Kathu is a town in South Africa, and the iron ore capital of the Northern Cape province. Its name means “town under the trees”, after the Camel Thorn forest it is situated in. The phrase “the town under the trees” was coined by an engineer working in the town in the early-1990s as part of a tourist marketing drive, together with the accompanying graphic. It was intended to be a marketing slogan. The meaning of the word “Kathu” has anecdotically been attributed to a porridge brewed by the local population from the powder found in the pods of the Camel Thorn trees.
Kathu lies in the middle of the Kalahari desert. It’s a mining town that lies strategically alongside the N14 between Kuruman and Upington, and three hours’ away from Kimberley, to which it is connected by road, rail and air. The town, which lies 12 km north east of another mining town called Dingleton, but which was then known as Sishen, was originally formed to house workers for the new mine that opened in 1973.
The town of Kathu, one of the fastest growing towns in the Northern Cape, actually lies south of the camel thorn forest, despite being known as the ‘town under the trees’. Kathu used to form part of the forest, which today, although protected, lies mostly on privately owned farms and land, and relies heavily on the goodwill of residents and visitors, to help protect these thorny trees.
The town boasts with one of the country’s most beautiful golf courses, part of it lying within the camel thorn forest on the edge of the desert. Rated as one of the top 20 golf courses in the country, the 18-hole course hosts the annual Kalahari Classic and the 2nd stop on the winter leg of the Vodacom Southern African Tour.
The towns found in the Green Kalahari are:
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