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South Africa

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My great Nossob Adventure

Text: Kate Collins. Pictures: Kate Collins and Lucy Argent. Article from the Summer 2011/2012 issue of Wild Magazine.

To walk and camp in the wild is to discover the magic of the Kgalagadi.

The Kgalagadi may have red sands, but the view from the top of this dune shows the Kgalagadi at its greenest after a good season of rain.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park has many rewards for those who dare to explore the wild side of the park. This I discovered when my friend Lucy Argent and I took on the Kerry Wilderness Trail and the Nossob 4×4 Eco Trail.

The !Xerry Trail is a two-day walk that departs from Nossob and is your ticket to exploring the Kgalagadi on foot. Walks take place in the morning and afternoon. Our guide Melissa du Toit and Jan Kriel, the manager of activities in the South African side of the park, pointed out everything from trees to spoor. We spent our downtime at the !Xerry Camp, an enclosure that keeps wild animals out but had us listening to their calls throughout the night.

1. Springbok herds are atoundant along the route and are usually seen taking respite from the heat under the shade of camelthorn trees. 2. A large dune provides a fantastic vantage point. From the top the red sands seem to stretch forever. 3. A cheetah walks through the grass towards a Wateringhole, the first of seven cheetahs seen on the same day. 4. Guide Jan Kriel shares his stories around a campfire, accompanied by the sounds of animal calls in the background.

The Nossob 4×4 Eco Trail runs through red undulating dunes between the popular Twee Rivieren and Nossob Camps. It is not simply a four-day off-road trail, but rather a chance to see animals, birds and plants, and spend time sleeping in unfenced campsites.

The first camp on the trail is called Witgat. “Its known for its lion activity. On my last trip we had some lions playing with our firewood,” our guide Dawid Pearson said. He explained that while they do not always see lion, they often hear them not far from the camp. He also added that camping in the wild is not something to be afraid of. “If you respect the animals they will respect you.”

Tsamma melons consist of around 90% moisture and are a great water source for both animals and people. This pretty melon grows on a vine plant and sports bright yellow flowers. Guide Dawid Pearson cuts open one found along the roadside and I have first taste.While the trail offers you a chance to see game, Pearson explained that the beauty of this 4×4 excursion is the time to enjoy the park with a smaller group, where animal sightings are seen by only a few. “It’s also an opportunity to learn about little things; scorpions, plants and insects.”

The second night is spent at Rosyntjiebos and the last night at Swartbas. Swartbas is Pearsons favourite campsite and excellent for bird-watching. This is also where we spotted two lionesses lying in the road. After a 10-minute nap, the two stretched their legs and walked off. It was a great way to end a trail that’s not likely to disappoint.

Kate’s tips for 4×4 driving

Keep a good distance behind the vehicle in front of you. Deflate your tyres before setting out on the trail. Go to Wildcard and read our blog on tyre pressure.

Be considerate of game sightings and stop to inform others. Pack your car so there is enough space to see out the back window. The less you pack, the easier it becomes to climb the dunes. Choose your travel partner wisely – you’ll have a lot more fun.

Need to know

The cost for the Nossob Trail with a minimum of two vehicles and a maximum of five. Trails depart every Monday at 09h00 and alternate on a monthly basis between Nossob and Twee Rivieren.

The !Xerry Trail departs from Nossob at 11h30 on Wednesdays and returns to Nossob at 12h00 on Fridays. The trail caters for a minimum of three and a maximum of eight; no under-16s.

The trail is open from 1 April to 31 October only.

Bookings: 054-561-2050, website.

More info on the quaint town of Upington More info on the Green Kalahari area


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