While Namibia is more famous for being home to the undulating dunes of the Namib Desert, its southeastern flanks are covered by another, equally remarkable desert: the Kalahari.
You won’t see the impressive sand dunes associated with Sossusvlei here, but the Kalahari’s low-lying longitudinal dunes form the longest continuous stretch of sand on earth.
With its rust-red sands and golden grass plains, the Kalahari is not considered a ‘true’ desert in the traditional sense of the word. This terracotta-painted landscape is, instead, a fossil desert. Its sands are the remnants of mountain ranges which have long since disappeared while its dry riverbeds hide sources of life-giving sustenance. Scattered herds of oryx, springbok and ostrich eke out an existence among the shepherd trees and thorny acacias of this harsh land. Cheetah, lion and black-backed jackal, while rare, are spotted here too.
Farm tours, game drives, hiking, guided San Bushman walks and cultural visits make the Kalahari a destination in its own right. But the true lure here lies in the Kalahari’s eerie silence and solitude. Named the “Place of Thirst” by the San Bushmen who still inhabit its sparsely grassed open spaces, the Kalahari offers a fascinating exploration into a landscape and culture quite like no other.
Best time to visit
The warm to hot days and cool to cold nights between April and September make this the best time to visit the Kalahari.
Combine Kalahari with:
- Sossusvlei: discover a soulscape of sand dunes at Sossusvlei.
- Aus/Luderitz/Kolmanskuppe: see the famous wild horses of the desert, explore a ghost town and discover a picturesque fishing village.
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: cross the border into Botswana or South Africa to experience the heart of the Kalahari.
The Kalahari Desert came into existence approximately sixty million years ago.
Regarded as the traditional homeland of the San Bushmen, the oldest inhabitants of Namibia have roamed the length and breadth of this area for thousands of years.
The Kalahari Desert stretches across seven countries: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The Kalahari has ‘desert status’ because its porous, sandy soils cannot retain surface water, even though the annual rainfall in some areas can be as high as 250mm.
Guided San Bushmen Walks: discover ancient traditions and learn how the San survive in this unforgiving land.
Wildlife: besides the curious meerkat which thrives here, the Kalahari is home to (among others) black-maned lion, cheetah, antelope, ostriches and hundreds of bird species.
Omuramba: these ancient dry riverbeds turn to standing pools of water after the rainy season, and offer almost guaranteed wildlife sightings.
Kalahari on the Map
TOP TRAVEL TIP: Whether you walk, drive or ride there… the best way to experience the rolling rust-coloured landscape of the Kalahari is to sit on the summit of a dune and watch the Namibian sunset turn the world a vivid red.