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