Last Updated on December 19, 2022

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.


Kalahari’s human inhabitants are mainly San and Khoikhoi. San are nomadic hunters, while Khoikhoi are hunters and farmers.

Tswana and Herero herders have also moved into the area. The Kalahari has become a popular tourist destination as it is the site of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

National Parks

The Kalahari Desert is the Africa’s recent wildlife paradise as well. One of Africa’s largest game reserves, it is a sanctuary for the animals and birds of the Kalahari.

The park combines South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park established in the year 1931 and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park established in 1938.

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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