The Kalahari Basin.
The word “Kalahari” comes from Tswana word “Kgala” meaning “the great thirst” or “Kgalagadi” meaning “a waterless place”. The Kalahari is just that. A semi-arid zone with little or no surface water where the wildlife survives here mostly by gaining much needed moisture from their diet. Herbivores, for example, get theirs from grasses and leaves whilst the predators obtain moisture from their kills. So what defines the Kalahari itself?
The Kalahari Desert is a large basin-like plain of the interior Southern African plateau. Most of Botswana lies in this basin and the Kalahari sands by definition extends into the eastern part of Namibia as well as into the Northern Cape of South Africa. The Kalahari sands are also found in Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia. This semi-arid savannah grassland is an astounding 60 million years old, making it one of the oldest on Earth. The Kalahari stretches over 360 square miles.
It is a land of extremes. Temperatures in winter can drop to zero degrees or below and hit forty degrees and more in the summer. It is just incredible that the over 500 species of plants and animals survive in these temperature extremes! Annual average rainfall amounts to around 500 mm per annum which by definition means that the Kalahari is not a true desert but rather a semi desert.
The Kalahari is also home to the San people going back some 20 000 years. These hunter gatherer societies have stood the test of time and have survived using skills and knowledge of plants and animals passed down from generation to generation. The San culture is one of the oldest known to man. Aside from incredible wildlife including Lions, Leopard, Cheetah, Oryx and Eland, the Kalahari also has amazing birdlife and one of the largest salt pans in the World – The Makgadikgadi Pans. Here, hundreds of thousands of Flamingoes gather in the shallows during the rainy season to breed. Yet another feature within the Kalahari is the “Jewel of the Kalahari” – the Okavango Delta. This watery wilderness is a true gem in that this alluvial fan is also one of the largest of its kind in the World. The 15 000-kilometer square oasis is a wildlife sanctuary of note and is the largest intact eco system in Southern Africa. No safari to the Kalahari is complete without witnessing this very miracle of life.
The Kalahari may well be best known for its wildlife riches but it also where one would find some of the largest diamond mines on Earth. The discovery of diamonds along with other minerals like copper has seen major economic growth for countries like Botswana offering development and infrastructure to a land that at Independence in 1966 fell into the ten poorest nations on Earth. At the time, the country, had a mere 13 kilometers of tarred or surfaced road and a small population of around 300 000 people.
Daniel Crous has been lucky enough to call Botswana home for his entire life. His folks ran safari camps in the 80's and his early childhood was spent in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Life outdoors has always been his calling, safaris in Botswana are one of the purest forms of such a life. His Dad handed him his old film camera when he was about 12, documenting the wilderness around him has grown from passion to profession. He is equally passionate about the conservation of the land we live in and all of its creatures, including its people. He now takes extreme pleasure in leading others to some of the incredible experiences available here.