The park was previously called Kalahari Gemsbok National
Park, as the animal most at home in this arid region is
the gemsbok (also called oryx). This large horse-like antelope
is supremely adapted to the desert environment and can go
for months without water as it reabsorbs its own waste fluids
and barely sweats.
Its core temperature can rise far beyond that which would
kill most animals, and to avoid literally boiling its brains,
blood is first passed through the nostrils to cool it down.
Another animal that epitomises the Kalahari is the meerkat
(also called suricate). These cute mongooses scamper around
in gregarious packs, foraging for scorpions, beetles, lizards
and mice and scatter at the first sign of danger from an
eagle or other predator.
Large-scale migration can occur in such a huge park and
gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, eland and red hartebeest
follow their instincts in order to find better pastures.
Such a good supply of food attracts carnivores like lion,
leopard and cheetah.
Other distinctive creatures of the Kalahari are small monogamous
bat-eared foxes, sociable weavers who live in the feathered
equivalent of an apartment block of nests, and the King
of the Kalahari - the black-maned lion.
Spring and early summer from September to December
is dry and warm, but by January it is very hot
(up to 102°F (39°C), and the rain arrives.
If you brave the very hot late summer months of
January to March, you might be entertained by
formidable light and sound extravaganzas from
thunder and lightening storms.
Winter: The cooler winter months of April to September
are probably the best times to visit the Kalahari
as the days are clear and warm, but nights can
get very cold.