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AAgainst the rust-red sands of the Kalahari, the 'roaring' white sand dunes of Witsand Nature Reserve are a mysterious natural phenomenon.
These pale dunes are believed to have emerged from an isolated range of hillocks buried beneath the sand, from which springs a natural reservoir that, over millions of years, has gradually leached the red-oxide from the dunes, turning them white.
KKnown as Witsand’s ‘roaring sands’ or brulsand, the countless millions of grains of sand, which make up the dunes, rub together to emit a deep reverberating hum. For this natural phenomenon to occur, very hot and dry conditions are necessary, so although Witsand is warm all year round, summer is the best time to experience this extraordinary sand chorus. More of a rumble than a roar, one must be within close proximity of the dunes to hear their unique sound.
Another natural phenomenon here are the summer thunderstorms where lightning frequently strikes the white sand dunes. Due to the high water table and elevation of the dunes, the strikes create fulgurites, which are glass-like tubes of sand.
A self-drive or guided trip to the ‘roaring sands’ is just one of the tours offered at the Witsand Nature Reserve. The park supports a wealth of small mammals, including meerkats, pangolins and aardvarks. There are also large antelope like red hartebeest, springbok, kudu and gemsbok. During a night game drive, guests may chance upon the porcupine, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, Cape fox, genet, springhare and owl. Guided star-gazing tours among the dunes are another highlight, courtesy of the Northern Cape’s vast, unpolluted skies.
Though Witsand in the Kalahari appears sparsely vegetated, 3 major arid region and bushveld vegetation types converge here, attracting over 170 species of birds. The reserve offers a botanical meander where guests can learn more about Witsand’s endemic and indigenous flora.
An ideal destination to unwind and appreciate unspoiled nature at a relaxed pace, Witsand Nature Reserve will also satisfy adventure enthusiasts. There are challenging 4x4 routes, hiking trails, cycle trails and dune boards for rent.
Whether visiting for the photographic opportunities, or in the hope of experiencing Witsand's famed ‘roaring sands’, guests are assured of an unusual and unforgettable stay.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Witsand Nature Reserve:
Tel/Fax: +27 (0)53 313 1061/2
Mobile: +27 (0)83 234 7573
How to get there
From Johannesburg the drive to Witsand Nature Reserve will take about 8 hours. Travel to Kuruman via Vryburg on the N14. From there you go to Kathu and then Olifantshoek. A few kilometres outside of Olifantshoek en-route to Upington (N14), turn left towards Witsand, and follow the gravel road for 75km to Witsand.
Alternatively, fly to Upington or Kimberley airport, and hire a car to drive to Witsand. Estimated driving time from both airports is around 3 hours. There is no fuel station at Witsand.
Note: You'll need your own vehicle, preferably a 4x4, low-range vehicle or sedan car with good ground clearance.
Best time to visit
Between September and April is the best time to experience the ‘roaring sands’. But be warned - it can be extremely hot at this time.
Things to do
At Kathu visit the Camel-thorn tree forest, at Kuruman visit ‘The Eye’ – a permanent oasis, the golf club, or the Moffat missionary church.
What to pack
Temperatures in desert environs can be extreme. Pack accordingly. Severe sunburn is a risk from the reflective white sands. Bring sun protection and high-factor sun creams. Winter nights can be icy.
What to eat
Guests on the inclusive package are fully-catered. Self-catering guests should bring their own food, in particular fresh produce.
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