The Kalahari Desert revealed itself to me last time I visited South Africa.
My visit there was the most wonderful experience. I truly like remote places, so staying in the !Xaus Lodge in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the northwest corner of South Africa was truly memorable.
To get there entailed a South African Airways flight to Johannesburg, transfer to a ninety-minute flight to the wine-producing town of Upington, which is situated on the banks of the Orange River in Northern Cape. Then you drive two and a half hours north to the gates of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which shares a border with Botswana. Just when you think that you’re close, you have a ninety-minute drive along the dry bed of the Auob River. This part of the journey was fascinating because, being near water which does seep to the surface, wildlife viewing is plentiful.
Well into the Kgalagadi we turned off onto a red, sandy track where our driver parked our bus and we hopped aboard a Land Rover to cross 91 sand dunes to finally reach our lodge.
The exclamation mark at the start of !Xaus Lodge represents the clicking sound that is an important part of the language of the San Bush people who have lived there for tens of thousands of years.
This truly was the Kalahari Desert revealed.
The lodge has a majestic setting overlooking a kilometre long salt pan that is otherwise surrounded by dunes. It is certainly sparse, and truly quiet, which adds to the lodge’s allure.
Only 24 guests can be accommodated at the lodge, and power is switched off during the afternoons (when guests are usually out), and at 10:30 pm each night. !Xaus Lodge exists to provide employment to the local Meir and Khomani San (Bushmen) in an area where there are few other opportunities for local jobs. Altogether 125 locals are employed there, and their service is superb.
My article about this fabulous experience ‘Red Trails in the Sunset – Visiting the South African Kalahari’ has been published in the March 2020 edition of Western Australia’s most popular senior’s newspaper Have-A-Go News.
For that article, I go into great detail about my adventures there. There were true adventures, finding out about the wildlife, wandering around the sand dunes, visiting a bushmen compound, traversing lots of sand dunes and enjoying drinks atop a sand dune right on dusk. It was magical!
Below is a link to Have-A-Go News and also .pdfs showing my story.
That’s the Kalahari Desert revealed.