02 July 2012 by Chris Marais

Fun @ the Phoning Dune

The roadside attractions out in the deep Kalahari are many and meaningful. And if you ever need to make a phone call on the road between Van Zylsrus and Askham, then look out for the Phoning Dune.

I’m having another Kalahari bucket-list experience without realising it should be on my bucket list.

OK, let me explain. We’re driving along a Northern Cape dirt road and we pass a farm called New Lonely.

New Lonely. What happened to Old Lonely?

‘I wonder what happened to Old Lonely?’ I muse at my wife, as one does on a lonely road on a dusty day in the Kalahari. As I begin to veer towards the little New Lonely farm road to go and ask someone this very question, she firmly stays my steering hand.

‘We’re late for the park. Keep focused.’

Then we pass a farm called Tampan, and I drive noticeably faster. Never heard of the dreaded tampan? He’s a blood-sucking tick who lies under the sand, waiting for you to walk past. He drinks lustily from your bloodstream and, as soon as you move on, he falls back into the sand, completely sated. They’ve been known to suck cows completely dry. Put that in your pipe...

Dirk phones home to speak to his crow...

My mate Dirk owns a crow, and it’s currently minding the family home down in Calvinia.

Another sign up ahead says Belduin (Telephone Dune), and our little convoy of 2 vehicles pulls to the roadside.

Can it be? There seems to be no cellphone reception anywhere here on the road between Van Zylsrus and Askham. Could there be a faint signal up there, on the top of the dune. Hence the name?

Only 1 way to find out, and up we trudge.

My mate Dirk owns a crow, and it’s currently minding the family home down in Calvinia. He’s a tad crow-crazy, this buddy of mine, so he’s dying to find out how his pet is getting on without him.

He arrives 1st on top of the Phoning Dune, and would you know, his iPhone catches a good-enough signal.

My Blackberry won’t work in the far Kalahari, even on top of this lookout dune.

Just then, a very nice young farm labourer comes driving up and says, ever so politely, that we’re on private property and that we should perhaps have reported in with his boss before climbing the Phoning Dune.

It’s fine, we say. The crow is doing well. And with that, we drive off, leaving the farmhand shaking his head at the silly strangers...

The long and dusty drive to the Phoning Dune

Category: Attractions

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