It is also home to the San
(bushmen, below) people who live predominately in the north of the Kalahari.
Temperatures range from 20-40 degrees in the summer months to freezing during
the winter period. The
area now known as the Kalahari Desert was formed over sixty
million years ago when the area was a shallow water basin.
Exactly what happened is unknown, however the commonly accepted
theory is that before that time the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi
rivers followed into a single channel that crossed through
today's Kalahari desert area towards the sea.
A few million
years ago seismic shifts forced much of the land of Botswana
upwards blocking the flow of the channel and creating a superlake
that dried out over thousands of years leaving behind vast
white salt deposits that form part of the desert as we
know it today.
Today the Okavango river remains as the Kalahari's only
permanent river, however as in its history, it no longer
flows into the sea, rather empties into a swamp area
called the Okavango Delta (right).
region produces the Hoodia, a plant that is world renowned for
suppressing hunger, and, after eating it, the San people claim
a further 24 hours without feeling any hunger, although there is
no scientific evidence for any claims about Hoodia. There used to be
over a million San living in the Kalahari desert, however that
number is now down to about 2000 following years of persecution
by neighbouring tribes.