The Kalahari, Botswana


Kalahari-shutterstock_302667590This isn’t a conventional safari destination by any standard. Most of it has been closed to the public until recent years and traditional game viewing is challenging during the regular safari season (from June to October) when migratory game moves north to permanent waters. The ‘best time to travel’ is, in fact, the most difficult time of year: when occasional rains are expected between December and April.

The Kalahari is of the world’s most extensive mantles of sand, extending south into South Africa, west into Namibia and north into Angola and Zambia. This sand covers a hollow basin and forms a flat plain that covers nearly seventy per cent of Botswana. This truly massive wilderness broadly includes the Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans and provides fascinating ecological habitats influenced by larger geological factors and copious but very unpredictable seasonal rains.

The ‘Kalahari Desert’ isn’t a true desert at all. It’s well vegetated because of the rains but it holds no permanent water, which results in a deep ecological challenge for flora, fauna and the San Bushmen who’ve inhabited the area for more than 30,000 years.

The wider region includes several of Africa’s remote game reserves: The Central Kalahari Game Reserve was brought to the world’s attention through Mark and Delia Owens’ book Cry of the Kalahari, during their research on brown hyena between 1974 and 1981. It’s an ideal haunt for seasoned travellers keen to discover wildlife in a harsh and wild environment. Khutse Game Reserve is a small reserve abutting the CKGR’s southern boundary. It consists mostly of some 60 calcrete pans within undulating savannah. Gemsbok National Park, situated in the dry south of Botswana provides excellent habitats for raptors; nearly 50 have been listed. The oryx (or gemsbok), after which it is named, is best seen between March and May. Makgadikgadi Pans is a fascinating area, best visited on a mobile safari or on horseback between May and September. Moremi Game Reserve, located within the Okavango Delta, is a tranquil oasis often described as the ‘jewel’ of the Kalahari.


John and Trish Berry loved travelling around their native Zambezi Valley so much they started Zambezi Safari and Travel. Nearly 21 years later the company prides itself on its specialist knowledge of the region’s national parks. To read their personal advice and to find out more about the Kalahari, click here

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