Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana


The Central Kalahari Game Reserve

The Central Kalahari Desert is one of the most isolated places to go on a safari, but still offers plenty of chances to view a large selection of animals and even offer some surprise gems along the way.  If you are looking for the ultimate wilderness adventure, this is your next destination.

Picture yourself in a hot, dry desert, with vast areas of flat, waist-high, dried, grassy ground, before accidentally stumbling across a waterhole.  Vegetation appears like a mirage of an oasis with animals gathering to quench their thirst and hide from the unforgiving midday sun under the limited shade.

Imagine a space next to a tree for a tent with no fence, no running water and most importantly nobody else around.  At night the campfire is necessary for safety from large animals, heating a tinned can of food for dinner and warmth from the cold nights.  With a sky littered with stars above and the crackle of the fire, you start to notice the sound of rustling in nearby dry vegetation, the distant roar of a lion and the absolute blackness that engulfs you into the wilderness surrounding you.

Many Gemsbok, Impala and Dik Dik graze in the early morning, along with Zebra, Ostrich, Jackals and Guinea Fowl.  However three other surprise spottings should sell the Kalahari Desert; The Botswana flag sports a bat eared fox and now I understand why, they were everywhere.  These big eared creatures would appear out of every hole and bush, almost like they were playing a game.  The second gem was spotting a honey badger, shyly scampering about thirty meters away, it found a hole so fast there was hardly had time to document the moment with my camera.

The absolute animal find of the trip however was a three day dead lion by one of the watering holes.  It is impossible to believe in only three days how little was left of this king of the desert, essentially it was a hollow skull and rib cage with skin keeping it intact.  Generally people want to see living animals on safari, however this was an unusual find and finally it was possible to get touching distance away to photograph the more forgotten side of life on the African planes.

Looking after the vehicle was a key priority, with no phone reception or ranger nearby, damaging your car could cost you your life.  With a broken radiator, a leaking jerry can and not seeing a sole for two days, it was decided to leave the park early, however I could have happily spent days in this dusty, end-of-the-world environment.

It is incredibly easy to rent a 4 x 4 in Botswana, even the big international hire companies operate there,  Budget was the cheapest at around $100 per day, $10pp entry to the park and around $8pp for camping.  Doing this trip with a group of friends is affordable, adventurous and a wilderness experience never to be forgotten.