The Kalahari Region, Northern Cape

The portion of the great Kalahari desert that lies in the Northern Cape Province is but part of a large arid to semi-arid sandy area known as the Kalahari Basin, covering 2.5 million square kilometres that stretch from the Orange River to cover most of Botswana and parts of Namibia.

The Kalahari evokes a picture of never ending red sand dunes, big, blue skies and a scorching sun that shimmers unrelentingly on ancient dry riverbeds, known as omuramba.

Did you know? Once you've booked your hotel or Kalahari accommodation, explore our destination pages below for info on attractions, activities and things to do when you visit the Kalahari region.

The Kalahari, derived from the Tswana Kgala, which means ‘great thirst’ or ‘waterless place’ is a vast area of red sand dunes, the southern part of which dominates the Northern Cape. Yet set along the border with the North West province are the mostly unfamiliar mining towns and villages of Black Rock, Dibeng, Kathu, Van Zylsrus, Hotazel, Dingleton, Olifantshoek and Kuruman.

The Kalahari is both deceptive and alluring. Deceptive because beneath the surface of apparent desert lies an incredible wealth of iron, manganese and other precious ores, which explains the mining towns, and alluring for visitors because of the many game farms and nature reserves to which the Kalahari is home.

Did you know? The highlight of Witsand Nature Reserve of the Kalahari are the meerkats that live in the 100 metre high, 10 km long sand dunes that also emit strange roaring noises when disturbed by either wind or man. The white sand (witsand) of the region is unusual, surrounded as it is by regular red Kalahari sand.

Despite the wilderness, the Kalahari is not true desert in the sense of being unable to support life. Parts of the Kalahari receive as much as 250 millimetres of rainfall, albeit erratically, throughout the year, and grasses and acacias easily support large species of antelope, hyenas, lions, meerkats, giraffe, warthogs and jackals.

Nature Reserves like the beautiful Witsand Nature Reserve, with its famous ‘roaring sands’ of the Kalahari - dunes that emit a rather uncanny rumble when disturbed – and Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, surrounded by the beautiful Koranneberg Mountains on the edge of the Kalahari, one of the largest private game reserves in the country, are part of the allure of the Kalahari.

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South Africa Accommodation / Northern Cape Accommodation / Kalahari Accommodation

Destinations in the Kalahari Region


Overnight? Askham accommodation
When travelling from Upington and making your way to the Kgalagadi National Park, you will come across the little town of Askham. Askham is situated just 73 km from the park entrance at Twee Rivieren. Askham originally developed around the school whic...


The temptation to wordplay with the self-evident 'hot as hell' angle of this town's name is great. Restrain ourselves we would if it were not for the fact that Hotazel really did acquire its name from its association with heat (despite the fact that it ac...


Overnight? Kathu accommodation
There are two reasons why you might visit the rather remote and dusty town of Kathu. One is to marvel at the huge open case iron ore mine - Kathu has one of five of the largest iron ore mines in the world. And the other is the incredible forest of cam...


Overnight? Kgalagadi accommodation
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated approximately 250 km from Upington in the far Northern Cape and 904 km from Johannesburg. Africa's first formally declared trans-border conservation area, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, on the border of Sout...


Overnight? Kuruman accommodation
Lying in the heart of the Kalahari it might be, but Kuruman is one of those special places endowed with incredible picturesque scenery and a unique beauty. All of this is attributable to a natural fountain in the centre of Kuruman, known as ‘the Eye’ ...

McCarthys Rest

Overnight? McCarthys Rest accommodation
McCarthy’s Rest lies snug up against the border with Botswana, just outside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - its name something of a misnomer, for, whilst it is a border post, there is no town here called McCarthy’s Rest. Instead there is a group of gam...


Mier is a municipality bigger than the Free State Province. This beautiful area includes the communities of Rietfontein, Philandersbron, Loubos, Klein Mier, Groot Mier, Welkom, Askham and Noenieput. Mier is situated adjacent to one of the world’s largest ...


Overnight? Tswalu accommodation
Surrounding the rugged Koranneberg Mountains in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve covers 1000km2 (100 000 ha) of land on the edge of the mysterious desert wilderness that is the Kalahari. In the Kalahari, the thornveld an...

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