In Tswana, the word Kgala means “the great thirst.” Kgalagadi means “a waterless place,” and the Kalahari is just that. The majority of the Kalahari lies within the Northern Cape, South Africa’s most remote province. The Kalahari Desert is a vast 2.5 million km2, covering most of Botswana and part of Namibia.
In South Africa, the Kalahari is defined mainly by its distinctive red sand, even though only a small portion is classified as desert. The largest area is semi-desert, as it experiences wet and dry seasons. These semi-desert parts are also sometimes referred to as the Green Kalahari.
Kimberley is the provincial capital of the Northern Cape and the province’s largest city. Upington is the main town of the Green Kalahari. Other dorpies are few and far between. Wherever you’re going, ensure you have a full tank of petrol and water.
At first glance, the Kalahari might seem harsh and imposing but, delve a little deeper, and the curious traveller will be rewarded with a rare and unique beauty only made more stunning by the challenging surroundings.
Summer days are incredibly hot and also bring rainfall. Winter is cold and dry with night-time temperatures frequently dropping below zero. Travel north from Upington and you’ll stumble onto the so-called Red Dune Route. Here, you’ll find those characteristic red dunes, bone-dry riverbeds and an endless sky that’s only interrupted by a lone acacia tree.
Most travellers make the journey through the Kalahari to explore the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Near the Orange River, in the Green Kalahari, the semi-desert landscape contrasts against the fertile valleys. The Kalahari is loved by nature and wildlife seekers and those looking to rediscover, even just for a few fleeting moments, the beauty of the simple life.
What to do in the Kalahari
The Kalahari is loved by nature and wildlife seekers and those looking to rediscover, even just for a few fleeting moments, the beauty of the simple life. Here’s a few top picks of things to do in the area:
Where to stay in the Kalahari
Where to eat in the Kalahari