Waist-high golden fields stretch endlessly, punctuated by dwarfed trees and scrub bushes. Vast and empty pans appear as flowing white stretches of saucer-flat land, meeting a soft, blue-white atmosphere. At evening the stars completely control the land; their brilliance and immediacy are arresting.
The CKGR is the biggest, most remotely located reserve in Southern Africa, and the second biggest wildlife reserve in the world, incorporating 52 800 Square km. When and shortly after good summer rains, the flat grasslands of the reserve’s northern reaches teem with wildlife, which gathers at the best gazing areas. Those comprise massive herds of springbok and gemsbok, as strong as wildebeest, giraffe, hartebeest, and eland.
During the year, when the animals are more sparsely distributed, the experience of traveling through the genuinely untouched wilderness, of seemingly infinite dimensions, is the draw. The panorama is overshadowed by white Terminalia Sandveldt, Kalahari sand acacias, and Kalahari apple leaf, scattered with meadows and dotted with irregular hills, pans, and shallow fossil river valleys.
CKGR is different in a way that it was installed formerly (in1961) with the purpose of working as a position of defense for the san, in the center of the Kalahari (and Botswana), anywhere they could live their traditional hunter/gatherer way of life, out intrusion, or power, from the external world.
The reserve got shut down for about 30 years till, in the 1980s and 1990s, both self-drive and organized tours were provided in, albeit in small, tightly managed estimates. The Botswana administration has launched plans to promote tourism away from the Okavango and Chobe regions and has designated space for lodge architecture, both at the boundaries of inside the park, allowing for fly-in tourists.
The northern misleading channel is one of the highlights, particularly because of the thick concentrations of herbivores its sweet greens attract during and after the rainy season (and of course the accompanying predators). It is also the common traveled area of the reserve, with some public campsites, and closeness to the eastern Matswere Gate. The other two gates are entirely on the other side of the sanctuary, at Xade and Tsau, where public campsites are also available.
Other worthwhile areas to drive are Sunday and Leopard pans, north of Deception Valley, passage valley, and, further south, piper’s pan.
Things to do at Kalahari plains
Explore the Kalahari: game drives unlock the fascinating wildlife and captivating culture of this area.
Bushman walks Journey behind in time on a guided walk to learn about the fascinating ancient lifestyle of the San Bushman people.
Sleep under the stars: Sleep out under the starry skies of the Kalahari and be lulled to sleep by the sounds of Africa.
Wildlife at Kalahari plains: Healthy wildlife communities are already in the zone all year round, but with the arrival of the vacation rains, the desert comes to life. A plethora of plains plays such as a springbok and gemsbok coverage in their hundreds to gaze, followed by the lion, one of the highest concentrations of cheetah in southern Africa and leopard. In winter, the Kalahari is a typical desert. Overall game is still easily seen, from the carnivores to wildebeest, red hartebeest, and steenbok as well as small predators similar to a black-backed jackal, Cape fox, honey badger, and multiple mongoose species. Some 220-bird species have been recorded.
Tau pan is the original semi-permanent camp inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and gives genuinely unbelievable views from the ridge of an old dune, an unusual experience in a land as flat as Botswana and overlooks the hot Tau pan – known for its stark attraction and remoteness.
Ventures happening at Tau pan are game drives, day trips to the well-known deception valley, Sunday, piper and section pans, star gazing, bush branches, on Tau pan and nature walks with Bushman trackers. ‘Tau’ which means lion in Setswana, is also named for the pride of ionic black-manned Kalahari lions which visit the camp (with a particular decision for the family tent).
Classes that can be seen in the Kalahari include Oryx, the rare borrow hyena, the desert-adapted springbok, jackals, red-crested korhaan and herds of wildebeests.
Like its sister camp, Nxai pan, Tau Pan has been constructed with the delicate ecologists in mind. Both use only solar energy for the production of electricity, heating of water and pumping of water from under the Kalahari sands. Wastewater is treated in a state-of-the-art sewerage treatment plant, and the fully treated water is returned to the sands from whence it came.
Nine environmentally adapted en-suite tents including one family tent are set on raised decks, affording the same magnificent views over the plains. Each has an inside, and outside shower, double-basin vanity, living area, and writing desk, open closet, and a king-sized double bed.
The central section of the camp is set nearby the fireplace, which is the ideal spot for game observing down to the waterhole. A telescope is also provided for guests’ use. The bar, lounge, curio shop and dining area all encircle the blaze.
• The original semi-permanent camp inside the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
• Nine environmentally adapted en-suite rooms including one family room
• 100% solar operated
• Activities include game drives, star gazing and nature walks
• Guide and tracker team
• Overlooks a permanent watering hole