Page 72 - Discover Botswana 2022 ONLINE
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 Amysteriously beautiful semi- desert, a red and yellow sand dune landscape dotted with pans and carved by ancient river valleys, straddles the border of South Africa and Botswana.
Characterised by porous sandy soils and scant surface water, the Kgalagadi (meaning ‘waterless place’) is in itself not a true desert. Only these southwestern reaches, with their annual rainfall of less than 200mm, resemble a real desert environment.
Some 38 000 square kms of this desert is protected area. It is unfenced, allowing the wild animals to move freely and follow their ancient migration routes. This is what makes this area so critically important to the preservation of the harsh, yet fragile, habitat and its unique life forms. This is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP), the first of Africa’s trans-boundary Peace Parks.
The Kaa area is without doubt the wildest, most remote, least developed section of the park, and hence a haven for desert wildlife. Both Kaa and the KD2 are run by the local community, and lie within the larger Botswana section of this desert.
It is August now, the dry windy season, and the transition from winter to summer. Admittedly this is not the most spectacular time to visit the Kgalagadi, as only after the first summer rains will this desert magically transform into a colourful paradise with its abundance of life.
But this dry season has its own inherent beauty. And life, although not visually plentiful or colourful, is all around if only you are observant and patient enough to see it. Firstly, there is less of everything, a definite benefit in terms of spiders and scorpions! The colours are more muted compared to the brilliance that follows the rains. The sun sets and rises less spectacularly yes, but often still creates a captivating, serene atmosphere. There is a characteristic smell to the air too, and the sounds of the dry season are so much more subdued.
There are clear advantages to travelling here at this time. Most notably the cool dry air, in contrast to the summers of scorching hot sun, electric thunderstorms and
torrential downpours. Despite its aridity, its uncompromising extremes of heat and cold, and scarcity of food resources, the Kgalagadi has plenty of flora and fauna eking out a tenuous existence, many through astonishing adaptations to this harsh environment.
The habitat of the Kaa area is a mixture of typical Kgalagadi trees and shrub savanna, patches of wide-open grasslands on a subtly undulating dune landscape, with pans of very varying sizes. The pans are picturesque and enchanting, and form the main attraction of this part of the park. Despite the great variation in pans, they are typically roundish in shape. Many have crescent shaped dunes at the edge, formed from sand deposits over many years.
Like the large ancient fossil river valleys

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