Published: January 19th 2010November 18th 2009
I have little in the way of Upington accommodation info, and of course Tourist Information's not open when the Intercape disgorges me at 6:45AM, so I head to the one place I have an address for. The guy who lets me in looks surprised to see me, partly due to the hour and partly due to the room tariff being several times higher than my appearance would suggest I can afford. It's more than I want to pay but I'm tired and frankly just want a shower and a nap. Fortunately the room's the best-equipped one I've had in Africa, the kettle and fridge promising a pot noodles and white wine session in the near future.
Upington lies on the Orange River which, 100km west of here, forms the border betweeen southern Namibia and South Africa. The town is the gateway to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, whose spelling hides the fact that it's what most foreigners would know as the Kalahari. The park straddles the South Africa/Botswana border and is almost twice the size of Kruger, but is much less tourist-friendly than Kruger due to its inaccessibility and gravel roads.
I remember studying the Kalahari in geography lessons when I
was 10, in particular its native inhabitants the Bushmen, and being secretly appalled at being told that they would suck up ground water with a straw then let it trickle down another straw into an ostrich shell receptacle. Water that had already been through someone else's mouth seemed the height of disgustingness. I'm less squeamish now, and Laurens van der Post's "The Lost World of the Kalahari" had aroused an interest that was further piqued by stories of wide open spaces, Kalahari-adapted species, and sunsets that knock all previous ones into a cocked hat. A visit would be required.
Unlike the Masai Mara and Serengeti, though, individual foreigners don't tend to turn up in Upington in great numbers, so I find myself having to plan a tour for just me. The quotes I receive range from expensive to ridiculous, but the B&B owner says the expensive quote (~$270 per day for a 3 day trip) is actually reasonable. My willingness to spend money always increases as I near the end of a long trip, so I don't mull over this for too long before I sign up.
After my Kalahari visit (blogged separately), I overnight back in Upington
then catch the Intercape to journey's end - Cape Town.
There are more photos below