Derived from the Tswana word Kgalagadi, meaning the great thirst, the Kalahari is one of the world's most extensive mantles of sand that extends south into South Africa, west into Namibia and north into Angola and Zambia. This Kalahari sand covers the hollow basin of Botswana and forms a flat plain that covers nearly 70% of the country.
The Kalahari Desert is something of a misnomer as it is not really a desert. It is a semi arid zone, distinctly different from a true desert region. A strange, yet essential feature of this region is the pans. These are either round or circular and consist of hard, gray clay. They are shallow hollows, which gleam, in the harsh sun of the Kalahari Desert, and yet these pans provide the essential salt for the animals of the Kalahari. The view created by these pans is drab and flat. The pans vary in size from a few hundred metres to a few square kilometers. There are two other distinct ecosystems found in the central Kalahari region; rich savannah and flowing golden grasslands.
The main places to visit in the Kalahari Desert are the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the Khutse Game Reserve, Orapa - the diamond capital of the country- and Rakops.