User Reviews – Kgalagadi TP
Email Kelly C. | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
It was a remarkable adventure & great opportunity to view amazing animals in their natural habitat.
Though the park does not have the most beautiful of scenery (it's mostly dirt), the wildlife is amazing. I arrived at the park early in the morning for an all-day game drive. Immediately after entering the park, I saw various antelopes and bucks, which made me excited for the rest of the day. It wasn't long before we came across a rare and elusive leopard! What an amazing opportunity! Seeing such a beautiful creature in its natural habitat was a truly remarkable experience. As the day continued, we saw various birds, many giraffes, and even a pack of cheetahs as they enjoyed a recent kill. It would have been nice to be able to spend two days at Kgalagadi in order to see more of the park and view even more wildlife. My guide was very knowledgeable. Our overland truck proved advantageous because it gave us a better view, as we were sitting quite high. There was a gift shop at the park entrance and clean bathroom facilities throughout the park. Overall, I have to say that my experience at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is something that I will never forget. If you're a wildlife lover, this park is definitely worth your time!
Email Ernest | 50-65 years of age
Sleep with a lion or hyena outside your tent
We stayed in the Mabuasehube area of the park.
This is one of the few places where you can pitch your tent in the wilderness without having a fence to protect you from the wildlife. It is wild, very wild and you must be careful not to be included in the diet of the lions of which there are usually plenty.
This is typical Kalahari with very hot summers and pleasant cool to hot winters and is situated in the summer rainfall region. There are not any mountains and the scenery is grasslands with camel thorn trees which is heaven for a lover of the Kalahari.
Accommodation is camp sites, some with long drop toilets and cold showers and others with nothing, just the bush.
Mabuasehube can be reached from Nossob a rest camp in the South African part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park via a dune route of about 170km. This road is strictly for 4x4 vehicles with high ground clearance. The other options are from Tsabong in the South which is the route we took. This route is also just for 4x4's. There are also roads from the North and East but we have never tried them. There is no fuel available at Mabuasehube and at Tsabong we had to wait a day for the petrol to be delivered. Taking extra fuel is recommended.
The following items are not available at Mabuasehube:
1. Drinking water - take your own
2. Food - take your own
You must take along whatever you will need.
Be careful to not leave any food or anything else outside at night. Our cooler bag with cold drinks and picnic bag with all our cutlery was stolen by hyenas. Luckily we picked up cutlery stolen from previous visitors otherwise we would have had to eat with our hands. We used plastic bottles cut open for plates.
The wild life is typical Kalahari which means Springbok, Oryx, Lions, leapard and a few other antelopes as well as smaller cats and jackal. You will not find elephant, buffalo or rhino.
Email Alan Crawford | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: over 5 safaris
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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/alanjcrawfordphotography/
50-65 years of age
Kgalagadi: wonderful experience
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park has become in last years a cross-border park, that includes part of the territory in Botswana and has a border station to Namibia. You can enter the park from a country and exit it to another one.
The Botswana side is very wild, there are only a few camping sites and is mandatory to drive a 4x4 vehicle. We didn’t go there.
In the South African side there are some rest camps (3 of them with bungalows, the others are smaller with only 4-6 tents), only one of them has a restaurant inside. We spent 6 days in the park, sleeping in 4 different rest camps.
The park is 4 hours drive far from Upington, the only medium-sized cities in the area; to go there you have to drive along a nearly deserted but in good condition road. This means that the park is frequented mainly by South African people or by most motivated among foreign tourist.
The special feature of the park is the natural environment, which is described as “arid savannah” and is very different from other african park’s landscape. There is an expanse of red sand dunes with a little grass and bushes, some trees and only a few waterholes, largely artificial. Wildlife in the park is astonishingly varied, we sighted springbok, hartebeest, wildebeest, jackal, giraffe, lion, oryx, meerkat, mongoose, ground squirrel and many birds, but we weren’t so lucky to sight also cheetah, leopard and eland.
One morning, at dawn, we met one lion, two lionesses and a cub walking along the road, they keep on walking among cars for half an hour. It was so exciting!
Best ever visit to this wonderful place of red dunes and its wonderful denizens!
Wildlife - saw nearly everything including a cheetah chase/kill and nearly every day cheetahs for the 1st 8 days. Brown Hyena and Honey Badget accommodating for good images.Birding was great with good in flight photography opportunities. Had a bit of rain - bagged Lanner Falcon and Gabar Goshawk bathing in the road. Cheetahs drank in the road after the kill. Magical photography opportunities. I love the scenery, the landscape, the place - but then I am born in Africa and was raised in this type of dry, hot, beautiful country.
The accommodation in the three main camps are great to adequate - Twee Rivieren, Nossob and MataMata. The best is Twee Rivieren. Some of the Nossob accommodation is hot and cramped but it is still better than camping. There are also the wilderness camps, quite a few and some really remote that have a bit more luxury and is normally small but well kept and maintained. Be warned, it is hot and the gas fridges cannot always cope fresh food may go off quickly.
Summer can get >45ºC in the afternoons and winder is below zero at night. But the place makes up for this with its wonderful wildlife and photographic opportunities. There is an adequate shop at Twee Rivieren selling the basics. Be aware the park is 250 km form Uppington, the largest town in the area and one should come prepared and stocked-up with what you need. Take your own water as the water in the camp tastes funny to horrible, depending on your palate. It is clean and potable, it just does not tastes nice. Roads needs to be taken with patience as it is very corrugated. They pull a tyre grader behind a tractor on a regular basis but rather come in a 2X4 and not a normal sedan vehicle. Long stretches of the road, especially between Melkvlei and Nossob, runs in a deep rut which makes it nearly impossible to see anything adjacent to the road. We never make use of guides because we are citizens and do our own driving. Please note the following about open vehicle driving - it is charming, but it is dusty and can get quite cold. You cannot necessarily stop as long as you want at what you want to, especially if you do photography. The dust is a real problem - do not try to changes lenses!
Al this said, we always have a great time. This is the place to see the Cape Fox, the Bat-eared fox, honey badger and brown hyena. Cheetah and lion is nearly a guarantee and this is one of THE places where you may see a cheetah kill. We have seen two cheetah chases ending in a kill and numerous cheetahs at a kill. Then Kalahari lions are THE king of the lions with their black manes and large feet. There are also resident raptors and other birds that are more readily approachable if you do photography than what you will encounter elsewhere in SA. Overall. as we say : I f once the red sand of the Kalahari got into your socks, your will always want to come back. This is one of the best safari destinations in the world!
A completely unique, unrivalled experience!
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) is a long way from civilisation, but the trip is definitely worth it.
We stayed for approx. 10 days and in that time we saw a stunning selection of animals and birds, ranging from cheetahs, leopards and lions to springbok, wildebeest and tiny field mice.
The weather during our stay was just about right. Being winter in the desert, it did get cold at night (about -6 degrees Celsius), but temperatures reached 25-30 C during the day.
We stayed only in the three main camps of Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob. The accommodation was comfortable, well equipped and clean. However, remember that the shops only have the bare essentials, so it is advised to take all supplies with you.
Of course, the highlights of the trip are always what you see not necessarily where you stay. Suffice it to say that you never know what is around the corner, but you can almost guarantee that every day will produce at least one stunning sighting - be it a cheetah kill, hyenas tending to their cubs, honey badgers foraging or bat-eared foxed frolicking in the dusk light.
The other sight that must be experienced is the African night sky. With no light pollution, the high altitude and clean air, the view of our universe is unbelievable. Look up at night and you will see satellites, falling stars and with some help from binoculars even some planets such as Saturn.
I can only recommend the KTP. I will definitely be returning in the future, hopefully many more times.
20-35 years of age
Escape to the beach.. without the water
Kgalagadi, pronounced by making a "k" sound followed by 2 successive throat clearings, is the real Kalahari. Real as in the small trees and bush on the nearest town on the map, a town called Hotazel, are replaced by sand. So much sand that Sand Surfing is a local sport. The temps while we were there were just over 40C during the day, a hint of sun, but luckily the nights cooled off to the low 20's- desert living at its finest.
Along with the day drives where all the animals are fast asleep by the watering holes in the rarity that is the shade, the Kgalagadi comes alive in the night time. with only 1 night in the park, to the night drive we went.
The best way to make friends when stuck in a confined space? Beer. Between a dozen people 'stuck' in the moving elevator that was the open topped Land Rover for our night drive, we were the guys dragging a cooler of beer onto the bakkie (bakkie = truck in the SA). 15 minutes in, the whole drive was friends. Sadly this was about the same time we got away from the camp and back into park. While the temperatures fell the animals rose. The bakkie was equipped with a few spotlights, so we took turns spotting the animals. Over the course of the drive, of all the animals we saw, by far the most exciting was an African Wild Cat. More rare than lions, the african wild cat was out hunting alone, had a moment in the spotlight, and was gone.
From the beachless dunes, to the black maned lion, to the beers with paap 'n vleis, the Kgalagadi was an excellent escape from anything resembling a cookie-cutter holiday package and the memories I walked away with won't be found in any other park in Africa.
Cats, bucks, and dust
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.
The landscapes are not amazing.
But the cats surely are! If you stay a few days. it is most probable that you will spot not only lions, but cheetahs and leopards.
I went in June, at the beginning of the dry season: a lot of dust and low vegetation, perfect if you are a photographer.
If you are not staying the the main camp, you need to be self-accommodated and self-catering. Be well organised for the night, since it gets really cold.
I was self-driving, and I had a 4x4. A 4x4 is not necessary (good dirt roads in the park), but for sure it makes your trip more confortable.
Email Corrado | 20-35 years of age | Experience level: first safari
A wonderful destination off the beaten path
We spent almost a week in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the long drive was worth it. The rugged but beautiful scenery of the Kalahari is certainly one highlight of the park, being the other the high chance of viewing one or several of Africas big cats. In total we saw several lions and three cheetahs and could observe and enjoy them without the rush as in many other parks.
Entry and exit via Mata-Mata was easy and stress-free. For exploring the park by your own, a 4WD vehicle is highly recommended, as there are many sandy passages. The campsites on the South-African side of the park were very-well maintained and while Nossob, Mata-Mata and the wilderness camps give you a great and authentic experience, Twee-Rivieren is busier but still recommended for a night stay in order to explore the surroundings. The heat during the day was bearable in July but be prepared for the cold to freezing nights during the winter months.
Overall, this park is highly recommended if you want to enjoy unspoiled nature and can live with the fact that you won't be able to see the big fives.
Email jean-marc | 50-65 years of age | Experience level: first safari
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.