Covering about 52,800km2, and without a tar road anywhere near it, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (or the 'CKGR' as it's usually known) is one of the world's largest game reserves. It dominates the centre of Botswana – the wider region that I've referred to in this chapter as simply the 'central Kalahari'. This is Africa at its most remote and esoteric; a vast sandsheet punctuated by a few huge open plains, occasional salt pans, and the fossil remains of ancient riverbeds.
The CKGR isn't a reserve for everybody. The game is often sparse and can seem limited, with no elephants or buffalo; the distances are huge, along bush tracks of variable quality; and the facilities are non-existent. So unless you have a fully equipped vehicle (preferably two) and lots of bush experience, it's probably not the place for you.
The converse is that if you've already experienced enough of Africa to love the feeling of space and the sheer freedom of real wilderness areas, then this reserve is completely magical; it's the ultimate wilderness destination.
Due to limitations of space, this is only a short introduction to the area. It's intended to give you the feel for the central Kalahari and the CKGR (the area of it which most visitors will see) and tell you how to get there and what it's like. I've assumed that most visitors will only be visiting the northern section of the park – Piper's Pan and north – as that's generally regarded as the most interesting area of the park. It's also the obvious part of the reserve to link into a trip with the more popular northern regions of Chobe and the Okavango.