Botswana : Kalahari
Stretching across six countries, the Kalahari Desert is nowhere more beautiful and classic than in its heartland in central Botswana. It is a true wilderness, the last refuge of the San Bushmen, and the ultimate in 'remote' safari destinations. Contrary to what you might imagine, although sand dunes and pans do occur, the flat desert tableau is surprisingly well vegetated and in summer boasts large concentrations of game. It has the largest animal migration outside East Africa. One of the main attractions is its wilderness atmosphere, wide-open spaces and intense solitude and silence - an experience which every soul deserves at least once in a lifetime! This atmosphere combined with the San Bushmen gives the whole area a feeling that it has been lost in time. Even now, this region is visited by only a handful of visitors every year.
Deception Valley Lodge is a luxury lodge just on the boundary of the vast Central Kalahari Game Reserve (there are no lodges actually within the reserve). With a bushman theme, warm African colours and quirky decor, the camp sleeps up to 16 in thatched chalets reached by long raised walkways from the bar and eating area of the lodge. There is a good-sized pool and a breezy veranda, all of which overlook a waterhole which attracts a variety of game especially in the dry season. The camp is owned and run by Braam who knows the area intimately as he was born and brought up in the Kalahari, and his childhood playmates Xhase, Malaki and Dagham are now the bushman guides at camp. The emphasis here is on activities based on learning about the Bushmen culture, birding, walking and, in the right season, game viewing. The Bushman experience is reason enough to visit Deception Valley Lodge. Tactfully done, educational and interesting, it is a highlight of any stay here. The Bushmen are amusing and answer honestly about their ancestors and future, and it's a fascinating experience and well worth a visit especially in the wet season as 'life' comes to the Kalahari.