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Seasons in the southern Kalahari can be described in traditional terms - spring, summer, autumn and winter - but their nature and duration are very different. Summer lasts for almost six months.
In Spring (September - October), the weather begins to warm up, though some cold fronts can still sweep inland from the Cape. Blackthorn and honeybush break into blossom, scenting the evening air. Barking geckos call for mates in a cacophony unique to the Kalahari, and meerkat pups emerge from their dens in anticipation of the rains.
Summer (November - March) brings hot days and mild evenings with only an occasional afternoon thunderstorm. Rain is always unpredictable in the desert but if you are fortunate enough to experience it, you will be astounded as the desert turns into a lush green spectacle, glittering with golden flowers. Many of the antelope calf early in Summer and signs of new life abound. Migrant birds such as cuckoos and lanner falcons arrive at Tswalu, making birding here especially exciting.
In Autumn (April - May) the days become mild and the evenings cool. With luck, there may even be some late season’s rains. This is the greenest time of the year; the savannahs take on a beautiful silkiness as the grasses surrender their seeds to gentle breezes. Autumn is the time of the rut as antelope such as impala, in peak physical condition, begin a frenzy of fighting to establish territories and claim mates.
Winter (June - August) sees daytime temperatures cool. The first frost can fall as night-time temperatures may even drop below freezing on occasion. Conditions become very dry as humidity disappears. As the grasses and bushes dry out so sightings of rarer, smaller mammals increase. Shy, nocturnal creatures such as aardvark, aardwolf or pangolin emerge in daylight now. The clear evenings of Winter offer the best stargazing spectacle under the Kalahari’s breathtaking “diamond skies”.
The Kalahari always promises things you can never see elsewhere. And each month here at Tswalu reveals sights and sounds different to the last.