A guide to the Kalahari Red Dune Route

2018-09-20 18:00 - Selene Brophy
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Hitting the open road is one thing. But knowing you're going to tap into the byways and highs of Southern Africa with a definitive plan to check off a select list of attractions and experiences - well then - you're a savvy road-tripper on the right track. 

While the Northern Cape is the biggest province in South Africa, we make no bones about the fact that it certainly isn't the lushest. However, it's road-trip appeal lies in the unique, almost alien-like landscapes that stretches on for miles towards the northern expanse of this extraordinary African continent.

READ MORE: How to have a Kgalagadi bushwhacking experience on the cheap   

But what makes the Kalahari Red Dune Route worthwhile?

Beginning in The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, it showcases the Kalahari through a wide range of activities including desert walks, dune-boarding, 4x4 trailing for the adventurous, game drives, guided walks, birding expeditions and other eco-inclined activities for nature-lovers.

African route experts Open Africa, a social enterprise that works with small businesses to establish rural tourism, while offering travellers authentic experiences defines the route experience quite simply as "a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants."

"It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary."

If you're wanting to experience the Kalahari and live to tell the tale that is, read on. After all the Kalahari is a desert with extremely high daytime temperatures and freezing night-time temperatures, often hitting below zero in winter. Thunderstorms are quite the sight during the rainy season between November and April. 

SEE: SA Road Trips Mapped: Highlights of the Karoo Highlands Route 

As suggested by Open Africa, the Kalahari Red Dune Route will uncover regional customs, folklore, special heritage sites and traditional cuisine, as you get to know the welcoming people of the Kalahari.

"Its attractions and accommodation options are as diverse as the landscape and vary from camping to homely bed and breakfasts to luxury lodges."

NB: The park is unfenced and access is only possible with a 4x4 vehicle. There are also two information centres in the park, at Twee Rivieren and Nossob, where visitors will find brochures and travel guides, and can book night drives or day walks with experienced guides.

Once there, keep an eye out for black-mane lion and large antelope such as the gemsbok and eland. You will also see bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, cheetah, hyena and leopard, as well as fascinating small mammals and birds, as well as scorpions and spiders. 

SEE: #SAHeritage: Exploring Khoisan heritage and the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape

Key Attractions to check off: 

  • Khomani Sisen Arts and Crafts

This is a living museum, allowing visitors to gain first-hand insight into the way of the Bushman. This community shares its hunter-gatherer culture and deep understanding of the natural environment, world view and spirituality with visitors. Recognised for its invaluable heritage, UNESCO declared the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape an official UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018. Check out SA's 10 world heritage sites here.  

A 3 500ha private reserve situated 35km south of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, it is a nature-lover’s paradise. You can have an overnight stay option or a unique wildlife-rich day visitor experience. To learn more about meerkat behaviour and their social structures, take a guided walk on the property. 

  • Duration: 2 - 3 hours
  • Cost: R150 per person (a minimum of 2 people)
  • Bring along: Sun block, a hat, water, camera
  • Email Kalahari Trails for more info 

WATCH: SANParks Kudu Awarded Conservationist Prof Anne Rasa on why keeping meerkats is cruel

Visit Ant Koera se Kombuis on the R360 between Askham and Andriesvale (near Khomani San's Bush Camp with camping facilities). There you can tuck into fresh 'roosterkoek' and traditional cuisine before visiting the Heritage Museum. 

READ MORE: Road tripping for the hops: Craft breweries of Free State and Northern Cape

Vinkie's Kalahari Experience is an eco-tourism venture offering a 'bush' experience on the //Khomani farm Witdraai in the beautiful Southern Kalahari dune belt. Tailor-made experiences include walking tours to heritage sites Die Grotte op Witdraai, Skappie se boom and Kaptein boom.  

For more route options to explore - visit Open Africa here.  

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