Stretching 52,000 square kilometers across the Kalahari Desert in central Botswana, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the second largest game reserve on earth and is a key destination for safaris and game viewing in Africa. Swathes of bushland and long grass cover the sand dunes and following the summer rains the area is teeming with wildlife including giraffes, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, wild dogs, zebras as well as big cats such as leopards and lions.
Fossilized rivers are dotted around the reserve, many of which have dried out into other-worldly looking salt pans such as the impressive ‘Deception Valley’. Within the grassy plain, a surprising sight in the midsts of the desert, this dried up riverbed gets its name from the blue-grey colored salt deposits that, particularly from above, give the illusion of a lake full of water, when in fact it is bone dry.
Visitors to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve are advised to spend at least a few full days exploring the vast landscape as, although sightings of wildlife are not as frequent as some of Botswana’s other parks and reserves, the changing terrains and contrasts between the dusty sand dunes and lush grasslands is wonderful to see. The region used to be home to a large population of San Bushmen, who hunted and gathered in the sometimes inhospitable land, although today there are only approximately 250 of these nomadic people continuing to live as their ancestors always have. A nationwide ban on hunting makes their traditional lifestyle almost impossible.