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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park South Africa
The name, 'Kgalagadi' comes from the SAN language and means "Place of thirst"
The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa was formed 1931 mainly to protect the migrating game, especially the Gemsbok. Together with the adjacent Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, they are both known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. this park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares, covering an area about twice the size of Kruger and is one of very few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world. Mostly semi-desert, The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park amazingly varied and beautiful. The Red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob allow easy spotting of antelope and predator species and thus provide excellent photographic opportunities. It also has large populations of birds, reptiles, rodents and small mammals.
Game to look out for includes the emblem of the park, the large striking desert antelope the Gemsbok. Suricate (Meerkat) made so famous by the TV show Meerkat manor. There are also the Black-maned Kalahari Lions, the kings of the Kalahari desert. As well as honeybadgers, african painted wild dogs, giraffe, cheetah, caracal, eland, spotted hyena, pangolin and the bat eared fox to name a few!
The Best Waterholes for Great Wildlife Sightings
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park has about 700 lions, almost 200 cheetah's and a good population of leopards and so as far as seeing the big cats in the wild is concerned, this is a great place to visit. To increase your chances, one of the best ways to find many species of game is at a water source, this is especially true during the dry season when most water dependent game will not travel too far from where there is permanent water. Because much of the Kgalagadi is dry, often the best places to find the best sightings are at it's many waterholes. Below are some of the best.
In the mata-Mata area of Kgalagadi, the best waterholes are known as "Thirteenth Borehole, Fourteenth Borehole and Dalkeith.
All three waterholes are on loops not too far from the main road and so make a great place to visit. Here you will have a chance of seeing lions, giraffe and even possibly leopards who like the big trees that surround the waterholes. I have heard that in summer, the leopards are more often seen in the mornings, whilst in winter, they are more active later on during the day. If the lions are not in the area, you may also be lucky enough to find cheetah.
The waterhole at the camp in Nossob itself is a great place to start, it lies within the territory of a resident pride of lions and they are often spotted here. People have also reported good sightings of Brown Hyenas.
Located about 110km south of the camp at Nossob lies Marie se Draai, which must surely be one of the best places to see wildlife in the whole of the Kgalagadi. Here you will have the chance to see just about every animal found in the park, except for giraffes, which tend to stick to the Mata-Mata region. The have been reports of sightings of cheetah, caracal and even honey badgers in this area.
About 23km north of Nossob is Kwang, which is a great place to find many of the larger raptors found in the park.
Samevloeiing is a good place to find both lion and leopard and is about 4km from the camp at Twee Rivieren. During the rainy season you should also try Leeuwdril which is a further 11km from Samevloeiing as the rain forms pools in the road, which in turn often attracts many species of game.
On the birding side:
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park has a list of approximately 280 species of which only about 92 are resident. There are sociable weavers, their huge communal nests are unmistakable, pygmy falcons, the smallest falcon in Africa and is often seen around Sociable Weaver colonies preying on the birds. The reserve is famous for it's birds of prey, the commonest being Tawny and Black-breasted (chested) Snake Eagle, Bateleur, White-backed and Lappet-faced Vulture, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon and Greater Kestrel, Martial Eagle and Red-necked Falcon. Barn, Spotted and Verreaux's (Giant) Eagle Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet (The smallest owl in Africa), White-faced and African Scops-Owl may also be seen.
There is plenty of accommodation options available in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park has six camps, all differ in size, facilities and cost. Three traditional camps that have a basic shopping facility and fuel are situated on the South African side of the Park. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park also provides accommodation in three wilderness camps that have no fences.
Traditional Rest Camps
The largest camp in the park and also the administrative HQ, Twee Rivieren is located on the banks of the Dry Nossob Riverbed.
Accommodation at Twee Rivieren:
- Cottages with 2 single beds and a double sleeper couch (suitable for children under 12 only), bathroom (shower), airconditioner and fully equipped kitchen.
- 3 and 4 bed family cottages, one bedroom with 2 single beds, bathroom (shower), living room with extra beds, airconditioner and fully equipped kitchen.
- 6 bed family chalet, two bedrooms, bathroom (shower), living room, airconditioner and fully equipped kitchen.
Facilities at Twee Rivieren include a small shop selling things like fresh meat, milk, cheese, eggs, bread, wine and beer. There is also fuel available, a restaurant, information centre and a swimming pool. This is also the only camp that has 24hour electricity and cell phone reception.
Activities include: Night drives, Day walks Lectures, slide shows and holiday programs are organized from the information centre Game viewing and the Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail.
Located on the banks of the Auob River on the western boundary of Kgalagadi, about 2 and a half hours drive from Twee Rivieren. The camp borders Namibia and is surrounded by thorny Kalahari dune bushveld. This area is excellent for spotting giraffe.
Accommodation at Mata Mata Restcamp
- There are three park homes (two with 3 beds and one with 5 beds) with communal ablution facilities, you will use a communial kitchen which is fully equiped.
- Three 2 bed chalets with communal ablution facilities and use of the communial kitchen.
- Two 6 bed family chalets with 2 bedrooms, bathroom (shower), living room, air-conditioning and fully equipped kitchen.
Facilities at the camp include: a reception, shop and fuel is availabe. Electricity is provided by a generator 18 hrs per day. Phone lines are provided from Namibia.
Like Twee Rivieren, Nossob is located about a 3 to four hour drive away and is on the banks of the Dry Nossob Riverbed and is famous for spectacular predator sightings, that are seen from the hide at the nearby waterhole.
Accommodation at Nossob Rest Camp:
Two family cottages that have 2 bed bedrooms with two beds in the lounge, ceiling fans, shower, toilet, kitchen and patio with bbq (braai) area. There are also 3 bed and 4 bed cottages available with similar facilities.
There are also two guesthouses that can be booked seperatly or together, one has two 2 bed bedrooms with ceiling fan, bathroom with shower and basin, separate toilet, kitchen and patio with BBQ (braai) area. The other has one 2 bed bedroom with similar facilities.
Facilities at the Nossob rest camp include a reception, predator information centre, shop and fuel facilities. Electricity is provided by a generator 18 hrs per day.
- Kalahari Tented Camp
Camping at the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is available at the following places:
- Rooiputs (unfenced)
- Kaa (unfenced)
- Polentswa (unfenced)
- Two Rivers
- Mabuasehube section has unfenced camping sites at: Mabuasehube, Khiding, Entrance Gate, Mpaathutlwa, Bosobogolo, Monamodi.
The main entrance at Twee Rivieren Gate is located about 260km north of Upington. Tourists from Johannesburg have a choice of two routes, either via Upington (60 km gravel) or via Kuruman, Hotazel and Vanzylsrus (±340 km gravel). There are also daily flights to Upington from Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Below is a map showing the location Kgalagadi and other points of interest in the surrounding area.
Entrance to Botswana
If you are wanting to visit the Botswana side of the park, you can enter Botswana at the Gemsbok/Bokspits Border post that is about 60km south of Twee Rivieren, at Middelputs, McCarthy’s Rest or Makopong Border posts to visit the Mabuasehube section of Gemsbok National Park, where several campsites are available.
A 4x4 vehicle is necessary as is a valid passport and visa should your pasport require one. Bookings for the Botswana side still has to be done through their office.
Entrance to Namibia
The Mata Mata Border has been opened, but is only available to tourists to the Park and not for general cross border travel. Tourists are required to stay over for two nights in one or more of the overnight facilities of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Tourists from Namibia may make use of the new entrance to Kgalagadi, as a day or overnight visitor access point without checking in with the border officials at Twee Rivieren as long as they return to Namibia. If, however, a tourist leaves the Park to go in to South Africa or Botswana they will have to go to the passport control at Twee Rivieren.
Hours: Summer and winter 8:00 – 16:30
A good time to visit is June and July when the days are coolest and the animals have been drawn to the bores along the dry river beds.
Gate Hours are: Summer - 06:00 - 19:30 Winter - 07:30 - 18:00
For enquiries e-mail Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: Park Tel: + 27 (0) 54 561 2000
All bookings for the Botswana side still has to be done through their office at:
Telephone: + 267 318 0774
Fax: +267 318 0775
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