In the middle of Botswana is the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), which at 51,145 square kilometres is the second largest game reserve in Africa. An additional 2,590 square kilometres on its southern border are located in the Khutse Game Reserve, with which the CKGR has an interconnecting road network.
Khutse is the closest major game reserve to Gaborone and we visited it a couple of times, both times with a group of friends. Apart from technically crossing from Khutse into the CKGR, the only time we visited the CKGR was Easter 2006. With the camping sites inside the CKGR on such a major holiday booked up months in advance, we camped, instead in an adjacent private reserve. This meant we had a disappointingly brief visit into the Deception Valley region of the CKGR, as the heavy sand of the roads makes them very slow and the distances quite considerable; 160km at 30km/hour takes up much of the day just to get in and out of the reserve.
The greatest surprise in the CKGR itself was to find large sand dunes covered with forest, with tropical-like creepers draping over trees so large we were amazed they could grow in sand. More expected were the grassy plains covered with herds of animals which survive well without water, particularly gemsbok (BELOW).
ABOVE: Ground squirrel, Khutse.
BELOW: A young male springbok in the first rays of the rising sun.
BELOW RIGHT: Sunset, CKGR.
RIGHT: A Bushman's ostrich egg water-bottle, decorated with stained ostrich eggshell beads, made in the traditional way.
BELOW: Man-made water hole in Khutse Game Reserve.
BELOW RIGHT: Was this the work of the resident Khutse lions, or had the pump stopped working again?
LEFT: The Devil's Claw, so named because it hooks onto anything, is a Bushman remedy for pains. The commercial farming of plants, such as the Devil's Claw, which have traditional uses is, perhaps, one way in which maintenance of the Bushman culture can be in tune with the development of the San people.