The park is relatively difficult to get to, requiring a one and a half hour flight to the town of Upington, there’s a two and a half-hour drive to the gates of the park, where they do a security check. Just when you think you are almost there you have a one and a half-hour drive along a dry riverbed before reaching an obscure sand track that is somewhat majestically called the Auob River Road, where you transfer to a large four-wheel drive for the final part of the journey to !Xaus Lodge, which means traversing 91 sand dunes to get there.
The lodge is perched atop a sand dune and overlooks a salt pan, which is one kilometre across. This is true desert, part of the Kalahari Desert. It’s very dry but low shrubs do provide food for the variety of animals that live here. It is very sandy, which changes colour as you move through it from the deepest of reds to golden yellow.
You won’t see many of the Big Five here, such as elephants, because it is simply too dry to sustain them. Nevertheless, we did see lions, giraffe and a variety of antelope too. Meerkats and mongoose were also prominent, as were ostriches.
Near the lodge was a small San people compound, where families take turns to spend some time there to demonstrate their traditional lifestyle to lodge visitors. Before moving into larger, modern communities their lives were quite simple and they were able to live good lives with few resources.
We did some walking safaris with Castro, our guide, who could read the landscape very well. He tracked minute creatures to show us how they lives, could tell us what species of antelope and hyena had passed by and when.
We drove extensively through those sand hills and, when away from the lodge, didn’t see another person. The electricity at the lodge went off at 10:30pm each night and that’s when I sat on my balcony to look at the cloudless sky and watch it come to life with millions of stars. That was simply magic!
!Xaus Lodge and the Kgalagardi Transfrontier Park was just brilliant, and I tried to capture my thoughts in the attached video.
See how captivated I was, and you may want to visit too.