Hakskeen Pan is a dry lake bed, and the world’s largest unworked saltpan. It lies way up in the far north west of the Northern Cape, 300 km from Upington, virtually on the eastern border of Namibia.
Hakskeen is one of at least five such pans in Mier.
Mier is a wilderness area dominated by rich red sand dunes (high in iron oxide) that average a height of 35 metres, great stick clusters that are the nests of sociable weavers (up to 300 of them live in any one colony), and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country, provided you can take the heat.
Mier is tucked up in the far reaches of South Africa where it dribbles away into a narrow wedge between Namibia and Botswana, most of it incorporated into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
There is virtually nothing between Upington and Mier, so if you’re headed there – and you may be because Open Africa’s Kalahari Red Dune Route, an ‘authentic experience’ route that helps generate income for the locals, brings visitors to Mier – then you may definitely want to stock up on fresh water and supplies in Upington, whilst you still can.
A small group of !Khomani San who live here is all that remains of the indigenous San people of South Africa. In 1995 they were awarded 40 000 hectares of farming land in Mier, as well as a portion of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park just north of here (25 000 hectares). Known as the Heritage Park it is managed jointly by the !Khomani San, local Mier communities and SANParks.
Hakskeen Pan falls into the area owned by the !Khomani San. It’s recently been in the news because, like its cousin Verneuk Pan, it attracts speed freaks and is about to become the venue for the Bloodhound team’s landspeed record attempt (intent on a 1000 mph World Land Speed Record).
Bloodhound’s team is convinced Hakskeen Pan is the flattest place on Earth, and thus perfect. It will give them a 20 km long run for the Bloodhound SCC car, an upgrade on the Thrust SSC that broke the sound barrier at 1228 kph in 1997.
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