Price range, per nightmin R max R
The Kalahari was formed by violent winds dumping huge volumes of sand that today covers the upper regions of the Northern Cape in South Africa and spans neighbouring countries Botswana and Namibia. Although officially classified as a desert, the Kalahari is more semi-arid, as farmers breed cattle and sheep, table grapes are produced and many wild animals thrive in this region.
The area is sparsely populated but full of surprises. Farmers employ ingenious methods to provide water for the residents and animals, and to irrigate their crops.
The Kalahari is synonymous with South Africa’s original inhabitants, the San nation, a people that have survived – and mastered – this harsh land for centuries, and the Trekboers (travelling farmers, directly translated) that fought and now live peacefully alongside the San descendants.
Summertime can be extremely hot in the Kalahari whereas temperatures during winter are generally mild.
The Kalahari provides absolute peace and healthy air, as well as an opportunity to meet friendly citizens and hear their heart-warming life stories.
Top 8 reasons to visit the Kalahari
1. The pretty streets of Kuruman are a welcome break from the surrounding open plains. Visit The Eye, a perennial spring that pours out millions of litres of water daily. The Kalahari Meerkat Project is located here and paying photographers are invited to spend the day photographing this social member of the mongoose family.
2. The water canals are the most striking feature of Kakamas, a town named after a raging cow. Other oddities include a hydro-electric power station disguised as an Egyptian temple, working ancient water wheels and the WW1 graves of German troops who participated in probably the most southerly battle between Germans and the Allies.
3. Visit the Witsand Nature Reserve in Olifantshoek to experience the roar of the white sands on the 100m high dunes that stretch for 10km. On certain days when the wind direction is right, walking on the dunes emits an eerie roaring sound that can be heard several 100 meters away.
4. Keimos is a must-see for its 120 islands – some inhabited, the swing bridges over the river, the magnificent views of the Orange River valley from Tierberg hill and the reed-built shacks in the informal township.
5. The Hakskeen Pan is the site chosen to attempt the next land speed record. The global-run project is expecting their vehicle baptised Bloodhound SSC to reach the 1000mph mark, over the flat 19km pan, in late 2016.
6. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the home of the elegant gemsbok (oryx), with its attractive markings and majestic horns. Lion, leopard, hyena and cheetah are the primary predators in the park.
7. Swimming in the hot springs at the Riemvasmaak Community Conservancy is surreal, the springs are in a ravine surrounded by 80m high granite cliffs in one of the hottest places in South Africa! The conservancy has a number of hiking trails.
8. We recommend getting to know the Kalahari people, to eat their dates and unique dishes, watch them dance in traditional costume, learn of their bush medicines carried down over the years and be spoilt by their generosity and hospitality.
Flights to and from Upington Airport are via OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and Cape Town International. Chartered flights can be taken to Johan Pienaar Airport in Kuruman. Car rentals are available at the Upington Airport or in the town, otherwise order your rental online and collect at the most convenient collection point. Shuttle service companies operate in Upington and Kuruman.
Did you know?
In 1994, the Riemvasmaker community members, who had been forcibly removed years earlier from the Riemvasmaak district, were the first people to reclaim their land through a pioneering land restitution case brought before a South African court.
A rare Kalahari peculiarity is the !N’abbas, an endemic truffle that occurs once every several years towards the end of autumn and only after rains. The fungus makes itself known by swelling, causing tell-tale cracks in the hard ground.
David Livingstone began his quest for the source of the Nile River after arriving in Kuruman to take up a missionary post in 1841.