A Traveler’s Guide To The Central Kalahari Game Reserve

In Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, there is a sizable national park called the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. It is by far the most distant reserve in southern Africa and the second-largest reserve in the entire world.

It is the ancestral home of the San people, and it has the highest animal population, including black-maned lions, elephants that have adapted to the desert, and rhinos. The park is 52000 square kilometers of desert and semi-arid areas. Below is a complete guide of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve Safari.

Getting to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Where to Begin?

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve spans a significant area of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert. Many Botswana Safari lovers use the Matswere Gate to enter the park.

This gate is well-liked because Deception Valley, a remarkable geographical formation, is roughly 40 kilometers north of it and is a perfect stop or detour for many tourists. The Matswere gate is 250 kilometers from the town of Maun. So first you have to fly into Maun or drive to Maun.

Driving to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

If you want to drive to the Reserve, you have to rent a car (preferably a 4×4) as it is easier to navigate the desert terrain. Yes, the roads will be a bit rough so make sure you feel at ease driving in challenging conditions.

Also, bear in mind that in the rainy season is difficult to travel by road as the roads may become challenging and you should be prepared and well-equipped to take more time to drive.

Flying to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

If you are not a fan of driving, then you can choose to fly into the reserve. Charter flights leave from Maun and in no time, you would have reached your destination. Many people say that booking a charter flight and landing at one of the campgrounds inside or close to the reserve is much simpler and less stressful.

Entry Requirements and Permits

  • All tourists shall pay an entrance fee as they enter The Central Kalahari National Park.
  • All children under the age of 8 go in free of charge,
  • Children aged 8 to 15 will have to pay $5
  • From 15 years going up, you will pay $10


When you enter the reserve, you are expected to follow a few regulations.

– picking up waste

– respect park schedules

– staying in your vehicle when required

– do not litter

Wildlife and Ecosystems of Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The majority of the animals, particularly antelopes and zebras, may be found in the northern half of the well-known and well-traveled Deception Valley. 120 elephants have been counted in this area. The entire reserve is home to a large number of additional creatures, including lions, oryx, antelopes, springbuck, wildebeests, leopards, and ostriches.

The sheer number of brown hyenas, which are rare in other parks, is remarkable. Wearing the proper footwear is essential because this area is home to various types of snakes and scorpions in addition to an astounding profusion of birds.

Iconic Animal Species

Numerous unusual animals can be found in the Kalahari. Many of them have unique adaptations that enable them to survive in the challenging environment. Below are some of the most iconic animals of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The Oryx and springbok

The oryx and springbok, two of the park’s largest herbivore species, are able to quench their thirst by consuming water-rich leaves and plants.

Kalahari lion

A subspecies of African lions that has acquired physical modifications to survive the harsh circumstances is the desert-adapted lion. The distinctive feature of Kalahari lions is their dark mane, which also gives them longer limbs and a slimmer build.

Kalahari Meerkat

The meerkat is a subject of another mythology from the Kalahari. Around both of their eyes, meerkats have dark patches of fur. Because of these patches, the sun’s glare is less intense, allowing them to keep an eye out for predators without becoming blinded. They also have elaborate burrow systems that keep them cool and provide a simple escape route from predators.

Unique Plant Life and Habitats

The fauna in the Central Kalahari is dominated by grasses, thorn bushes and shrubs and acacia trees, which are able to survive the 10-month dry periods annually. The CKGR is part of the Kalahari Basin in which over the past centuries enormous amounts of sand have been deposited through rock erosion. The wind then formed the elongated “Sand Ridges”, dune waves that are so characteristic of the Kalahari landscape. These have been stabilized by vegetation growth so that the typical shifting sand dunes of the Namib Desert are not found in the Kalahari.

Best time to visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

  • The pans in Deception Valley draw huge herds of game with their young, as well as predators, making December to March the Best Time To Visit Central Kalahari Game Reserve. However, given that it is raining at this time of year, traveling on the roads can be challenging.
  • In April and May, roads are better, but wildlife is less concentrated but still accessible. The lodges’ peak season, when rates are highest, lasts from July to October, although it’s seldom crowded.
  • The best weather is experienced from May to August due to the desert climate, while it is hottest in January.

Accommodation Options

There are numerous accommodation options that are perfect for groups, families, or solo travelers. Let’s explore some of the options.

Deception Valley Lodge and Dinaka Safari Lodge

Deception Valley Lodge and Dinaka Safari Lodge are both available for guest accommodations. These are amongst some of the best places to stay in the area. Visitors to the area can stay either inside the park at one of the designated campsites or outside it at one of the lodges that are too far away for day visits.

Deception Valley Lodge, located by the northern part of the reserve, offers tourists the option to enjoy Botswana’s natural environment with a Bushman guide from the Naru-speaking San tribe. A unique cultural experience. The prices for Deception Valley Lodge ranges from $500 – $750 per person per night.

Booking Notes for Deception Valley Lodge

-Bookings for any lodging at Deception Valley Lodge are contingent upon availability.

-All last-minute reservations (those made fewer than 31 days before the arrival date) must be paid for within 48 hours of getting an email confirming the provisional reservation.

-Since the availability of accommodations varies daily, any inquiries regarding general availability are subject to change at any time. The availability of your accommodations is only assured when you get a tentative booking confirmation.

-Full prepayment is needed to reserve your stay at Deception Valley Lodge.

Haina Kalahari Lodge

On the reserve’s northern edge, the Haina Kalahari Lodge provides three types of distinctively African-tented lodgings. All in a laid-back and informal setting. The resort offers a traditional Kalahari experience, complete with game viewing and opportunities to engage with the San Bushmen.

It is situated on a 120 km2 concession. The lodge is the closest property to the Matswere Gate into the CKGR, allowing guests to enjoy the reserve in addition to all the advantages of being on own land.

Tau Pan Camp

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve’s Tau Pan Camp is a contemporary and opulent camp with wide verandas, outdoor showers, and private viewing decks—the ideal vantage point from which to take in a moody desert sunset. You can book your stay at this camp online.

Tau Pan, the starting point for a safari of wonders, is renowned for its delectable cuisine and stunning vistas. Tau Pan Camp offers dusk and dawn game drives into the bush where you can observe plains animals, leopards, and desert lions. The rates for this camp range from 800 USD per person per night.

Exploring the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

At the CKGR, there are a ton of different things to do. Enjoy game drives and Bushman interactions to learn more about this interesting culture and to engage in cultural contact in the hamlet. In the Kalahari, bushmen trackers frequently accompany visitors on nature hikes, enriching the experience with their extraordinary knowledge of the region and its inhabitants.

In order to get a unique view of the nocturnal animals of the Kalahari, night drives are conducted outside the park in a few of the private lands that are beyond the borders of the game reserve. Discover Botswana’s green season safari, which will allow you to partake in all of the activities.

Must see attractions in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The central Kalahari Game Reserve is a beautiful place right in the heart of Botswana. There are some exceptional attractions and below we have listed a few that you shouldn’t miss.

Deception Valley

It is said that Deception Valley is a “waterless oasis”. Its enigmatic riverbed, which gives the appearance of having water, is the source of its name. Today, springbok, gemsbok, and die-hard game observers congregate at this intriguing deception.

Sunday Pan

A group of pans known as Pipers Pan rise from Deception Valley. It is a fusion of various soils and pans that creates an incredible pattern of ecosystems, making it a truly beautiful location.

Passage Valley

A fossilized riverbed is the Passarge Valley. More so than the local dune-veld, its clay bottom makes it possible for a great number of creatures to live there. This is because Kalahari wildlife can find nutrient-rich grazing on the clay floor.

Birdwatching in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

For bird watching, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is a great spot. There are almost 250 species known to exist, and raptors love the area since there are so many tiny animals for them to eat. A few large ground-dwelling birds to watch out for are the kori bustard, secretary bird, and ostrich. Additionally prevalent are smaller bustards like the red-crested and black bustards.

The Central Kalahari is an excellent place to observe birds all year round, but the ideal time to go is from November through April, when migratory birds are there. Many birds breed during this time of year, and some species, like whydahs, change from having dull plumage to magnificent ones. The months around the same time are ideal for seeing wildlife.

Tips for Travelers to Central Kalahari Experience 

– If driving your own safari through the CKGR doesn’t sit well with you, a stay at Duma Tau or Deception Valley Lodge will include a fly-in shuttle, which will alleviate a lot of the stress from your vacation.

– If you’re excited about taking your own car on a wilderness adventure, let us help you choose which car would be best for the job and where to get supplies. Because of the size of the reserve, you must be prepared.

  • Never leave our car unless it is in a specified spot. You will still need to watch out for potentially harmful wildlife there.
  • Obtaining a park permit might be time-consuming; but, if you book your trip with us, we’ll take care of everything.

The best of Central Kalahari 

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of Botswana’s best and most exquisite safari destinations. Its daring and unique environment makes for one of the best places for a nature filled holiday. The wildlife in the area particularly the desert animals set this destination apart from the surrounding areas and countries making it worthwhile.