out of your trip.

If the idea of a wilderness adventure in your own vehicle appeals to you, let us advise you on the best vehicle to use and where to stock up on supplies. Because the reserve is massive, it is critical to arrive prepared.

Except in designated areas, we never get out of our vehicle. Even there, you must keep an eye out for potentially dangerous wildlife.

It can be time-consuming to obtain a park permit; book your trip with us and we'll handle everything for you.

Things To Do At Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Luxury Safaris
For some guests even though they will be in the middle of the desert still want to splurge away in luxury. The game reserve offers top notch luxury safari lodges with excellent views of wildlife and sand dunes.

Desert Camping/Salt Pans Sleep Out
This experiential sleep out under the stars on the vast Salt Pans is an experience like no other. Many of the river valleys have been fossilised by these salt pans, and guests can sleep in tents under the stars on them.
Tents have a veranda and a bathroom/shower, and a delicious bush menu will be prepared and cooked under the stars around an open fire.

Deception Valley
Meet the Naru-speaking San tribe's Bushman guides and relax in nearby luxury lodges overlooking epic sand dunes.

Khutse Game Reserve
The Khutse Game Reserve is at the south of the (CKGR) and is ideal for game drives, camping, and sightings of lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, wildebeest, zebras, springbok, and a variety of other animals.

Wildlife Sightings In The Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The sheer size of the CKGR makes spotting wildlife difficult, though many species tend to congregate in the park's northern section. If you're a wildlife enthusiast looking for predators, Deception Valley is a must-see.

Predators include the famous black-maned lions, spotted and brown hyenas, sociable suricates, and the rarely seen cheetah, wild dog, and leopard. There are also jackals, honey badgers, bat-eared foxes, the African wild cat, zebras, and giraffes to be found. After the rains, large concentrations of herbivores such as blue wildebeest, Oryx, and springbok can be seen in the harsh desert environment. Eland, greater kudu, and red hartebeest can be found in smaller numbers, and the black-maned Kalahari lion and cheetah follow this migration.

Safari Game Drive In The Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The Scenic Game Drive focuses on all of the plant and animal species found in the area - our Game Drive guide knows everything there is to know about the Kalahari bush and is passionate about every living creature found. He will educate you on details ranging from the smallest insects to the tallest trees, ensuring that everyone remembers this experience for a long time.

  • The Lion Tracking Experience is the most exciting of all game drives because collared lions are tracked down, ensuring an excellent encounter with the Kalahari's king. These magnificent animals are the highlight of any Africa safari trip, and seeing these Lions up close is a unique feature of the Kalahari Game Lodge. The guide sees value in expressing his knowledge of the lions and educating tourists so that they can fully appreciate the area's uniqueness. The Kalahari Game Lodge is the only place in Namibia where you can see free-roaming lions that have survived the desert conditions for centuries.
  • The Sundowner Drive takes you through some of Namibia's most beautiful landscapes and ends with you watching the Kalahari sun set over the red dunes while enjoying light snacks and drinks before returning to the lodge's comforts.

What Type Of Traveller Would Enjoy The CKGR?

The Kalahari wouldn’t be ideal for a first time safari traveller looking to experience wildlife in abundance. For something like that it’s best to go to Kruger National Park in South Africa Safari or Chobe National Park in Northern Botswana. Photographers, families, explorers and self-drive enthusiasts will enjoy the central Kalahari. It is also good for those interested in bird watching as well.

Central Kalahari Accommodation Options

Lodges at the reserve offer quality accommodation, restaurants and other facilities. Some have swimming pools. We recommend the Deception Valley Lodge or the the Dinaka Safari lodge.

You can opt to stay at the park’s demarcated campsites or at one of the lodges outside the park.

Camp Kalahari
Camp Kalahari is one of three camps in a one million-acre private wildlife reserve, with only 12 Meru-style tents nestled among the palms. Visitors can participate in activities such as quad biking, horseback riding, bushman walks, and traditional game drives in the area. The camp is recommended for families because it is unique, new, and affordable. Children of all ages are welcome, and there is a dedicated family tent, dining area, and fence around the camp.
From January to April, visitors can watch 50,000 zebras and wildebeest migrate through the area, as well as take lazy siestas in the swimming pool pavilion and, during the dry season, watch elephants come to drink at the water.

Best Month to Visit Central Kalahari

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Central Kalahari in January

The Kalahari's rainy season peaks in January, transforming the desert into a vibrant oasis. This lush landscape attracts herds of springbok, oryx, and wildebeest, offering spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities. Despite the wet conditions, the beauty and abundance of animals make it an Best Time To Visit Central Kalahari for safari enthusiasts

Central Kalahari in February

Rain continues in February, maintaining the lush environment and encouraging wildlife to thrive. The humid weather leads to spectacular sightings of large animal gatherings, making it the Best Time To Visit Central Kalahari for those keen on observing its dynamic ecosystem

Central Kalahari in March

As autumn arrives in March, the Kalahari begins to cool, offering more comfortable conditions forCentral Kalahari Safaris . Occasional rains might still enhance the wildlife viewing experience by attracting animals to the remaining water sources and providing unique sightings.

Central Kalahari in April

The onset of the dry season in April reduces vegetation, improving visibility for spotting elusive wildlife such as leopards, lions, and cheetahs. This period marks a transition, offering a blend of late autumn beauty and the beginning of winter's starkness.

Central Kalahari in May

May's dry conditions continue, making it easier to see Central Kalahari Wildlife as they congregate around dwindling water sources. This month is particularly good for observing predators in action, offering a raw glimpse into the survival tactics of the Kalahari's inhabitants.

Central Kalahari in June

Winter's mild days and cool mornings in June provide a unique Botswana Safari experience. The dramatic temperature shifts from cold evenings to warm days add a different dimension to wildlife observation, making every game drive an adventure

Central Kalahari in July

High season in Central Kalahari hits in July, bringing an influx of visitors eager to witness the thriving wildlife, including the famed black-maned lions. The reserve's vast landscapes are teeming with animals, offering unparalleled game viewing opportunities.

Central Kalahari in August

August's peak dry season brings cold nights but exceptional game viewing conditions. The sparse vegetation and dry pans make wildlife easier to spot, including the rare sights of honey badgers and jackals amidst spectacular cheetah hunts.

Central Kalahari in September

The heat intensifies in September, signalling the end of the dry season. The rising temperatures prepare the landscape for the coming rains, still providing excellent conditions for observing the diverse animal life of the Kalahari.

Central Kalahari in October

With the heat at its peak in October, the Kalahari slowly transitions from dry to wet conditions. This pre-rain period is still an excellent time for Botswana Safaris, as blooming plants and gathering wildlife create a bustling environment.

Central Kalahari in November

Central Kalahari in November marks the beginning of the wet season, with high temperatures cooled by afternoon thunderstorms. This climate change draws animals to waterholes, increasing the chances of witnessing the dramatic interplay between predators and prey.

Central Kalahari in December

The hottest month, December, is also among the Best Time For Central Kalahari Safari. The rains rejuvenate the landscape, and the abundance of water sources makes wildlife easier to spot, offering a lush backdrop for extraordinary sightings.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Botswana, Central Kalahari Game Reserve is located in Botswana. Established in 1961, Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Southern Africa. It is also known as the great thirst.

Yes, the northern part of Kalahari Game Reserve was fenced when migratory wildebeests were in the reserve itself.

December to March is the perfect month to visit the Kalahari Central Game Reserve. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve turns into green lush vegetation attracting many animals.

The nearest city to Central Kalahari Game Reserve is Maun, which is 250 km away. It takes 5 hours to drive. Central Kalahari Game Reserve has 4 entrance points. The common entrance gate is Matswere Gate.

Generally, the CKGR has four entrance gates but the most used entrance gate is Matswere Gate. The nearest airport is Maun Airport.

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