If you want to travel the Kalahari, you have to be totally self-reliant. There is no water in most of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, no firewood, no fuel, no cell phone reception and no shops. One thing in abundance is deep sand that makes for slow driving…
The narrow sandy tracks often have small humps which are difficult to detect and which can energise to put the vehicle into a series of ever increasing bounces. They also have high ‘middelmannetjies’ and it is dangerous to get off the road for oncoming vehicles, because of the dry grass. We passed three burnt-out vehicles that caught fire, almost certainly from stopping over the dry grass. During and after the rainy season some stretches around the pans would be quite muddy; now they were deep, hard mud tracks.
Each campsite has a bucket shower (for which you have to provide the water), a long drop toilet and a fire place but no other facilities. You also have to dispose of your own garbage; best being to burn what you can in your campfire and carry tins and bottles out.
The Kalahari is one of those photogenic places where the light is supernaturally beautiful. The golden yellow grass of the dry season shades in nicely with the grey sandy tracks and contrasts with the soft blue-grey sky. Red sunsets takes your breath away while the soft colours of the sunrises and the bright starry night sky, together with its remoteness, makes a visit to the Kalahari a soul cleansing experience.
Managing Director @ Nobody’s Tours
Absolutely one of the top 10 things to do before you die…
The birdlife is prolific. Rare bird species that you will see plenty of in the Kalahari include the small but bright Crimson-breasted shrike, Korhaan and Kori Bustard. It is also nice to see wild ostrich roaming the pans and small animals like ground squirrels ‘scoffling’ in the sand. I have never seen as many silverback jackal and bat-eared foxes in any other park.
Deception, Sunday and Leopard Pan
From Francistown we followed the deep sandy track to Matswere gate. Normally there is drinking water available here, but now the borehole had run dry. Fortunately we had two full 70 litre water tanks on board, but, on doing the arithmetic, we realised that stretched over 5 days and 4 people, this meant an allowance of only 7 litres per person per day.
Our plan was to traverse the whole Central Kalahari Game Reserve, from the north-east down towards the west of the park, then back towards the centre, there turning south to exit at the adjacent Khutse Game Reserve. However, we were warned by the park officials at the Matswere Gate that this was an ambitious venture. They were surprised that we planned this route and advised us that the 233km drive from Deception Camp to Xaka Camp would be too long to do in one day. He kindly made some phone calls and changed our booking to Xade Camp, which turned out to be excellent advice.