The Kalahari – a name that evokes images of a vast, inhospitable desert – is said to be named after the Tswana word for “great thirst.” The Kalahari makes up approximately 70% of Botswana’s territory and it one of the flattest places on earth. Even the famous Okavango Delta, Botswana’s most visited wildlife conservation destination, is firmly placed within the Kalahari. Water that fell as rain in the Angola highlands months ago has taken a slow 700 mile journey to eventually flow into the area we know as the Okavango Delta. While a wonderful diversity of species flourishes in the Okavango Delta, the wildlife “stars” of the region are, in our opinion, the African wild dogs, with pack densities among the highest in all of Africa.
Head northeast from the Okavango and you reach another important wetlands area. The marshes of the Linyanti, Kwando and Selinda Reserves, combined with the Savute region form what many call a “mini-Okavango.” During the dry winter months, this region, along with Chobe National Park, is renowned for its amazing population of elephants, who are drawn to these permanent sources of water.
The more intrepid travelers can explore the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, a harsh wilderness of almost 20,000 square miles that has been populated by the San Bushmen for at least 80,000 years.