The Central Kalahari National Park is an extensive game reserve in the legendary Kalahari Desert in Botswana. Covering more than 50,000 km2 of land, it is the second-largest game reserve in the world – an excellent choice for a world-class safari!
Mostly flat, it’s a vast open landscape of bush and grassland spreading across the desert’s sand dunes. The river valleys are fossilized with salt pans, meandering through the game reserve and ancient natural sites like Deception Valley, which formed around 16,000 years ago. In fact, this part of Africa was formed 40 million years ago – the Kalahari basin was hewn out of the land by ice, water, and wind, all the way from the Orange River to the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The park was established back in 1961 to protect endangered African species such as wild dogs, and today you’ll also be able to spot giraffes, brown hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, lions, and blue wildebeest on your safari trip.
Bushmen, known as San, have roamed the lands of the Central Kalahari National Park for thousands of years as nomadic hunters. Although the Botswanan government has been trying to relocate the iconic African tribe since the 1990s, the San have since been allowed to return to the reserve and their homes. This ancient and intriguing community adds an extra element of interest to a safari trip to the park.
Central Kalahari National Park entrance fee
The admission fees vary depending on whether you’re camping in the reserve or simply visiting. The usual charges will be BP30 per person per day for camping and BP120 for park entry. A vehicle costs an additional BP50 per day.
Activities at Central Kalahari National Park
The diverse wildlife makes for exciting game drives and adventures in the reserve, both on foot or by vehicle. For a safari with a difference, swap the 4×4 for a horse and explore the wilderness on a riding trek. The vast plains and open woodlands are perfect for horseback safaris.
Camping is also a popular way to enjoy the game reserve, and a night on the Makgadikgadi Saltpans is a fantastic adventure. Far off the beaten track, these camps in the remote wilderness are the ideal place to stay for intimate encounters with the animals and a chance to get away from it all.
Central Kalahari National Park highlights
Diverse wildlife is one of the draws of the Central Kalahari National Park – thousands of gemsbok, springbok and wildebeest are pursued by lions, cheetahs and jackals for an unbeatable experience. The vast landscape of the park is like a stage, with the interaction and gathering of the animals making for dramatic trips.
Getting to Central Kalahari National Park
There are three ways to access the huge park – Khutse (south), Xade (west) and Matswere (northeast). Matswere is recommended for game drivers as the northern part of the reserve is rich in wildlife. Access to the Matswere entrance is via Rakops, about 50km away.
When to go to Central Kalahari National Park
Many tourists choose to take a Botswana safari between June and October as this is the peak time. However, the constantly changing face of the landscape makes it a wonderful experience all year round. In the rainy season (November to March), the desert is transformed into a lush park packed with fresh, sweet grass. In the winter, meanwhile, the stark wilderness is eerily beautiful.
Search & book accommodation around Moremi Game Reserve
You can choose from a variety of accommodation in the park, from traditional tents and adapted Bushmen huts with heaps of African style to luxury private retreats.
Choose Jack’s Camp for a sumptuous private tent with indoor and outdoor showers – feel the Kalahari breeze on your skin as you bathe in the evening! Persian rugs and cotton sheets add a level of comfort, but you can still feel connected to Botswana’s wildlife and landscapes with fantastic views from your veranda.
Dinaka Safari Lodge is small and intimate, with only six tents and an authentic bush feel. Each tent is a beautiful hideaway beneath a Purple Pod tree that blends in with the surroundings. Covered verandas are the perfect place for a sundowner, with views over the manmade waterhole so you can wildlife spot as you relax.
Have you been to Moremi Game Reserve and have any tips to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!