Your first encounter with the legendary black-maned lions of the Kalahari will be unforgettable. You’ll find them in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Kalahari Desert conservation area that links South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

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The Kalahari Desert is where the popular TV series 'Meerkat Manor' was filmed

You'll need to visit the Kalahari to see the legendary black-maned lions and the best place to find these awesome beasts is in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, in South Africa's southwest corner.

This immense desert of scrub and sand that lies between South Africa, Botswana and Namibia comprises one of the largest stretches of sand in the world – it covers 2,5 million square kilometres of southern Africa.

In many ways it's the romantic desert of endless sands, high dunes and vanishing horizons immortalised in countless Hollywood epics, but because of the abundant desert grasses, there's also lots of scrub about.

You'll stay at any one of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park's attractive lodgings, and when you set out early in the morning, before the desert sun is at its fiercest, it's then that you may well catch a glimpse of your first black-maned lion.

Keep your eyes wide open as you drive slowly along, searching the dry river beds, looking in pools of shade under the infrequent trees, listening for the warning calls of birds that often reveal the presence of a predator.

In the evening, as the setting sun colours the dunes from pale pink to glowing orange to deep red, check the waterholes, where thirsty lions drink before setting off on their evening hunt.

What is it that makes the desert-dwelling black-maned lion so special? It's not their size, although they sometimes tend to be slightly larger than their golden-maned counterparts. It's rather the contrast between their tawny bodies and the long black mane that surrounds that familiar face, framing it so dramatically.

It's not a sight you'll easily forget.

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