Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: Ten Things You Should Know Before You Visit
If you are planning an African safari in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, you should know a few things about the park before you arrive. It is one of the largest parks in Africa and offers many opportunities for recreation, learning, game viewing and nature photography.
Here is an overview of the Kgalagadi:
1. Uniqueness – The park is unique in that it comprises an endless sea of red sand dunes where herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest follow the seasons, while towering camel thorn trees provide shade for huge black-maned lions and viewpoints for leopards and many raptors. Welcome to Kgalagadi!
two. Location and History – The park is located in the Northern Cape province of South Africa and borders Namibia to the west and Botswana to the east. Kalahari Gemsbok National Park was proclaimed in 1931 and merged with Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park in 2000 to form Africa’s first Transfrontier Park.
3. Size – 10,000 square kilometers in South Africa and 26,000 square kilometers in Botswana making a huge park of 36,000 square kilometers. The South African side of the park receives more than 120,000 visitors each year.
Four. known for – Birds of prey, wild camping, more than fifty watering holes along the tourist trails and in the camps, fantastic wild flower shows, such as devil’s claw in summer, and excellent animal and landscape photo opportunities.
5. Roads – The roads leading to the park from Johannesburg and Cape Town are all paved, but the roads in the park are dirt. You don’t need a 4×4 unless you’re going to Botswana or staying in Bitterpan or Gharagab camps. The park is located 350 km from Upington in the Northern Cape and about 900 km from Johannesburg. You can fly into Upington and then rent a car or drive as the roads are in good condition.
6. Climate – Kgalagadi means ‘land of thirst’ in the local San language, so summers are hot and can reach 50 degrees Celsius, while winter days are mild but nights can be chilly with temperatures below zero degrees Celsius . Annual precipitation is about 200 mm, which falls mainly between December and April. Two rivers run through the park but flow on average once every ten years.
7. Accommodation – There are three main camps (of which only Twee Rivieren and Mata Mata are air-conditioned), one luxury lodge (!Xaus Lodge) and six wilderness camps, all with fully equipped kitchens and en-suite bathrooms in the chalets and cabins . . There are camping spots at all three main campgrounds. ‘Twee Rivieren’ is Dutch for ‘Two Rivers’ and as the name suggests, the camp is situated at the confluence of the Nossob and Auob rivers.
8. Activities and Facilities– You can do morning or sunset tours, morning walks, 4×4 trails, self-drive safaris and there are lectures and slideshows. There are only four game viewing trails: two long river trails that follow the dry beds of the Nossob and Auob rivers and two short dune trails that connect the two long trails. There are also picnic sites, tents at the three main campgrounds, and swimming pools at the three main campgrounds plus Kalahari Tented Camp. Nossob and Mata Mata have a hideout in the camp where you can see animals drinking day or night. All camps, with the exception of Twee Rivieren, have their own watering hole where animals can be seen day and night. Only Twee Rivieren, being the largest camp, has a restaurant.
9. Security advice – Please stay well hydrated, especially in the summer months. At night walk around the campgrounds with your shoes on and use a flashlight as there are lots of scorpions and stay in your vehicles when in the park!
10 Things to look for in the Kgalagadi:
1. Gemsbok: These amazing desert antelopes are the emblem of the park.
2. Suricate: These hyperactive little omnivores, also called meerkats, have a wonderfully intricate family structure.
3. Black-Maned Kalahari Lions: These are the kings of the Kalahari!
4. Sociable Weavers: These little birds build huge communal nests that get so heavy they can break the branch they’re on!
5. Pygmy Falcons: The park is famous for its birds of prey and the pygmy falcon is Africa’s smallest falcon, often seen near colonies of sociable weavers that feed on the birds.
6. Brown Hyena – This is a rare sighting – watch for them between dusk and dawn.
7. The Predator Exhibit at Nossob Camp, the Photo Exhibit at Twee Rivieren, and the Auchterlonie Museum at the Auob River Bed
8. Summer storms and cloud formations make for amazing landscape photography.
9. Wilderness camps are unbeatable for a true wilderness experience
10. The panoramic views from the towers in the wild camps of Gharagab and Bitterpan
The park’s remoteness and true wilderness feel have a charm that keeps visitors coming back year after year!