Overview – Kgalagadi TP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a merger of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Most tourism happens on the South Africa side, which has excellent facilities. The Botswana side only has very basic campsites. The red sand dunes in the inhospitable desert form a magnificent backdrop for wildlife viewing and photography. The park lacks many species found in the lush savannah reserves but offers great predator sightings.

Best Time to Go March to May (The riverbeds attract animals)
High Season Never (The park never gets very crowded)
Size 35,284km² / 13,623mi²
Altitude 868-1,197m / 2,848-3,927ft

Pros and Cons

  • Excellent wildlife viewing
  • Stunning desert scenery and great photographic opportunities
  • Excellent birding, especially raptors
  • Off-the-beaten-track destination with great wilderness appeal
  • Choice of upmarket lodge and self-catering accommodation for self-drive visitors (South Africa side)
  • Less variety of species than in savannah reserves (no elephant, rhino or buffalo)
  • Far away from South Africa's main tourist attractions
  • Very hot conditions and harsh environment

Kgalagadi Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

The Kgalagadi is not a Big Five destination, as it has no elephant, rhino or buffalo. Animal numbers are lower than in more classic safari destinations, but the open terrain and sparse vegetation makes for very good viewing. Predator sightings are excellent and include lion, leopard, cheetah and some of the smaller species such as bat-eared fox and Cape fox.

Scenery

For most people, the scenery is as much an attraction of this park as the wildlife. The red sand dunes and endless vistas are quite unique. The dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob are lifelines in this harsh environment.

Weather & Climate

Forceful storms dump a large amount of water on the Kgalagadi during the park’s summer (October to April). This is when it can also get fiercely hot here, though thankfully the humidity doesn’t hit similar heights. You’ll often wake up to sub-zero temperatures during winter (May to September), which transform into crisp, sunny days.

Best Time to Visit

The period of transition from the Wet season (October to April) to the Dry season (May to September) is the best time for wildlife watching. The worst of the heat will have passed, and there’ll be enough water in the rivers to draw lots of animals. Just remember to pack plenty of warm clothes to deal with plummeting temperatures in the evening, as well as the chilly morning air.

Want to Visit Kgalagadi TP?

Kgalagadi Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Desert splendours
4/5

This is one of largest and the most unusual national parks in Southern Africa, and one of my favourites, though I’ve visited it less often than I’d like simply due to its remote location on the border with Botswana and Namibia. The two...

Latest User Review
Cats, bucks, and dust
4/5

They say that Kalahari lions are the most beautiful in the world. They are. They say that the Kgalagadi Park is the best park to see cats. It is. The park is relatively small, with just two main road following the beds of the two rivers. ...