If Africa is an open book, then the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is its centrefold – beautiful yet mysterious, receptive yet at times unreachable. In the middle of Botswana and the middle of nowhere, this vast remote wilderness has a way of getting right to the heart of the matter. It’s simply one of Botswana’s best safari parks.
Many a person has heard the siren call of the best Central Kalahari safaris. A game drive through Deception Valley, for example, passes right through the area where Cry of the Kalahari was set. The valley retains its power to deceive thanks to a mirage that makes it appear full of water when in fact it’s bone dry.
Further north, the evocatively named Sunday and Leopard Pans suggest either quiet reflection or great game-spotting opportunities, while Passarge Valley causes armchair travellers to reach for their dictionaries.
Whether you follow in the hoofprints of the summer herds, or visit the Central Kalahari in the winter to concentrate on resident desert-adapted wildlife, the best Central Kalahari safaris offer a wildlife experience like no other. Slow, meandering game drives might let you cross paths with Kalahari lion – with their full, black manes, they’re some of the most impressive big cats in Africa – while aardwolf, aardvark and other interesting species put in regular appearances.
A San cultural experience puts TV ‘survival’ shows in their place – not least because it’s the survival of the ecosystem that takes precedence. Some of the best Botswana safari lodges even let you sleep out on the pans, wrapped in a blanket of stars with a planet for a pillow.