Don't dismiss the Kalahari Desert as just sand. Covering more than two-thirds of Botswana, this home of the San (also known as the Bushmen) and the Tswana herdsmen consists primarily of small scrub trees and tall grass crisscrossed by dry riverbeds, which fill during thunderstorms.
The Kalahari, or Kgalagadi as it is known in the local language, has a scattering of birds and animals, including ostrich, hyena, antelope, cheetah and the famous black-maned Kalahari lion. Safaris are available into Deception Valley and other popular parts of the Kalahari. Dqae Qare, a community-run Bushman tourism project 15 mi/24 km fron Ghanzi, showcases the culture and environment of the San people.
A highlight of a visit to the Kalahari is to go on a walk with members of the San community. Their language is full of clicks and practically indecipherable and their English heavily accented (their speech is amazing to hear), but as they share their intimate knowledge of the flora and fauna and humorous ways of adapting to, and surviving in, the harsh environment, they'll leave you with unforgettable memories.
There are no permanent tented campsites in the desert—everything, including water, must be carried in.
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is the place to experience a mobile safari, which can range from the remarkably luxurious to adventure camping. On a luxury mobile safari, expect a spacious tent with private bath and flush toilet, dining at a table laid with linen tablecloth, silverware and glassware, a gourmet chef assisted by trained waiters, fine wines and a substantial complement of staff, traveling with supplies in separate vehicles, setting up and dismantling camps when guests are not present. Meanwhile, you are traveling leisurely in a spacious safari vehicle with the undivided attention of a professional guide, to return to a new setting, hot showers and a chilled sundowner.
Semi-participation safaris are less luxurious, as you help out with a few of the tasks, such as attending the camp fire or preparing vegetables for the evening meal, but they still offer reasonable comfort, surprisingly good food and the camaraderie of involvement.
Full participation safaris are for the adventurous—those happy to put up tents and prepare food, and who do not expect to be waited on. What they all offer is the privilege of a true wilderness experience.
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