Sometimes also called Kalahari
(although this spelling, kinder to western tongues, is falling out of favour). Literally "the land of thirst", this is the great desert covering most of western Botswana
and extending into South Africa
. Annual rainfall is around 200mm and while summer temperatures can reach 40C or above, winter nights are often below freezing. There is no permanent water to speak of and but the area has more than 400 plant species, many of which are succulent
and used as water source by humans and animals alike.
Botswana's Gemsbok Park and South Africa's Kalahari Gemsbok Park have been merged into the single Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which covers an area of over 3.6 million hectares and is one of the world's largest conservation areas. The flat terrain and sparse vegetation makes it ideal for game viewing: visitors can expect to see predators including lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyena, wild dogs and black-backed jackals, many antelope species, wildebeest and a great variety of birds: 215 species have been recorded.