Pitch your tent un­der a camel thorn tree in the Molopo Na­ture Re­serve near Vorster­shoop.

go! - - Contents - – Willem van der Berg

MOLOPO NA­TURE RE­SERVE, NORTH WEST

The 24 000 ha Molopo Na­ture Re­serve is in the north-western cor­ner of the North West near the vil­lage of Vorster­shoop. It’s on the bor­der with Botswana and about 100 km from the Mabuase­hube sec­tion of the Kgala­gadi Trans­fron­tier Park – an area known for its Kala­hari lions. There have been in­stances in the past where lions have crossed the bor­der into Molopo… The land­scape con­sists of sandy plains with the odd dune and lots of black thorn aca­cia and camel thorn trees. Jeep tracks criss-cross the re­serve, but the sand is not deep or loose. A high clear­ance ve­hi­cle is rec­om­mended, but you don’t need a 4x4; just lower your tyre pres­sure. It’s likely that you’ll be the only vis­i­tors and you’ll find tran­quil­lity in abun­dance. Wildlife like gems­bok, wilde­beest and eland are easy to spot; I also saw im­pala, water­buck, kudu, ze­bra, har­te­beest, duiker, steen­bok and gi­raffe. If you’re lucky, you might see a brown hyena, a leop­ard, a cara­cal, a honey badger or a chee­tah. Also keep your eyes peeled for bateleur, mar­tial ea­gle and white-backed vul­ture. There are lots of wa­ter­holes where you can pause un­der a camel thorn tree and wait to see what the day de­liv­ers. A sun­set in the Kala­hari is a spe­cial ex­pe­ri­ence – it’s as if the veld breathes a sigh of re­lief af­ter the long, hot day. You’ll hear a ko­rhaan call­ing and Kala­hari ground geckos click­ing in the dusk. Ac­cord­ing to a 2016 re­serve sur­vey, there are 28 jack­als that call Molopo home and they’ll soon add their voices to the nightly choir. Ac­com­mo­da­tion: Phiri Camp is close to the en­trance gate on the east­ern side of the park. Camp­ing fa­cil­i­ties only. The nine stands are spread out among black thorn aca­cias, shaded by camel thorn trees, and it feels like you’re camp­ing in the bush. Each stand has a tap but not much else – you pitch your tent on the sand. There is one com­mu­nal bath­room and a kitchen. The fa­cil­i­ties weren’t in great shape dur­ing my visit in Septem­ber 2017, but ren­o­va­tions were un­der­way. Where? The en­trance to the re­serve is about 10 km north-west of Vorster­shoop, off the R379 to Bray (about 250 km north-west of Vry­burg). The road is tarred un­til about half­way there. Rates: Camp­ing R100 per per­son. En­trance fee R30 per adult; R20 per child un­der 12. Con­tact: 053 939 0200; 072 965 6800; tourism­north­west.co.za/ molopo-na­ture-re­serve

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