The Kalahari is the largest sand basin in the world, stretching 2,500kms from the northern part of South Africa, through Namibia and Angola and ending in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It may have no permanent surface water, but unlike the image of most deserts, the Kalahari is well vegetated with a wide variety of habitats including acacia trees and areas of flat grasslands.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in the world and until recently been closed to the public. It was originally created as a refuge for the San Bushmen. They lived in nomadic hunter-gatherer family groups only taking what they needed to, but have since changed with the increasing impact of the Western world.
After the summer rains arrive the area comes alive; vegetation springs up and wildlife is plentiful. Thousands of gemsbok, springbok and wildebeest, lion, cheetah and jackal appear and the game viewing is fabulous.
Bushmen survival became an issue in 1961 when Botswana was still a British Protectorate, and the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was formed as their homeland. Most have now intermixed with other tribes and live in villages at the southern end of the reserve. Their traditional lifestyle is all but gone. Bushman are now often guides in the area and they will advise on how to find water-filled tubers in the sand and explain how to catch an ostrich. Bushmen are great storytellers and like nothing better than to embellish a tale with elaborate demonstrations, accompanied by their fast clicking language.