Last Updated on February 3, 2024

The Kalahari Desert is a huge sand basin which stretches from Orange River up to Angola, in the west to Namibia and in the east to Zimbabwe.

The Kalahari Desert covers an area of over 900,000 sq km. Kalahari has vast areas covered by red sand without any permanent surface water. The wind shaped the sand ridges, which are some of very typical sites of the landscape in the Kalahari.

According to experts the desert was formed because of the cold current coming from the Benguela region, which brings water vapor from South Africa into the continent, mainly through this region.

The condensation causes the hot air masses to arrive with dry levels forming the desert. The name is derived from the word kgalagadi in the Tswana language and means “the great thirst”.

Kalahari Desert, Southern Africa
Kalahari Desert


The name Kalahari in the Tswana language translates roughly as “the great thirst” or “place without water”, It is a scorching climate, of course, but considerably rainier than regular deserts.

The climate of the Kalahari Desert experiences some of the very high temperatures in summer and there are small amount of rainfall in the region.

This desert comes to full life in the rainy season, with grass lands low thorn scrub and forest and a lot of wild life around it.

Due to rainfall in certain areas of the desert grazing and some amount of agricultural activities also takes place.


The population of the Kalahari region is comprised primarily of two distinct groups: the San and the Khoikhoi. The San people are known for their nomadic way of life, wherein they travel from place to place in search of food and resources. On the other hand, the Khoikhoi people are a mixture of hunters and farmers, who tend to stay in one place for longer periods of time.

In addition to these two groups, the area has also seen an influx of Tswana and Herero herders, who bring their own unique cultures and traditions to the region. Overall, the population of the Kalahari is diverse and dynamic, reflecting the many different ways that humans can thrive in this challenging environment.

National Parks

The Kalahari Desert is not just an arid wasteland, but rather a rich and vibrant ecosystem that supports a wide variety of wildlife. In fact, it is one of the most important wildlife sanctuaries in all of Africa, and is home to countless species of animals and birds.

From majestic lions and leopards, to nimble antelope and gazelles, the Kalahari is a veritable paradise for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. And with the establishment of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, this stunning region has become a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a unique conservation area that spans the border between South Africa and Botswana. It is the result of a merger between two national parks: the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Together, these parks form one of the largest game reserves in all of Africa, and provide a safe haven for the animals and birds that call the Kalahari home.

Desert Travel: Sossusvlei Lodge, Sesriem, Namibia
Sossuvlei Lodge, Kalahari Desert

Facts about the Kalahari Desert

  • The Kalahari Desert is not a true desert, as it receives more rainfall than most deserts. Instead, it is classified as a semi-arid region.
  • The Kalahari Desert is known for its red sand dunes, which are made up of iron oxide-rich sand that gives them their distinctive color. These dunes are some of the highest in the world, reaching heights of up to 300 meters.
  • Despite being a harsh and seemingly inhospitable place, the Kalahari Desert is home to a rich and diverse ecosystem, and is an important habitat for many species of plants and animals.
  • The Kalahari Desert is home to a number of unique plant species, including the baobab tree, which can store up to 120,000 liters of water and has a lifespan of up to 3,000 years.
  • The Kalahari Desert is home to a variety of wildlife, including predators such as lions, hyenas, and cheetahs, as well as herbivores like antelopes, giraffes, and elephants.

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