Category “Johnie does Kalahari”

Green Kalahari

Monday, 28 April, 2014

By Johnie Jonker



Auto-routing on a Garmin can have its drawbacks, as happened here.

Pretoria to Witsand

[Source: Imagery ©2014 TerraMetrics, Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Travelling from Gauteng, one would normally stick to the N14 from Pretoria to Olifantshoek, and turn left towards Witsand 7km after passing through the latter. This leaves 70km of gravel to cover to the entrance of the Witsand Nature Reserve.

By the time we realized we were not on the N14 anymore – you have to turn right at a T-junction to stay on it – we had already passed a few tedious stop-and-go sections where widening of the road is under construction. So we stuck to it and were pleasantly surprised by Postmasburg in terms of the development taking place there, new business extensions especially. The older part had a decent Spar where we could obtain our last-minute self-catering supplies.

Following the GPS routing, we learnt that the direct route to Witsand has recently been blocked by a new mine. The green route below is how we actually had to travel, with the red “shortcut” in the middle now fenced off and gated as mining property.


But a good road, with a very interesting Bergenaarspad 1:5 pass in it. As soon as the road leads into the Langberg to cut through it, it becomes somewhat washed out with some exposed stones – but not big – until it gets to the uphill section through the mountain, which is steep but paved with natural stone. Once at the top, the paving stops and the descent is rutted.

It was afterwards learnt that this cutting through the mountain was a community project where the local labourers were paid per day, instead of for the job. Naturally, they worked as slowly as they could to sustain their income over a longer period of time. So by the time they paved to the top from one side, the money for the project was all spent. Hence the unpaved other side.

Witsand Nature Reserve

The official web site is here: Witsand Kalahari Website. What follows below, are our observations during the visit.


Although this was school holidays, the reserve was almost deserted. Phoning on a Wednesday, accommodation was available for 3 nights from the Sunday. Moving this arrangement on by one day the day before our arrival was still fine.

Now that we’ve been there, I can understand this due to the location – nearest town 70km away. However, this is somewhat of a concern, as I cannot see week-end income only being sufficient to maintain the facilities, unless it’s being subsidised by the NC government. After all, there are only 10 each of both chalets and campsites, plus then the bungalows. So any follow-up visit should not be delayed too much.

The chalets however are rated as 4-Star. I have no idea what 5-star would be like, but this was hands down the smartest accommodation we had ever stayed in while on holiday. By pure coincidence, also the most expensive. Very private – you can’t see any of the other chalets from your own living area – and well maitained.

All chalets are centered around a tree – avoid No 5, the tree has died. We were in number 3 – sunrise side, but number 6 would be optimal if you’re after a sunset over the white dunes.

Also very well finished off – sleeper doors, good craftmanship and little things like pictures on the bedroom and lounge walls.

One drawback could be – the missing star – that the 3 bedrooms are serviced by the same bathroom – not ensuite – but this did not bother us. Maybe it would in winter. Seperate bath, shower and toilet with super hot water.

The kitchen is also superbly kitted out. Proper stove, microwave, fridge and a myriad of utensils for 6 people. Even a  Cadac gas cylinder with stove-plate, should the power fail. You are constantly surprised by what they have there.

Both grid and skottel at the fireplace, plus chains to hang your potjie – a No 3 supplied.

A 3-stitch panoramic from the main bedroom door. The entrance from the car is between the two buildings, on the left.


 This image was taken from the lounge end of the chalet back to the sleeping quarters.

Sleeping quarters

Om die vuur


Most people go to Witsand for the novelty of the white sand, but also the roaring dunes. The temperature and moisture content of the sand has to be just right to hear this. March is not that time.

But you can rent a sand board and bicycle to pedal the 5km from the camp to the dunes and try surfing.

The bicycles are in a terrible state of maintenance. Bent pedals, broken gear shift mechanisms, loose flip-flop saddles, flat tyres. They’re going to have to sharpen this up soon. Rather take your own.

The sand boards are somewhat better, but you have to buy a tin of wax from the shop, otherwise you go nowhere. Some video clips here: Day 1, Day 2, Playing it Safe, More Wax, Please and That’s Better.

Duin 1

 Duins 2

You also need to take along some cool dudes to show you how to drive a sand board.

Cool dudes

Boegoeberg Dam

There really is a place like this!

My first memories of radio, was Fanus Rautenbach’s morning program Flinkveria.

It’s here that I heard that song for the first time, and often afterwards. It has gone out of fashion somewhat lately, though. It goes like this:

Boegoeberg se dam is ‘n doodlekker dam

Daar waar die meisies hulle hare was en kam.

and so on. Apparently the SA Army has different lyrics for it.

Boegoeberg se dam


Groblershoop is the nearest town. As far as we could see, it only has a main road, but at least a decent Agri Mark, 2 butcheries, general dealer, two fuel stations and offsales.

Regional Wine Review

Passing through, I acquired some of the local “Gordonia Special” wine. Last time I bought it was in Upington, where I was sent round the outside from the “Whites Only” half of the store to the “Non-whites” side to obtain a bottle. In the meantime, things have changed, and everyone was served over the same counter – through burglar bars that …