Top Ten Deserts

Kalahari Desert

Africa's "other" great desert, the giant Kalahari, should not be written off just because it is the next-door neighbor of the Sahara. A grand and elevated (always more than 3,000 feet above sea level) interior plain that covers most of Botswana, huge swaths of Namibia, and a part of northern South Africa, the Kalahari extends for more than 360,000 square miles. The mostly featureless, gently rolling surface is blanketed by red (iron oxidized) sand that can reach depths of over 200 feet! The Kalahari was once much wetter than it is today. Pans, or "dry lakes," are evidence of this. Water once flowed into landlocked depressions where evaporation has left only the mineral and salt-rich silt. These sun-baked basins glow a blinding white. Since the mid-1970s, improved car access has opened the Kalahari's gleaming serenity to tourism and study.

Published: 17 Jan 2003 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »