South Africa never ceases to amaze, hosting beautiful scenery and wildlife; many different cultures and traditions and, wait for it… The Smallest Desert in the World. Yes, you read that correctly. The SMALLEST DESERT IN THE WORLD!
There was no way we were going to miss the opportunity to see and experience it for ourselves and well, learn a bit more about this little stretch of land and share it with our readers. Any excuse to go on a road trip in the Landy! We made the hour and a half trek out of Durban, to the small coastal town of Port Edward where The Red Desert Nature Reserve is located.
On arrival we paid the entrance fee to the park, which is done by a simple Zapper scan from a code on a signboard, as there is no one manning the entrance. We parked the Landy, stretched our legs out a bit and then began the short walk to the ‘Red Desert’. To be honest though, there wasn’t much ‘walking’, but rather a full-on sprint, as the trail was full of nasty little ants that kept biting us. I made the mistake of walking the trail barefoot and the little buggers definitely were not kind to that decision. They were relentless! Although I was mainly interested in running for my dear life, I did notice very beautiful protea bushes, along the sides of the path on the way there. Note to readers…wear shoes to avoid the ankle biters!
We reached the desert and WOW, it was bewildering. The colour of the sand made us feel like we were stepping into a scene from Star Wars (not that I’ve ever watched Star Wars…it’s on my to-do list). We explored this unique little stretch of land. Little Dude loved it, running around to his heart’s content. I took a much-needed seat on one of the red mountain dunes, still recovering from the abuse of the ants.
The ‘smallest desert in the world’ or The Red Desert as it is formally known, is a whopping 200m stretch of bright red, Mars like sand (hence the name), which stands out among the lush green surrounding vegetation. The desert was supposedly formed by overgrazing of Zulu cattle back in the 1800s and it gets its unique colour from the high iron content present in the soil. The area has an abundance of wildlife including over 200 species of birds and a few larger creatures, including large felines like the caracal and serval, and antelope species like the reedbuck and blue duiker, which all call this small reserve home.
The site is also said to have archaeological artifacts dating back to the stone age, but we didn’t find any unfortunately. Apart from following in the footsteps of Indiana Jones you can also mountain-bike, hike and trail-run the surrounding trails. This desert is a great little day trip for the family when they have been couped up inside for too long.
The bean, aka man cub gave the smallest desert in the world a 9 out of 10. Blame the ants!
Other activities to do in Port Edward
. Make a splash at the Wild Waves Water Park
. Go on a horse-riding adventure with Amadiba Adventures
. Visit the Beaver Creek Coffee Estate for a tour of the estate with some coffee tasting to finish it off.
. Have fun at Far Horizon Animal Farm
. Get some sun-time at Silver Beach
The bean gave this adventure an 8 out of 10. The ants and the heat… (sounding like such townies now)