Botswana safaris often revolve around the Okavango Delta, and it’s no surprise – but it was certainly the first time I ever saw the Kalahari which made me fall in love with this peaceful and welcoming country. Over 90% of Botswana is Kalahari, in fact a lesser known fact is that the Okavango Delta is still the Kalahari – so wherever you are in Botswana, you’ll always be in the Kalahari. Luxury safaris in Botswana will undoubtedly take you into the game rich water channels of the Delta – this is a haven for wildlife where poaching is a distant memory and over crowding non existent. The wildlife flourishes here and days spent walking, riding or driving through this oasis are often life changing. However the desert that forms this huge delta has a magic which cannot be found anywhere else in Africa.
A short flight or longer drive from the Delta you will find the landscape becomes dustier, redder and even bigger than anything you’ve seen before. The dry Kalahari opens up before you dotted only with lonely baobab trees, doum palms and low lying scrub. The vistas are so huge that one imagines this must be what it feels like to walk on the moon. Home to Africa’s oldest traditional tribe, the San Bushmen, the Kalahari has an atmosphere reminiscent of the old Africa and includes Chapman’s baobab, a tree actually used to navigate this vast area by many of those great explorers. The San bushmen are charming and charismatic and welcome guests who come to see their way of life – they can track and forage like no other tribe and these traditional skills can still wow us modern westerners today.
Sunsets here change colour dramatically every minute as the flat dusty land throws up all manner of brightly coloured specs into the setting sun. Once the sun has gone down you are then treated to the most magnificent display of stars you’ll see anywhere, and there is a movement in Botswana to have the Kalahari named as Dark Sky Reserve. Game viewing here is totally different to the Delta, here you are on the hunt for rare species such as brown hyena, black maned lion or aardvark. A morning spent with an habituated group of meerkats is nothing less than mesmerising and you’ll never forget the feeling of a hot fat little body perched on your shoulder.
The Kalahari is an ever changing phenomena which actually comesto life in the low season (December to March) –the
whole desert seems to come to life with wild flowers and grasses growing tall. There is a huge migration of zebra into the area which of coursebrings with it some exciting predator action. Don’t visit Botswana without including a trip to this wonderful area – it is quite unlike anything in Africa.