Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas in Africa. Established in 1961, this reserve covers an area of around 50,000 km², roughly 10% of Botswana. The reserve boasts a diverse range of landscapes, including salt pans, dry river valleys, and vast expanses of semi-arid grasslands and Kalahari bushlands.
More About the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Visitors to the Central Kalahari will be rewarded with a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Despite being called a reserve, this area is protected as a national park, which means that activities such as bush walks and night drives are still permitted. With such an abundance of space, predators such as lions and cheetahs claim huge territories, far greater than in almost any other area of Africa.
The San people, the world's last hunting bushmen, have called this area home for thousands of years. Their lifestyles have adapted to meet seemingly impossible conditions, and gaining an insight into this unique culture during a safari in the Central Kalahari is a highly rewarding experience.
Wildlife of the Central Kalahari
The Central Kalahari is renowned for its black-maned lions, and there are approximately 500 individuals within the reserve. Cheetahs also prosper in this environment, as the uninterrupted flats provide an ideal hunting ground for them. Leopards are found in the reserve too, but sightings of them are not as frequent as other cats.
There are a few grazing species hardy enough to survive in such tough conditions, such as springbok, oryx, red hartebeest, kudu, and eland. Large numbers of giraffe are present too. The reserve is also renowned as being the best place to see meerkats in Africa, and large concentrations of these inquisitive creatures are found here.
Best Time to Visit
If you're planning a visit to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and looking for the best time of year for game viewing, consider visiting during and after the summer rains, which run from December to April. During these months, the wildlife gathers in the valleys and pans, making the reserve one of Botswana's top game viewing destinations.
For optimal conditions, plan your trip for early December or April, when summer temperatures are not at their peak. The open grasslands are covered in wildflowers and grasses, attracting large herds of grazers such as gemsbok, springbok, hartebeest, eland, giraffe, and wildebeest. The presence of numerous herbivores attracts predators that prey on them, resulting in the highest wildlife concentrations in the northern part of Deception Valley.
While game viewing outside of the rainy season is still good, keep in mind that the wildlife is more dispersed during spring, autumn, and winter. To make the most of your visit to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, plan accordingly and visit during and just after the summer rains for an unforgettable safari experience.
Month-by-Month Guide to Weather
The rainy season peaks in January, with the highest amount of rainfall for the year, and the temperatures remain hot with an average high of around 36°C (97°F) and low of 23°C (73°F). Wildlife viewing is excellent during this time as the vegetation is still lush and there is plenty of water.
The rainy season begins to subside, and the temperatures remain high with an average high of around 35°C (95°F) and low of 22°C (72°F). Wildlife concentrations are still high during this month.
The rainy season ends, and the temperatures start to drop, with an average high of around 33°C (91°F) and low of 20°C (68°F). The vegetation begins to dry out, making it easier to spot wildlife as they are more concentrated around remaining water sources.
The weather is dry and pleasant, with an average high of around 31°C (88°F) and low of 16°C (61°F). The reserve is less crowded, and wildlife viewing is still excellent, with concentrations around remaining water sources.
The dry season begins, and the temperatures continue to drop, with an average high of around 28°C (82°F) and low of 11°C (52°F). Wildlife concentrations increase around remaining water sources.
The temperatures continue to drop, with an average high of around 25°C (77°F) and low of 5°C (41°F). Wildlife is more concentrated around remaining water sources, making it a great time for game viewing.
The weather is dry and cool, with an average high of around 24°C (75°F) and low of 4°C (39°F). Wildlife is concentrated around remaining water sources, making it an excellent time for game viewing.
The temperatures begin to warm up slightly, with an average high of around 28°C (82°F) and low of 8°C (46°F). Wildlife is still concentrated around remaining water sources.
The temperatures continue to warm up, with an average high of around 32°C (90°F) and low of 15°C (59°F). The vegetation begins to regrow, making wildlife spotting more challenging as they become more dispersed.
The temperatures remain warm, with an average high of around 35°C (95°F) and low of 20°C (68°F). Wildlife is relatively dispersed during this month, making it a more challenging time for game viewing.
The rainy season is just beginning, and the temperatures are warming up, with an average high of around 38°C (100°F) and low of 24°C (75°F). Thunderstorms are common but usually brief. Wildlife is still relatively dispersed during this month.
The rainy season continues, and the temperatures remain high with an average high of around 37°C (99°F) and low of 24°C (75°F). The reserve begins to transform with lush green vegetation and wildlife concentrations increasing, making it an excellent time for game viewing.