To the south of the Okavango Delta are the vast sandy bushlands broadly known as the Kalahari desert, which encompasses the attractions of Makgadigadi Pans, Nxai Pans National Park, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Tsolido Hills. Not the conventional place to go on safari but very rewarding to those who are not only interested in viewing large mammals.
The grasslands on the fringes of the pans is home to herds of zebra, wildebeest and the less water dependant plains game species of the Kalahari including gemsbok, eland, red hartebeest and springbok. The large mammals of the Kalahari have the opposite migration habit to those of the northern bushlands. Instead of dispersing during the rains, they collect in large groups during the wet months, the only time when surface water is available and there is enough grazing to sustain big herds making the best time to visit the Magadikgadi Pans and Central Kalahari between December and May.
The salt encrusted lakebeds of the Ntwetwe and Sua Pans are collectively known as the Magadikgadi Pans. These dry, salt laden pans are all that remain of the once huge inland sea that once covered much of Botswana. When the rains are good the pans are transformed into shallow lakes that attract masses of flamingoes and other wading birds. The flamingoes come to feed on the algae and tiny bone shrimp; and if the water lasts long enough to breed and raise their young.
The Central Kalahari National Park.
For many years there were no operators within this 5 millon hectare reserve, now there are a whole new crop of camps from which to enjoy this vast and remote desert landscape. Do not expect to see Sahara type barreness; this is a land of grasses, ancient fossil beds and amazing wide open spaces that is totally transformed when the summer rains come. Immense herds of plains graze the newly sprouted grasses and are in turn hunted by a plethora of predators including the famed black maned lion. This is also an area that has long been the domain of the ancient Bushmen tribes. Many lodges offer informative interactions with these anclient people where guests can learn about their culture and unique hunting methods.
The Tsolido Hills is a tiny outcrop of rocks which lies to the west of the Okavango River Panhandle. At this site one can view Africa's most extra ordinary collections of Bushmen art. Spread out over 200 sites the collection comprises over 2770 individual paintings. Most of the paintings are of animals including Eland, giraffe, zebra, gemsbok and rhino.