The Kalahari

You’ve no doubt heard of this mystical desert. The Kalahari resonates across the common consciousness. It is a place of wonder, beauty, and austerity. It’s the home to the San, and debatably is the cradle of humankind.

While a Desert, the Kalahari is home to an abundant wildlife which includes great numbers of wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, hyena, and buck. The area is also acclaimed for its black maned lions, an iconic site. The Kalahari also happens to be the area where you would be most likely to see a cheetah in the wild. Cheetah numbers have dropped worldwide over the past years, but a healthy population still thrives in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Owing to the absence of green hiding places, the Kalahari is the perfect place to observe some of the smaller and more interesting creatures such as the honey badger, porcupine, meerket, and – if you’re very lucky – the pangolin.

The Kalahari is probably most famous for being home to the San group of hunter gatherers. The San, an iconic group of hunter gatherers, have called the Kalahari home for over 50,000 years. That’s a lot. And over time they have developed a unique skillset that helps them survive the hardships of the Kalahari. The San attitude towards life is nonchalant and their laughter is infectious. They care little for material possession, and are far more concerned with giving thanks to all mother earth for what she provides them. They have no words for possessives such as ‘mine’ and ‘yours’, but they have 20 different words to describe a smile. Any trip to the area should include spending time with the San – whether in a community or on a walk tracking game the traditional way.

Best time of year to visit

The seasons can vary greatly in the Kalahari. Remember that it is a desert. The best time of year to visit really depends on what you personally want to get out of the experience. The best times arte either May to August, or December to February.

May to August is the middle of winter in Botswana. The days are manageable, but the nights get very cold and temperatures often drop below freezing. While cold, winter is also very dry which makes this season a good time to view game. Animals are easier to see when the trees obstructing them are leafless.

December to February is the rainy season in the Kalahari. Rains are by no means guaranteed, but when they do come they are very much welcomed. The desert turns into a green oasis. Many of the larger animals choose the area and this time to give birth, and a number of great migrations including Zebra, Buffalo, and Elephant take place during this time.