Central Kalahari and Makgadigadi

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Central Kalahari and Makgadigadi

Activities and Highlights
Region Map


An infinite void of deserted ever-changing landscape awaits all who journey to the world’s largest sand basin; the legendary Kalahari Desert. This far-stretching desert conquers and reign supreme across six African countries, with its crown jewel laying in the heart of Botswana, known as Central Kalahari.

Although a vast arid region of red desert sand, Central Kalahari is carpeted by grass-covered dunes, dotted by ancient baobab and acacia’s, and flourishing with vegetation.

The protected land of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was established as a refuge, to protect the traditions of the San Bushman, and continues to be a sanctuary utilized as hunting ground for some of Africa’s oldest inhabitants. Walk with Bushman and listen to their tall tales of ancient folklore passed on from generation to generation.

Don’t be alarmed when visions of dry riverbeds appear to be overflowing with refreshing water, because the marriage you’ll see is known as Deception Valley.

The apocalyptic images of the Makgadikgadi Pans are the largest salt pans of its kind in the world. Absolute desolation, sounds of imposing silence, and sublime yet daunting sights of glistening saline land stretches beyond the horizon; lending itself intimately to the absence of time, moments of introspection and harmonious solitude.

After all, this is the Kalahari Desert and what’s Africa without her extremes?

Access Details

Central Kalahari is located at the centre of Botswana and the Makgadikgadi Pans are in the country’s north-eastern region.

Closest to Central Kalahari is the town of Maun, which receives daily flights from Cape Town, Johannesburg and various local Botswana towns.

Suggested Stay Details

The Central Kalahari and The Makgadikgadi are uniquely remote African sanctuaries, and because of this, we suggest a 3 to 5 night stay at each area to fully appreciate its wonder.

Type of Experience

"Quad bike across the Makgadikgadi, discover prehistoric artefacts of San Bushmen, photograph the brown hyena, sleep out under the Milky Way, sip sundowners as sun sets over searing desert, live like Hemingway in luxury tents, discover Africa's second greatest migration of zebra and wildebeest across the Kalahari plains, see desert sands transform into lakes with first rains, walk with San bushmen to ancient sites like Kubu Island, find Baines' Baobabs, learn the social interactions of the Kalahari's famous meerkat families.

It is believed that the San Bushman inhabited the lands some 20000 years ago and today, they continue to live traditional yet simple lives, utilizing the land as hunting grounds. Walk with the San Bushman as they lead you to ancient sites of historical and cultural importance. Pass by the ancient baobab that famous artist Thomas Baines painted. The San Bushman; dressed in scant patches of animal skins and equipped with primordial hunting tools, like the bow and arrow, will teach you how to find water or track down game. Their ancient stories of ancestors are elaborately told and their native tongue clicks in code, which is rather enthralling to hear.


Central Kalahari and the Makgadikgadi Pans are completely untouched havens of preserved landscapes, the way Africa once was.

The luxury safari lodge and Hemingway styled camps are located on the outskirts of the game reserve with lavish amenities, comfortable living and the best quality services are offered to its guests.


The vistas are ever-changing with the seasons. During the dry season, Central Kalahari basically consists of broad-leafed woodlands, dry savannah thornveld, and semi-arid duneveld.

During this time the Makgadikgadi Pans are crusted layers of salt. After the wet season, plants bloom and landscapes become oasis’ that sustains a myriad of wildlife.


The San Bushman occupied African land some 22000 years ago. In the 19th century, these nomadic hunters were merciless shot on sight by earlier setters, sheep and cattle farmers. Since then the San Bushmen have been disregard in matters of government, economy and land ownership.

Initially the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was established in 1961 to preserve and protect the San and their traditional lifestyles. Nonetheless, in the mid 1990’s, the San people were forcefully relocated into resettlement camps on the outskirt of the reserve, which has recently been deemed by the high court as unconstitutional. Recent rulings awarded the San Bushmen freedom to return to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Activities & Highlights

WILDLIFE: With the arrival of rain, comes wildlife and in the northern parts of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is where you will get a chance to see many free roaming creatures.

Although not a destination aimed at game viewing, you may get a chance to see the odd lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, cape fox or some gregarious mongoose. The area is home to 300 species of birds including raptors, eagles, owls and falcons.

Skin crawling reptiles are present too, like the cape cobra, puff adder, and some lizards, scorpions and plenty of insects.

QUAD BIKE: Explore the plains of the Makgadikgadi Pans on quad bikes. Immerse yourself in the vast saline covered areas and speed around for hours without a true destination.

SEASONAL CHANGES: When the rain sets in and pours across the saline encrusted pans of the Makgadikgadi, the arid landscape transforms into a majestic oasis.

White dry flaky pans become shallow pools of sanctuaries, attracting more than 30000 breeding pairs of pink flamingos.

The region plays host to the migratory march of wildebeest and zebra, not to mention the predators that hunt them down. Great white pelicans, duck and geese migrate to the salt pans when the water levels raise and the grass grows lush.

Season Travel Details

Rains refresh the parched land during the months of November to March and from April to May, the Makgadikgadi Pans retain water. Many areas of the pans are inaccessible by vehicle during this season, but the migration of flamingos may be viewed from the safety of an aircraft.

Dry season sets in during April and lasts until September. Game viewing is at its heights in April to July.

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