If you think of the Kalahari Desert, what comes to mind? For Gareth and I it brings visions of heat, lions and sandy dunes. Two of these were waiting for us as we headed towards the park.
Our story begins in Uppington in South Africa. We waited it out here for a part to arrive for the Troopy (read more about that here), and then drove towards the most Northern reaches of the country.
The earth here is intense. The plains shift from green to yellow; becoming increasingly dry. The heat seems to intensify each kilometre North. So we drove with one eye on the radiator temperature and the other on the 37 degree inside cabin temperature!
But there was no room to complain as every 50-kilometres we would pass a group of San Bushmen settlements baking in the sun. Their tin shacks baked in the stifling heat and the road went on and on, and then…
^ Driving towards the Kalahari
^ 37 degrees inside the rig
^ So stinkin’ hot that we drenched towels and wrapped them around ourselves to cool down
Just 5- kilometres from the gates of the Kalahari we found an oasis - Kgalagadi Lodge.
First thoughts: WOW.
Second thoughts: How have they managed to build this in the middle of a damn desert!?
Third thoughts: We might just move in.
^ An oasis in the Kalahari
^ Breathing through the heat
We cooled ourselves from the heat with icy drinks and sunk into the comfort of meeting SJ and Denise who own the lodge. These guys are off the charts inspiring.
Just 1 year and 9 months ago they stood in the desert and began building their vision of a quality lodge within a stone’s throw from the gates of the Kgalagadi. In such a short time it’s baffling how they have achieved so much. A beautiful store with a deli, a bar, restaurant, a classy pool with lounge chairs, a camp ground and brand new chalets. With the heat still pounding at 40 degrees in the late afternoon we were hosted in one of their chalets. Words can’t describe the relief of walking into a beautiful space with air-con cranking I’m in heaven
^ The view from our self contained luxe chalet
^ Every time we indulge in a bit of luxury we have this tradition….
^ Happiness is…
^ From 37 inside our rig to 17 inside the lodge!
^ A lot of love has gone into the Kgalagadi Lodge
^ Kgalagadi Lodge up close
A drink was cracked immediately and soon SJ and Denise had arranged their staff to bring us a braii pack for dinner. I set about relaxing and Gareth took on photographing the night’s sky.
^ The braii pack
^ Braii time
^ Sunset at Kgalagadi Lodge
^ We slept under a blanket of stars (and some sweet air con)
^ The inspiring SJ and his beautiful wife Denise
The next day we peeled ourselves away from the lodge and headed into the park. The Kalahari is spread across South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Here in South Africa it is called the Kgalagadi Transfronteir Park and as we were planning to exit through the park into Namibia we needed to process our papers through immigration and customs.
And just like that we were in the Kalahari Desert!