Spanning over 350,000 square miles in southern Africa, the Kalahari Desert spills out into South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Today, the area is one of the best places in the continent to go on a safari game drive to see incredible wealth of wildlife from lions, to elephants, to leopards. But there’s more to the land with the red sand that stretches as far as the eye can see. Here are the top reasons why you should get “out there” in the Kalahari Desert.
Looking for a location that’ll make your Instagram friends jealous? You’ll want to view the glowing red dunes surrounded by strange vegetation, so strange that you’ll double check if you’re still on Earth. To find a barren landscape that looks straight out of Planet Tatooine, you’ll want to visit southwestern Kalahari, the driest part of the whole region for the experience. And for lovers of speed, you’ll want to try out this unique sport; sandboarding. It’s much like snowboarding, only you’ll glide down the dunes, with the red sand kicking in the wind behind you. You can rent a sandboard from Kalahari Breeze Safaris to put your thrill-seeking skills to the test.
You can meet the San people
Get your dose of cultural experience by meeting up with the local residents of the Kalahari Desert, the San people. There are several tours hosted by them where they’ll take you through various spots of the land that are considered sacred to them. In addition, several San people-led bush walk tours will teach you how to track animals, start a fire, cook or build tools the traditional San way. There are an estimated 50,000 San people throughout the land. Tautona Lodge in Botswana is one of the accommodations that offer a tour.
The Kalahari Desert is home to quite a few meerkat colonies, including the one at Jack’s Camp, a luxury safari camp where you can spend your days lounging while meerkats come to inspect you, sit on your lap, or on some occasions, even sit on your head. There’s also the Kalahari Meerkat Project, where guests can meet with researchers at a meerkat colony and learn all about their behavior and lifestyle. Thanks to the popular TV show, Meerkat Manor, meerkat tourism is booming in the desert.
You can visit Augrabies Falls
There’s an actual waterfall you can see in South Africa’s Kalahari Desert called Augrabies Falls. The name derives from the Khoikhoi word meaning “a place of great noise,” and you’ll find out exactly why when you pay a visit. An elevated deck stretches out over the falls, making it a spectacular view to see over the jagged rocks and the Orange River spilling out to the bottom of the canyon. The best time to visit is during its rainy season when the waterfall gushes water more violently, creating hair-raising noise.
You’ll especially want to do this in the Namibian part of the Kalahari Desert. This part of the world is considered the best place on the entire planet to go stargazing since Namibia is a massive country and largely underpopulated. This means very little light pollution and diehard stargazers from across the globe will make their way to the region to watch the sky turn into glitter. Many lodges in this part of the country will offer stargazing tours or have their own telescopes offered to guests to take advantage of. However you do it, just get yourself out there to see the incredible view like no place else in the world.
Of course, the carnival of free-roaming animals alone is well worth the effort to make your trip to the region. The Kalahari Desert is home to incredible living beings like antelopes sporting antlers of various shapes and sizes, leopards dangling from trees, grazing ostriches and lions awoken from their naps as you pull up in your safari jeep. After all, it’s the animals that breathe life into this barren, yet remarkable land.
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