All the bush is dry, and the sand is red. Yet this is not always the case in the Kalahari.
Tswalu is often referred to as a desert, and it may have all the extreme temperatures of one, but it may surprise many that it is in fact a ‘semi-arid savannah’… a green desert.
Trees grow contently through-out the landscape, peculiar flowers litter the sands and grass blankets the dunes creating a sense that appears everything like a savannah, yet wonderfully different!
My time at Tswalu can best be described as mesmerising. I was captured by the shear vastness of the landscape, shocked by the silence that echoes off the rolling sand dunes, and held to ransom by the length of every sunset.
It is said that guides are rewarded with sunsets, in the Kalahari, we are honoured by them. The sky seems to arrest every bit of light, and holds it from one end of the Earth to the other, allowing not a single particle to escape… forcing us to be drawn into its endlessness.
The Kalahari can romance even the hardest souls. But what it radiates in landscapes and sunsets, it compliments with a diversity of amazing wildlife.
Ironically, its vastness lends well to some of Africa’s smallest and most fascinating creatures. Creatures seen so seldom elsewhere, it makes Tswalu a trove of treats for the absolutely weird and wonderful. It is also your best chance of seeing the elusive ground pangolin, a mammal unlike any other.
Small creatures also have a big presence in the Kalahari. Sociable Weavers captivate your gaze with their enormous nests, providing a continuous hum of activity, and when the sun sets, barking geckos will fill the diamond sky with a soundtrack that dominates the Kalahari night.
Large animals still roam the red Kalahari dunes in abundance. As herds of eland click through the grass and Desert Black Rhino exhaust their ‘bad’ tempers, they all leave little disturbance to the massive world that waits beneath. It’s unusual to think that the majority of Tswalu’s creatures live underground, but when these subterranean animals like aardvarks, meerkats and foxes leave their burrows, they provide some amazing opportunities to view and photograph their behaviour.
Even with large predators like lion and cheetah that move between the sand dunes with a grace uncharacterised by any savannah, the Kalahari seems in perfect balance. The folding mountains in the east seem to enclosed a harmony that ripples across the sand dunes to the setting sun far off into the west.
My impressions of Tswalu and its endless landscape, distinctive wildlife and quiet silence that is so deafening it sings with life?
A land that time remembered, and humans will never forget.
Text and images by Cameron Appel. Contact us to book your stay at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve…