Joy at new border post

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

Hot and dry, but tranquil air greets you as you land at the Twee Rievieren Airstrip. It is in the heart of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in northwestern Upington, Northern Cape.

Then, a bumpy gravel road limits the speed of a vehicle to 50km an hour. We are heading to the Molopo Kalahari Lodge for the night. The next day it is off to the Mata-Mata tourist border- post between South Africa and Namibia at the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a conservation area between the two countries and Botswana.

We are gracing the official opening of Mata-Mata, that will make it possible to travel between the three countries quicker. It will also make criss-crossing the park more convenient and efficient.

The journey from the airstrip to the Molopo Lodge is not at all comfortable. But at least the slow ride allows us to enjoy the scenery.

The vegetation in this semi-desert stretch of land does not look healthy. Dry grass in the red and brown sand dot the land. Goats and sheep nibble the shrubs in the fenced areas inside the park, that is meant only for wild animals.

But Mother Nature has ensured that the impala, gemsbok, ostrich, hyena and wildebeest are healthy. There is also an abundance and variety of bird life in the park.

We arrive at the Kalahari Molopo Lodge when the dark of the night has already descended on the desert. The lodge, with its lush, green garden, is a welcoming sight.

Also, the garden, with its beautiful water features, is a true work of landscape art.

After we are given the keys to our rooms a guide, whom I suspect must have been hired on that very day for the expected group of visitors, spends quite a lot of our time getting lost in the dark as he struggles to find his way to our rooms.

The room that I have to share with a colleague is not bad at all. It is quite comfortable with its neat twin beds and en suite bathroom and toilet.

At the crack of dawn the next morning we wake up to the sweet sounds of birds of different species exchanging choruses to announce the dawn of a new day.

It was time to hit the dusty road to the Mata-Mata access facility at the South Africa-Namibia boarder to wait for the presidents of the three countries - Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia.

The leaders arrive to sign that all-important agreement that will make travelling between the three countries easier.

All three leaders speak about the importance of the agreement because it means the hundreds of thousands of tourists who will be coming to this part of Africa for the 2010 Soccer World Cup spectacular in South Africa, will be able to travel further afield with ease.