5 Things You Don’t Expect To See On Safari!

4 Giraffes on the Kalahari sand dunes

Lions and zebras and meerkats, oh my! Not to mention leopards and cheetahs, jackals and hyenas, giraffes and giant porcupines, springbok and steenbok and birds,  of all kind! We all know what we’d like to see when we go on safari – after all game spotting is the whole point of this great adventure.

But what about the things you don’t expect … this month, I was lucky enough to go on a Kalahari safari, where I encountered some of the unexpected!

1 A Kalahari bushman’s grave

Stones in the desert denoting a grave

A Kalahari bushman’s grave

Remote desert sands hold the bodies of Kalahari bushfolk, buried in shallow graves which were then covered with rocks to keep predators at bay. The men were buried with their spears, bows and quivers; the women with their digging stick and cooking pans, so that they would be prepared for their journey to the land of the moon.

2 Salad veg

green prickly round cucumber

Kalahari desert cucumber

Handy to know if you’re lost in the desert, this unappetising-looking fruit, and its roots, holds enough moisture to see you to the next watering hole!

3 Wooden telephone poles – complete with birds’ nests!

sociable weaver birds nest

The sociable weaver birds nest

The sociable weaver bird spends its days with its flock, building homes that come together in nests so big that eventually they’ll bring down the tree they’re built on. No trees around? A telephone pole or waterpump will do the job nicely! The sociable weaver bird lives up to its name even more by inviting pygmy falcons in to a nest to help scare off predators.

4 A Kalahari bushman singing the alphabet song

Kalahri man of the Khomani San tribe

Honeyboy takes a break from singing

At !Xaos Lodge we met members of the Khomani San tribe, who entertained us with dancing, demonstrated their ancient skills in making weapons and jewellery and tried to teach us their language – a series of clicking sounds that is impossible to imitate. Honeyboy sang the numbers 1 to 10 for us in a rhythm reminiscent of our alphabet song.

5 Slimming aids

hoodia plant

The hoodia plant

An appetite suppressant discovered by  Xhosa tribespeople many years ago, the hoodia  plant is sought after by European pharmaceutical companies, who turn it into slimming pills. They’ve been made to pay the Xhosa money in exchange for their tribal knowledge.


Want to know more? Visit South Africa Tourism’s  Wildlife Safari page and discover all the delights of the desert


Read more about Karen’s Kalahari adventures 




Karen Byrom

My coffee mug says "professional bookworm" which sums me up really! As commissioning fiction editor on the magazine, I love sharing my reading experience of the latest books, debut authors and more with you all, and would like to hear from you about your favourite books and authors! Email me kbyrom@dctmedia.co.uk