Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

The land of drought and mercy

No one who visits the Kalahari and the Kgalagadi is not deeply affected by it. It is there, in the barren beauty, where one appreciates the wonders of nature anew and finds oneself again. Henriëtte de Meyer shares a unique and inspiring look at her experience.

There is something about the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that makes you feel human again. The bare beauty of the dry landscape hits you like a sucker punch, unexpected and intense. It is then that you realise this is the land of mercy.

There is just something about the Kgalagadi that determines and reawakens your lust for life. It is here where your soul finds peace and your being finds joy.

There is something about the stars in that part of the world that feeds one’s heart. You find something in the “nothingness” that brings joy. The red sand dunes, scarred by paths and tracks made by the wind, teach you gratitude.

There is something in the sunshine and the grass dancing in the wind that draws you in. There is contentment in every animal that finds its way to a waterhole. The springbok act differently there. The meerkats, basking in the sun, look excited – as if being the bearers of good news. The elegant and stately gait of the oryx speaks of contentment. The exuberant play of lion cubs in the red desert dust shows how at home they are here. The graceful trot of the cheetah… does he perhaps see a potential feast hiding somewhere? The dark manes of the Kalahari lions speak of pride. Their deep voices roar in the distance, a stark reminder of the danger this place holds.

For birders, this area will not disappoint. From the tiniest Crimsonbreasted Shrike to the imposing Martial Eagle proudly display their beauty and pageantry. The Secretary birds walk with their heads lowered, moving from side to side with each step. The Kori Bustard prances proudly through the pale faded grass.

Each new day is announced with warm colours and ends with the most beautiful sunset, a perfect creation. There is something here… here where we lingered in God’s creation for a week of blissful camping. Here, among the red sand dunes, where the tsammas – one of the most essential plants in the Kalahari’s semi-arid ecosystem – proudly stand, you gain new appreciation for the spectacle of nature. Roosterkoek and fresh home-baked bread become part of the menu. This is what restores your soul, makes you whole… The open fields where springbok, oryx and wildebeest graze freely creeps into every pore of your being. Here everything lives in perfect harmony to the beat of nature’s drum.

Our first overnight stop was the Tweerivieren campsite, where clean, neat ablutions and a wellequipped shop, as well as fuel and a restaurant, awaited us.

The Land Rover was properly put through its paces on the Leeuwdril 4×4 route which runs in the southern Nossob River. It is here where a desert dweller, named Matthyss, had an encounter with a lion. He had no gun with him and all he could do was stand dead still and stare down the beast. The lion glared at him for a while before turning away. Matthyss was shaking from head to toe, and thus the name Leeuwdril was given to this meeting place (“dril” means to shake in Afrikaans).

We stopped at several waterholes, where we admired countless flocks of finches. The names given to these places each tell an interesting story. The Thirteenth and Fourteenth boreholes were originally referred to as Grootskrij and Kleinskrij. The Rooibrak waterhole in the Auob River refers to the state of the brackish water, reddish in colour… Huge communal nests can be seen everywhere and can have up to 50 rooms housing up to 300 birds – including chicks. The nests are well insulated; the inside temperature never drops below 15⁰C in winter and never rises above 30⁰C in summer. Fan-tailed ground squirrels provide entertainment when they hold their tails like fans over their bodies to provide some shade.

The Auchterlonie Museum – a beautifully restored stone building – was worth a visit and offered a glimpse into how people lived 100 years ago. Here the Human family lived and farmed with sheep and goats. Two rooms with riempiesbankies (couches made from wood and leather thongs) and a bed with a quilted blanket are beautifully preserved. When you walk around you will also find a kraal, a cooking screen and a workshop where the anvils still stand. A hand-dug well reminds you how tough and hardworking our ancestors were. This is also a convenient stop for a cup of coffee and something from your picnic basket, as you watch the tall grass dancing in the wind.

We travelled further north to Mata Mata, where we were greeted by comfortable and clean ablution facilities. There is a shop where you can buy necessary supplies and you can also refuel. As we were leaving, a family of lions surprised us on the road. Father, mother and three teenagers frolicked about, and we eagerly captured the magic moments as we watched through our camera lenses.

It was a unique experience… to stare at the sunset, wait for the stars and forever etch the beautiful moments into our memories. The atmosphere in this special place is palpable. It is an open, honest world that will freely share its wealth with whomever will appreciate it. The Kalahari will reveal its beauty only to those who accept and appreciate it with a pure and eager heart. At night in my dreams, I see the thorn trees. The Kalahari is calling to me, and I must go…

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