About 150 km due east of Keetmanshoop are the western beginnings of the famous Kalahari (or more correctly, Kgalagadi (wilderness) Desert, extending across the borders of Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, with large areas of this semi-arid ‘desert’ savannah of grasses, thorn trees and distinctive red sands contained in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, a 36 000 km² preserve and one of the largest in the world.
Karas is the gateway to this vast eco-paradise, famed for some of the largest and most varied concentrations of wildlife on the subcontinent – in many places, unimpeded by territorial fences, with many species migrating across a huge landscape as they have for millennia.
Both Aroab and Koës fall into the Namibia Kalahari border area and are linked by the C11 road. Aroab is just 35 km west of the major South African border post at Rietfontein, and Koës, further north is due west of the newly opened Mata Mata border post, a major tourism entry point to the Kgalagadi Park.
There are relatively few traditional accommodation resorts in this area, but 4×4 excursion, safari and hunting operators are well-established and mainly offer camping and overnighting facilities at various well-appointed farm homesteads and campsites en route and further afield across the border. Well-known operations of this kind in the area are Kalahari Namib Eco Tourism on the Farm Kiriis Ost, and Wildheim Hunting Safari, both some 40 km from Aroab on the C11 road.
Luxury game lodges in this area include the impressive Kalahari Game Ranch, just off the C11 near the South African border and well known for hosting international celebrity visitors to the region. There is also a small, poplar hotel in the settlement of Koës.
Natural wonders, ecological excursions, game farm viewing and safari adventures such as a route through 28 000 ha of Kalahari, are popular attractions. In the Kagalagadi Reserve visitors can see herds of gemsbok springbok, red hartebeest and wildebeest, as well as giraffe, hyena, jackal, fox, ostrich, ratel, porcupine, a huge variety of birdlife, small mammals, reptiles and, most notably, big cats such as lion, leopard and cheetah.
For lovers of outdoor adventure, the area offers 4 x 4 hops, dune sand boarding, quad-biking and controlled hunting at selected game farms. Across the border, some 40 km from Aroab there is also an almost surreal view of the 75km x 15km area of the Oxford Pan – South Africa’s largest.
Many historical sites exist but are carefully hidden and require experienced guides. Some include the “White Elephant” rock art site on a farm near Warmfontein, near Aroab and to so-called “Lost City of the Yellow Nation”, or IIKhaux!nas – the remains of a red stone citadel, almost unknown until recently and of one Namibia’s rare sites of early human habitation.