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LOCAL TIME: 02:05 pm | Thursday, 29 February
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!Xerry Wilderness Hiking Trail, Kgalagadi

The Kgalagadi is most popularly famous for four things – endless red dune fields, scrub and camelthorn trees, endless space – as far removed from civilisation as can be imagined, extreme heat, and enormous black-maned lions.

The first two things are why the !Xerry Wilderness Hiking Trail, which moves through an otherwise innaccessible area of the Kgalagadi, is perfect for those who love the quintessential Kalahari and are looking to really get away – I mean completely away – from it all. The second is why the trail is only walked in early morning and late afernoon and still then only in the winter from April 1st to October 31st. The fourth is why the highly trained guides are armed – even though SanParks is quick to reassure that the chances of meeting lions is slim.

The !Xerry Wilderness Trail was opened in 2010, and is unusual in that there is no destination. There is base camp near Nossob in the Kgalagadi, and walks over a period of 2 days leave from the camp, with a maximum walking distance of 15km per day. The two overnights are at the fenced boma camp, round a fire pit and with the armed guides…

You’d be lucky to see Nossob’s lions (named Jan and Freek), though you may hear their roars. You might see leopard, which are common in the area. You will very likely see black-backed jackals which are in abundance in the area, and  you will definitely see steenbok (!Xerry is the Nama name ‘steenbok’), springbok and a variety of other antelope and many of the bird species that live off the wealth of small animal, reptile and insect life that inhabit the dune fields, and off each other. After walking in the vastness and silence, as your senses clear and sharpen, you will also see little things you’d never normally notice. At night, you will see more stars than you ever imagined could be seen.

The !Xerry Hiking Trail is a 2 day, 2 night overnight starting from Nossob where you will leave your 4×4 and be transported to the !Xerry Camp. The Maximum group size is 8, and no children under 16 are allowed. This is a self-catering trail and all gear, including cooking gear and utensils as well as tents must be brought. Wood for braaing at the camp in s available in Nossob. Take plenty of water, cool clothing and sunscreen for days that can reach 35 celcius, hat, binoculars, warm clothes and sleeping gear for desert nights that can go to -10 celcius, own tent, torch and cooler box. There is no electricity at !Xerry, although here is a bush shower in the camp boma.

More on SanParks !Xerry Wilderness Trail

Getting there: The closest main to the Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park gate at Twee Rivieren is Upington. From Upington take the R360 north for around 400 km and follow signs. You will be given directions to the Nossob Rest Camp at the Gate. Make sure you have plenty of fuel for any forays into this area. The total travelling time to Nossob from Upington is around 7 hours.

More info on the quaint town of Kgalagadi More info on the Kalahari area

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