Kalahari Desert

The Kalahari (also called Kgalagadi ) is a sandy desert of predominantly fine powdered, red sand. It extends from the province of Northern Cape in South Africa through Namibia and Botswana through to Angola and Zambia in an area of ​​more than 1.2 million km ².

Large parts of the Kalahari have been designated as protected areas: eg the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park on the border of South Africa and Namibia (formerly Gemsbok National Park), the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and in the north- western Botswana, the Okavango River Delta: The in Angola springing Okavango fans out here in a huge inland delta in order to then seep into the Kalahari. Since the late 1990s, the Kalahari is accessed through the Trans Kalahari Highway. This well-maintained road is an important section of leading from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in Mozambique Namibia in trade and transportation route.


The most extensive part of the Kalahari - the " Central Kalahari " - is located in Botswana, ranging in here with its western foothills to Namibia. The Kalahari Desert is located in the central area of ​​a large sedimentary basin (English: Kalahari Basin ), which extends between the Orange to Angola, in the west of Namibia towards the east to Zimbabwe.

The sand deposits extend into the central Congo basin into it. They cover the territory of several States an area of ​​2.5 million square kilometers. The thickness of the sand layers is between a few centimeters and 200 meters in the north of Namibia. The layer structure is (English and Kalahari Sands ) is called the Kalahari system. There are loose sediments of eolian and lacustrine formation processes.

The amounts of sand formed by erosion of sandstones of the Kalahari Group and Karoo Supergroup. The wind then formed the elongated sand ridges, dunes waves that are characteristic of the landscape in the Kalahari.

Only in the recent history of the earth, about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, the dunes were stabilized by vegetation, so that today a dry savannah shapes the landscape. The majority of the dunes so do not wander as in the Namib Desert. It is dominated by grasses, thorny bushes and acacia trees, all of which can survive the long dry periods of usually more than ten months in the year. In the south there is the vegetation of grasses. In the northern portions of trees is represented. In the southwestern area of ​​the Kalahari there are aeolian dunes moving.

Flora and Fauna

The Okavango Delta is because of its vegetation and animal wealth fro the most untypical of the Kalahari. Depending on the season and water level here will find a huge herds of animals of many species occurring in southern Africa. The Botswana government is promoting a chosen expensive, but also very luxurious safari tourism in the Delta, thereby preventing the negative effects of unbridled mass tourism.

Most of the Kalahari, however, is mainly determined by special dunes and desert grasses, but also of high-growing acacia trees that come with their long roots which, although low-lying, but abundant water veins.


Rainfall is quite high in the Kalahari for a desert. The annual rainfall is about 150-250 mm, while it rises in the north even to 500 mm. However, one must speak of a dry savannah here sooner.

Origin of the name

The origin of the name is unclear. One interpretation states that Kalahari a misspelling of the colonial masters for the Setswana word Kgalagadi (of Kgala for " distance" and gadi for " large, wide " ) was.

Many believe that it is a corruption of the Khoikhoi word karri (hard), which credited to William John Burchell and Robert Jacob Gordon as Karriharri as Macarigari. Robert Moffat and Forbes believed, however, that it is named after a tribe called Kgalagad, Kgalagadi or Makgalagadi. Moffat also claimed the tribe live in the Khalagari or Kalagare what "dry" or " waterless place " means.


The Kalahari is the retreat and today the main settlement area of ​​the San people of small stature, this is true - along with the Damara - as the first settlement of people in this region and was home to the 16th century in all countries of southern Africa. In the context of African migrations of Bantu origin but urged peoples gradually led with the support of the resident at the Cape Europeans a merciless campaign of destruction against the San The survivors took refuge in the hostile Kalahari and learned to adapt to their living conditions extremely difficult. The San are organized into families and live as nomadic hunter-gatherers of the rich wildlife of the Kalahari and the occurring here fruits and roots. Water they receive from water-storing plants and harvest dew. The thirst-quenching, after tasting cucumber and melon fruit Horngurke (Cucumis metuliferus ) is another food option. The little money (Currency: Namibian dollar (N $ ) and South African Rand (R)), which they need, the San earn added by gentle harvesting of Rooibusches from which a tea is made ( in South Africa, the Rooibos in the Northern Cape grown professionally and distributed ). Another product is the so-called Kalahari salt, which is obtained from a very old salt lake in the southern Kalahari Desert. This product finds its customers in the upscale food retailers in South Africa, Europe, Japan, Asia and the USA.

However, speaking of their neighbors, the Bantu languages ​​, not - as remains of once much more widespread cultures the language of the San forms its own Khoisan language, which - particularly through the use of Schnalzlauten that cause a " snap " of the tongue very different from the Xhosa, differs.

The San traditionally are not private property; this and the centuries- long isolation from the rest of the world make it to San very hard to catch up with the materialistic certain modern times. The changes made by the Botswana government to protect the Kalahari National Park resettlement and Sesshaftmachungsversuche have largely failed at the stubborn resistance of the San. Even their involvement in tourism is extremely difficult because of the different values.


The Kalahari is an arid continental climate zone. It is characterized by long dry periods with irregular summer rains from December to February, high, usually above 30 ° C daytime temperatures and lying to below 0 ° C night temperatures reaching - especially in the African winter. The dryness is due to its location between 20 and 30 degrees south latitude. Just as in the same northern area of ​​the air masses are forced to dismount the coming Urpassat. This causes an increasing warming of the air masses, whereby the relative humidity decreases and leads to dry, cloud-free air conditions.