Imagine a vast red-hued expanse of desert where lions roam the plains and towering dunes carve into the skyline and vanishing horizon.The Kalahari Desert is part of one giant sand basin that stretches from the Orange River in Angola to Namibia in the west, Zimbabwe in the east and into South Africa. The landscape in this largely unexplored territory provides a marked contrast from the south and east of the country.
Black-maned Kalahari lions are a highlight of the desert; found in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the southwestern corner of the country, they may be resting in the dry river beds or under the shade of the sparse trees. The environment here for the lions is more competitive than more luscious parts of Southern Africa, with less herbivores on offer to predators due to the restricted rainfall, meaning that only the strongest of these huge black maned beasts prevail
The vegetation in this semi-arid zone is dominant with Acacia trees, thorny shrub and grasses and in this parched ecosystem they can endure droughts of up to ten months with no water supply.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park itself protects the unique ecosystem of the Kalahari through a joint venture that links Botswana and covers an area that represents double that of Kruger National Park. The word ‘Kgalagadi’ actually comes from the Tswana word for ‘waterless place’ and this area has been inhabited by San Bushmen for over 20,000 years.
One of the key areas to stay in the Kalahari region is Tswalu, which is set on its own private game reserve of 100,000 hectares within the southern or ‘green’ Kalahari, which receives much more rainfall generally than the Central Kalahari. In addition to a resident family of habituated meerkats, lions, cheetah, antelope, aardvark, pangolin, jackal and Hartsmann zebra, you have one third of South Africa’s entire remaining population of desert black rhino in this stunning reserve.
“WITHIN THE MANY CAMELTHORN TREES ARE THE UNMISSABLE WEAVER BIRD NESTS, MANY OF WHICH CAN BE UP TO TWO METRES IN DIAMETER – AN UNUSUAL SIGHT!”