Experience It – Kalahari, Namibia: Striking Sand Dunes and Spacious Solitude

Image by Christo Ras fromPixabay

Kalahari, Namibia: Striking Sand Dunes and Spacious Solitude

Situated in the heart of Southern Africa, the Kalahari Desert is famous for its semi-arid savannah landscapes. It stretches across the magical Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa and is one of the largest coherent sand expanses in the world.

The south-eastern Kalahari region in Namibia offers a truly unforgettable African experience with scenic combinations of grassy plains and striking dunes. It’s also home to a portion of Namibia’s local San people, making it a cultural site.

What to expect

The Kalahari Desert is the second-biggest African desert (around 930 000 square kilometres) and offers a range of temperatures and environments. Temperatures can vary extremely, from between 45 degrees Celsius in summer to minus 15 degrees Celsius in winter.

Aside from temperature fluctuations and sandy plains, here’s what you can expect from this vast desert.

Photo by HSiebertTHM on Pixabay 

Mesmerising Desert Landscapes

The Kalahari Desert is famous for its striking salt pans and the ancient red dunes in the eastern parts of the desert.

The landscape is awe-inspiring with contrasting red sandbanks and savanna grasses. It won’t take you long to fill your camera reel with beautiful snapshots.

You’ll also gain a new-found appreciation for all-things ancient since the formation period of the dunes dates back to between 23 000 to 28 000 years ago!

Local African Wildlife

The Kalahari Desert’s terrain accommodates an interesting array of animals including black-maned Kalahari Lions, Warthogs, and Meerkats. Nothing beats the excitement of combing the landscape through your binoculars as you try to spot these curious creatures. Especially as you grip onto the seat in front of you during a bumpy game drive!

The desert also showcases a variety of plant life like shrubs, tussocks, and cacti. All of which have adept drought-tolerance, allowing them to thrive in the harsh environment.

Photo by Christo Ras on Pixabay 

Engaging Cultural Experiences

The plants and animal life in the Kalahari Desert provide for the welfare of the earliest hunter-gatherers in Southern Africa – the San people. It’s also home to a segment of Namibia’s estimated 30 000+ local San people.

Botswana’s Central Kalahari Reserve is also home to the San people. Although Botswana hosts a much larger San population of over 60 000.

The San people have lived off the land for over 20 000 years and continue to maintain the lifestyles of their ancestors. There are very few places on Earth that remain stable and unaffected by their predominating Western neighbours.

The Kalahari Desert is a museum without walls, giving you the opportunity to experience the natural environment of a long-existing African tribe.

Photo by Susanne Stöckli on Pixabay 

Activities in the Kalahari

There are many activities available in the Kalahari Desert, catering to all types of safari explorers. Are you looking for the next adrenaline rush or a quiet safari experience? Whatever your taste, there’s something for you below.

Experience the Adventure

Some of the most popular activity-based attractions are sand boarding and quad biking on the dunes. For first-time sand-borders, you may want to hire an instructor as it’s not as simple as you might think.

You can also hike and take a 4×4 trail through the expansive salt pans. Keep in mind that a Kalahari Desert adventure is not for the faint-hearted. You’ll need some serious grit to traverse this tough terrain.

Experience the Leisure

Photo by Pieter Zeeman on Pixabay 

For the photographers and leisurely folk, there are also safaris and game drives where you can sit back and take some beautiful photos. These activities are child friendly, something for the whole family to enjoy.

Plan on stopping by Botswana during your African adventure? Achieve a balance between adrenaline and scenery by booking a scenic flight from Maun over the meandering Okavango Delta. It’s a phenomenal panoramic experience.


Fun Facts About the Desert’s Name


The name Kalahari comes from the Tswana word “Kgala” or “Kgalagadi”, which translates to great thirst or waterless place. This is fitting as the extremely hot temperatures evaporate water at a much faster rate here.

The Kalahari Desert isn’t actually a desert in the strictest sense. Its rainfall is much greater than within a typical desert. It’s technically classified as a semi-desert or fossil desert.

Would you like to find out more about the Kalahari Desert? Check out our post on the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to find out more about the region.