The southern Africa region is home to one of the oldest desert in the world: the Namib, where some areas are estimated to be up to 80 million years old. The Namib stretches for over 2,000km along the Atlantic coast, and covers an area of over 80,000 square km. Best known are probably the iconic dunes at Sossusvlei, but there is much more to explore. From the remote Skeleton Coast in the north to the ghost town Kolmanskop within the restricted diamond area Sperrgebiet and the beautiful Spitzkoppe where the bushmen found a sacred source of water thousands of years ago.
But did you know that the Kalahari desert dwarfs the Namib with its over 900,000 square km? While not a true desert, it is a fascinating area that includes the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, the salt pans of Makgadikgadi and Etosha as well as Chobe National Park. There are still small groups of bushmen living in the Kalahari, preserving the hunter-gatherer tradition of their ancestors, and certain areas have a rich and fascinating flora and fauna thanks to seasonal flooding.
And then there is the Karoo, this mystical area in South Africa that no-one can quite define.The Karoo formed an almost impenetrable barrier to the interior from Cape Town, and the early adventurers, explorers, hunters and travelers on the way to the Highveld unanimously denounced it as a frightening place of great heat, great frosts, great floods and great droughts.But it is also a place of great beauty, just like the other deserts in southern Africa.
I truly recommend exploring at least one of these fascinating wide open spaces on your trip. It is a journey through time and space that requires patience. These places need a little time to reveal their beauty, but once you open up to it you will feel it with all your senses.