The concession is located in the northern Kalahari plains of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) where broad-leaved and acacia savannah mosaics dominate the landscape. The CKGR is one of the biggest protected areas in Africa and holds significant populations of large predators such as lion, cheetah and brown hyaena.
Prime wildlife viewing areas include places with evocative names such as Deception Valley and Sunday Pan. The former is all that remains of an ancient riverbed which today is an 80km-long gentle valley floor covered with short palatable grasses interspersed with picturesque tree islands. The name 'Deception' is derived from the mirage effect caused by the dry surface of the pan halfway along its length which often appears misleadingly full of water. Within this massive Game Reserve and as a result of the diversity of habitats, healthy game populations move seasonally between dune and valley, depending on the season.
During the summer months, after the much-needed rains, the northern part of the CKGR, where Kalahari Plains is situated, offers some of the best wildlife viewing in Botswana. The abundance of herbivores and their prey is perfectly complemented with lush green landscapes, floral displays and beautiful skies. At this time of year these verdant flatlands are alive with aggregations of gemsbok, springbok and blue wildebeest. As a result of these aggregations on the fossil riverbeds, predator concentrations are also high and sightings of the almost mythical black-maned Kalahari lions are complemented with some of the best cheetah viewing in Africa. Wild dog and leopard are seen on occasion and black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox also occur. Other mammal possibilities include southern giraffe, steenbok, red hartebeest and the charismatic ground squirrels and meerkats (suricates).
In the winter months, the Kalahari is more typically a desert-type system: warm and dry. Game viewing remains productive and moves into the vegetated dunal belt and pan systems surrounding the valleys; a series of ecologically placed waterholes further enhance wildlife viewing. The Kalahari Desert is surprisingly large, as it occupies central and south-western Botswana, parts of west central South Africa and eastern Namibia, thus covering an area of some 260 000 square kilometres. It is also part of a large sand basin stretching into Angola and Zambia in the north, through Botswana into Zimbabwe in the east, south to the Orange River in South Africa, and west to the highlands of Namibia. The basin encompasses an extraordinary 930 000 square kilometres, and is estimated to have been formed some 60 million years ago, at the time when Africa became a continent.In the millions of years that followed, the area of the Kalahari basin became a super lake, which gradually dried out and filled up with wind blown sand, debris and fossils. Today the Kalahari Desert is perhaps not the classic image of sand dunes, particularly in Botswana – where there is grass, trees and scrub.The Kalahari itself is surprisingly diverse, as is not only includes the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi and Nxai Pans National Park, but also the salt pans of the Makgadikgadi. These pans are extensive (some 10 000 square kilometres), and are the very real reminder of the extent of the ancient super lake, with clear evidence of a shoreline.
After sunset the Kalahari is alive with the sounds of roaring lions, White-faced Scops-Owls and the garrulous calls of barking geckos. The avifauna in the reserve is equally diverse with over 220 species recorded to date. There are significant healthy populations of regionally threatened species like Kori Bustard and Lappet-faced Vulture, but birders will enjoy the opportunity to see a variety of arid-west endemic species such as Burchell's Sandgrouse, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Kalahari Scrub-Robin and African Wren-Warbler. The vivid colours of birds such as Crimson-breasted Shrike and Violet-eared Waxbill provide a startling contrast to the sometimes stark surroundings.
The 52 800 square kilometre Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which was set up in 1961, is one of the largest game reserve in the world. The reserve is literally in the centre of Botswana, and is characterised by vast open plains, saltpans and ancient riverbeds. Varying from sand dunes with many species of trees and shrubs in the north, to flat bushveld in the central area, the reserve is more heavily wooded in the south, with mopane forests to the south and east.
The people commonly known throughout the world as Bushmen, but more properly referred to as the San (or Basarwa in Botswana), have been resident in and around the area for probably thousands of years. Originally hunters and gathers, the lifestyle of the Basarwa has gradually changed with the times and they now live in settlements, some of which are situated within the southern half of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
The better known areas of the Reserve is Deception Valley, which is all that remains of a sprawling riverbed that has long since dried up. Stretching across 80 kilometres of the Reserve’s north reaches, the valley is now covered with short grass, and dotted with the occasional island of bushy trees. Some of the roots of the larger trees extend as far as 50 metres below the surface to the water table, enabling them to survive the dry winters.The low canopies of these tree grove islands, usually made up of umbrella thorn (Acacia tortilis) and buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) provide shelter for game during the heat of the day and one can often see lion dozing in the shade of these thickets.
After the summer rains arrive, from Deception Valley to Piper Pans, the vast plains produce sweet grasses making the area one of the prime game-viewing areas in Botswana. Not many people seem to be aware of this and visitors are few. The clear blue sky fills with gigantic clouds and the stage is set for an amazing transformation. Here you will find thousands of oryx, springbok and wildebeest, with numerous predators in attendance (lion, cheetah, hyena and jackal). Game viewing in the Kalahari Desert is best between December and April, when the animals congregate in the pans and valleys.
Traces of man's occupation of the Kalahari go back at least 25 000 years. Stone Age tools have been revealed by erosion. The Khoi and the San were the first modern inhabitants of southern Africa, and their numerous rock paintings, tools and pottery can be found in the Tsodilo hills and the Lepokole hills in the east and in other rocky parts of the Kalahari. Today, the population has dwindled, but some San still live and follow their traditional life-style as hunter-gatherers in the Central Kalahari Reserve – where they have only recently regained their right to stay in the Reserve.
The name Kalahari is derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi, meaning "the great thirst".