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  • The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon (KAEM) is an iconic desert race, well-known as the “Big Daddy” of extreme marathons around the world. It is a 7-day, multi-stage, self-sufficient foot race held annually in October in the Kalahari Desert.
  • KAEM was founded by Estienne Arndt, Nadia Arndt and Simon Kelly in 2000. The event is now managed by the KAEM Management Team under the Augrabies Extreme Marathons cc.
  • KAEM is a self-sufficient desert race, multi-stage extreme foot race covering a distance of approximately 250km, held in 6 stages over 7 days.
  • Each participant must carry all his/her supplies for the duration of the race. Supplies can be checked by a race official at any stage during the race.
  • The organisers mark the route clearly with highly visible markings, marking tape and boards for direction on-route. In addition, each participant gets a handbook with maps. Participants must navigate their way by using the handbook and maps, in addition to following the markers. The position of the markers are at approximately 300 to 400 meters apart. If a kilometer is run without the sight of a marker, the participant should turn back as he/she is off the course.
  • The route of this adventure trail race is mainly on jeep tracks and dust roads. The overall distance is measured on these tracks which often wind their way between the hills. It is NOT PERMITTED to leave the track and deliberately take a short cut across open ground to reduce the distance and gain advantage. Therefore, any participant seen deliberately taking a short cut off the tracks to shorten the distance of the marked route will be considered a NON FINISHER of the event. It is permitted to run parallel to the track where the ground may be harder.
  • Except for first day there are staggered starts every day. These start times are based directly on the overall times of each participant. These start times are posted each evening after the last participant has finished, and CANNOT be altered. If participants miss allocated starting times, participants’ overall time WILL be calculated based on their allocated starting time.
  • There are checkpoints at approximately every 8 to 10 km intervals.
  • It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure that the check point time keeper has lists him/her as having passed through the check point.
  • One day/night stage is included, making this adventure trail race just the more interesting. This stage is approximately 75 to 80 km and participants must run with headlamps. On this day the slower participants leave at 06:00, the starts are staggered throughout the morning with the fastest participants leaving at 13:00.
  • Once darkness has set on the night stage it is essential to keep your headlamps ON at all times as the route markers are reflective.
  • Cover for overnight stops is provided at the finish camps in the form of stretch tents. Stretch tents are numbered. Participants must only sleep in their allocated stretch tent.
  • The organisers reserves the right to modify any part of the race due to a result of circumstances beyond its control.
  • Except for the long day participants must reach the finish before sunset at 19:00 as the route is not set and marked for the dark; this does not apply for the night stage.
  • Participants can be withdrawn from this desert race if instructed by the Race Director, or on advice of the medical team if it is obvious that they are not coping with the extreme conditions that this event demands.
  • For safety to both the participant and other participants, earphones will not be allowed whilst on the route.  They are permitted at the overnight camps only. (The reason for this rule is that participants wearing earphones will not be able to hear someone calling for assistance, shouting a warning or being aware of surroundings.)

Furthermore, please read carefully through the Rules and Regulations.

  • KAEM is open to persons 21 years and older.
  • Juniors 18 to 21 years must have written permission from a parent or guardian.
  • Participants’ have to get a medical examination done after the 1st of August and this must be emailed to the organisers by the 15th of September.
  • Each finisher receives a trophy which is a unique hand-blown glass leopard made by Ngwenya Glass.
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd man and lady finishers receives special winners trophies.
  • The Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon is run over an ecologically sensitive area.
  • Anyone littering or deliberately damaging any flora or fauna will be disqualified.
  • Therefore, please familiarise yourself with the Rules and Regulations in this regard.
  • Registration will take place at arrival at Augrabies Falls.
  • Race Briefing will take place 10:30 on the Friday morning before the start of the first stage on Saturday.
  • Anyone not present for Race Briefing will be regarded as a non-starter.
  • Participants must produce their relevant medical certification, compulsory equipment, and self-sufficient provisions for the duration of the race.
  • Anyone without the relevant documentation and compulsory items will be regarded as a non-starter.
  • Participants must declare ALL medication to the medical doctor.
  • Participants must carry enough food to sustain themselves during this desert race.
  • The organisers recommend a MINIMUM OF 2000 CALORIES PER DAY. Participants need to ensure that they get to know the requirement of their own bodies, and increase this amount if needed. As the event takes place in a Desert, it is critical that participants pack enough food, and do not rely too much on energy supplements for energy during the day.
  • It is at the discretion of the organisers and event doctor at inspection to ascertain if participants carry sufficient food.
  • During the event, should a participant dehydrate or if the medical team feels that the participant is undernourished and is endangering himself/herself, the participant will be re-hydrated orally or intravenously.  Should such a participant require two (2) intravenous drips or regular oral re-hydration, he/she will be withdrawn from the race.
  • Sports Massage Therapists will be available at the overnight camps, each day of the race.
  • Massages (30 minute slots) need to be booked at R280.00 per massage.
  • Participants can make bookings at the event.
  • Check points during the event are approximately 8 to 10 km apart. Each participant receives 1.5 litres of water at each check point.
  • Each participant receives 5 litres at the finish camp each day. This 5 litres is also for filling water bottles the next morning from the start to Check Point 1. it is a desert race. As it can become quite hot during the day, the organisers advise participants to have a spare bottle of water with them. Thus, an additional 300 to 500ml spare water in between check points can make a difference.
  • Participants get up to 1 litre of hot, boiled water for cooking at the daily overnight camp. This forms part of their 5 litres water allocation.
  • In addition, 5 litres is also supplied for the rest day.
  • This is the only water that will be supplied to participants.
  • In case of extreme heat and where conditions may demand it, additional water will be supplied. This water will be distributed from drums.
  • The terrain varies from flat grassy plains, fertile valleys, rocky mountainous outcrops and sandy riverbeds and desert. This desert footrace is the only of its kind that offers the most variety of terrain compared to any other adventure trail race.
  • Areas covered include a wildlife sanctuary, private farmlands and cultivated vineyards. It is important that you familiarise yourself with the rules pertaining to running in this ecological sensitive area.
  • It is a desert foot race. Daily temperatures in the area during October average between 33 to 45 degrees Celsius (in the shade) however it can surpass the 45 degree Celsius mark. At night temperatures can drop to 5 degrees Celsius.
  • No assistance may be accepted from any person or facility not connected to the event or crew.
  • No participant may carry equipment or supplies for another participant.
  • Only water and medical assistance may be accepted from crew at check points and the finish.
  • The organisers reserve the right to make allowances for any participants with a disability.
  • A full medical team will be in attendance throughout the duration of the event.
  • Any self-medication taken during the event MUST be declared and approved by the race doctor at registration.
  • Any medication taken during the event that has not been approved by the doctor will result in disqualification.
  • The medical team is there for the participants’ well-being and safety in the desert. However, blisters as a result of normal wear and tear must be dressed and treated by participants themselves.
  • Participants must provide for and carry their own blister treatment kit (see notes on foot care.)
  • The medical team will attend to feet at their discretion, especially relevant to severe cases where infection may set in.
  • Participants must carry and apply strapping to prevent chafing themselves.
  • If the medical team is required to assist with strapping as a result of infection or raw skin, this strapping will be charged for. This does not include strapping for injuries such as sprains, pulled muscles, etc.

If the race doctor feels that a participant requests and gets medical assistance that gives him or her an advantage, the organisers may decide on whether to withdraw the participant or deny him or her a podium finish.

  • Should a participant retire or in case the Race Director and medical team withdraw such a participant from the event, accommodation will be reserved on his or her behalf. All the costs incurred (i.e. accommodation, meals, etc.) must be paid directly by the participant to the service provider.
  • Hence, it is essential that if any participant retires from the race, that he or she notifies an official.
  • Should a participant be withdrawn from this adventure trail race and decide to stay at Augrabies for the remainder of the event, the participant WILL NOT automatically be included in the crew team. Also, he or she will most likely not be able to join crew members at check points in the field. This will only be allowed by the Race Director if circumstances allow.

This equipment is to be supplied by the participant and has to be carried with at all times.

  • Backpack (30 litre is suggested)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Overnight & warm clothing
  • Head cover (Cap)
  • Insect net to cover face or a Buff
  • Eye Protection / Sunglasses
  • Mirror
  • Whistle
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Knife
  • Water containers or bladder to carry minimum total quantity of 1.5 litres
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Blister treatment kit
  • Strapping or anti-chafe cream for chafing
  • Sun block lotion
  • Toilet paper or tissues
  • Cooking / eating container and spoon
  • Space blanket
  • 10 x Safety pins

The additional equipment is suggested for participants to carry during this desert race. Participants need to provide the additional equipment themselves and carry it for the duration of the event.

  • Sleeping mat
  • Additional 300ml Water bottle
  • Spare cotton shorts and t-shirt
  • Socks – 7 pairs
  • Small Towel
  • Soap
  • Sandals
  • Face cloth
  • Underwear
  • Big Plastic Bag (in case of rain)
  • Gaiters
  • Foot plasters
  • Head ache tablets
  • Insect Repellent
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Various container bags – e.g. ziplock bags
  • Wind Breaker
  • Sewing kit
  • The road book includes complete event details, with stage distances and route maps.
  • This will only be provided to participants on the Friday at registration.
  • The road book must be kept on the participant’s person at all times during the race stage of the event.

The daily distances will be communicated to participants prior to the event, about a month before the time to allow for planning purposes.

The KAEM Entry Fee includes the following:

  • SANParks entry
  • SANParks permissions
  • Goodie bag with various sponsored items, including KAEM Buff and 1.5 litre water for first leg of the first event day
  • 7 Days of competing on foot through pristine nature
  • Marked route
  • Camp set up each night
  • Water about every 10 km at checkpoints
  • Water at the camps each night
  • Sweeper
  • Professional photographer
  • Professional videographer
  • Daily social media updates with photos and videos
  • Permission of private farm owners
  • 2 nights sharing accommodation before the event and 2 nights sharing after the event at Augrabies Falls National Park
  • Meals before and after the event
  • Prize giving function with wine
  • International return flights to Johannesburg or Cape Town.
  • Travelling to Augrabies.
  • Additional clothing ordered.
  • Personal items, refreshments and alcoholic drinks that can be purchased from the Augrabies Falls National Park shop and/or Augrabies Falls Lodge Bar and Restaurant.
  • All food and supplements for the race.

Giving you greater travel flexibility with your KAEM adventure trip

For the past couple of years KAEM has offered an entry package option that included a return flight from Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International to Upington International Airport. Airlink, the only airline carrier that covers routes to Upington, allowed KAEM to provide this option based on a fixed group airfare. Airlink however has a user-friendly online booking system offering dynamic airfares from Johannesburg and Cape Town to Upington, enabling travellers that book and pay early to save.

KAEM wants to give you, our KAEM participant greater travel flexibility. Whether you want to combine your KAEM adventure with a trip to some of South Africa’s iconic holiday destinations, or want to fly via Cape Town instead of Johannesburg, we provide you with information on a number of travel options and the ability to make arrangements according to your itinerary requirements and budget. Please read through the TRAVEL OPTIONS and arrange your travel according to your requirements.

THURSDAY, 6 October 2022

Arrive approximately 15:00 at Augrabies Falls National Park for Registration. Those participants that will arrive at Upington Airport at 17:15 will register after the welcome dinner at Augrabies Falls Lodge.

Please note:

  • If you have arranged to meet the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon group at Upington Airport to travel together by Bus to Augrabies Falls National Park, either early morning or late afternoon, you have to meet the bus at the Airport at 9:00 in the morning or 17:35 in the afternoon to load your luggage. The Bus will leave Upington Airport at both 09:00 and 17:35.
  • If you have arranged to meet the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon group at Kakamas and travel together by Bus to Augrabies Falls National Park, you have to be at the Kalahari Gateway Hotel in Voortrekker Street at 9:45 or 18:15 depending on which bus you can take. The Bus will leave Kakamas as soon as all participants’ luggage are loaded. If you will catch the bus at Kakamas Gateway Hotel, please inform Simoné at

On the entry form you will be asked to tick the Transfer (Upington International Airport to Augrabies Falls return) required boxes. The cost of Transfer one-way is R 350 and both ways R 700. In case you tick these boxes, the cost will be added onto the Entry Fee of R 29,000.


KAEM Management will await you at the Park’s Conference Centre where you will collect your chalet keys. Accommodation is booked on a sharing basis in the chalets at the Augrabies Falls National Park.

18:30 – Meet at the Parking Area, Augrabies Falls National Park, for transfer to the Augrabies Falls Lodge for the welcome dinner. A shuttle bus will run to and from the Park to the Lodge.

19:30 – Welcome dinner at the Augrabies Falls Lodge. During dinner you will be introduced and given your KAEM Goodie Bag.

If you will arrive on the late afternoon bus from Upington Airport, you will be dropped at Augrabies Falls Lodge in time for the Welcome dinner. After dinner, you will be registered and allocated a chalet. After all participants that arrived by bus are registered, you will be taken to Augrabies Falls National Park for your first night’s accommodation.

FRIDAY, 7 October 2022

Use your breakfast voucher at the Quiver Tree Restaurant at the Augrabies Falls National Park, anytime from 7:00am to 9:30.

10:00 – Meet at the Parking Area, Augrabies Falls National Park, for transfer to the Augrabies Falls Lodge for Briefing, Bag and Medical Checks.

All participants must attend with their full packs and equipment. Once the briefing is finished, the compulsory bag, equipment and medical checks will commence. You will be given a printed list with items that need to be checked. After all checks are completed, your list will be signed. Hand in your signed list at the last table where you will be given your Bib with your race number, and a bottle of water which must be used to fill your running bottles for Day 1, Start to CP 1.

12:30 – Burger Lunch
14:00 – Transfer back to Augrabies Falls National Park
17:30 – Meet at the Parking Area, Augrabies Falls National Park, for transfer to Augrabies Falls Lodge for dinner.
18:00 – Dinner at the Lodge
19:30 – Transfer back to the Park

Accommodation booked on a sharing basis at the Augrabies Falls National Park.

SATURDAY, 8 October 2022 – start of the desert foot race

Ensure that your running bottles are filled.

07:30 Take your luggage (which will be locked away for the duration of the event) to the Conference Center. Make sure that each item is clearly labelled with your name and Bib number. Do not hand in any loose items. Two baggage labels are included in your information wallet. Please ensure that you sign for your luggage.

Make your way to the start.

08:00 – Start of the 21st Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon.

SATURDAY, 8 October 2022 to FRIDAY, 14 October 2022

Event Race. Each day is detailed on the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon Roadbook.

FRIDAY, 14 October 2022

Staggered start for the last leg.

10:00 – 13:00 Participants finish the race.

Platter ‘finger snacks’ and refreshments will be available as you finish. Two refreshment drinks will be provided to each participant. Additional refreshments can be signed for and paid for that evening.

14:00 – Once everyone has finished the race, sign for and collect your luggage and your chalet keys. The chalets WILL NOT be available before 14:30.

18:00 – Meet at the Parking Area, Augrabies Falls National Park, for transfer to the Augrabies Falls Lodge for dinner.

20:30 to 21:00 – Transfer back to Augrabies Falls National Park
Accommodation based on a shared basis at the Augrabies Falls National Park. 

SATURDAY, 15 October 2022

Use your breakfast and lunch vouchers at the Quiver Tree Restaurant.
The rest of the day is yours to spend at leisure.

16:30 – Meet at the Parking Area, Augrabies Falls National Park, for transfer to the Augrabies Falls Lodge for the Prize Giving function and dinner.
After dinner party.

21:30 – Transfer back to Augrabies Falls National Park. You may stay later, provided that you have made arrangements for transport back to Augrabies Falls National Park.

Accommodation on shared basis at Augrabies Falls National Park.

SUNDAY, 16 October 2022

07:00 – Use your breakfast voucher at the Quiver Tree Restaurant at the Augrabies Falls National Park.

Please vacate your chalet by 10:00.

If you have arranged to travel with the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon group by Bus to Upington International Airport, we will have made arrangements for relaxation or sightseeing during the day. Your luggage will be stored safely during the day.

14:00 – Meet at the Car Park and board the Bus to Upington Airport
14:30 – Depart Augrabies Falls National Park.
16:00 – Participants travelling with Airlink back to Johannesburg or Cape Town will be dropped off at the Upington International Airport.

In case you need to catch the Intercape Bus at Kakamas during the day, please make arrangements for transfer to Kakamas with Simone at

In case you would like to make your booking on the KAEM bus travelling from and to Upington International Airport to Augrabies Falls National Park, either early morning or late afternoon on 6 October as well as return on 16 October, please tick the applicable Transfer Boxes on your entry form and contact Simoné at to indicate the required bus transfer on 6 October.