Where to stay
You have two choices in this area: either stay within the park, using the park's demarcated campsites mentioned below, or stay at one of the two lodges which are both a few hours' drive from the entrance. However, these lodges are so far from the park that they're really only useful either as destinations in their own right, or as comfortable stops at the start and end of trips into the park. Neither is close enough to the CKGR to be used as a base for day-trips.
Campsites inside the park
The only places to stay inside the park are campsites. All of these are totally undeveloped; they're just cleared patches of ground with no water, toilets or showers. You must bring all the water you need, all your food, and a spade to dig your own toilets. (Don't forget matches to burn any tissue paper before burying it!)
As for the rest of Botswana's parks, it's essential that you book and pay for these campsites in advance, or you will not be allowed in through the gate. Each of the CKGR's campsites has a unique code, eg: CKK1, CKK2, CKL1, CKP1, etc. In What to see and do, below, I've made notes on some of these, identifying most with comments and GPS locations.
Lodges outside the park
There is only one lodge really close to the park: Deception Valley Lodge. This must be booked in advance, as if full there are no nearby alternative options. Note that it is at least two hours' drive from the scout gate camp, and over three from the area known as Deception Valley within the CKGR.
One other place should be mentioned, as a convenient stopover en route to/from the park: Leroo-La-Tau and its adjacent campsite, Xwarga. This stands beside the western border of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, so is at least three hours' drive from the park's entrance gate.Deception Valley Lodge
(5 chalets) PO Box 1315, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; tel: 27 11 663 6948/9; fax: 27 11 663 6947; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web: www.deceptionvalley.co.za
The quality of construction and furnishing used at Deception Valley Lodge ranks it as one of Botswana's top lodges. However, it is also in one of the country's more remote locations, and its relative lack of big game suits old Africa hands more than first-time visitors. Because of these factors, its prices aren't (yet) as high as you might expect.
The lodge has five chalets, each containing a separate large lounge and bedroom, and a smaller bathroom between them. Everything is under thatch. The focus of the lounge is a large, glass coffee-table and a very comfortable sofa. Its walls are dotted with framed Bushman artefacts, whilst lovely rugs are spread across the floors. A constant 220V electricity powers a ceiling fan in each room, a well-stocked fridge/minibar in the lounge and any number of lamps and lights, including some particularly beautiful ones which use ostrich eggshells as shades.
The bedroom has heavy teak furniture, copious wardrobe space and a couple of adjacent twin beds (or a king-size double) with mosquito nets. Sublimely comfortable mattresses are covered with notably high-quality cotton sheets and Botswana's best down quilts – which you'll need as the Kalahari's temperatures plummet at night. Everything is monogrammed with the lodge's own brown hyena logo. The 'blanket box' doubles as a lockable safety-deposit box.
Between these two main rooms is the equally stylish bathroom, with a flush toilet and a washbasin. A free-standing old-style claw-footed iron bath and an outside shower both derive hot water from an efficient gas geyser.
All around the chalet large sliding doors (with brass fittings) can be opened by day, and closed at night for warmth. These lead outside on to a shaded area of polished wooden decking, furnished with leather chairs and a table. Each of the bungalows is widely separated from the next, and linked by natural walkways lit by cute, gecko-shaped lights.
The lodge's main reception, lounge and dining areas are furnished in similar style, with equally careful attention to detail, and there's a small curio shop which sells a fairly unremarkable range of T-shirts as well as quilted warm jackets – handy if you misjudged just how cold it can get here.
Activities centre around drives and walks on the lodge's own area, which shares its southern boundary with the CKGR. (Note that drives don't normally visit the game reserve, which is too far for a comfortable day-trip.) The landscape, flora and fauna here is exactly the same as in the main reserve, although being much smaller and fenced it doesn't get the large wet-season congregations which are a major attraction of the CKGR.
That said, the lodge's private area encompasses a number of natural pans surrounded by larger trees, and there's a bird-hide beside one. Despite the relative lack of big game, there's plenty to look at, although this is an environment in which you would probably miss many of the smaller attractions without a good guide.. The walks are often led by the lodge's San guides, and sometimes incorporate demonstrations of their traditional skills staged in a small village which has been recreated for the purpose.Leroo-La-Tau Lodge
(7 tents)Situated at the eastern end of a bend in the Boteti River (GPS:LEROOL), Leroo-La-Tau has very comfortable chalets and a choice of activities.Xwaraga campsite
This bush campsite is a few minutes walk from Leroo-La-Tau Lodge; it is contactable through the lodge.