The Kalahari covers the northwest corner of South Africa, the southwest corner of Botswana and a fair piece of southern Nambia. Kuruman is the main town on the South African side and is situated on the N14 highway between Gauteng and Upington. Other towns have evocative names like Black Rock and Hotazel. Their inhabitants are the ‘hard men’ of the Kalahari, who make a living harvesting the earth’s subterranean riches. Beneath its sun-kissed surface the region has a mineral wealth as prolific as the sands on its surface.
Leaving the towns behind and heading into the Kalahari thornveld is to enter an environment like no other in South Africa. Ancient trees shade golden grasslands and red dunes, the colours rich and deep against the untainted blue of a far-reaching sky.
Gravel roads lead through dry riverbeds, deserted plains, and curvaceous mountains, to small settlements that ooze with the essence of an Africa lost in time. Here life is lived in a manner far removed from that in the city. A meal and liquid refreshment at places like the Van Zylsrus Hotel in the backwater town of the same name are obligatory for anybody visiting the area.
A Kalahari farm stay is an unforgettable experience, with welcomes as warm as the weather from folk who have an unwavering zest for life and who love nothing more than to laugh and share their country stories.