This lion, near Kalahari Plains Camp, seems to have spotted something of interest.

Kalahari Plains Camp | Central Kalahari Game Reserve Luxury Botswana Safari Lodge

Fall in love with the desert and its starry skies at Kalahari Plains Camp, set on an immense pan in the remote northern part of the Central Kalahari. Rugged and seemingly inhospitable, this region is home to Botswana’s most hardy, desert-adapted wildlife and people – the indomitable San.

The place

The sheer (and previously unimaginable) scale of the desert landscape takes my breath away as we drive to Kalahari Plains Camp. Completely flat, interrupted only by shrubs and the occasional barren salt pan, the Kalahari is an enormous and untouched wilderness where only few survive.As the scorching sun turns the grasslands a deep gold, our guide points out a pale chanting goshawk between the acacia trees, one of 220 birds found here. A San himself, Nxolate tell us that this is where this ancient tribe learned to live in harmony with the land and wildlife around it, a harmony that’s essential for survival.We park and follow sandy paths to our lodge, which is surrounded by thorn trees as if being hugged by the desert. A swimming pool shimmers temptingly in the desert heat, and we decide that it should be our first port of call. After a quick welcome drink, we’re floating in the placid water, scarcely able to believe we’re surrounded by luxury in one of the most inhospitable and unforgiving places on earth.

The sheer (and previously unimaginable) scale of the desert landscape takes my breath away as we drive to Kalahari Plains Camp. Completely flat, interrupted only by shrubs and the occasional barren salt pan, the Kalahari is an enormous and untouched wilderness where only few survive.

As the scorching sun turns the grasslands a deep gold, our guide points out a pale chanting goshawk between the acacia trees, one of 220 birds found here. A San himself, Nxolate tell us that this is where this ancient tribe learned to live in harmony with the land and wildlife around it, a harmony that’s essential for survival.

We park and follow sandy paths to our lodge, which is surrounded by thorn trees as if being hugged by the desert. A swimming pool shimmers temptingly in the desert heat, and we decide that it should be our first port of call. After a quick welcome drink, we’re floating in the placid water, scarcely able to believe we’re surrounded by luxury in one of the most inhospitable and unforgiving places on earth.

The room

Our room elicits a sense of sweeping space; canvas roll-up walls open up to a shaded deck that takes full advantage of views into the endless, flat grasslands that sprout incredibly from the desert sands of the Kalahari.Our twin beds have been made double as per our request, and we sink into their plush embrace. We gaze out into great wide skies, dotted with cotton-wool clouds, mesmerised by this empty expanse, one of the largest protected areas in the world.My partner suddenly jumps up, runs to the deck and scampers up the stairs to the rooftop terrace. I quickly follow to see if our star bed has been made up. From this height, the views are even more compelling, and as we sink into the bed and stare into the cloud-brushed sky, we can only imagine the wonders the night’s starscape will hold.

Our room elicits a sense of sweeping space; canvas roll-up walls open up to a shaded deck that takes full advantage of views into the endless, flat grasslands that sprout incredibly from the desert sands of the Kalahari.

Our twin beds have been made double as per our request, and we sink into their plush embrace. We gaze out into great wide skies, dotted with cotton-wool clouds, mesmerised by this empty expanse, one of the largest protected areas in the world.

My partner suddenly jumps up, runs to the deck and scampers up the stairs to the rooftop terrace. I quickly follow to see if our star bed has been made up. From this height, the views are even more compelling, and as we sink into the bed and stare into the cloud-brushed sky, we can only imagine the wonders the night’s starscape will hold.

What sets it apart

Even with the heat and dust of the arid landscape, the Kalahari has a mysterious, desolate beauty. While we did see some game here, including wildebeest, eland, brown hyena and even a stately, black-maned Kalahari lion, it was during the guided San walk that we discovered another kind of magic: the chirrup of the crickets, the slow journey of a dung beetle and an over-friendly jackal.We were taught what herbs to use for various types of healing, how to tell if an ostrich egg has a chick inside, what types of trees can be used for arrows, bows and poisons, and we tasted the San’s staple food – tsamma melon.Apart from people and wildlife, there’s the night sky, seen from our rooftop star bed. Ablaze with over 300 billion stars uninterrupted by any form of light pollution, it was the most beautiful stargazing we’d ever experienced.

Even with the heat and dust of the arid landscape, the Kalahari has a mysterious, desolate beauty. While we did see some game here, including wildebeest, eland, brown hyena and even a stately, black-maned Kalahari lion, it was during the guided San walk that we discovered another kind of magic: the chirrup of the crickets, the slow journey of a dung beetle and an over-friendly jackal.

We were taught what herbs to use for various types of healing, how to tell if an ostrich egg has a chick inside, what types of trees can be used for arrows, bows and poisons, and we tasted the San’s staple food – tsamma melon.

Apart from people and wildlife, there’s the night sky, seen from our rooftop star bed. Ablaze with over 300 billion stars uninterrupted by any form of light pollution, it was the most beautiful stargazing we’d ever experienced.

At a glance

  • Luxury desert safari lodge with nine tented rooms (seven twins and two family suites) each with private sleep-out decks. The lodge has a swimming pool and curio shop.
  • Remote location, star beds and private activities on request.
  • Game drives, guided San walks, birdwatching, star beds, stargazing, swimming and Deception Valley day trips (additional cost).
  • Children welcome from six, with two family suites available. Only children aged 13 and above can join walking and sleep-out activities.

  • Luxury desert safari lodge with nine tented rooms (seven twins and two family suites) each with private sleep-out decks. The lodge has a swimming pool and curio shop.
  • Remote location, star beds and private activities on request.
  • Game drives, guided San walks, birdwatching, star beds, stargazing, swimming and Deception Valley day trips (additional cost).
  • Children welcome from six, with two family suites available. Only children aged 13 and above can join walking and sleep-out activities.

Prices

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

  • Not only do African safari lodge prices shift with the seasons, they also change based on your length of stay, room type, travel party composition, special offers, if your trip involves stays at sister lodges – and for more reasons besides.
  • It’s worth noting that depending on your itinerary, your lodge cost will make up about 75–85% of your total safari trip cost.
  • Our safaris are tailor-made to match your personal safari dream, we’d be delighted if you’d allow us to create a bespoke proposal for you.  Simply enquire now – our quotes are complimentary and obligation-free.
  • However, to help you get an idea of safari lodge prices we’ve created three safari-lodge categories with various price ranges, to find out more click here.

When to Go

The cooler, dry winter is generally reckoned to be the best time to visit northern Botswana (especially the Okavango). However, the reverse tends to be true in the Central Kalahari. Rather than floodwaters compressing wildlife, scarcity of food in the arid Kalahari causes the game to disperse. Resident desert-adapted wildlife can be seen year-round, however, and the stark, near-infinite beauty of the Kalahari finds its most eloquent expression in these dry winter months. Cooler temperatures also make the experience more manageable, and a winter visit aligns perfectly with the optimum Okavango season.

The wetter summer ‘green season’ is when the Central Kalahari comes to life. Large herds of gemsbok and springbok assemble to feed on new grass growth, and the predator activity (especially lion and cheetah) can be intense. It’s also the time of year when a great many migrant birds visit the Central Kalahari, to the delight of birders. Luxury safari lodges are adept at dealing with the high summer temperatures and brief, heavy downpours, although cloud cover may impact on stargazing. It’s also a beautiful time of year in the Okavango Delta.

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