Conservation in the Kalahari Desert

Fortune hunters searching for diamonds once roamed on the edge of the mysterious desert wilderness in the Kalahari where a new gem in the tourism industry has emerged. The Route is one of the many manifestations of a well known family’s long history of passion towards environmental conservation issues and tourism.

Originally this route formed part of an idea of two prominent South African families to link nine properties by focussing on tourism and the niche birding market. People were recruited from the local communities and provided with specialist bird guide training. In varying degrees this project was succesful in bringing publicity and visitors to each of the different sites on the route. It became apparent that the diverse assets of these properties went well beyond birding. And so evolved the Diamond Route, freed of the limiting constraints of a birding focus and geared to the full range of possibilities from culture and history to all aspects of the natural environment.

Mopane woodland, riverine forest, savannah plains, highveld grasslands and riverine bush is just some of the diverse set of habitat that covers this area. Added to this are the historic gardens of Brenthurst, the Namaqualand Diamond Coast, the unique Karoo/Kalahari interface in the Kimberley area, and the Kalahari dunes of the desert. This Kalahari Desert Lodge boasts 70 species of mammal including lion, cheetah, desert black rhino, sable and roan antelope. More than 200 species of bird can also be found. The initial birding focus provided a foundation framework, on which other stunning tourism offerings could develop. The Kleinzee seal colony, the petroglyphs and Cecil John Rhodes’ “Shooting Box” at Rooipoort, the amazing variety of rarely-seen small mammals on night drives at Benfontein, the impressive wilderness of the Kalahari at Tswalu to the Wild Dogs of Venetia and Japanese Garden at Brenthurst.

The Diamond Route provides a common thread of communication between these destinations, training guides for birding and in other specialties, whilst marketing their assets, and helping the destinations to develop new products. The incredible beauty of the Kalahari sourrounds you in this are. A variety of wildlife and unforgettable expriences form part of this safari in the Kalahari desert. Here is the opportunity to observe many endangered animals in their natural habitat and see a variety of birds, insects and desert vegetation.

The Diamond Route is an interface with the general public, showcasing the commitment of two families to the environment and to people, whilst developing self-sustaining tourism operations. Along this route you will step into a past that is rich in history, and includes highlights like birding tours, Wild Dog tracking tours, Namaqualand flowers every August, Mine Tours, archaeological sites, and the meeting of local Nama people. Don’t miss out on all these wonderful adventure.

By: Sandra Olivier

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The incredible beauty of the surroundings and the great variety of wildlife make South African safaris such as these an unforgettable experience. Safaris at Tswalu are the perfect opportunity to observe many endangered animals in their natural habitat and see a variety of birds, insects and desert vegetation

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