Captured Experiences


Desert Fable

by: Elise Kirsten, 26 April 2011

Set under a host of shimmering stars in the ancient dry riverbed of the Auob, the Captured Experiences Desert Banquet Prize Giving, on 9 April 2011, would have put Cinderella's Grand Ball to shame.

Finalists traveled across the country (and globe) to attend, making their way to this oasis - set up for a single night in the empty expanse of Kgalagadi Desert. The terrain chosen for the banquet was transformed under the careful direction of Henriette Engelbrecht, SANParks Marketing and Communication Manager of the Arid Region in the Northern Cape.

The black tie affair began as guests were transported to the hidden location, by game vehicle, to enjoy sundowners and snacks. These were served under an Bedouin-style tent (for once stretched out where it belongs - in a desert rather than on a city lawn). Here the well-heeled photographers and partners mingled, drinks in hand, as they viewed the display of winning contestants' photographs and had a chance to meet and chat to the competition judges.

Once the desert ice had been broken, couples made their way along a lantern-lined path, down into the riverbed dining area. Each table, as if transported from a celebrity wedding, was elegantly arranged in this wilderness setting and the fine dining experience began.

The keynote address and speeches by the sponsors followed and these included: ToyotaCare, SANParks, Tourism Blueprint, Nikon and Hi-Tec. Then came the much anticipated announcement of the winning photographs. An interval allowed the waitrons to serve the main course, as the night air resonated with the voices of the vocalists Romanz.

Announcements continued post dinner with gentle applause rippling through the audience as the overall winners were called on stage. The formalities were briefly suspending when a lion began to call, as if he'd been coached to enhance the uniqueness of the evening. After dessert, the lights were switched off and everyone got to experience a moment of awe, under the fullness of the Kgalagadi night sky.

Although guests may have wanted to suspend time and remain in the magical moment, the clock was ticking and they had to be ferried back to their accommodation before the coach became a pumpkin once more.

On driving past the Auob riverbed the following morning, Steve Newbould (the previous evening's MC) commented, "It's unbelievable to gaze on the spot where the glamorous affair was held last night and not see a trace of human presence. The riverbed has been completely returned to its natural state." Not even a glass slipper remained.




Photo Gallery

More photos of the banquet event shall be posted soon. In the mean time check out the Forum on the
SAN Parks website for more photos and comments of the event: