by Deirdre Opie, Head Guide
No two years are ever exactly the same in the Kalahari, which certainly keeps things interesting for guides and guests! This summer we were treated to lots of epic electric shows. The entertainment began with the build up of billowing clouds, was followed by claps of thunder and dramatic lightning strikes, and then those incredible Kalahari sunsets – plenty of photo opportunities enjoyed with a sundowner or two at the end of the day.
Thunderstorms that threaten rain, but don’t often deliver it, are the norm in the Kalahari. This season, there were more wildfires than usual during the hottest months of the year. While some creatures suffered, including ground-nesting birds and reptiles, Tswalu’s antelopes happily gravitated towards nutritious fields rejuvenated by fresh growth triggered by fire.
Rainfall was a little erratic and fell late, even though Tswalu had almost reached its annual average at the time of writing. The boom or bust theory, so typical of arid and semi-arid regions, rang true. Temperature and rainfall have to be ‘just right’ for flowers to bloom, grasses to grow, and insects to hatch. When conditions are not perfectly synchronised, the window of opportunity passes. With less extreme temperatures and rain falling late, vegetation growth was not as marked as in the previous two years and there were definitely less flying insects.
Summer in the Kalahari can be challenging because of the heat, but also extremely rewarding. There were lots of baby gemsbok, kudu and roan. There were also plenty of lion cubs around, born to females from both the north and south prides. We had wonderful sightings of the north pride’s nine cubs, ranging in age from eight to four months.
What we have come to realise is that many of our guests return to Tswalu because of the hypnotic, raw beauty of the landscapes. The vastness, the silence, and the sense of space are hard to beat.
Please enjoy the variety of stories in the latest edition of the Wildlife Journal, and we hope to welcome you to this incredible part of South Africa soon.Meet Deirdre