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Impressions from a safari in the Kalahari – 2012

In January 2012 I travelled the Central Kalahari Game Reserve together with two friends. The journey was sceduled for roughly two weeks for which we had booked two campsites in the northern part of the game reserve, each of them for nearly one week: one in the Deception Valley and another in the Passarge Valley. Especially the latter proved to be a lucky punch because of its location on the rim and the awesome sight you had from it onto the vast valley. You could see thunderstorms approaching from the horizon, enjoy fantastic sunups while sipping a first cup of your morning roibush-tea and feel the limitless distance of this gorgeous region almost physically. Our company was an experienced guide familiar with the Kalahari, a female cook who pleased us with meals partly prepared according to traditional african recepees, and an assistant.

We had been travelling other game reserves before, like the Chobe and Moremi region, the Boteti, the Makgadikgadi- and the Nxai Pans, so that we now felt a wish to become familiar with the Kalahari.

The Kalahari! At first one should get rid of a qualification which obviously is everlasting, not extinctable, but nonetheless falso to the bone: The Kalahari is NO DESERT as it`s often described even in serious documentations, but a dry savannah. This is not just a neglectable detail but has great influence on the expectations of the visitors with regard to wildlife, plants and weather. You find rain seasons here, green landscapes with plants in bloom, a variety of animals. But of course the Kalahari as a dry savannah doesn`t provide a suitable environment for bigger animals that need considerable amounts of water. You won`t find buffalo or hippo, crocs and water birds. Elephants are rare. But you find other animals instead you scarcely see elsewhere and who love the specifics of this region: Cheetahs love the flat pans with good sight for their speed-hunts, bat-eared foxes and meerkats the sandy grounds for their dens, springbok and gemsbok feed on savannah-gras which provides them with liquid. They together with hartebeest from time to time serve as a meal for lions that are abundant and characterized more often than elsewhere by an impressive dark mane. Also smaller creatures like tortoises, bullfrogs, various and very colorful grasshoppers, to name just a few, can be found.

In the rainy season nature stands in impressive bloom. Foremost acacias with their blossoms throw a silver-shimmering light on the landscape. Numerous small flowers on the ground contribute a variety of bright colors you wouldn`t have expected to find.

Finally overwhelming are silence and distance of the savannah and the appearances of clouds and light in the sky. It shows an everchanging face. On a blue sky with nice small white clouds suddenly a threatening thunderstorm appears, heavy weather is followed by sunlight within only minutes, on sunset clouds form dramatic sculptures. All this is wrapped in impressive silence, that is not broken by any manmade noise like traffic. No plane draws its vapor trail on the endless clear blue African skies. A majestic nature is hosting men just as guests and they should feel it. You have to like this mood to feel comfortable here. If you do, you will love the Kalahari and will ever want to come back. Just like me!
Pictures and Text: TOM BR√úCHER