Kalahari

Fanning out from Botswana and stretching from the Caprivi in the extreme north-east to the Orange River in the south, The Kalahari is a vast basin of semi-arid plains, dry savannah and moist woodland.

In the southern Kalahari, attractions are few and very far between and that in itself is one of the major attractions of this endless land. Large camel-thorns and shepherd's trees dot the grassy plains and your field of vision may well cross a time zone with enormous skies and a chirrupy silence your only companions.

The semi-arid plains and dunes support diverse and fascinating plants, birds and animals that have adapted to life in a virtually water-free world. The gemsbok can go for months on end without water and have special blood-cooling systems at the base of their brains. The camel thorn is a large and hardy acacia tree that thrives in sandy soils thanks to a taproot that can extend to three times the tree's height.

The southern Kalahari has game parks, nature reserves and geological formations that reward the visitor with a fascinating - and remote - adventure.

Lodges and game parks with five-figure acreages offer game viewing, birdwatching, scenic drives, walking safaris, and cycling tours. The Kalahari biome supports about 50 species of mammal and over 200 species of bird. Aside from the wildlife the parallel lines of brick-red dunes, grassy troughs, and acacia trees make for some excellent photographic opportunities.

For an off-the-beaten-track detour, visit Brukkaros - an enormous volcano-like crater rising 600m above the surrounding planes and erstwhile home to a heliograph and a Smithsonian observatory. Both stations have been washed away by the sands of time but the clear night skies and endless desolation remain.

The quiver tree - so named after San hunters were observed using its branches to make quivers - is an endemic giant aloe and the quintessential tree of Namibia. The country's most impressive stand of these striking plants is in the Quiver Tree Forest outside Keetmanshoop. Near the forest is the Giants' Playground, an astonishing outcrop of balancing Basalt Rocks rising out of the level plains, and the Mesosaurus Fossil.

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