Kathu, Kalahari

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 camel thorn trees, Acacia erioloba, one of only two in the world (the other lies between Mariental and Reboboth in Namibia) that endowes the town with 4000 hectares of trees that form a reserve registered as a Natural Heritage Site.

Kathu lies in the middle of the Kalahari desert. It's a mining town that lies strategically alongside the N14 between Kuruman and Upington, and three hours' away from Kimberley, to which it is connected by road, rail and air. The town, which lies 12 km north east of another mining town called Dingleton, but which was then known as Sishen, was originally formed to house workers for the new mine that opened in 1973.

The town of Kathu, one of the fastest growing towns in the Northern Cape, actually lies south of the camel thorn forest, despite being known as the 'town under the trees'. Kathu used to form part of the forest, which today, although protected, lies mostly on privately owned farms and land, and relies heavily on the goodwill of residents and visitors, to help protect these thorny trees.

There is a third reason that visitors come to Kathu. It boasts one of the country's most beautiful golf courses, part of it lying within the camel thorn forest on the edge of the desert. Rated as one of the top 20 golf courses in the country, the 18-hole course hosts the annual Kalahari Classic and the 2nd stop on the winter leg of the Vodacom Southern African Tour.

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