Kalahari Region

The Kalahari Wildlife

Grasslands and woodlands

Botswana’s Kalahari reserves are home to one of the most interesting set of animals in southern Africa. There are dry-area specialists – the springbok and rapier-horned gemsbok – alongside more familiar savannah animals – giraffe, kudu and wildebeest. Then, the mix of grassland and woodland habitats encourages both grazing and browsing species while summer rains trigger a mass migration of zebra into the Kalahari. The result is that Kalahari is prime predator country – all the big cats occur here as do wild dogs and hyenas. It’s also one of the best places to see Africa’s smaller, more elusive mammals – porcupine, aardwolf, honey badger and wild cat.

Accommodations set in the national parks offer morning and afternoon game drives; those in private concessions are able to add night drives and guided walks to their list of activities. Wildlife viewing in the Kalahari is most popular during the drier and cooler winter but summer rains transform the Kalahari into a green paradise and can deliver excellent predator-prey interactions.


The most obvious desert specialist is the ubiquitous springbok antelope, often seen in large herds browsing on grasslands with gemsbok usually close by – large and beautifully patterned antelopes with long straight horns that can reach six feet. Animals mostly absent from Chobe and Moremi such as eland and red hartebeest are found in the Kalahari and it’s the best place to see bat-eared foxes and meerkats. Other Kalahari specialists include aardwolf, springhare and brown hyena, shy and rare animals best seen on night drives.


The Kalahari’s male lions have long had a reputation for their size and thick black mane and still occur in healthy numbers throughout the region, their prides moving with the rhythms of their prey. The open nature of the Kalahari landscape means good hunting for cheetahs – relatively easy to see in the reserves – as well as packs of African wild dog but leopards prefer the cover of tangled tree islands and woodland fringes. Its night skies ringing with the sound of black-baked jackals, the Kalahari is perhaps the best place in Botswana to see brown hyena, honey badger and African wild cat.


November rains trigger the movement of animals from northern Botswana into the Kalahari as its grasslands turn green and waterholes fill up over the summer months. Zebra are perhaps the most numerous animal on the move and are seen in large, dynamic herds in Nxai Pan and the Makgadikgadi but they are joined by wildebeest and – on occasion – elephant and buffalo, the latter seen regularly at Nxai Pan. The arrival of the zebras and their recently born foals coincides with the springbok birthing season and the result is a spectacular one for predator viewing as big cats, jackals and wild dogs move in to take advantage of the bounty.


Home to a different set of resident birds compared to the Okavango Delta and Chobe, the Kalahari has plenty to keep the casual birder happy over the dry winter months. There are ostriches and giant kori bustards as well as many birds of prey – eagles, goshawks and vultures – but it is over the green summer months that the birdlife in the Kalahari is at its best. Migrant waders and wildfowl arrive, as do bee-eaters and cuckoos as well as insect-hunting kingfishers and flocks of storks. A birding highlight is during a summer termite swarm when hundreds of falcons, buzzards, kites and kestrels fill the air in a frantic feeding frenzy.


Top Experiences


1. Go on a Game Drive

Led by sharp-eyed guides, morning & afternoon drives in open 4X4s are the best way to see the Kalahari’s animals. Lodges on private concessions offer spot-lit night drives too, the best way to spot nocturnal ‘specials’ like brown hyena, aardwolf & porcupine.

2. Meet the Meerkats

Botswana’s Kalahari is the best place to see meerkats – you may even find yourself used as an observation tower by them! Ask us about accommodation with habituated meerkat families – an unforgettable treat for children.

3. Track Big Cats

Teeming with animals from gerbils to giraffes, the Kalahari is classic cat country. It’s Botswana’s best place for cheetah, home to impressively sized lions plus leopards & smaller felines – caracal & wild cat.

4. Walk with the San

Several lodges offer opportunities to meet local guides from the Kalahari’s indigenous San Bushman communities. They’ll open up the secrets of this harsh-looking but surprisingly bountiful landscape.

5. Discover the Migration

Drawn to the Kalahari for its green, well-watered summer, zebra herds attract big cats & wild dogs. Stay at lodges around the Makgadikgadi Pans for the best locations.

6. Explore on Horseback

Now you can explore this wild, unspoilt area in the same way many of the earliest explorers, hunters and missionaries did – on horseback! We’ll tell you the best places to saddle up.

7. Go Bird Watching

There’s enough all year to keep the average bird watcher happy but serious birders should visit in summer when many migrant species arrive. Good rains bring pelicans & flamingos to the Makgadikgadi Pans.

8. Ride a Quad Bike

An epic quad bike journey across the pans to Kubu Island. Sleep under the stars on an ancient granite island in the middle of the vast Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.the Ultimate in Real adventure, Unreal Style!

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They kept us fully informed and updated throughout planning, travel, etc.

It was excellent all around. Everything worked out well. An experience of a lifetime! The game viewing rides were fun and very informative.


We are six older but experienced travellers who usually do our own planning. Luck led us to Safari Online and Walter. His ideas proved spot on. Throughout our planning Safari Online have been helpful, always answering emailed questions, no matter how basic, straightaway. We’ve had probably our best ever holiday in years of travel, everything went smoothly. Pickups and transfers were on time. Staff in all the places we stayed were friendly and helpful. I can’t think of one adverse remark except maybe seeing a lion that wasn’t asleep, though I think if it could have been arranged Walter would have done so.

Above expectations

Excellent communications and service. We dealt with Sabrina and she is awesome. The safari tour was amazing, i can highly recommend going to Elephant Plains. Its a very special place run by awesome people.

Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional.  Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

A great tour operator that was a pleasure to deal with.

We used Safari Online to put together a mid-range Botswana trip for a group of four going to three different camps and then onto Vic Falls. We asked several operators to provide options (through this great safari bookings website) and Walter Kohrs from Safari Online was easily the most responsive and quickest to provide different but realistic options and at good prices. In the end it was a no brainer to go with Safari Online. Walter always responded to my queries quickly, with honest and valuable responses that were clear and made sense. From our perspective he tailored a good mix of places for both our budget and standard of facilities that suited us perfectly, with enough information and links to help us make our decisions. In the end each camp was different and had different aspects and strengths that made each unique. We loved it.

Excellent service and support for our Africa vacation

Working with Walter was a great experience. He listened to us and helped us build a vacation that exceeded all of our expectations. We really appreciated his professionalism and attention to detail.

Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver. She responded to our requests promptly and gave us several options with links to each option; we ultimately chose Lukimbi. She then coordinated our flights to and from the property, arranged the drivers necessary to get us from the airport to the lodge and back again, and sent the appropriate paperwork to each of us to verify each step of the process. We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!