Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park- User Reviews
A Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park visit is an experience of adaption of life to a desert environment
A review of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa by Alan Crawford
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated 260km north of Upington, South Africa and the South African section of the park is wedged between Namibia on the left and Botswana to the right. The term “Transfrontier” comes from the fact that the park spans two countries namely South Africa and Botswana and the park is jointly managed by both countries.
Our trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was undertaken in December 2016 during summer. The weather at this time of the year is very hot with temperatures averaging between 32 degrees and 45 degrees centigrade. The heat is a dry heat without humidity and temperatures cool down in the evening into the twenties. In winter temperatures the night time temperatures can be below freezing point.
Whilst temperatures are hot at this time of the year there are advantages for game viewing as animals normally congregate close to the many water holes in the park. The geography park is a desert environment which has two dry rivers the Auob River that flows once every 10 years and the Nossob River that flows every 100 years. In summer the afternoon storms are spectacular as they are intense and occasionally are accompanied by dust storms.
The Kgalagadi is home to the black maned lions and during this year’s trip we were able to see 42 different lion at various locations in the park. Cheetahs were active as the onset of early rains resulted in the large herds of Springbok migrating off the dues into the river beds where fresh shoots of vegetation were growing. After dry periods when the first rains start you can see the change in colours overnight as the fresh shoots of grass and leaves on the “Drie Doring” (three thorn) shrubs start growing immediately. The Springbok can hold back the birth of their young until the rains come. When this takes place the cheetahs are very active hunting the young springbok lambs. Leopards, although difficult to see, are abundant in the park and often hide out in the rocky limestone outcrops where they can survey the riverbeds for prey. The Kgalagadi has high numbers of brown hyena, which are shy animals but often seen in the early morning.
A number of antelope species are found in the park with the dominant species being Springbok, Gemsbok (Oryx), Red Hartebeest, Kudu and Steenbok. During some seasons when water is scarce in the Central Kalahari in Botswana large herds of Eland, the biggest antelope in Southern Africa, migrate into the park.
The Kgalagadi is not always about the big animals but also a number of other interesting mammals such as the Honey Badger, Ground Squirrels, Mongoose, Surricates (Meercats), Cape Fox, Aardwolf, Pangolin, Black Backed Jackal, Porcupine, Caracal, and African Wild Cat that occur in the park.
Reptiles such a Tree Agamas, Cape Cobra, Puff Adders are often prey for the many small raptors, owls and eagles found in the park.
There are approximately 280 species of bird that occur in the park of which about 92 are permanent residents. During summer birdwatching is excellent as the area has a very high concentration of raptors that follow the rain fronts and feed on termite eruptions. During our trip we were able to tick off 92 different bird species.
There are three main camps Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob. These offer a variety of accommodation from campsites, bungalows to family cottages. Only Twee Rivieren has power for 24 hours whilst Mata Mata and Nossob have generated power form 5.00am to 10.00pm. Most accommodation contains a fridge, hot plate or gas cooker top, microwave oven and the basic crockery and cutlery. Apart from the main camps there are three wilderness camps that are unfenced and offer a wilder experience being more remotely positioned but with modest “luxury’ facilities. Only Twee Rivieren has a restaurant and self-catering is required in all other camps. The three main camps have shops which carry beverages, basic food stuff, meat, curios and basic toiletries.
Apart from the South African side of the park guests can make use of two lodges on the Botswana side of the park one based at Rooiputs in the south and the other at Polenswa in the north of the park. There are also camps at Rooiputs and Polenswa that are completely unfenced and a vehicle with a roof top tent is essential as the camps are often frequented by lion.
Visitors can fly into Upington and rent vehicles to travel to the park although double cab pickup trucks will handle the gravel roads better and the higher vantage point facilitates better game viewing. Upington is a good travel hub to use as the Augrabies Falls National Park is only 112km away. Travelling into Namibia is also possible from Upington.
Further details of the park can be obtained by visiting the South African National Parks website on www.sanparks.org
For a sample of photos of the animals of the park visit 'www.flickr.com/photos/alanjcrawfordphotography/<'br /> ... more
3 nights at Twee Rivieren
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the park with Kalahari Tours and Travel. I had a busy schedule so I could only spend three nights at Twee Rivieren, from which we drove up towards Nossob and Mata Mata. My guide Dennis was incredibly helpful and great at spotting wildlife that I would otherwise have missed.
The wildlife was very impressive, with large numbers of the typical herbivores as well as a few giraffe, southern kudu and red hartebeest. We enjoyed fabulous views of a leopard, two cheetah groups and several honey badgers, but we were unsuccessful with lions and hyenas. The night drive was well worth the small fee and cold temperatures, with six wildcats, a bat-eared fox and many springhares and spotted eagle-owls.
Observing the small birds was difficult as we were confined to our vehicle. However, this was more than made up for by the number and diversity of raptors, including tawny eagles, bateleurs, goshawks, secretarybirds, black-shouldered kites, lanner falcons, martial eagles and jackal buzzards. We also saw the majority of my other targets, such as kori bustard, Burchell's sandgrouse and both southern yellow-billed and African grey hornbills. The scenery was beautiful and provided a great backdrop for photos.
All in all a great trip, although a longer stay would have been great for seeing more of the park's inhabitants.... more
An arid wilderness heaving with wildlife
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) is a really special place. It is extremely arid and hot, yet the wildlife and bird life (raptors in particular) are extremely abundant.
The park basically consists of two roads that run along the two (dry) riverbeds that run through the park, the Nossob and the Auob. Along the rivers, vast views are limited because they are both surrounded by the famous red dunes of the Kalahari, but that is not an issue because the water points are all along these rivers which attracts all the wildlife, plus the dunes really are beautiful.
I gave a 5 star rating for everything and I'm tempted to warn readers that I gave these rates based on an arid savanna benchmark where seeing a lion and a few birds within a few days is a good trip but that is far from the case in the KTP as you will find loads of wildlife!
Accommodation wise, I have camped at Mabuasehube on the Botswana side which was awesome (lions came in to drink our dirty shower water and would cause shivers right down our spines as their deep calls vibrated right through us in the night)! As well as in a research camp within the park close to Twee Rivieren, this camp is unavailable to tourists so not much use in me telling you about it. I also can't really speak for the rest of the accommodation as I have never stayed at any of the other camps. I can however, recommend going as deep into the park where there are less people and you can enjoy the true essence of being out in the bush. Otherwise, it doesn't really matter because you'll want to spend every woken moment out there game viewing.
If you are reading this and on the fence about wanting to go to the Kgalagadi Tranfrontier Park, do it. You will not be disappointed.
A great desert and wildlife experience
The KTP is full of different species and it's a great experience to see the animals in their life space. The best at the KTP is the experience of the Gharagab tented camp. We are alone on this camp and the road is a single track to the camp, a bit more difficult than the normal tracks but truly 4x4. The view is without any limit and we can have an idea of the dimensions of the Kalahari desert. Wildlife is everywhere and there is always some animals to observe.
Utterly fabulous, if you like that sort of thing
Kgalagadi is a superb place to visit at any time of the year, but November/December marks the transition from the end of the dry season as the rains can come at any point. It's hot, very hot, but worth is to see some incredible wildlife at close hand. The heat and lack of vegetation means a lot of action around the waterholes - great for predators but not so much fun for the prey. The landscape is, at times, breathtaking (if you like it dry and empty). Steer clear of the madding crowd around Twee Rivieren, head up to Mata Mata and/or Nossob for a wonderful and exciting experience but be prepared for basic accomodation.
I'm a pro wildlife photographer and I've been three times now (December, March and June). It's my favourite destination and I just love this park.
From birds to mammals to scenery, Kgalagadi has it all.
The wildlife at Kgalagadi is the main reason to go, in my opinion. You'll have a great chance of seeing lions, meerkats, eland, gemsbok, ostrich, warthogs and more. As a birder, I enjoyed seeing things like Verreaux's Eagle Owl, Secretarybird, Black-chested Snake-eagle, swallow-tailed bee-eaters and many, many more. The facilities/accommodations are excellent as well, and the park is easily accessible and well-maintained. The massive Kgalagadi Transfrontier Pakr is one of the gems in the excellent South African National Park system, and one of the few that is comparable to Kruger.
Everything where very good! One night it was very very cold. But otherwise it was good. I will recommend the park to all our friends. We saw lots of lions, cheetha and other animals. The food in the Restaurant at Twee rivieren were excellent. The restrooms were clean all the time. We have a great time!