Footsteps in the sand
Go deep into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the first transborder park in Africa, which covers 3.9 million ha of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, and find dramatic scenery, plentiful game and over half the raptors found in South Africa.
But you’ll also find the San people, whose hunter-gatherer culture stretches back over 20 000 years and who represent the oldest genetic stock of contemporary humanity.
I stayed deep in the desert at !Xaus Lodge (pronounced Kaus) , which, perched on high red sand dunes, overlooks a huge 1.3km heart-shaped pan. The first luxury lodge in the park, !Xaus is a joint project of the South African government, SA National Parks, and the Khomani San and Mier communities to whom the land originally belonged.
Forget the spectacular scenery, the abundant desert game, the great Kori bustards stalking the grasslands, and come walking with the San…
Forget the spectacular scenery, the abundant desert game, the great Kori bustards stalking the grasslands, and come walking with the San. Local guides lead you through the desert, pointing out medicinal plants (learn to chew roots and dig tubers), showing you how to follow spoor, fashion bird traps, make fire and telling you some of the legends.
One is that every star in the sky is the soul of someone who has died. Late that night over a crackling fire I search the sky for loved ones and listen to the stars sing.
You can also go on a guided trail at the Kalahari Trails Nature Reserve, just 35km from the park, led by Professor Anne Rasa, a renowned animal behaviourist and zoologist who was a pupil of the legendary Khomani tracker ‘Vetpiet” Kleinman.