A vast expanse of scrubby dunes far from human habitation.
After the rains, the desert springs into life, attracting herds of antelope as well as all manner of predators from handsome black-maned lion to brown hyena, meerkat and honey badger.
Much of this remote, arid terrain is protected within the immense Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with two smaller but no less spectacular national parks to the east. The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park harbours the remnants of a super-lake which throughout the year is crusty and dry. In the short green season however, tender young grasses carpet the parched, white landscape sparking Africa’s second-largest terrestrial mammal migration comprised of tens of thousands of zebra.
The smaller Nxai Pan National Park to its north also plays host to the zebra herds and is home to many surreal saltpans as well as stands of millennia-old baobab trees, the most famous being Baines’ Baobabs, named after the English artist and explorer Thomas Baines, thought to have been the first European to discover them in the late 19th century.
Quad bike safaris are a popular way to explore the Kalahari, as are game drives in 4×4 vehicles. Walks led by San Bushmen are particularly eye-opening, as visitors are taught age-old survival techniques by guides who have lived for generations in this harsh environment. To top off a visit to this desert region, travellers can visit a mob of meerkats that have become habituated to humans.
- A vast, arid wilderness far from any human settlement
- Comprised of classic sand dunes and enormous salt pans
- Transformed into rich grasslands after the rains
- Hosting Africa’s second-largest terrestrial mammal migration
- Surreal landscapes dotted with thousand year old baobabs
- Unique activities including quad biking and walks with San bushmen
- Visiting a habituated mob of meerkats
When to visit the The Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans?
The hot, wet summer months (Nov-Mar) are the most conducive for good game viewing, as the rains turn sand dunes into lush grasslands, attracting herds of zebra and antelope as well as huge flocks of bird. The cold, dry winter months (Apr-Oct) are best for stargazing and exploring the saltpans, when skies are clearest.
Best Botswana Safaris
Explore some of the amazing holidays and experiences that we can custom design for you. All of our safaris and tours are tailor-made to suit your interests, budget and timeframe.
Discover Botswana's most beautiful wilderness areas and an abundance of incredible wildlife on this luxury 10 night safari.
Botswana and Victoria Falls Family Discovery
Discover the extraordinary wildlife of Botswana's Okavango Delta and be awed by Zambia's mighty Victoria Falls on this memorable safari designed for families with kids.
Botswana Northern Highlights
Discover northern Botswana's most beautiful wilderness areas and an abundance of incredible wildlife on this fully serviced camping safari.
Desert & Delta Safari Botswana
Discover epic wildlife in the Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve and Savute with Desert & Delta Safaris, one of Botswana's most respected operators.
Take in the best of Botswana on this 12 day exclusive safari, travelling from the Makgadikgadi Pans through the Linyanti into the Okavango Delta.
Highlights of Botswana and Zambia
This trip combines Zambia's wild South Luangwa National Park and iconic Victoria Falls with Botswana's magnificent Okavango Delta and elephant-rich Chobe National Park.
Ker & Downey Botswana
Experience this authentic 7 day Okavango Delta safari with Ker & Downey Botswana, one of the country's most respected operators.
Magical Mashatu & Mala Mala
Combine two fantastic safari experiences on this exciting 8 day itinerary staying at Botswana's Mashatu, "Land of the Giants" and legendary Mala Mala in South Africa.
Sanctuary Retreats Botswana
Experience the country's epic wildernesses from Chobe National Park to the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve with Sanctuary Retreats Botswana.
Wilderness Safaris Classic Botswana
Uncover the diversity of Botswana, journeying from the watery Okavango Delta to the arid Central Kalahari, on this eye-opening 9 day luxury safari.
Wilderness Safaris Premier Botswana
Experience the beauty and diversity of Botswana's Okavango Delta whilst staying in some of the area's most spectacular luxury tented camps.
Best places to stay in the Kalahari
The following are some of the tented camps that we recommend in the Kalahari region. For information on additional accommodation not featured, please contact us.
Award-winning Jack’s Camp sits in the shade of palms amid a giant salt lake which dried up millennia ago, beside Botswana's otherworldly Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.
Comfortable, laid-back Camp Kalahari sits at the very edge of the remote Makgadikgadi Saltpans, offering travellers a unique desert safari experience.
Meno a Kwena
About halfway between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Okavango Delta, Meno a Kwena offers a diversity of safari experiences from a very scenic, secluded setting.
Kalahari Plains Camp
In an exceptionally remote section of the immense Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Kalahari Plains Camp overlooks an enormous white salt pan.
Leroo La Tau
Welcoming Leroo La Tau sits on a cliff beside the Boteti River, an important source of water to many birds and animals especially during Botswana's dry season.
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The Kalahari and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans FAQ
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