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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
!Xaus Lodge Opens
Opening in July 2007 !Xaus Lodge, owned by the Khomani San and Mier communities, is the first fully catered luxury lodge to be located in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. This 3,9 million hectare transfrontier park transcends the border between the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and Botswana and is one of the last pristine conservation areas on earth. The vision behind its creation which was facilitated by the Peace Parks Foundation has ensured, in perpetuity, a natural animal migration route to the north-east and an environment in which man and animal can peacefully co-exist.
!Xaus Lodge, a 24 bed thatched luxury lodge has been crafted to blend into the the landscape of this remote wilderness area. Situated on the red dunes of the Kalahari it overlooks an enormous salt pan where, from the privacy of the deck of your own chalet , you can observe the animals drinking at the waterhole below.
The name of the lodge, !Xaus, meaning “ Heart” in the Nama language and phonetically pronounced Kaus, derives from the shape that lies in the pan below the lodge.
Of greater significance however is the spirit of reconciliation encapsulated by the name !Xaus. The lodge and its specific location is the positive outcome of a land settlement agreement reached between the South African Government and South African National Parks with the Khomani San and Mier communities to whom the land originally belonged before its incorporation in 1931 into the then Kalahari Gemsbok National Park.
This landmark agreement has allowed traditional communities to regain their dignity and ownership of the land of their ancestors. Their desire to ensure responsible tourism to this ancestral land has led them to enter into an innovative partnership with South African National Parks, who have retained responsibility for the management of its environmental integrity and with Transfrontier Parks Destinations, who have been appointed as the tourism managers of the lodge and its activities. The Khomani San and Mier, in their traditional spirit of community sharing, are now again able to welcome visitors to their own land and to share with them the magic aura of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Dubbed “A place to experience and not merely observe”, !Xaus Lodge offers visitors an opportunity to experience the scenic unspoilt splendour and the remoteness of the vast and arid Kalahari wilderness; to be drawn into the fascinating rituals, traditions and historical cultures of the Bushmen, the remarkable “first people” of southern Africa; and at the same time enjoy the comforts of a luxury lodge that captures the essence of the Kalahari.
Whilst wildlife, much of which is seen on game drives from the lodge, is plentiful and the black-maned lion is one of its icons, this transfrontier park is also a bird-life paradise with two-thirds of the raptor species of southern Africa occurring within its boundaries.
But the real “heart” of !Xaus Lodge lies in its spirit and its people. The experience of an African sunset, the sound of silence as day turns to night and the feeling of being able to touch the stars, provides a feast for the senses and the soul.
The Mier community, renowned for their culinary skills and for the recipes handed down from generation to generation, adapted to overcome the challenges of this arid environment, provide cuisine unique to the lodge.
Guests are invited to accompany the legendary “hunter gatherers”, as they track through the desert following the spoor of animals, identifying the plants they can eat or harvest for medicinal purposes and locating their water cache, buried to ensure that they are not overcome by thirst in this harsh environment.
At night, gathered around the camp-fire, the the community share with visitors their legends of the night sky, their health secrets and the history of their culture and existence.
!Xaus Lodge truly is an integral part of “an ancient African land which, when seen through the eyes of its first people, is mystical, magical and spiritual” ( Laurens van der Post)