The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the largest single game reserve in the world with a total area of almost 13 million acres, more than double the size of the state of Massachusetts. This arid savanna grassland is a mix of undulating hills, vast sand dunes, and sparse acacia woodlands. Although it seems that the dry Kalahari would be a barren place, it is an area with enormous diversity. The beauty of the Central Kalahari and the strong column interdependence of its inhabitants becomes apparent as you explore this arid environment. Each night, the desert sky fills with the southern hemisphere’s stars.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is known not only for its wildlife, but also for its beautiful people. The hunter-gatherer San people have lived in the Kalahari for centuries and are descendants of the first-known inhabitants of southern Africa. On a walk, a local San employee will provide insight into their traditional lifestyles and survival strategies as they guide you through the area.
Beginning in April, temperatures fall throughout Botswana as it moves into winter. Daytime temperatures remain comfortable, with a cold desert chill at night and in the early mornings. Winter lasts through August with little to no rain, creating a dry and barren landscape.
Days become long and temperatures begin to rise as the region begins to transition into summer in September. October through March are the Central Kalahari’s warmest months. Temperatures typically reach into the mid- to high 90s during the day. Heat quickly escapes the cool Kalahari sands, and with the setting sun comes a drop in temperature to last throughout the night. Summer’s warm temperatures and humidity build impressive thunderclouds ready to release rains over the dry landscape. By the end of October or early November the first rains fall, cooling the warm summer air.
The Central Kalahari is well known for its population of large, dark-manned lions, cheetahs, and rarities such as the honey badger, meerkat, and brown hyena. The region’s strong dependence on water influences wildlife movements from season to season. During the dry winter months, the palatable grass on the open plains dries out and loses its nutrition. Water becomes scare, forcing the grazers to migrate in search of food and water. During this time, the area provides great sightings of predators and desert-adapted species of the Kalahari. When the rains arrive in late November to April, the Kalahari erupts into life. As grasslands soak in the rain, sweet grasses grow. Massive herds of wildebeests, springboks, and gemsboks migrate to the plains by the thousands, where predators lurk nearby.