Discover the Wildlife of the Kalahari Desert Amid Expansive Vistas Unrivaled on Earth
Day 1: Maun, Botswana / Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Arrive in Maun and fly by light aircraft to the northern sector of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. We make a safari drive en route to our isolated camp near the famous Deception Valley, with a sweeping vista of the valley floor. Nothing prepares one for the immensity of this vast desert wilderness, a seemingly endless expanse of arid land so flat you can almost perceive the curvature of the Earth. Vegetation is sparse but for seasonal grasses and scrub bushes, while fossilized rivers and sprawling pans of salt and dessicated mud, crazed with cracks, lend even greater austerity to the landscape. Yet despite these harsh environs, the Central Kalahari is the second-largest wildlife reserve in the world, covering more than 20,000 square miles and home to great numbers and varieties of hoofed mammals, predators and birds. When the summer rains come, the northern Kalahari bursts into green, attracting multitudes of game to fresh grazing areas.
Day 2: Exploring the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Within this remote wilderness, animal movements are dictated by natural patterns and conditions, especially the seasonal rains that swell their numbers, though animals are visible year-round. We'll track wildlife on guided 4x4 game drives, studying the desert ecology along the way. The petrified riverbed is vibrant after brief rains, covered with nutritious grasses that attract herds from all over the enormous reserve. Predators follow these large congregations of desert wildlife and their young into the broad riverbed, and on occasion we are able to observe the natural drama of the hunt that frames the rhythms of life on the plains. One of the most famous residents of the desert, the black-maned Kalahari lion, is found here, as well as one of Africa's largest populations of cheetah—we'll have a good chance to see them on morning and afternoon safari drives. We may also have an opportunity to meet some of the local San Bushmen people who have inhabited the Kalahari for millennia, their traditional way of life continuing largely unchanged. After an exhilarating day in the wilds, we return to the comforts of camp, surprisingly luxurious considering our far-removed location. When it's time to retire, you'll likely want to choose the outdoor sleeping space that accompanies each canvas tent, to enjoy one of the darkest and starriest night skies on the planet.
Day 3: Central Kalahari Game Reserve / Maun, Botswana
Following breakfast at camp, there's time to drink in some final moments of solitude in this captivating region before returning via light aircraft to Maun, Botswana.
Physical Rating: Easy