Sand and Stars

The Kalahari

A place of infinite horizons and big skies

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 red sand dunes, salt pans, endless grassland scrub, ancient dry riverbeds, 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. 

The Kalahari isn’t for everyone. It is for those who like solitude, horizons, big skies, stillness, vivid sunsets, vastness, curious prehistoric-looking bugs, enormous red sand dunes, golden grasses, enormously empty salt pans, strangely delicate plants growing out of hot red sand, beautiful animals, birdsong, and trees that have been gnawed and ravaged by wind and time.

Red sand and camel thorn trees

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 from horizon to horizon – and most astounding of all – the Scorpius and Sagittarius region flying directly overhead during the winter months casts my hands’ shadow onto the pages of my star atlas… a dim, diffuse shadow, but a shadow nonetheless.

Vast salt pans

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 word Kgala, which means “place without water”. Yet, despite the arid conditions and extremes of temperature, the vast red sand dunes, grasses and acacias of the Kalahari support an abundance of wildlife… 

… magnificent black-maned lions, herds of gemsbok and springbok, wildebeest, rare and mysterious brown hyenas, charming little meerkats, aardvarks, rare and endangered pangolins, leopards, giraffe, warthogs, great flocks of vultures, other raptors, aardwolves, bats, caracals, bat-eared foxes and jackals… 

Incredible skies

…And stargazers.

Copyright © Susan Young 2016