Experience immense open spaces, vast pans and incredible beauty – the Kalahari Desert in Botswana is a place of extremity and African splendour. Kalahari in Tswana (Kgalagadi) means “great thirst” or “a waterless place”.This desert is covered by red sand without any permanent surface water. The only permanent river, the Okavango, flows into a delta in the north-west forming marshes rich in wildlife.
Nothing prepares you for the solitude, the silence or the raw pulse of the Kalahari where you leave only footprints. Discover this huge open area founded in 1961 as a sanctuary for the indigenous San people, to preserve their traditional hunter-gatherer way of life. The Kalahari covers around 80% of Botswana and extends into both Namibia and South Africa. This region is incredibly important to Botswana’s national identity.
Explore this desert environment, the largest conservation area in Botswana spreading across five million hectares! The Kalahari Desert is about vast open plains, saltpans and ancient riverbeds as far as the eye can see. Experience incredible game viewing and intense solitude. In the rainy season, see animals congregating around water sources.
Drive off the beaten track to see herbivores like the gemsbok (oryx), red hartebeest and wildebeest grazing on the dune belt where some plants grow. Look out for carnivores like the famous black-maned lions from this region which roam the plains with their cousins the leopard, and the brown hyena. You may be lucky to see the largest concentration of cheetah in Southern Africa.
Summer is hot visitors still come for the untouched wilderness and the incredible tree species that suffer in the sun. Most people head to the northern Deception Valley after the rains, with its sweet grasses, therefore, herds of herbivores. Come in winter to interact with the San people and experience the still tranquillity of the desert. Ancient dry river beds pass through the central northern reaches of the Kalahari and provide standing pools of water during the rainy season. This is the time to visit the Kalahari Desert – come and see large herds of springbok, gemsbok, hartebeest, eland and giraffe.