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National Parks & Game Reserves A - Z
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
The central Kalahari game reserve (CKGR) is the largest, most remote reserve in southern Africa and at 52 800 sq km the second largest wildlife reserve in the world. Mile and miles of waving golden grass is punctuated by dwarf trees and scrub. The lasting impression is of wide open spaces, tree "islands" and pale blue sky. Closed for 30 years until the early 90's self drive and organised tours are allowed in, in small controlled numbers. Recently lodge concessions have been granted in remote areas. The draw of the CKGR is the impression of space and of having the reserve to yourself. While game viewing can be spectacular during and shortly after good summer rains, it is generally more sparsely distributed. When to visit The dry season - May to November provides exciting game viewing around the artificial waterholes. This is a good time to come and experience solitude and stargazing. The wet season ? December to April - is when the Kalahari comes alive. Large herds of springbok, Gemsbok and other game are drawn to the north of the reserve around deception valley. The roads around pans, especially deception valley can be very difficult to negotiate after rains due to their clayey nature. Bring all your fuel and provisions including water.
Chobe National Park
Established in 1968 the park encompasses woodland, swamps and floodplain. Its northern boundary is the Chobe River and in the far south west, Moremi Game Reserve. At 11700 km 2 Chobe is the third largest park / reserve in the country. The park is buffered by wildlife management areas and forest reserves allowing for the free movement of game. Chobe has four distinct geographical areas: the riverfront, the Ngwezumba Pans, Savute and Linyanti. The riverfront is the most accessible and frequently visited most notably for the large herds of elephants and buffalo that converge on the river to drink during the dry winter months. It is not uncommon to be surrounded by hundreds of elephants as they make their way to the river to drink, bathe and play. The Chobe riverfront: A drive on the loops that follow the river's edge offer a good opportunity to view numerous species of game including the predators ? lion, leopard and hyena. A keen destination for bird watchers, Chobe is home to over 460 species of bird. Common species to be seen include cormorants and darters, Egyptian and spur winged geese, sacred ibis, Pels fishing owl, Carmine Bee eaters, all the rollers, most kingfishers, storks, fish eagle and martial eagle.
Approximately 70km from the river, the Ngwezumba pans comprise a complex of clay pans, surrounded by woodlands and grassland. The pans fill with water in the rainy season and attract wildlife which moves away from the permanent water sources. Savute: Savute is in the interior of the park and is best known for its large resident populations of lion, cheetah and hyena. The Savute channel flows from the Linyanti River and carries water into the Savute marsh swampland and further into the Mababe depression. The Mababe depression, also fed by the Ngwezumba River, is vast and flat. When filled with water it attracts thousands of migratory birds and animals, particularly zebra. The mysterious Savute channel inexplicably dries up and recommences flowing, having done so several times over the last 100 years. This irregular water flow has resulted in numerous dead trees lining the channel. They germinated and grew when the channel was dry and drowned when the channel flowed again.
Linyanti is known as an excellent game viewing destination during the dry winter months when animals are drawn to its permanent water. The dry season - May to November - is probably the best time to visit Chobe as the animals are forced to congregate along the permanent water courses, artificial waterholes and pans. The rainy season - November to April is challenging due to the rains making travel in the clayey areas very difficult. However Savute marsh attracts thousands of migratory zebras and wildebeests whilst the pans and Savute are at their most attractive.
Gaborone Game Reserve
Nestled in the city and a popular spot for city residents, the park offers game and bird viewing, picnic sites and an education centre. At 500 hectares it is a very small reserve, suitable for day visitors in Gaborone.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP)
The immense wilderness area of the KTP is shared by both South Africa and Botswana. The park is unfenced allowing animals to freely roam between countries. Immigration and customs facilities have been designed to enable visitors to enter thought one country and depart through another. On the Botswana side, sites have been allocated for lodge development but are not yet developed. The current option is self drive camping and self drive wilderness trails. The wilderness trails are limited to allow only one group to complete a section of the trail thus providing exclusivity and privacy. Booking will in advance is essential as the trails are very popular. Alternatively one can camp at the few remote campsites in the park or in the now incorporated Mabuasehube Game reserve. The terrain comprises fossil river valleys, sand dunes and grasslands. The dry season May to November is best for game viewing at the waterholes. The wet season - December to April ? is very attractive as the landscape is green and the animals have their young. Fuel and basic provisions are available in the southern African side of the park but not Botswana. Visitors to the Botswana side should be completely self reliant.
Khutse Game Reserve
Khutse is a small reserve - 2590 sq km - on the southern boundary of the CKGR. It is easily explored boasting excellent chances of viewing the black maned Kalahari lion. The rare brown hyena is also commonly sighted along with leopard and cheetah. Easily accessible in a 4x4, Khutse is a lovely park to visit from Gaborone or as a staging post for an epic Trans CKGR safari. Bring all your fuel and provisions including water. Water is available from the game scout camp but is erratic.
Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MKNP)
Bordering the Makgadikgadi Pans, this park is an ideal stopover en route to the Okavango Delta. About a fifth of the reserve comprises salt pan, the rest is mainly rolling grasslands. The parks boundary in the west is the Boteti River. Fringed with riverine vegetation and containing perennial pools, the river is a vital source of water for migrating wildebeest and zebra. Occasionally the river flows to capacity and is a sight to behold. The grasslands attract thousands of migrating zebra; however this migration is erratic and dependent on local rainfall. About 3900 sq km, the park is easily explored and has some fantastic view of the pans without the dangers inherent in travelling over them. The reserve is also well known for sighting of the rare brown hyena. The dry season April to December is the best time to visit as the animals congregate around the dwindling water resources of the Boteti. Wet season is January to May when the park is green and one can find numerous species of game on the grasslands, however this is erratic.
Mannyelanong Game Reserve
Located just outside Otse village, the name of the park derives from the Cape Vulture, an endangered bird that is protected. The 4 sq km reserve encompasses a red sandstone hill. The reserve is an important breeding ground for the Cape vulture. Access is not permitted, however visitors can view the vultures from a distance. This small reserve is an interesting day trip for Gaborone residents or visitors.
Moremi Game Reserve
Moremi Game reserve has been described as one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Africa. It covers about one third of the Okavango delta and is bordered by wildlife management areas, allowing the free movement of game across its borders. The reserve is an exceptionally picturesque mix of floodplains, waterways, lagoons, pools, pans, grasslands and riverine and Mopani forest. Moremi is very popular with the self drive tourist. To complete the delta experience one is able to access the perennial swamp from Xakanaxa and Mboma Island to explore the waterways. Moremi is approximately 4800 sq kms of untamed wilderness and a superb wildlife destination. In 23008 the reserve was voted "Best Game Reserve in Africa" by the African Travel and Tourism Association. The dry season - April to October - is the best time to visit for game viewing when animals tend to congregate along the permanent rivers. May to August is peak tourist season. The rainy season is October to April and is only for the adventurous. Roads are extremely difficult to negotiate and sometime impassable. The temperature and humidity is also very high at this time. The advantage however, is that the park is very quiet and animals have their young at this time. Bring all your own fuel and provisions for the duration of your stay. Water is generally available in the campsites but sometimes the pumps are out of order.
Nxai Pan National Park
This park consists mainly of fossil pans covered with grassland that attract an abundance of game. It is a small park approx 2100 sq km - and is easily explored. The park is known for its lions especially the waterhole approximately 2km after the entrance gate, which was the scene for an IMAX wildlife film "Roar - Lions of the Kalahari". The park is also home to the famous Baines Baobabs, painted by explorer Thomas Baines in 1862. Wildlife viewing is seasonal depend on the rains. Common species to be sighted are zebra, wildebeest, springbok, impala, gemsbok, hartebeest and giraffe with predator's lion, cheetah, wild dog and brown hyena. Elephants and buffalo seasonally pass through the park. Dry season is May to October which is very hot with the animals dependent on the artificial waterholes. Often good predator interaction is found by waiting patiently at one of them. Wet Season is November to April and is a very good time to visit as the park is usually green and there are large herds of game with their young. The roads around the pans however can be difficult to negotiate as they consist of clay. Pack the hi-lift jack.