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Overland Travel: Kalahari


Words & Pictures by Jacques Marais

In the Footsteps of Farini

Sculpted amber dunes, the roar of black-maned lions, San trackers, and horizons that stretch to infinity… Jacques Marais becomes sidetracked in his quest to find the mythical ‘Lost City of the Kalahari’

It is a long way to the Kalahari Desert, no matter where you start,” I mutter to myself as we bomb along the N7. ‘Bomb’ may not quite be the operative word here, with endless stop-and-goes lurking from Citrusdal to way past Vanrhynsdorp. It had seemed like a good idea to duck off the main drag, but we hit further construction chaos along the secondary roads beyond Graafwater. Pretty soon, though, we had zoomed past Nuwerus and Garies, and were back on that beautiful stretch arrowing north towards Springbok. Past Kamieskroon, I began to ponder: “I’m pretty sure we’re travelling a fair bit faster than Farini did.”

To put you in the picture, Gilarmi Farini was really William Leonard Hunt, a Canadian adventurer who also played the role of inventor, writer, painter and spy. And, if you care to believe his writings, a mythical lost city lies somewhere within the expanse of the Kalahari Desert. Hunt was probably most famous for his tightrope-walking, and he did a number of crossings of the Niagara Falls in the 1800s, in the time-honoured way − with a balance pole and no safety net.