Khama Rhino Sanctuary Camp and Self-Drive Safari Guide

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Searching for a unique camping experience? Khama Rhino Sanctuary Camp offers that and more.

We spent three nights there on our Botswana road trip, and have our incredible first-hand experiences to share.

From up-close wildlife encounters to serene nights under the stars, it’s an adventure not to be missed.

In this post, we’ll share our highlights and honest insights, including the lesser-known downsides, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your visit.

🦏 So, What’s in this Khama Rhino Sanctuary Post?

Khama map
Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Bleary-eyed, we trundled out of camp at 6 am in our faithful Bucky. We were no more than 5 minutes along the deep sand track, rounding a corner, when we had to brake suddenly. Blocking the way, also bleary-eyed, was a three-tonne rhinoceros.

Shelley and Lars – Lifejourney4two

This was just one of our awesome rhino encounters at Karma Rhino Sanctuary at the start of our overlanding Botswana trip.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary Rhino in mist
Rhino in the rain at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Planning a Trip to Botswana?

Khama Rhino Wildlife Sanctuary Video Highlights

Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Botswana

Map: Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Camping at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

We arrived at Khama Rhino early on in our Botswana camping adventure, and we had never been treated to such wonderful sightings of these incredible creatures before.

Having spent much time in Klaserie Private Reserve, Greater Kruger, South Africa, where the rhinos are dehorned as a poaching deterrent, it was incredible to see the rhinos with their magnificent horns still intact at Khama.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary long rhino horn

A few excellent viewpoints within the reserve give you great views across the pans, where the game and rhino congregate at certain times of the day.

The bird hide is also a nifty little place, situated by a waterhole, where you can sit quietly and observe birdlife and passing wildlife. Over 230 bird species are found at Khama, so have your binoculars ready.

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Wildlife congregate at the pans at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Plenty of tracks meander throughout the park, and you can do your own game drives or book a 2-hour game drive with qualified rangers.

We visited in the off-season and only encountered two cars on our drives on the two days we were there.

Locals run the camp as a community wildlife project, so visiting the sanctuary means that you are also supporting the local community.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary Camp

The Khama Rhino Sanctuary Camp campsites have plenty of space, each with a large Mokongwa tree providing shade. Each site also has a firepit, grilled braii (BBQ) and a water tap, but no power.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary Campsite Fees

2024 Prices:

  • International travellers : 133 pula per person per night for camping,
  • Park fees : P106.55 per adult per day
  • Vehicle Park Fees per day: P131.10

Khama Rhino Camping 2024 rates, camping, chalets and tours can be found here.

You can contact Khama Rhino Sanctuary at [email protected]

It can be difficult to book campsites from abroad—many of the sites we stayed at in Botswana only had telephone numbers, so we used Ultimate Routes to suggest an itinerary and to book our sites, which saved us a lot of hassle. The price was reasonable, were extremely professional and always quick to respond. (We do not get any commission for recommending them).

There aren’t any fences separating the campsites from the reserve, so keep a lookout while walking to the ablutions.

You won’t believe what happened to us one morning as we drove out of camp! But more on that later.

The sanctuary camp ablutions were tired and open to the outside. I’m guessing you’re probably like me and not a great fan of bugs flapping around you while trying to enjoy a rinse-off at the end of the day.

Spiders clambered over the walls in the shower, and moths and mozzies frantically buzzed around me. Although the camp had hot water, it wasn’t enough of a bonus to persuade me to go into battle with the resident horde of insects … I had a tub wash in the camper after the first night!

Khama rhino sanctuary campsite
Khama Rhino Sanctuary – Campsite No.9

Khama Rhino Sanctuary – Organised Tour

If you would prefer to book a guided tour and accommodation in one, then this tour includes chalet accommodation, dinner, breakfast, a nature walk, a game drive and rhino tracking over two days. The pick-up is in Gaberone.

🦏 ⭐️ Find out more about this two-day Khama Rhino Sanctuary Tour or book on Viator here | ⏰ 2 days

Khama Rhino Sanctuary rhino horn
White rhino at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Khama Rhino Sanctuary History

Khama Rhino Sanctuary is managed by local village residents as a community tourism project, but it was actually born out of concern for the dwindling rhino populations.

Rhino poaching had escalated in Botswana in the early 80s, with both white and black rhinos on the brink of extinction.

Three rhinos looking at each other
White rhinos having a stand-off at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

In 1989, Seretse Khama Ian Khama (who later became the 4th President of Botswana in 2008), and the local community created the Khama Rhino Sanctuary to protect both species. He discusses the formation of the Rhino Sanctuary in a video on his Facebook page here.

The Khama Rhino Sanctuary, covering over 8.5 hectares of the Kalahari Sandveld, has been a success, and the rhinos are thriving. Many have been relocated into the wild in other National Parks in Botswana.

They are protected at the sanctuary by the Botswana Defence Force, which constantly patrols to prevent any poaching attempts.

Two rhinos beside each other
Great Khama Rhino Sanctuary photos; luckily, you can get quite close

Our Experiences at Khama Sanctuary

As with any wildlife experience, no two experiences are going to be the same. Nonetheless, it is often useful to read others’ experiences to get an idea of what your trip may be like.

We saw heaps of rhinos on the two days we were there, but we also read reviews from others that they didn’t see any! We would recommend afternoon game drives for the best chance to see them as they seem to like their ‘lay-ins’, and we only saw them accidentally in the mornings.

You’ll see what I mean below.

rhino-looking-at-car

A Morning Surprise

Bleary-eyed, we trundled out of camp at 6 am in our faithful Bucky for a morning game drive.

We were no more than 5 minutes along the deep sand track, rounding a corner, when we had to brake suddenly.

Blocking the way, also bleary-eyed, was a three-tonne rhinoceros.

A massive indent in the sand suggested we had rudely disturbed him from his slumber.

As we backed up slowly, he stared at us, seemingly struggling with the scenario, like when you’re woken up mid-dream and need a few moments to get your bearings.

Finally deciding we weren’t worth worrying about, he sauntered into the bushes.

We were now fully awake.

As we enthusiastically recounted the chances of such a scenario, and our heart rates began to subside, we bumped into our friend again.

This time, he was mid-poo.

Unbeknown to us, he had taken a shortcut through the bushes to his midden (that’s a rhino toilet for the uninitiated), to perform his morning business.

It just so happened that his midden was to the side of the track, and his enormous form was again blocking our way.

 With a few scrapes of his feet to finish the job, he briskly trotted off with a loud snort. I guess he wasn’t too impressed.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary Rhino in sand peeking around a bush
The interrupted rhino – as we were leaving Khama Rhino Sanctuary Campsite

The Wildlife We Encountered at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

We were lucky enough to find one of the sanctuary’s elusive black rhinos strolling along the western side of the park, he stopped and looked at us for a moment before continuing deeper into the bush.

About five black rhinos were in the park when we visited, but they are much more elusive than the white rhinos.

Apart from the many white rhinos, we also saw impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, eland, black-backed jackals and warthogs.

Other sightings that you might have include the African rock python (apparently a friendly snake – according to the sanctuary’s website), ostrich and steenbok.

baby impala
Baby impala at the rhino sanctuary Botswana
Khama Rhino Sanctuary mum and bub zebra
Zebra at Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Khama Rhino Sanctuary wildebeest at waterhole
Wildebeest at the Bird Hide waterhole
2-rhinos-horn-to-horn
White Rhino at the sanctuary
a group eland
Eland at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Great Spots for Wildlife Viewing at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

The late afternoon was a great time to see the rhino.

The morning?

Not so much.

Unless they were sleeping on the road and then you were certainly up a little too close and personal.

Khama Sanctuary Bird Hide

We stopped at the bird hide a couple of times, and our experiences there are perfect examples of how wildlife is unpredictable. And that’s part of the thrill … and frustrations.

Our first time there, we saw flocks of doves drinking from the waterhole, a couple of shaft-tailed whydahs, franklins and helmeted guinea fowl. While we watched the birds, two blue wildebeest came whizzing into the waterhole.

They rolled in the mud, spun around in circles and entertained us for ten minutes until they galloped off as quickly as they’d arrived.

wildebeest-jumping-at-water
Wildebeest at the bird hide waterhole at Khama Rhino Sanctuary
Doves at the khama rhino  bird hide
Laughing doves at the Bird Hide waterhole
Khama Rhino Sanctuary birds at waterhole
African Red-eyed Bulbul at the Bird Hide Waterhole

Our second visit wasn’t so interesting.

It was very quiet, and we only saw a few birds. But that is the safari experience. Some days you can have incredible sightings and others, nature is telling you just to enjoy the moment.

Malumba Pan

Malumba Pan was our first stop on our game drive. And what a stop it was.

We were thrilled to arrive and see a family of three rhinos sniffing around in the mud. Mum, Dad and Bub.

As we excitedly captured them on our cameras, the skies turned black. Heavy raindrops began falling, and the rhinos began running.

It seems rhinos don’t like the rain either.

The moody scene was just the perfect background to capture our first rhino encounter at Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

Mum and baby rhino at Khama Rhino Sanctuary
The rain was the perfect addition to this first rhino encounter at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

Serwe Pan

Serwe Pan is the most northern pan viewpoint, and we found it best to visit in the mid to late afternoon. There, we saw many white rhinos, zebra, and impala.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary jackal by rhino
One of our favourite photos, taken at Serwe Pan

Driving in Khama Rhino Sanctuary

We would recommend a 4×4, even though the Khama website says you can use a two-wheel drive. There are areas of deep sand that can make the going tough.

The tracks are all single-lane. When we were there in summer, at times, some of the bush was overgrowing the track, making it challenging for an oncoming vehicle to pass by with very limited space to pull off the track.

We generally stuck to a 15 to 20km/hour speed limit to make sure we didn’t scare any animals that might be on or near the tracks. Especially after our early morning close encounter.

Thinking of Hiring a Camper in Botswana?

We recommend using Motorhome Republic to find you the best deal – they search all the local reputable African rental companies, for example, the two main African camper companies, Avis Safari and Britz

They do all the hard work for you and are available 24/7 to help you.

We used them when renting for 12 months in Europe and not only was the customer service excellent, but they were able to find us better offers than when we approached the companies ourselves.

💡Note: Since COVID-19, there has been a worldwide shortage of campers and limited availability, so do book early to make sure you can rent the vehicle that suits you best.

✍️  Get an Instant quote from Motorhome Republic today

Facilities at Khama Rhino Sanctuary

There is a swimming pool and a large restaurant at the Khama Rhino Sanctuary. But when we were there, the pool wasn’t particularly enticing. I expect, and hope, it’s kept cleaner in the busier winter season.

Khama-rhino-sanctuary-pool
Khama Rhino Sanctuary Swimming pool – not so enticing in the off-season

We read on their website that a black rhino visited the restaurant area in the afternoons, but when we asked, we were told this doesn’t happen any more.

There are also chalets available, and the sanctuary has an education centre.

Khama Rhino Sanctuary Camping and Self-Drive… That’s a Wrap

If you love rhinos, an overnight stay or two is definitely worth it. We’d recommend staying at least two nights to enjoy the experience and maximise your viewing opportunities fully.

Although the facilities are tired, the opportunity to see these incredible creatures up close, and so many of them, is a real treat.

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For a more thorough list, visit our Travel Resources page here.

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Shelley

Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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