Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has a landscape defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, which becomes a lush animal habitat during the seasonal floods. The massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve, with its fossilized river valleys and undulating grasslands, is home to numerous animals including giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs.
Botswana: Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Established in 1992 the Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a community based wildlife project designed to save the rhino and restore the historic wildlife populations.
We didn’t reach the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary until 4 pm when we checked in. We’d been booked into one of their cabins, but looking around we could have easily camped here. The cabins were basic with a bedroom and an ensuite bathroom – but it was very rustic. But it did have electricity and a fridge.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary is a community-based wildlife project in Botswana. The animal shelter was established in 1992 to assist in saving the vanishing rhinoceros, restore the historic wildlife populations and provide economic benefits to the local Botswana community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources. Covering approximately 8585 hectares of Kalahari Sandveld, the sanctuary provides prime habitat for white and black rhinos as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.
It was already getting towards sunset, so we decided to turn around quickly and head out of a self-drive game drive around the sanctuary. There were a couple of pans not too far away, so we decided to head there and see what we could see. The trails were very rutted and full of sand, so the going was a little rough, but it was great fun to drive in. When we reached the first pan there were two huge white rhinos just standing there munching on the grass. They didn’t seem at all bothered by our presence, even though we were only a few feet away.
As more cars turned up, we decided to move on, but we didn’t have to go far before coming across another huge white rhino lying down next to the road. Amazing!
The sun was starting to set, and we could see up ahead that there was a larger group of rhinos close to one of the other roads across the pan, together with some zebras. We raced there and got right up to one group, with a rhino with the largest horn I’d ever seen. I must have been a good metre and a half long. I would not like to get poked by this particular beast!
The sun by now was setting fast so we took up a prime position to watch it go down, with a gin and tonic in our hand
The next day we got up at dawn so we could do an early morning game drive. It was a beautiful morning, and as the sun came up it cast a red glow across the sanctuary. We had gotten up so early that we ended up having the sanctuary more or less to ourselves. The only other vehicle we came across was a 4×4 full of heavily armed men, with automatic rifles and body armour. In the community’s wisdom, they had set the rhino sanctuary right next to an army base, which now provided an armed security detail for the rhino. Sadly, however scary these soldiers might look the high value of the rhino horn in Asian markets means there are still poachers prepared to take the risk for the high rewards. Of course, the ones taking the risk are at the bottom of the food chain and it is those at the top who make the most money and take the least risk.
Anyway, we initially followed the same tracks as we had the night before, but there were no rhinos to be seen, During the night they disappear off into the bush for safety. Instead of rhinos we saw plenty of zebras, giraffes, springboks and red hartebeest. Also, to my delight, there were a lot of birds to take photographs of. We had more time to play with than the night before, so we headed deeper into the sanctuary to the wooded areas. After about 30 minutes we struck lucky when the small group of rhinos we’d seen the previous evening came out of the woods. We were the only people there and we had them to ourselves. As it happened, they decided to hang out right on the road, so we weren’t going anywhere quickly.
The rhinos have a prehistoric look about them, but they are, in our opinion, quite beautiful with their piggy eyes and soulful looks. All the rhinos at the Kharma Rhino Sanctuary, bar one were southern white rhinos which are one of the most endangered animals in Africa, due largely to poaching. Left to themselves, they would breed quickly and replenish their herds, but protecting large tracts of land from the activities of poachers is costly.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the rhinos to ourselves for long and other game-drive vehicles started to arrive. With our perfect spell broken, we headed off and back towards our chalet.
In the late afternoon we set out on our early evening game drive.
We found the rhino back out on the pans. This time there were two mothers with young, rumbunctious calves who seemed set on pestering their elders. One of the youngsters, not getting any response from the other rhinos decided to confront a wildebeest, which showed a bit of aggression back causing the young rhino to take refuge behind its mother. For the next thirty minutes, we stayed and watched the herd of rhinos go about their business before they headed off into the bush for the evening. This gave us time to watch some of the other wildlife, including a feeding giraffe, before settling in once again to watch another glorious sunset.
About Kharma Rhino Sanctuary
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary (KRS) is a community-based wildlife project, established in 1992 to assist in saving the vanishing rhinoceros, restore an area formerly teeming with wildlife to its previous natural state and provide economic benefits to the local Botswana community through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Covering approximately, 8585 hectares of Kalahari Sandveld, the sanctuary provides prime habitat for white and black rhino as well as over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds.
Planning your visit to Kharma Sanctuary
Khama Rhino Sanctuary is situated on the main road between Serowe and Orapa.
Listed below are some of the possible ways to get there.
- If you are travelling from Serowe, leave town on the road opposite the main mall and turn left at the T-junction with the Orapa road. KRST is about 25km northwards through Paje on the Orapa road.
- If you are coming from Palapye, turn north to Orapa before you come to Serowe.
- If you are coming from Orapa, follow the road south for about 180k
|Hours:||Khama Rhino Sanctuary opens every day at 7:00am and closes at 7:00pm|
|Fees:||Adult 96.85 pula ($7.50) Children 48.45 pula ($3.7). Vehicles under 5 tonnes 119.20 pula ($9.20)|
Best time to visit Kharma Rhino Sanctuary
You can visit Khama Rhino all year round but the winter months, from June – August are much cooler. The dry months are better for camping, from April/May until November.
Where to stay
KHARMA RHINO SANCTUARY ACCOMMODATION
Khama Rhino Sanctuary has a variety of accommodation facilities.
here are 22 campsites, including sites for large groups. The central feature of each site is a large Mokongwa tree which provides both character and shade. There is also a fireplace, braai stands with a grill, and a tap with a birdbath. The campsites are served by two communal ablution blocks. All our campsites have no power points.
There are eight chalets to choose from located in different areas. Bedding &towels, braai facilities, bar fridge and electric kettle will be provided for all the chalets. Electric kettle and bar fridge is not available in the A-frame chalet since it does not have power. Basic cooking utensils are no longer provided. Clients can bring their own or use The Restaurant to buy meals. The chalets are A, B, C, D, E, F, G and A-frame.
A & B accommodate two people each. They each sleep one couple, holding one double bed.
C & D are located at Makongwa Camp, accommodates four people each and has two rooms and two beds in each room.
F & G chalets are next to the restaurant area. Each chalet has two rooms and two beds in each room.
A-Frame Chalet is situated on the edge of the Serwe pan. This is a two-storey chalet which sleeps up to six people. A- Frame has a separate bush toilet and a hot shower. This chalet was designed to give an African way of bush life. This chalet does not have electricity, but lantern lamps are available.
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