The Central Kalahari Game Reserve at 20,000-square-mile (52,000-km2), is one of the largest in the world and covers a portion of the Kalahari Desert. It is an area of enormity, epic landscapes, wooded dunes and petrified river valleys. Wildlife is not abundant in the dry season, but the area becomes alive after brief rain showers and is at its peak from December through April as herbivores with their newborn young (followed by predators) gravitate into the petrified river systems.
With arguably the best cheetah populations within Botswana, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is also home to the black-maned lions, good populations of meerkats, brown hyena, lynx, leopard, Cape fox, bat eared fox, black backed jackals, eland, red hartebeest, honey badger, steenbuck, oryx, springbuck and blue wildebeest. Even wild dogs are resident in the Kalahari, albeit at lower concentrations than the Okavango Delta and Linyanti.
Perhaps the best part of this gigantic reserve, from a visitor’s perspective, is the Deception Valley area where American researchers Mark and Delia Owens were based during their work on the brown hyena. This drainage line is in a hauntingly remote location, populated with mostly nomadic wildlife and thin
Travelers are encouraged to stay within the park, as this is where the key experience is. Kalahari Plains, one of the new concessions, is located in the Okwa Valley and is one of the most remote dry river systems in the park. A permanent waterhole and access to the interdunal system, including the pans provide a more annual game experience.
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