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.