Witsand Nature Reserve, also known as Brulsand or Roaring Sands, is a breathtaking destination located near Upington, South Africa. Spanning over 2,500 hectares of pristine white sand surrounded by the red Kalahari sands, the reserve is a unique gem in the heart of the desert. The white sand, known as Witsand, is said to be formed from a range of hillocks buried beneath the dunes and water springing from below gradually removing the red coating of iron oxide from the grains.
The dunes in the reserve stand up to 100 meters tall and 10 km long, emitting an eerie roar when disturbed by man or wind, especially during the hot and dry months of September to April. Visitors to the reserve will be amazed at the diverse range of flora and fauna that call this place home. Large antelopes like red hartebeest, springbok, kudu, and gemsbok roam the dunes while meerkats, pangolins, and aardvarks are just some of the animals you can expect to see.
A night drive in the reserve is a must-do for visitors, offering an unforgettable experience of star-gazing under the unpolluted skies. The reserve is home to nocturnal creatures like porcupine, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, Cape fox, genet, springhare, and owl. With so much to offer, Witsand Nature Reserve is a true oasis in the desert, perfect for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
Popular activities and tourist destinations at Witsand Nature Reserve
Witsand Nature Reserve is a popular destination for a range of outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there’s something for everyone here. Some of the most popular activities include:
This adrenaline-fueled activity allows you to glide down the towering dunes, providing an unforgettable experience.
A guided desert safari is the perfect way to experience the beauty and majesty of the reserve. You’ll get to see the rare wildlife, witness the unique formations of the dunes, and learn about the geology and history of the area.
For a different perspective of the dunes, try dune biking. Explore the rolling hills and valleys of the desert on a sturdy, off-road bike.
The unpolluted skies of the reserve provide an ideal backdrop for star-gazing. Whether you’re an amateur astronomer or just appreciate the beauty of the night sky, this is an unforgettable experience.
In addition to the attractions within the reserve, there are also many popular tourist destinations located nearby.
Augrabies Falls National Park
Just a short drive from the reserve, this park is home to the mighty Augrabies Falls and offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
This stunning river is a popular destination for rafting, fishing, and kayaking.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
One of South Africa’s largest game reserves, this park is home to a range of wildlife, including cheetahs, lions, and leopards.
Witsand Nature Reserve is a hub of activity and adventure, surrounded by some of South Africa’s most spectacular attractions. Whether you’re interested in outdoor sports, wildlife viewing, or just want to relax and take in the stunning scenery, there’s something for everyone here.
Arabesque Coffee Shop
Arabesque Coffee Shop is a popular destination for tourists visiting the Witsand Nature Reserve. This unique cafe offers a relaxed and inviting atmosphere where visitors can enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing drink.
Breakfast at Arabesque is a true highlight, offering a range of options from the traditional English breakfast to gourmet sandwiches and filled pancakes. Whether you’re starting your day with a hearty meal or just want a quick bite, there’s something for everyone here.
For lunch, visitors can savor a selection of home-cooked dishes such as pastas, bobotie, lasagnas, and braais in the lovely tea garden. After your meal, be sure to treat yourself to one of the cafe’s freshly baked cakes or tarts, made daily with only the best ingredients.
In addition to the great food, Arabesque also offers a range of drinks, including coffee, tea, smoothies, and fruit shakes. Whether you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up or just want to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings, this is the perfect place to do so.
Whether you’re visiting Witsand Nature Reserve for a day or a week, Arabesque Coffee Shop is a must-visit destination. So come and enjoy a delicious meal, refreshing drink, and great company in a unique and inviting atmosphere.
Kalahari-Oranje Museum is a must-visit destination for history buffs and those interested in learning more about the area around Witsand Nature Reserve. This museum is housed in the historic buildings that were erected by the Reverend Schröder in 1875 as a church and mission station.
Visitors to the museum can step back in time and see a range of domestic items from the era, as well as artifacts and articles relating to the history of Upington and the Lower Orange River. From vintage clothing and household items to tools and machinery, the Kalahari-Oranje Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.
One of the highlights of the museum is the life-sized monument of the donkey, sculpted in bronze by Hennie Potgieter. This symbolizes the important role that the donkey played in developing the Lower Orange River Valley during the pioneer days. The statue is a tribute to the hard-working animals that helped to build the region, and is sure to be appreciated by both young and old visitors.
Whether you’re interested in history, art, or just want to learn more about the area around Witsand Nature Reserve, the Kalahari-Oranje Museum is the perfect place to visit. With its well-curated exhibits and fascinating artifacts, this museum provides a unique and enriching experience that you won’t soon forget.
Orange River Cruise
The Orange River Cruise with Sakkie se Arkie is a must-visit destination for those looking to enjoy the beauty of the Orange River in a unique and relaxed way. With an experienced skipper at the helm, visitors will embark on a two-hour sunset cruise along the river, taking in the breathtaking views and appreciating the peace and tranquility of the surroundings.
As you float down the Orange River, you can enjoy a glass of bubbly and take in the breathtaking sights of the majestic river, including an island holiday resort and two bridges crossing the river. Snacks are provided on the cruise, and for those over the age of 18, there is also a fully licensed bar available on the vessel, offering a selection of alcoholic beverages.
Not only is the river cruise a perfect opportunity to escape the busy city life, but it is also a fantastic opportunity for bird watching and wildlife sightings. With an experienced skipper, visitors can expect a personalized experience, and with the river at its calmest during the evening hours, it’s the ideal time to take in the beauty of the Orange River.
Bella Roma Grill & Pizzeria
At Bella Roma Grill & Pizzeria, visitors can expect to have a great time with their family. Located at the Desert Palace Hotel, the restaurant boasts of a menu that caters to everyone’s taste buds. The restaurant is particularly known for its delicious pizzas and steaks that are quite popular among visitors. Whether it’s a hearty breakfast you’re after, or a quick lunch, Bella Roma Grill & Pizzeria has got you covered.
Not just great food, the restaurant is also a perfect destination for kids. The jungle gyms, games room and playstations are sure to keep the children entertained while the adults can enjoy their meals indoors or al fresco. The restaurant is also a great choice for romantic evening dinners under the stars. Come to Bella Roma Grill & Pizzeria to experience a family-friendly dining atmosphere with a wide selection of mouth-watering options.
Bi Li Bistro
Bi Li Bistro is a popular destination for those who are searching for a delightful steakhouse that serves both bistro-style meals and delectable seafood. Located in a picturesque rural area, this bistro is a great spot for families and offers a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy their meal al fresco, surrounded by the fresh air of the countryside, and there is plenty of parking available. For those who prefer to dine in the comfort of their own home, take-out options are also available. At Bi Li Bistro, guests can expect to be treated to a delicious meal that has been carefully prepared and served in a relaxed, friendly environment.
The Kalahari Mall in Upington is a shopping destination that offers the perfect combination of convenience and fun. Located in the Northern Cape, one of South Africa’s most breathtaking provinces, Upington is a scenic town situated on the banks of the Orange River. The Kalahari Mall, which opened its doors in 2013, has become a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
With 60 shops, the Kalahari Mall offers a wide variety of shopping options, ranging from chain stores and large retail outlets to smaller, more specialized boutiques and jewelers. Popular clothing stores include Foschini, Woolworths, Edgars, Cotton On, Truworths, Mr Price, and Old Khaki. Food options are just as diverse, with popular choices like Mugg n Bean, Ocean Basket, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Panarotti’s, offering something for every taste.
One of the biggest draws of the Kalahari Mall is its air-conditioned interior, clean restrooms, and efficient security, making it a comfortable and safe shopping experience for all. The mall is easily accessible from the surrounding suburban areas and free parking is available for all shoppers. With an average monthly foot traffic of nearly 300,000 people, the Kalahari Mall is a busy and vibrant shopping destination.
The mall is open from 9 am to 6 pm from Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 7 pm on Fridays, 5 pm on Saturdays, 2 pm on Sundays, and 3 pm on public holidays.
Orange River Cellars
Orange River Cellars is a premium winery located in Upington, South Africa, near the Witsand Nature Reserve. It is well known for producing top-quality wines with unique and desirable flavors and aromas. The winery is situated in an area with ideal terroir conditions that greatly contribute to the quality of its wines.
At Orange River Cellars, great emphasis is placed on creating complex, fruit-driven wines that are immediately accessible, easily drinkable, and consumer-friendly. The winery’s portfolio features a range of wines with different flavor profiles, some of which can be matured in the bottle for varying periods of time.
To enhance the flavor and aroma of its wines, Orange River Cellars sometimes employs oak treatment techniques, such as stave and barrel wood application. These techniques add depth and character to the selected wines, making them even more desirable for wine lovers and aficionados. Whether you are a seasoned wine connoisseur or simply looking to try something new, Orange River Cellars is definitely worth a visit while in the Upington area.
In conclusion, Witsand Nature Reserve is a unique and spectacular destination that offers a rare chance to experience the beauty and wonder of the desert. Whether you’re looking for breathtaking landscapes, a chance to spot rare wildlife, or just want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, this reserve is a must-visit for anyone traveling to South Africa.