Hotazel was once a farm where surveyors looked around and said it was ‘As hot as hell’ out here. It then became a small village after strong reserves of manganese were found here and a mining company set up shop. Today it stands out as having one of the oddest names for a town in South Africa.

Did you know?

Apart from a swimming pool, the Hotazel golf club also offers a small golf course and tennis courts.

The icon of sweltering South African weather is the little village of Hotazel in the Northern Cape.

Ironically enough, Hotazel is not the hottest place in the country. Weather charts for the area register 37 degrees Celsius on the top end of the scale – and a chilly 3 degrees Celsius at the bottom.

However, there are towns all over the Karoo and Kalahari where winter temperatures drop well below freezing, and the summer heat brings figures that top 45 deg Celsius.

So it’s all about the name, really. The story goes that a team of land surveyors stayed in the area sometime in 1915 and deemed the place to be ‘hot as hell’. Apparently they staged a raucous party out in the dunes one night and dubbed the spot Hotazel.

The farm that was established here took on the name of Hotazel, as did the little village that was registered at this location in the late 1950s.

The reason for the founding of the town of Hotazel was that a water diviner looking to source an subterranean stream found manganese-bearing black rock underground here and a mining company then bought the farm.

Hotazel lies deep in the Kalahari, which in itself is a San/Bushman derivative word of 'Kgalagadi', meaning ‘the waterless place’. The first people lived were the first residents of Hotazel – but they lived here for more thousands of years without realising it was ‘as hot as hell’. They called it home.

The star attraction for travellers in the Hotazel area is Tswalu Kalahari, a luxury lodge owned by the internationally famous diamond family, the Oppenheimers.

Nicky Oppenheimer and his clan have turned what was once quite a complex hunting and farming operation into what the ‘old Kalahari’ must have once been like: blessed with good grass and a wide variety of wildlife. Here you will spot the legendary black-maned Kalahari lion in all his glory.

The nearest town to Hotazel is Kuruman, known as ‘the oasis of the Kalahari’. The spring-fed ‘Eye of Kuruman’ feeds the town its water and is also the main tourist attraction. For those with a love of history, there is the Moffat Mission nearby, which recalls the days of the famous London Missionary Society man. It is also where the explorer-missionary David Livingstone was based for some time.

Should you ever find yourself in Hotazel in the mid-summer, go directly to the golf club swimming pool and dive in…

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Kalahari Cottage
Tel: +27 (0)53 741 1455
Cell: +27 (0)73 178 8156

How to get here

Coming from Johannesburg, you take the N14 Upington highway, veering right onto the R31, leading you to Hotazel. It’s a journey of 600km (about seven hours' drive).

Best time to visit

Come in the shoulder seasons of spring (August to October) or autumn (April to June) when the weather is not so extreme.

Around the area

Visit Tswalu Kalahari or make a day to trip Kuruman to visit the Moffat Mission Station and the Eye of Kuruman.

Get around

It's best to rent a car and drive yourself through the Kalahari.

What will it cost

Green fees at the Hotazel Golf Club are R40 per person.

Where to stay

You can stay at the Kalahari Cottage in Hotazel, or at the nearby top-end Tswalu Kalahari Lodge.

What to eat

Tswalu Kalahari has the kind of excellent cuisine you would expect from a 5-plus-star bush lodge.