Green Kalahari

Sunset over the Green Kalahari at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve

 

There is a romantic magic to the Kalahari, which makes it a very special place to visit on a private luxury safari to South Africa. Maybe it is the wide open spaces, the red sand dunes dotted with Camel Thorn trees; or perhaps it is the awareness that this is a very ancient land.

The name Kalahari is derived from the Tswana word “Kgala”, meaning “the great thirst”, or “Kgalagadi”, meaning “the waterless place”. Hunter-gatherer San people had inhabited it for around 20 000 years, living in a harmonious relationship with the environment, until the arrival of African and European man. However, due to the harsh Kalahari environment, modern-day man found this area unsuitable for development; even with the introduction of borehole water, farming of livestock was a difficult pursuit. Fortunately this means that man has had almost no impact on the land, and therefore the Kalahari has remained a true wilderness area, one of the few left in South Africa.

The southern Kalahari, due to its location and local climatic conditions, receives somewhat more rain than the central Kalahari, allowing it to support a large diversity of life. It is for this reason that the southern Kalahari is frequently referred to as the Green Kalahari. There is a perception that the Kalahari is a sparse and desolate desert. In reality it is semi arid grasslands with wide open savanna and a diversity of habitats. The open habitat makes for excellent game viewing.

Many of the animals that one would encounter on a luxury safari in the Green Kalahari are species that are also seen in the more traditional bushveld safari areas to the east, such as zebra, buffalo, giraffe, white rhino, etc. But the Green Kalahari is also home to other typical Kalahari species that are adapted to dry conditions. These include gemsbok, springbok, eland, red hartebeest and more. In addition, the Green Kalahari offers great opportunities to see rare species which are seldom seen in the bushveld safari areas. These include roan and sable antelope, tsessebe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and of course the desert black rhino.

The larger predators of the Kalahari also offer excellent viewing opportunities. Because of the rugged mountains, leopard are very rarely seen but the Kalahari grasslands lend themselves to excellent cheetah viewing. Spotted hyena are rare but brown hyena are fairly common. The black maned Kalahari lions, although of the same species as other lions across Africa, are famed for their size and beautiful black manes. Wild dog are also occasionally seen.

Very special and unique small carnivore sightings are another attraction of the Green Kalahari. Apart from the more common small predators such as jackal and wild cat, unusual small carnivores include silver fox, bat eared fox, aardwolf, lynx (caracal), honey badger and small spotted genet. This area is also probably the best place on earth to view aardvark and pangolin. Both these unusual animals are rarely seen elsewhere but the open grasslands of the Green Kalahari make them easier to find, particularly during winter when they emerge in daylight to forage for food. Meerkat encounters in the area are also very good.

One of the features of the Green Kalahari is the quartzite Korranaberg mountain range. These mountains form a large natural basin that acts as a water catchment area. The mountains also have a sheltering effect which, together with the healthy water table, increases the biodiversity of the area enormously. 

It is in this area rich in wildlife at the foot of the Korarannaberg Mountains that you will find Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, private game reserve of South Africa's Oppenheimer family and our preferred Green Kalahari destination. It offers two stunning luxury Kalahari safari accommodation options:

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