This ancient and beautiful land is not only amazingly rich in diversity it also reflects an endless variety of moods, making each new encounter refreshingly different from the previous ones. The Kalahari Red Dune Route extends north of Upington into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that forms the shares its borders with Namibia and Botswana and is one of the largest conservation areas in the world.
The colour of the dunes in the southern Kalahari can be attributed to the high iron oxide content of the sand. In areas of higher rainfall and in shallow areas where water collects, the iron oxide is leached out, causing the sand ultimately to turn white. The gradual effect of the leaching transforms the desert into a wonderful variety of colours.
Besides the red dunes, some of the most obvious features of the Kalahari landscape are the nests of the sociable weaver birds. The colonies have up to 50 chambers housing as many as 300 birds.
Since the Kalahari is a desert, daytime temperatures can be extremely high and in winter, night-time temperatures can drop below zero, though the days are usually warm and pleasant. Thunderstorms are common during the rainy season between November and April.
Reasons to visit
The Kalahari Red Dune Route 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. For visitors attuned to culture and history, the Kalahari Red Dune Route offers the opportunity to experience regional customs and folklore, sample traditional cuisine, and meet the warm and welcoming people of the Kalahari. Accommodation options are as diverse as the landscape, and vary from camping to homely bed and breakfasts to luxury lodges. All in all, the Kalahari Red Dune Route offers something for everyone.
Deserts Walk / Woestyntrap
Contact Person: Betta Steyn
Mob: +27 82 093 0801
Every July around 50 cyclists ranging in age from 7 to 75 take to the R360 road between Askham and Upington in the Southern Kalahari. For three days they roam over the dunes and through the 'hardeveld' and for three nights they sleep in tents at various spots along the road - a pan, an 'oasis' and a game farm. Woestyntrap is one in its kind as it is designed for all people wanting to enjoy nature, good kalahari food, cultural exchanges and the other bests the Kalahari can offer from the seat of a bicycle. It is not for competitive cyclists as everyone receives a medal when completing the race.
People who have done this, keep on returning year after year and describe this event as one of the best times of their lives. It is perfect for the adventurous, not-so-fit and lazy as there is no competition or time limit. All you have to do is arrive at your destination before the sun sets.
Originally the resourceful hunter-gatherers known as the San inhabited the Kalahari. Experience had taught them that, though there was water in the area, it was mostly saline and thus unsuitable for agriculture. In the 1920's and 1930's, farmers from the west sought grazing permits during the winter months when there was plenty of nourishment for their livestock. The sheep could survive on just a little drinking water as they obtained most of their moisture from plants. Shepherds would lead their flocks to areas where rains had recently fallen, and they would gather tsama melons for additional nourishment for their flocks. When spring came, the animals would need more water and the herds would again be moved west.
Later the government decided that the land was arable, and had it surveyed and apportioned. Farmers who settled in the region would construct dams that supplied water for about nine months of the year. When the water ran out, the farmers either trucked in extra supplies or simply bought or rented another farm. Most chose to buy additional land, and gradually a nomadic style of farming returned to the Kalahari. Shepherds would move the animals by night and rest during the heat of the day.
In the early 1980s, the government laid on a water supply network from the Orange River. Today this scheme serves about 650 000ha, and is controlled by a Water Board and a system of flow-control valves and consumption meters designed to prevent overgrazing.
For more information about this route, fill out the form below.