Charting the Course
China reviews the year gone by and sets new goals accordingly
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Issue 13
Africa Travel> Issue 13
UPDATED: March 10, 2015
Red Sands and Black Swans
The Kalahari desert is bursting with life
By Jo Kromberg


The road stretches ahead of us for what seems like forever. The searing, dry heat is relentless.

A couple of lonely clouds in the big sky make empty promises and the arid hills sit silently with million yard stares as we drive. And then like magic the sands change color. We are finally in the red sand country of the Kalahari. We drive through places with evocative names like Keimoes, derived from the San language, the people who still live here predominantly. Kakamas – another San name – is our final destination and my good friend Wikipedia tells me that the town was founded in 1898.

Color contrast

It's located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, on the banks of the Orange River and the environment is oddly hallucinogenic. Here in the heart of the desert, wine making and grape farming has become one of the biggest contributors to this area's GDP in the last 10 years or so. The green vineyard belt is almost surreally superimposed on the arid desert. We turn into Vergelegen Guesthouse, our abode for the evening. This fine 4-star establishment is ideally situated for travelers wishing to visit the region's many national parks and game reserves. It is within relatively easy driving distance from 'Ai'Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Augrabies Falls National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Goegap Nature Reserve, Namaqua National Park, Spitskop Nature Reserve and Tswalu Kalahari Reserve. The area is almost one of South Africa's best kept secrets in terms of activities – game drives, river rafting and fishing on the Orange River,  4x4 Trails, hot air ballooning, wine tours, heritage sites – the region has it all. 


The inviting exterior features a small dam with a cornucopia of ducks, geese and lo! - a black swan with a blood red beak. The place is a veritable oasis. This fine 4-star establishment is known far and wide for its quality of accommodation food and service and this is proven in spades during lunch. My partner orders the Sun Salad – a huge, beautiful mess of a salad with high-quality salami, excellent cheddar cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and lettuce and fresh tomatoes. He also order snails wrapped in bacon with melted cheese on garlic ciabatta – a culinary feast. My calamari is tender and delicious. Their flag ship wine Die Mas is outstanding. The service is as good as I have experienced anywhere and the staff have a generosity of spirit seldom found. 

Free Wi-fi

The rooms are quaint and very comfortable with exceptional attention to detail and heavenly air conditioning since the February heat is deadly in this part of the world, as mentioned. Vergelegen also offer complimentary Wi-Fi.

 We stop into the Cocktail Lounge later which, as their website so eloquently puts it, "offers lovingly made libations in the heart of the Northern Cape. Our mission is to help revive the lost art of mixing drinks, striving for balance in every glass." They offer a selection of specialty liqueurs, syrups, digestives, and vermouths, as well as a dizzying array of bitters and tinctures—to respect the quality and character of each spirit. From a profound respect for the classics to the adventure of unique flavor combinations, ours is a perpetual quest for the new frontier of the cocktail." A heady discovery in the middle of a desert where time has stood still for all intents and purposes.

Dinner is a romantic affair by candle light around the pool. The heat has hardly abated but the excellent food and scintillating company of night manager Eugene makes for an evening of much mirth. Fond farewells and promises to return follow the next morning. And I shall...

Getting there:

Kakamas is situated in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, about 850 kilometers from Johannesburg. The recommended way of getting there is to hire a car at any car rental agency in Johannesburg. There are several flights between Beijing, Hong Kong and Johannesburg per week with carriers like Emirates and Cathay Pacific.



For adventure acvities in the area, contact Kalhari Outventures at http://www.kalahari-adventures.co.za/ 

Top Story
-Empowerment Through Infrastructure
-Special Reports: APEC China 2014
-Protection at Home
-A Weaker Union
-Will the 'China Miracle' Continue?
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved