The Roaring Kalahari Route
Did you know?
The dunes at Witsand Nature Reserve roar as a result of air escaping between the round, uniform-shaped granules, which build up static electricity and friction.
At the Witsand Nature Reserve the dunes literally roar.
At certain times of year they can be heard from 5km away; much like the roar of the great black-maned Kalahari lions of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Both reserves are part of the Roaring Kalahari Route in the Northern Cape, a Northern Cape Tourism Authority route of attractions which typically starts either in Kuruman or Kimberley (which has an airport).
From Kimberley, head 140km west to Griquatown or Griekwastad, home to Earth Treasures, a small gemstone factory where you can watch gemstones being polished.
You can also visit the Mary Moffat Museum in the main street. Mary Moffat, who grew up in Griquatown, was the wife of legendary 19th Century explorer David Livingstone.
From here, journey 120km to the 3500ha Witsand Nature Reserve, where you can hike, dune surf, hire mountain bikes or travel the Kalahari Mountain View 4x4 route on a neighbouring farm.
Spend at least two days at Witsand Nature Reserve, and book a guided walk with a field guide. This way your eyes will be opened to animals that few ever see, such as the elusive nocturnal aardwolf and aardvark, and the common barking gecko, source of that characteristic soundtrack of Kalahari evenings.
You can then head the 110km to Groblershoop and visit the Orange River Wine Cellars and a private game ranch, Thuru Lodge, which offers a spa, horse trails and game drives.
In the same area is Kheis Riverside Lodge on the Orange River, which attracts anglers from far and wide. The birdwatching is superb, too.
Head about 120km from there to Upington, take a ferry ride on the Orange River and visit the Augrabies Falls.
The Twee Rivieren camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is your next stop, 250km from Upington. The park offers a wondrous variety of desert plants, and bird and animal species, including the Kalahari lion.
After visiting the park, head about 200km east to Van Zylsrus, Hotazel and Kathu, where you can enjoy a round of golf on an oasis of an 18-hole course, shaded by camelthorn trees.
A further 50km takes you to Kuruman.
There are superb game ranches, guest lodges, caves, paintings and iron-ore mines on the Roaring Kalahari Route. But most important of all is the chance to take in the silence of the Kalahari and its desert magic.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Witsand Nature Reserve
Cell: +27 (0)83 234 7573
How to get here
Fly or drive to Kimberley, 480km from Johannesburg. Or drive to Kuruman, 520km from Johannesburg. You can then self-drive from Kimberley or Kuruman.
Best time to visit
All year round, but bear in mind that summers (October to March) are particularly hot. It can get very cold in winter (June and July in particular), often dropping to below zero at night, but the days are usually warm and sunny.
Around the area
Your hosts at each stop will advise on all the activities in the area.
It's best to drive yourself on the Roaring Kalahari Route. Sedans are suitable for most parts of the route, but there are 4x4 routes and dirt roads, so a 4x4 would be ideal.
What will it cost
Activities and accommodation along the way varies to suit all pockets.
Length of stay
Take at least 1 week to do the Roaring Kalahari Route.
What to pack
Always carry plenty of drinking water. Also take hats, walking shoes, binoculars, warm and cool clothing, swimming gear, and fishing gear.
Where to stay
There is a choice of game reserves, lodges and guest farms along the route.
What to eat
Most establishments en route serve food. Self-catering options are also available, so stock up when you pass through towns. Most of the nature or game reserves also offer certain foodstuffs in their stores.This would be a good time to try out local foods like springbok biltong (spiced wind-dried meat).