Rhino is one of the most endangered species on earth because hunting, poaching, wars, and civilization struck them the hardest. Today, they are rare animal sights in even the most outstanding National Parks like Chobe. Luckily, the small part of Africa has awakened to resolve this issue through conservation efforts. Botswana is the leading country in that regard with its community-based wildlife project, Khama Rhino Sanctuary. The sanctuary does not offer a regular big 5 experience but rather a specialized one on a specific member of the big five, where you can find out everything you want to know about the precious rhinoceros.
The sanctuary was established in 1992 near the town of Serowe in Central Kalahari. Before then, the Serowe Pan used to be a combination of cattle farms and hunting grounds. The people of Serowe decided to end this and started restoring the place to bring back its original flora and fauna. Through the land donations by the Ngwato Land Board, the area expanded to 8585 hectares in 20 years. The founders also hired rangers from the Botswana Defense Force to guard the park against poaching.
The main focus of the sanctuary is both black and white rhinoceros. Currently, there are 30 white rhinos and 4 black rhinos in Khama. Also, the sanctuary’s management relocated 16 rhinos to the National Parks in Botswana.
Besides rhinos, there are 30 other mammals including herbivores and some small predators. Giraffe is one of the most common animals in the park, especially near the acacia trees. Zebra is another abundant species. The other herbivores include eland, blue wildebeest, kudu, steenbok, duiker, red hartebeest, impala, and gemsbok.
There are small predators in Khama, although they are rarer than the rhino. These include caracal, wild cat, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, brown hyena, and leopard. As we mentioned earlier, Khama is a sanctuary focused on rhino conservation rather than a game reserve, so you shouldn’t expect to see the big cats.
There are about 230 bird species including endemic ones like the bearded woodpecker and Abdim’s stork.
As a primary rhino-conservation area, the main mission of Khama is not only to protect rhinos but also to educate people about their significance. The rangers of guided activities are quite knowledgeable about rhinos, so you will learn things you wouldn’t hear anywhere else.
The game drives take approximately two hours and depart every day at 6 am. The safari vehicles can take up to eight people at a time. You can also hire one of the guides and arrange a more exclusive game drive, but you need to inquire beforehand for that.
Self-driving is also possible in Khama. You can obtain a map at the entrance, which has everything marked from waterholes to hides. The hides are especially ideal for a picnic break in the shade while waiting for rhinos and jackals to come close to the waterholes.
Rhino tracking is a must in Khama. These bushwalks start at 6 am and last 3-4 hours. As you track the footsteps of the rhinos to get very close to them, you will also learn more about their evolution and spectacular survival mechanisms.
Khama Rhino Sanctuary has an Environmental Education Center, which is ideal for school trips. This is essential for informing the young generation so that they can continue what the people of Serowe have started. The education center provides campsites for the children to give them real wilderness experience.
Climate & Best Time To Visit
Khama and the town of Serowe have a steppe climate with little rainfall and an average temperature of 19 degrees.
The temperature range is 17-30 degrees during the wet season and 7-27 degrees during the dry season. December is the hottest month, while July is the coldest month with nights as cold as 4 degrees.
The area is quite dry between June and August, as the precipitation approaches zero. November-March is the rainy season with maximum rainfall in January and February. The rains mostly occur in the afternoon and never last longer than a few hours.
The best time to visit Khama Rhino Sanctuary would be either March-April or October-November because these months see mild temperatures and moderate rainfall.
Francistown Airport is the closest to Khama Rhino Sanctuary; however, there aren’t many international flights to this airport. Flying to Gaborone and renting a car would be a better option, especially if you are thinking of visiting multiple destinations and continuing north.
The sanctuary is on the main road between Serowe and Orapa. From Serowe, the entrance is 25 km along the main road. Palapye and Orapa are the other close towns. The roads are in a fairly good condition, although you will come across potholes along the way.
Tips & What You Need To Know
- The age limit for joining the game drives and rhino tracking tours is 16-60.
- There is a curio at the entrance, where you can buy braai wood, ice, water, cold drinks, and snacks.
- Although it is advisable to bring your binoculars, the sanctuary offers binoculars for rent at the entrance.
- Although you can self-drive on sedan cars and bakkies, 4×4 is highly recommended because the roads are quite sandy. Besides, the roads will be covered in mud during the wet season.
- Khama Rhino Sanctuary, like the rest of Central Kalahari, is in a high-risk malaria zone. Although it is not as risky as the northern parks of Botswana like Chobe and Moremi, we still recommend that you consult your doctor before planning a trip.
- It is advisable to wear bush-colored clothing during the rhino tracking tours so that you will be less visible and less intimidating for the rhinos.