After one of the worst droughts South Africa has seen, everyone was ecstatic about the rains that fell early in 2021. Water levels of the Orange River rose quickly and National parks nearby had large amounts of rain. Cyclone Eloise was the cause for the abundant rain that fell over Mozambique and south-eastern Zimbabwe. This tropical weather system then transitioned into a low-pressure storm that passed over the southern parts of Botswana, which included the Kalahari and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Lush green dunes as far as you can see, this image is a stunning representation of how far the green Kalahari stretches. Posted on a Facebook group by Thapz Kgopodithate, this photo was taken on a farm between Askham and Van Zylsrus where it is usually arid – but this year was different.

Blessed with abundant rainfall, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for photographers arose to capture the Kalahari in a green bloom.

Thapz from the northern Cape said that these four photos were taken one year apart and that there was 690mm of rain on the farm:


People that are familiar with the Kgalagadi know that it is an arid park that is dry and dusty yet delightful. The fine dust settles as you drive into the campsite and you step out onto the thirsty earth. All of this did not happen this year – the Kalahari was greener than ever before with the animals disappearing into long green grass and drinking from natural puddles in the road. Rain in the Kalahari is different; it does not flood the earth with a mass of water, it slowly creeps up over the dry cracked earth like a leopard appearing from a thicket. It finds its way around you and all of a sudden you are standing in the middle of a small stream. You can hear the earth quenching its thirst with bubbles bubbling from every hole.


In January 2021, Villiers Steyn and Owen Grobler were fortunate enough to experience this green desert and everything it has to offer for a full two weeks. Uncharacterised green river beds, colourful flowers, tall green grass and natural pools of water allowed them to capture the Kgalagadi predators in a somewhat different environment. They kindly shared their stunning images with us and how it all happened.

Villiers, or should I say The Safari Expert, made this incredible video which describes the experience in detail and includes a few extra sightings. Give it a look and don’t forget to like the video if you loved it!


The abundance of water was visible in every possible way, hundreds of butterflies fluttering about and the thriving desert plants looked like artwork. Certain areas were covered with pink and white vlei lilies while the bright yellow devil’s thorn flowers bloomed silently and covered vast areas usually dry and dusty.


Predator sightings are always extremely exciting especially when your sightings are as astonishing and specials as these. Just South of Nossob Camp, they spotted three cheetahs: a mother and her two cubs walking down the river bed searching for prey. The cubs played around and jumped into trees making for the perfect photographic opportunity. The overcast conditions and rainy weather set the mood and allowed for unique photos.


Not far from Rooiputs, these two young male lions entertained themselves and the onlookers with their cat-like nature: tackling, rolling, play fighting and just being super photogenic. Soon after the playing ended, the blonde male lion began roaring and there is nothing more spectacular than a Kalahari male lion roaring in the crisp morning air.


Desert cheetahs are superb creatures – not only are the fast and agile movers but elegant too. These two cheetah brothers were spotted multiple times (excuse the pun) and never disappointed in delivering stunning photos. The above photo was taken on the way back to Twee Rivieren from Melkvlei.


The highlight of their trip was this sighting. Captured in perfect lighting conditions and shades of green grass with purple flowers framing the two leopards. Elusive and a silent stalker, this big cat is majestic in everything it does – especially taking its time. Villiers and Owen waited patiently for four hours around the Kamqua picnic site area for the two leopards to move out from the bush they were lying under. The female finally got up and both of them moved down towards them before crossing the road and moving out into the open where they mated with a storm threatening on the horizon. To experience the whole story and witness even more stunning sightings have a look at their YouTube video here.

Every creature in the Kgalagadi enjoyed the abundance of water and lush green grass. This is something rare and we are glad that there are so many talented photographers out there that captured the moments so that we can all share in its joy and beauty.