This 2500-sq-km reserve, which is an extension of the southern boundary of the CKGR, is a popular weekend excursion for Gaborone residents, but it’s still deliciously remote and crowds are rare, especially from Sunday to Thursday. It has all the attractions of the Kalahari, including good (if low-density) wildlife watching, well-maintained trails and around 60 mineralised clay pans that once belonged to Africa’s largest inland lake. Leopard and lion sightings are possible, while gemsboks and giraffes are also commonly seen.
The crowds of visitors, such as they are, tend to congregate around the Khutse Pan network close to the park entrance. There's a waterhole here, just a few hundred metres before the turn-off to the Khutse Pan campsites, where we've seen leopards, giraffes and gemsboks. A 7km loop skirts the southern sections of the pan (it's signposted to the left as you approach Khutse Pan, and before you reach the waterhole) and, unusually, has some elevations that allow for fabulous views close to sunrise and sunset.
The Western Pans
The pans at the western end of the reserve provide good wildlife watching thanks to the artificially supplied waterholes, one at each pan. Moreswe Pan is delightfully remote and stands in the heart of some pretty Kalahari grasslands-and-pans country. We were kept awake all night by roaring lions on one visit here. Molose Waterhole (24km northeast of Moreswe) is busier, but still good for wildlife.
The most direct (but least interesting) trail from the reserve’s entrance gate to Moreswe is 62km in length (one way), but the longer (72km one way) northern loop takes you past a series of pans and is much better for wildlife. If taking the northern route (ie via Mahurushele Pan), you'll pass a sign marking the Tropic of Capricorn.
The Northern Pans
A series of pans – Galalabadimo, Sutswane, Khutse 2, Motailane, Tshilwane, Mahurushele, Sekushwe and Khwankwe – lines the main northern trail from the entrance gate all the way northwest to where the trails forge on north into the heart of the Kalahari. In fact, much of what is called Khutse, including the last three pans mentioned above, actually lies within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, although it is administered as part of the Khutse Game Reserve. Khankwe Pan, 26km northwest of Khutse Pan, sees very few visitors beyond those heading north into the CKGR and is well worth exploring for a taste of Kalahari immersion.