Intu Afrika Kalahari Game Reserve
PO Box 40047, Windhoek; tel: 061 248741; fax: 061 226535; email: email@example.com; web: www.thirstlandadventures.namibia.na
Intu Afrika is a small (18,000 hectare) private reserve now owned by Thirstland Adventures. It has been fortunate in having backing to promote and sustain a sizeable wildlife reserve, as well as to develop an interesting project with the help of a small Bushman community.
Intu Afrika is on the D1268, 110km north of Mariental just south of the C21 (or north of the C20), and is clearly signposted from the B1 whether heading north or south There are now three distinct accommodation options (Zebra Lodge and Dune Lodge operate as one) as well as a separate campsite. Each is run individually, with its own kitchen, bar and management, though activities are common to all.
The original Zebra Lodge
building is substantial, with comfortable furniture in its large airy lounge, a well-stocked bar, and enormous tree-trunk carvings adorning the reception area. At the front is a stylish swimming pool, overlooked by some marvellously knurled old Acacia erioloba trees.
There are four twin rooms on either side of the main building, each modern and functional with a minimum of clutter. The floors are tiled, the bathroom's en suite, and there's a phone in each room. Set a short distance away are five luxurious split-level bungalows (Dune Lodge
), each with a sitting area and a bedroom – popular with small families, or as suites.
A few kilometres away lies the exclusive Camelthorn
Lodge, its 10 rustic chalets dotted individually in the bush surrounding a central lapa with comfortable bar area and small swimming pool. Meals are taken in or alongside an outdoor boma. Visitors here are paying for privacy and seclusion, not luxury.
Less luxurious – but better value – is Suricate Tented Camp
, signposted off the D1268 some 11km to the south. Here, 11 large, walk-in tents are lined up on the top of a long dune, flanking a central bar and dining area, with uninterrupted views across the reserve. These are more basic than the lodge, with no electricity, but each is self-contained with its own en-suite shower and a small veranda.
Finally, there is a campsite
for touring vehicles and tents, with ablution blocks, kitchen and bar area, and a central fireplace.
The landscape at Intu Afrika is classic Kalahari: deep red longitudinal dunes, usually vegetated, separated by lighter clay inter-dune valleys covered in grass, trees and shrubs. The area's larger game includes giraffe, oryx, blue and black wildebeest, Burchell's zebra, and springbok – but it is the smaller animals that are the stars. The reserve seems to have a high density (or at least a visible number) of bat-eared foxes, and some entertaining groups of meerkats (suricats); the sight of a group of meerkats foraging under the guard of 'sentries' is a real delight. The sentries balance upright on their hind legs, while their keen eyes scan the area around. Neither of these social creatures is common, yet they seem to thrive here. Game-drives and related activities such as birdwatching trips are available from all parts of the reserve, including the campsite.
One other aspect of the lodge that it promotes is its Bushman project – set up and managed by anthropologists Bets and Michael Daiber. In late 1996, a small community of about 40 !Xoo Bushmen decided to support this project, and relocated to the reserve. The project's aim was to:
'empower the [Bushmen] community to regain their dignity and pride by creating employment and cultural activities which utilise traditional Bushmen skills in order to generate money for their community ... including game guiding, tracking, camp supervising and craft making.'
For the visitor, interactions with Bushmen start by being guided on early morning walks by community members, who not only can point out some of the wildlife, but also explain their traditional way of life, including collecting and storing food. You can also buy their crafts at Zebra Lodge. Six families now live here, and many of the children go to a nearby school, while other members of the community are employed on the reserve.
Compared with other lodges in the region, rates at Intu Afrika are very high, a reflection as much on its location in a beautiful private reserve as on the standards that prevail overall.
Rates per person sharing, per night (low–high season): Dune Lodge and Camelthorn N$1,160–1,450, Zebra Lodge N$960–1,200, including all meals, activities, drinks and house wine at dinner. Suricate N$835 (fully inclusive) or N$420, including breakfast. Single supplements apply at the lodges and tented camp. Campsite N$100 camping only. High season July–October inclusive.