Best Game Reserves in Botswana: Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the most inhospitable and staggeringly beautiful wildlife reserves in Botswana. Be inspired to visit this remote park and the fascinating wildlife who call it home with Robert Mark Safaris.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve: A ‘Waterless Place’

If you’re adventurous and love to visit unusual places, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is just for you. It is the ultimate ‘remote’ safari destination covering over 50,000km2 of sand, seasonally inundated pans, ancient river beds, rolling savannahs and sporadic acacia outposts. 

Situated in central Botswana, Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the adjoining Khutse Game Reserve form part of the Kalahari Basin – the world’s longest continuous stretch of sand and one of the most remote places to visit in Botswana. 

The Game Reserve was established in 1971 to protect a series of important pans, dry river valleys and game within its borders. But until very recently, it has been closed to the public and only inhabited by traditional hunter-gatherers belonging to the Basarwa (San) and Bakgalakgadi tribes.

The Central Kalahari is one of the finest examples of human and nature interaction, where for a long time the Basarwa (San) people have survived for thousands of years by hunting animals sustainably. 

The name Kalahari is derived from the Tswana word Kgala, meaning “great thirst”, or Kgalagadi, meaning “waterless place”. 

Robert Marks Safari_Kalahari Gemsbok
Kalahari Gemsbok

Remote Safaris in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The Central Kalahari Reserve harbours one of the most unique areas of biodiversity in southern Africa, including threatened populations of brown hyena and birds of prey. It is also home to the world’s largest species of black-maned lion and a healthy population of leopard. 

Even today, the region is one seen by only a handful of visitors every year and with just two permanent camps in the entire reserve, you can be assured of exclusive wildlife sightings and no other safari vehicles. 

The Central Kalahari is most enticing in the first few months of the year when valleys between  the sand dunes become lush with greenery which attracts thousands of plains game including springbok and gemsbok.

At this time of year you are also likely to see ostrich, giraffe, herds of wildebeest, excellent cheetah sightings and of course, the famous black-maned lions of the Kalahari. Leopard and brown hyena are also resident in the area, but very rarely seen.

Robert Marks Safari_Kalahari Sunset
Kalahari Sunset

Feel like an Inspiring Read from the Central Kalahari?

The best-known account of the area is from the hauntingly beautiful story ‘Cry of the Kalahari’ written by American biologists Mark and Delia Owens about their research in Deception Valley. 

The autobiographical book follows their lives in the desert in the mid-1970s, where they worked and explored for 7 years with no people, no roads, no medical facilities and the nearest town 8 hours away. 

Cry of the Kalahari is a wonderful insight into the wildlife and scenery of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, most of which had never encountered humans before the Owens’.

It’s a wonderful book to bring along during your travels to Botswana, or pick up before your trip, and be inspired by the inhospitable, unforgiving and staggeringly beautiful environment of the Central Kalahari.