The Kalahari, like all great deserts, evokes images of infinite skies, vast open spaces and a savage sun. The landscape stretches into an infinity of great rolling red sand dunes, salt pans, endless grassland scrub, ancient dry river beds, and camel thorn trees whose distorted trunks bulge like muscles in order to draw water up from the dry sands. It is at once enthralling and intimidating. But it isn’t for everyone.
The Kalahari is for those who like solitude, horizons, big skies, stillness, vivid sunsets, vastness, curious prehistoric-looking bugs, enormous red sand dunes, golden grasses, strangely delicate plants seemingly growing out of rocks and sand, beautiful animals, and rocks that have been gnawed and ravaged by wind and time.
Above all, it is for those who love silence and space, sand and stars.
Especially the stars.
The air is clean and the nights are pitch dark with not the tiniest fog of light pollution. The stars stretch from horizon to horizon; a display of stars so brilliant the land seems to be showered with a dew of falling starlight. The Milky Way is a dazzling river of starlight arching across the sky – and most astounding of all – the Scorpius and Sagittarius region flying directly overhead casts my hands’ shadow onto the pages of my star atlas… a dim, diffuse shadow, but a shadow nonetheless.
The sheer size of the Kalahari is overwhelming… it covers 2.5 million square kilometres that stretch northwards from the Orange River to cover a vast part of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, most of Botswana and parts of Namibia.
The name Kalahari is derived from the Tswana Kgala, which means “place without water”. Yet, despite the arid conditions, the grasses and acacias of the Kalahari support an abundance of wildlife… magnificent black-maned lions, herds of gemsbok and springbok, wildebeest, hyenas, meerkats, giraffe, warthogs, raptors, bat-eared foxes and jackals.