Africa is a land of extremes. From the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia, the hottest place on Earth, to the freezing temperatures atop Mount Kilimanjaro, almost every climate can be found on Mother Nature’s 2nd largest land mass. Few places on this mighty continent can offer both extremes, and yet combine it with the levels of accommodation and service that the discerning traveler longs for. One of these places however, is the mighty Kalahari dessert.
Extending over 900,000 square kilometers and traversing 3 countries, the Kalahari ecosystem is one of the most enthralling places on Earth. Temperatures can reach up to 50°C during the summer days yet drop to as low as -6°C during the cold winter nights. It is remarkable to think that there are species that can endure such extremes, but the Kalahari is home to thousands of life forms ranging from microscopic bacteria to the imperious black-maned lions.
The Southern belt of the Kalahari extends into South Africa’s northern tip and has a slightly higher rainfall than its more northern areas. More rain means more life, and instead of infinite sand dunes, one finds kilometer after kilometer of ‘exeric savanna’ populated by succulent plants, annual grasses and specialized trees. This has given rise to the name the Green Kalahari and is a magical place to visit on any African odyssey.
Completely Unique Safaris’ clients can expect to feel a sense of space and vastness that they have never dreamed of. The unspoilt landscape stretches away so far in all directions that one can almost see the curvature of the Earth. Wind sculpted sand dunes are dwarfed by mountain ranges that look like they belong in a JRR Tolkien novel; and as the Sun rises and sets over this magical landscape it paints pictures on nature’s canvas that cannot be rivalled anywhere in the world. Colours that you never knew existed merge and blend in a cacophony of hues that are enough to take any seasoned traveler’s breath away. Each one is different but each one no less spectacular. The infinite range of shades and tints that are achieved have to be seen to be believed (preferably with a gin and tonic in hand!)
And remarkably, within this pristine wilderness lies a wealth of animal life. A safari in the Kalahari is a far cry from the game dense Kruger National Park for example, but the inhabitants are no less rewarding. Notable highlights that one can expect to see are the graceful gemsbok and springbok antelopes that dominate the surroundings due to their unique ability to regulate their body heat; the delightful suricate (or meerkat) whose foraging antics are always a pleasure, and of course, the imperious Kalahari lions. These magnificent cats are the largest of any of the lions found on this planet. Huge males sport glossy dark manes as signs of sexual prowess and the females are probably 30kgs heavier than their counterparts in other areas of Africa. They are a sight to behold, but not to be messed with! Countless other delights await discovery including the elusive aardvark and pangolin, the diminutive ground squirrel and the notoriously bad tempered, yet critically endangered desert black rhino.
Despite its remoteness, the Kalahari is home to some of the most luxurious and well-appointed lodges in the land; and Completely Unique Safaris prides itself on only using the best. Previous clients have been able to enjoy this spectacular natural masterpiece whilst simultaneously experiencing the highest levels of service from the lodge and our own private, personal safari concierge, and host, who travel with them. The Kalahari is unique in its ability to combine breathtaking scenery, exquisite luxury and a wealth of game viewing opportunities and we highly recommend that any prospective traveler includes it in any itinerary.
Photos and Text by Ben Coley, Safari Manager