Whilst the African desert is typically dismissed as one of the less interesting locations for both leisure and observational safaris, both Namibia and Botswana offer ultimate desert safari destinations that provide surprisingly high-quality wildlife viewing.
Even in desert safari destinations elsewhere in Africa – such as the Sahara – the real majesty lies in the subtlety of the landscape and the event. You may not necessarily see sights that astound you, but you will certainly come in touch with the peace and beauty of nature. Alternatively, desert safaris can offer a diverse range of activities for tourists, including camelback tours.
True deserts are home to mostly small animals, many of which make their primary appearances after the sun falls. Nonetheless, there are some interesting things to see during daylight hours.
For these daytime sightings, the best place to go for your safari is Namibia where virtually the whole range of African wildlife can be found, adapted to desert conditions. The landscape is largely flat with grass dispersed unevenly throughout. The biggest asset to the area is its abundance of game-type wildlife. If you’re more attuned to scholastic endeavors, the Namib desert is the oldest known hot desert in the world. Safaris in both of these areas are easily scheduled and highly popular.
Top desert safari destinations
- Namib Naukluft National Park in Namibia is perhaps the ultimate desert safari destination. Wildlife abounds, with the chance of seeing desert-adapted elephants and rhinos, alongside spectacular sand dunes up to 300m high.
- The Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is characterized by open plains, vast saltpans, and ancient riverbeds. Large numbers of grazers are prey for the Kalahari lions, making for exciting game viewing. The Kalahari Desert is on our list of the world’s largest deserts.
- Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa, where blue skies meet red dunes together with plenty of Southern African wildlife, making it an ideal desert location for game viewing and photographic safaris.
Tips for taking a desert safari
- If it’s a self-drive safari in a desert ensure your vehicle is in good condition and carry spare tires, extra headlights, and sufficient water and fuel to cover your trip.
- Plan your route in advance, advise someone about your itinerary and take a good GPS device and mobile or satellite phone.
- Consider purchasing a pure sine wave inverter to keep your devices running smoothly in your car. (Here on TheDrive is a useful guide on choosing the right inverter for your vehicle.)
- In a desert scenario, the recommended minimum fluid intake is 4 liters a day.
- Loose cotton clothing is recommended as it allows air to circulate and sweat to dry. Long sleeves, trousers, and an all-important safari hat will give important protection against the sun. Night temperatures in the desert can dip very low, so take a fleece or warm, lightweight jacket.