Sitting on a 38000 square kilometer land, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is located within the Kgalagadi Desert at the border of South Africa and Botswana and is a home to some of the large cats in the country. As one of the most visited National Parks in South Africa, it has a lot to offer to tourists and you wouldn’t want to miss out on putting it on your list of destinations while in the country. Kgalagadi is a Khoi word which is loosely translated as “land of thirst” due to its location within the Desert.
Best known for being a home to the black maned lions, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park that was opened up to cater for the wildlife that habitates within the Desert and the two governments of Botswana and South Africa came up with an agreement that saw both countries gazetting land for this cause. Due to the sandy roads that are found in the park, it is advisable that you use four wheel drive vehicles if you want to enjoy your drive through the National Park.
A Transfrontier National Park has a lot of purposes but it is created to help in conservation of the wildlife in the countries. It is called Transfrontier because it is shared by two countries and the involved countries always don’t mind about the borders found in the conservation area that separate them for as long as the animals in the area are safe.
Entrance fees to the Kgalagadi Park
The fees that you pay at the entrance of the Kgalagadi Park depend on a number of things and one of them is citizenship. Below is a list of an estimate of the fees that you are expected to pay before you enter Kgalagadi for exploration.
|Foreigners||80R per day||160R per day|
|SADC with passports||40R per day||80R per day|
|South African citizens and residents with IDs||40Rper day||40R per day|
Getting to Kgalagadi National Park
You can use the different transport means to get to the National Park but the most commonly used are the road and air transport. For those that love adventurous journey, you can drive form the airports within South Africa or drive through the neighboring country of Botswana.
- Driving form Botswana
A drive from Botswana can easily be arranged for as long as you have all documents in order so that you are not disturbed by the officials at the borders that is your passport and your visa should be up to date in order for you to get to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. From Botswana you will have to drive through Gaborone until you reach Tsabong from where you will drive for a distance of about 300 kilometers before you get to the National Park.
- Flying to the Kgalagadi
There are different airports that you can use and the best are within Cape Town and Johannesburg. There is an airfield from where you can land within the National Park although you will need to first ask for permission before landing.
- Driving from Johannesburg and Cape Town
The Kgalagadi is 904 kilometers away from Johannesburg and 250 kilometers away from Cape Town. You can easily drive from these towns and although the distance is a little bit long, it’s a scenic drive that will give you an insight on what else South Africa has to offer.
Cultural tour to the Kgalagadi National Park
The Kgalagadi National Park is surrounded by different local communities and whereas some of these are new others have been around the Park for a very long time and a visit to these communities will give you an insight on how the locals live and the different cultural things that they carry out.
- The Khomani community
The Khomani community are a group of Khoi speaking people that are from different tribes and they live collectively in small groups and they all have different cultural practices that you should check out first hand. The government of South Africa gave the Khomani a portion of the Kgalagadi Park and that is where most of the locals live. They are also known for their hunting skills.
- The Mier community
This is the longest living community near the Kgalagadi and it has been around for over 150 years. These are pastoralists and have large herds of cattle, sheep, goats and many more other domestic animals and this is their livelihood because they sell the animals to get some money to buy things for their homes.
A cultural trip to the locals who live around the Park will give you a chance to participate in the different cultural activities that are carried out in the communities, enjoy the local dishes that are prepared and also learn about the hunting skills and what they use while hunting down some of the animals for meat.
What you need to pack for your trip to the Kgalagadi National Park
Due to the harsh weather conditions that are experienced in the Kgalagadi, there are a lot of things that you will need for all the activities that are carried out there and also some personal items. Below is a list of some things that you will need for the trip to the Kgalagadi.
- Water, take a lot of water and it does not matter whether you want to take a walk through the Park or a drive through. The weather is too hot in that it sometimes becomes unbearable and that is why you need to keep hydrated.
- A scarf, the head scarf will help keep your eyes and hair safe from the sand that is blown by the wind and trust us, you do not want that sand in your hair of face.
- A four wheel drive, the roads are not easy to access due to their sandy nature and therefore you will need a four wheel drive to get you through the National Park and do not forget to carry extra car tires.
- You will need sunglasses, sun block and a wide brimmed hat to protect you from the overhead sun.
- For all those that love camping, do not forget to take some cooking equipment and food supplies although you should note that some camping sites provide food and other necessities.
- Animal and bird recognition books. These will help you easily identify the wildlife species that you come across.
- Do not forget mosquito repellent.
Game drives in Kgalagadi
The Kgalagadi is perfect for game viewing all throughout the year but due to the harsh weather conditions that are experienced in some months, the best time for tourists to go for game drives in the Kgalagadi is during the months of March to May during the cooler season.
- Namibian cheetahs
- Red hartebeest
- The black maned lions
- Blue wildebeest
Birding in Kgalagadi
When you talk about Kgalagadi National park, most people think that since it is located within a desert, there are no bird species but that is not the case as the Park has a registered number of about 300 bird species. The best time to go for birding here is from November to April and some of the birds that you will find include:
- Southern white faced owl
- Great sparrow
- Pink billed lark
- Red footed falcon
- Sociable weaver
- Verreaux’s eagle owl
- Lanner falcon
- Secretary bird
- Pygmy falcon
- Black chested snake eagle.
- Violet eared waxbill and many more others.
Camping in the Park
There might not be a lot of places for you to freely camp but the management set up different campsites in designated places from where you can enjoy camping in the wild. You will have to look out for the Desert storms while camping, follow all the rules that involve camping that is no fires outside the tents, stay in your tents all throughout the night and do not leave any food outside the tent. With the help of a tour guide, you can enjoy a bone fire in the evening and also get to enjoy the good view of the stars at night while in the Desert.
Hot air balloons
This is one of the better ways that tourists can get to see the wildlife within Kgalagadi from a different point of view. Due to the heat that is experienced during the day, the balloon safari is mostly done in the morning when the air is a little bit settled. Guidelines on what to do and expect with a balloon safari will be given to you prior to the ride and make sure that you pack some warm clothes for the experience. Do not forget to carry a camera with you as you will have a lose view of some of the animals from above while in the balloon.
Even though it is located within a Desert, there are some Rivers that are located within the National Park and this is where the spot fishing is done. It is best done during the cooler months and done for entertainment purposes with a tour guide always with you.
Accommodation in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
There are several accommodation facilities that are found within the National Park and below are some of the best camps within the Park that you can use.
The Mata-Mata rest camp
This is located in the western part of the National park and is one of the camping sites that you can use. This is a self-catering camp and it can accommodate a total of about 162 people. Surrounded by a bushveld, you can get to see some of the wildlife that habitates within the Park from the comforts of your room. There is no electricity although for 18 hours, there is a generator that is used to provide power to the guests, there is a swimming pool that you can use to relax, a shop from which you can yourself some souvenirs and the camp also cate for all those in wheel chairs as well. The average fee paid by two guests at the Mata-Mata is about 20 US dollars per night although it is not available at the moment.
The Nossob Rest camp
The Nossob rest camp is located where the once River Nossob was before it dried up. It can accommodate 157 guests and although it is not available at the moment, some of the services that are given out at the camp include a generator that provides electricity for 18 hours per day, a swimming pool, a shop where you can get souvenirs for your family back home, a sight of some wild animals in the Park. For every two guest at the Nossob rest camp, an average of 20 dollars is paid per night and note that there is no network coverage here.
Grootkolk wilderness camp.
Located within the red sand dunes of the Desert, the Grootkolk wilderness camp which can offer room to only 8 people is the perfect getaway from all the bustle and hustle of urban Centres. Its strategic location also allows you to see the wild animals that gather around the waterhole that is not far away from the camp. Some of the animals that you will get to see while here include gemsbok, blue wildebeest, leopards and elands among others. A room at the Grootkolk wilderness camp goes for 106 US dollars per night for every individual who checks in.
The Urikaruus wilderness camp
This is a self-catering camp which is located just a few kilometers away from the Auob River in the Kgalagadi National Park. They have self-contained units which accommodate a maximum of 8 people only. You will need to book in advance if you want to get a room at the Urikaruus and a room at the camp goes for 106 US dollars.
When to visit the Kgalagadi
The best time to visit the Kgalagadi is during the cooler months when the harsh Desert conditions are better and this is from May to August. It is the perfect time for tourists to see he wild life in the Park as it gathers around the waterholes that are found in the Park. April tend to be way too hot and if possible, you should try avoiding this month when planning your trip.