The word “Kalahari” evokes visions of sand, wilderness and mystique. Few places in the world paint such a vivid picture in the minds of most, just by the mere mention of its name.

Derived from the Tswana word Kgala, which means “the great thirst”, the Kalahari Desert is punctuated by big skies, uninterrupted stars, red sands, golden winter grass, spectacular summer thunderstorms and a wonderful diversity of wildlife. This stirs feelings of wonder and discovery in those lucky enough to visit.

Tucked away on the south-eastern edge of the Kalahari is !Khamab Kalahari Reserve, the largest, private, Big-5 reserve in South Africa.

This 90 000ha reserve has the vision to become a premier conservation area renowned for its positive contribution to the conservation of landscapes, habitats and ecological processes and the full spectrum of herbivores and carnivores typical of the eastern Kalahari Bushveld.

!Khamab’s name is also the Nama name for the only true fox in sub-Saharan Africa – the Cape fox – which is often associated with arid and semi-arid areas. Although not as well known as the charismatic, large predators, its shy, nocturnal habits make it the perfect little creature to represent the reserve in its uniqueness.

The Kalahari Desert

Regarded as one of few remaining wilderness areas in Africa! The largest undisturbed, arid sandy savannah in Africa, covering almost 930 000 square kilometres of Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa, it forms part of the 1.5 million square kilometre Kalahari Basin, which includes the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pans.

It is the southernmost desert in Africa and the second largest desert on the continent after the Sahara. Because of its higher average rainfall, it is not classified as a true desert, but rather a semi-desert. Its rainfall varies from as little as 5 inches in the southwest to 20 inches in the northeast. However, even the higher rainfall parts of the Kalahari lack surface water as the deep red sands instantly drains almost all rainwater, turning the Kalahari into a mostly waterless landscape.

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!Khamab in the Kalahari

!Khamab was established in 2007 as a private conservation venture in the Eastern Kalahari Bushveld bioregion. Several properties – mostly cattle and mixed cattle and game farms – were acquired. These were then amalgamated into a single property. A fence running 230km around the outside perimeter was erected before all internal fences were removed. The result is a 90 000ha reserve that is completely open, allowing animals to roam freely and ecological processes to play out.

The size of the reserve makes !Khamab the largest conservation area in the North West province by some margin. Its size means it plays a leading role in conservation in the province and a significant portion of the Eastern Kalahari Bushveld.

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In a changing world, the face of conservation is also changing. Unlimited space for wildlife to roam freely are declining, and the importance of fenced reserves where wildlife and nature can be protected are increasing. !Khamab was established first and foremost as a conservation area, where its relatively large size can make a meaningful contribution to conservation of the Eastern Kalahari.

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Wildlife & Habitats

The Kalahari, despite being an arid system, has a remarkable diversity of mammals at all levels of the food chain, albeit in sometimes low densities. However, animal endemism is extremely low with almost no animals in any level being strictly endemic to the Kalahari. The same is true for plant species, where the Kalahari has the lowest species richness per surface area unit in any of the southern African ecoregions.

But this does not take anything away from the spectacle of fauna and flora of the Kalahari. At times it can have an abundance of migratory animal and bird species, as well as an array of wildflowers during wetter periods. Unfortunately, the continuing increase of fences throughout the Kalahari has significantly impacted the populations of migratory mammal species.

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!Khamab is a malaria-free area and is safe to visit all year round. The size of the reserve and vast wilderness areas devoid of roads makes !Khamab ideally suited for discerning travellers that want something more than just the “normal” game viewing experience. Our aim is for guests to experience the wonderful diversity that the Kalahari has to offer. We recommend staying for at least four nights to have the best experience.

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