Botswana : Kalahari desert information – Africa deserts

Derived from the Tswana word Khalagari which means a waterless place, the Kalahari is a semi-desert which covers much of Botswana and cuts across parts of Namibia and South Africa. The Kalahari basin though extends from Botswana to Namibia, South Africa through to Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Extending for 900.000 square kilometres (350 square miles), the Kalahari’s topography is mostly plateau covered with red sands.

Since the Kalahari is a semi-desert, it supports a variety of flora and fauna like: The brown Hyena, Giraffes, Camels, Leopards different types of Antelopes (Eland, Kubu, Duiker) and different species of birds and reptiles. Over 400 identified plant species like the Wild water melon, African horned cucumber, Jelly melon are synonymous with the Kalahari desert.

Kalahari vegetation majorly comprises grasses and acacias with seasoned wetlands like Makgadikgadi pans in Botswana which act as a sanctuary for flamingoes during the rainy season. Summer temperatures in the Kalahari rise up to 45 degrees with rainfall amounts of between 175 millimetres in the arid south western part of the desert and raise up to 250 millimetres in other parts.

The Kalahari desert is home to game reserves:

  • Central Kalahari Game reserve.
  • Khutse Game reserve.
  • Kgaladi Transfrontier Park.

The desert is habited by the san (Bushmen) who have known the Kalahari as home for over 20.000 years. Other settlements of Bantu speaking tribes: Tswana, Kgalagadi and Herero, a smidgen of European settlers live there too.