You’re driving through red dunelands on a roundabout trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, when you pass a tiny settlement called Vanzylsrus.
You’re curious. Who lives out here? What do they do? How do they pass the time? So you continue into the town and find a place called The Vanzylsrus Hotel.
Well, you’re thirsty for a cold one and the exterior looks a bit funky, so you enter. And this is where the real Vanzylsrus trip begins.
There is art all over the place. Not a straight line anywhere in the bar. The intricate detail on the floor is magnificent. There are guinea fowl on the walls, giant lizards on the doors and even the toilet seats have special features. Yes, I’ll have another drink, thanks. Don’t mind if I do.
Vanzylsrus, which is really a staunch Kalahari farmer’s town, has an interesting back-story. There was once a General J.A. van Zyl who fought with the great De la Rey in the Anglo-Boer War.
He and a troop of riders were on campaign in these parts, and they once visited here and rested up under a wind pump for four days. So he named the place after himself.
But the real hero of Vanzylrus is arguably the first guy to open a shop here. The shop then became the Gemsbok Hotel as well, and a great hub for hunters, travellers and the occasional man on the run from the camel-mounted police units from Upington.
The Gemsbok was reborn as the Vanzylsrus and the new owner added a massive dash of style to the establishment. And that’s where you’re sitting, having a cold beer before venturing off back into the afternoon heat of a Kalahari day.
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