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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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Editorial Note: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park spans the arid Kalahari region between South Africa's Northern Cape Province and Botswana.

An Overview of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Map of Etosha National Park

Map of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Kalahari Region - South Africa / Botswana)

Read More:
Choice of Accommodation | Choosing the Season | Making Your Booking | Getting There | Getting In | What to See and Do
Shopping | Safari Dining | Keeping You Safe

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Choice of Accommodation

Main Rest Camps

The 3 main rest camps all have camping facilities and comfortable accommodation.

Twee Rivieren camp is the largest rest camp and has a shop, fuel, restaurant, information centre and swimming pool. This is the only camp with 24 hrs electricity and cell phone reception.  The camp reception is now located at the new park entrance gate and is a dual reception with both Botswana and South Africa sharing the facility. Bungalows look onto the camp site and entrance gate. They all have fridge/freezer, microwave and electric two ring hob. The bungalows have a small patio with a braai (barbeque).

Nossob camp is situated on the dry Nossob riverbed but the bungalows do not have great views of the river bed so you need to go to the hide which can be rewarding day or night.  The camp has a reception, swimming pool, predator information centre, shop and fuel facilities.

Mata Mata camp has a nice hide that guests can sit at and the eight new river-facing chalets offer good views of the Auob river and the waterhole.

Mata-Mata Camp, Kgalagadi - River View Cottage

Mata Mata Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - River View Cottage


Mata-Mata Camp River View Cottage bedroom

Mata Mata Camp - Bedroom, River-View Cottage

If you want to go into Namibia you can leave the park through Mata Mata gate as it is also a border gate into Namibia, but you need to sleep in the park for at least two nights. The camp has a small shop, swimming pool and fuel facilities.

Wilderness Camps

We love staying in the Wilderness camps in the Kalahari because they are smaller and more private than the bigger main camps. The wilderness camps are all unfenced, providing a true wilderness experience. None of these camps have shops or petrol station so you need to stock up on water, food, charcoal or firewood at one of the three main camps. All  the Wilderness Camps have en-suite bathrooms, gas fridges and geysers while solar panels provide electricity for lights. All the units have cooking utensils, cutlery, ceiling fans, bedding and towels, and are serviced daily.

Kieliekrankie has four dune cabins which are situated high on a red sand dune and have an amazing view over the dunes and water hole below. This camp is great for landscape photography and every room has a view over the surrounding dunes.

Kielie-Krankie Dune Cabin -  Kgalagadi

Dune Cabin at Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp


Kielie-Krankie Dune Cabin Dining Room

Dining Room in Dune Cabin at Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp


Urikaruus has just 4 cabins built on stilts that are connected by elevated wooden walkways for comfort and safety. They all face onto a waterhole which is in the dry Auob river bed.

Urikaruus Camp Cabin - Interior View

Urikaruus Camp Cabin Interior - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park


Urikaruus Dune Cabin, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Urikaruus Dune Cabin - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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Kalahari Tented Camp is  bigger of all the wilderness camps and it has fifteen tents which all have a view of the waterhole. The honeymoon tent is the best for privacy because it is situated at the end of the row plus it is larger than the other tents.

Kgalagadi Kalahari Tented Camp

Kalahari Tented Camp


Kgalagadi Tented Camp - Interior

Kalahari Tented Camp - Interior View of Tented Accommodation

Bitterpan has four cabins connected by a wooden walkway, very similar to Urikaruus but with communal kitchen and braai area. All the cabins over look a water hole and a large pan. The camp is accessible by 4x4 vehicles only. The cabins are very close to each other so the camp is best suited to groups of family or friends.

Gharagab has four log cabins with an unspoilt view over the water hole, which now has a floodlight for night viewing– the two end cabins have more privacy but number two has the best view of the waterhole. This is another great camp for landscape photography. The camp is accessible by 4x4 vehicles only.

Gharagab Wilderness Camp, Kgalagadi Park

Gharagab Wilderness Camp - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Gharagab Camp - Dune Cabin - Interior

Gharagab Camp - Interior of Dune Cabin Accommodation

Grootkolk There are four cabins in a row facing the waterhole but the views of the waterhole are not great because the water hole is on the same level as the cabins and the grass is very long. They also have a communal kitchen in the middle of the cabins, but each cabin does have its own barbecue area so you do not need to make use of the communal kitchen.

Luxury Lodge

!Xaus Lodge provides luxury accommodation in the Kgalagadi park for eco-tourists and visitors to the Kalahari. The complex has a central lodge building and 12 individual chalets, each with its own deck overlooking a vast saltpan and waterhole fed with fresh water. Pronounced ‘kaus’, this is a place to experience a unique desert environment. The en-suite chalets provide a flask with purified drinking water from the desert. Winter sheets and gas heaters provide comfort for the cold nights, and ceiling fans bring relief in the hot months.

The Kgalagadi, like the Kruger Park, has specials during the year, but please do check the SANParks website for these seasonal specials before making your booking.

There are a number of other private Game Reserves and Lodges just outside the park

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Choosing the Season

Once you know which season you will be travelling in you can decide what clothing to pack. We do suggest that you pack light as you can always wash some cloths when you are there.

Making Your Booking

Generally you make your booking by phoning central reservations to find out what accommodation is available and the prices, but you can also check online before you phone. You are able to search up to eleven months ahead and you can see what types of units are available at each camp.

Now that you have decided on your accommodation and chosen your camps and bungalows , go to SANParks reservations to start the booking process. You can make an online booking – which is a nice service for after-hours but we prefer phoning because you are able to change your booking within the next 30 days. After you have paid your deposit you can still make changes at no extra cost, providing you are adding to the booking.

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Getting There

Flying
The closest Airport is in Upington so you could fly to Upington Airport, hire a car,  then drive up to the Kalahari. The distance from Upington airport to Twee Rivieren is about 250 km.

Traveling by Road
It is a 9 to 10 hour trip from Johannesburg to the Kgalagadi. The distance from Johannesburg to Twee Rivieren is about 900 km, depending on where you begin your journey. You also have two route options from Johannesberg:

Option 1 (tar road all the way):
Johannesburg to Kuruman - 500 km (from the West Rand)
Kuruman to Upington - 245 km
Upington to Twee Rivieren - 241 km
Total distance: 986 kms

Option2 (mostly tar with about 150km of dirt road):
Johannesburg to Kuruman - 500 km
Kuruman to Askham - 308 km
Askham to Twee Rivieren - 68 km
Total distance: 876 km

By taking the short-cut via Kuruman, Hotazel, Van Zylrus and Askham on the R31, will cut off at least 110 kilometers off your journey but only half the road is tarred. From Van Zylsrus to Askham the road is dirt road that is being tarred month by month. The whole road should be tarred by 2012.

The distance from Cape Town to Twee Rivieren is about 1076 km. The distance from Durban to Tween Rivieren is 1463km.

If you are an international visitor you will then need to hire a vehicle, if doing a self-drive safari, but there are many care hire companies to choose from.

Getting In

Access to the Park can be gained through five park gates in three different countries! From South Africa access is through the Twee Rivieren gate, from Namibia through the Mata-Mata gate...

Kgalagadi's Namibia border post at Mata Mata camp

Kgalagadi's Namibia Border Post at Mata Mata Camp

... and from Botswana through the Two Rivers, Mabuasehube and Kaa gates. Passports are not required for entry, unless departure is planned through a different gate into another country.

There is a daily entrance/conservation fee payable. This charge is per person and per vehicle. The prices vary between locals and foreign visitors and the fees go up every year like the accommodation costs that increase once a year.

To save money on these daily conservation fees, buy a Wild Card. This card can be used in the Kgalagadi and Kruger plus a number of other parks in South Africa that are part of or affiliated to SANParks. Your Wild card is valid for a year and is excellent value for money if you are spending more than 5 or 6 days in the park.
To find out more and get the latest pricing please visit SANParks website.

Check in times
Check in is from 12H00 and check out is by 09H00.

Gate opening and closing times
The Kgalagadi entry and camps gates open and close are as follows:

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What to See and Do

Nature Photography

If you are a Wildlife Photographer what can you expect to photograph in Kgalagadi...

Because of the open landscape and animals that are accustomed to humans, the Kgalagadi is a wildlife photographer’s paradise! You don't have to get frustrated with the dense vegetation that could obscure the animals and spoil your photographs like in the Kruger and Pilanesberg.

The best months for wildlife photography, particularly for predators and raptors, are the summer and autumn months. Summers can, however, get extremely hot so for comfort we prefer to visit the park in March and April.

All game drives are done along just four roads - the two main river roads of the Auob and Nossob and the two connecting dune roads.

There are a series of boreholes situated along the four roads, which attract the prey and predators. There are also waterholes in front of the main camps (Nossob and Mata Mata) and in front of all the wilderness camps.

We love the Wilderness Camps as they are quieter than the main camps and we tend to therefore see the shy creatures such as brown hyena, porcupine, leopard and caracal drinking here.

For photography Urikaruus is the best wilderness camp because the waterhole is just 50 meters from the cabins. With all the other wilderness camps the waterholes are between 75 and 120 meters from the cabins.
Sometimes the animals are close to the waterholes and sometimes they aren't so we would suggest that you have at least a 300mm f4 lens plus tele-converter.

The Kgalagadi has many nocturnal animals that you can see and photograph either on night drives or from your tent or cottage, so don't put your cameras away once the sun has set! Look out for African Wild Cat, Caracal, Bat-eared Fox, Leopard and Lion.

When you are resting in the camps keep an eye out for the little creatures like Ground Squirrels, Yellow Mongoose, Tree Rats and the Striped Mouse as they make great photography subjects!

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - Male Lion

Male Lion - Photographed at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

If you are a Landscape Photographer what can you expect to photograph in Kgalagadi...

The Kgalagadi has the most unusual scenery. You have the contrasts between the blue African sky, deep red sand dunes, carpets of yellow wild-flowers, white calcrete cliffs and the green trees and shrubs.

The Auob and Nossob roads provide good opportunities but so do the wilderness camps, because they are mostly situated on top of high sand dunes. Our favorites are Kieliekrankie, Kalahari Tented Camp and Gharagab because of their height. Urikaruus, Bitterpan and Grootkolk are not situated as high but can also provide nice scenic photographs - you just need to be a bit more creative.

Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob camps could also provide scenic opportunities but just watch out for telephone poles and other distractions that may make their way into your composition!

The Kgalagadi is also the best park to photograph star trails due to it being far away from civilization and therefore far away from light and pollution.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - Sunrise

Kgalagadi Sunrise

If you are a Macro Photographer what can you expect to photograph in  Kgalagadi...

In most months you will find scorpions to photograph but in summer they are easier to find than in other seasons. In addition there are preying mantis, moths and a host of other insects that you can find by walking around Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob camps.

If you are staying in the wilderness camps you are not allowed to walk around the camps as they are unfenced. Don't fret, because many insects will come and pay you a visit at your dune cabin. We have had moths, scorpions, geckos, armored ground crickets and beetles to name just a few.

Cats-tail - Kgaligadi

In addition you have the profusion of summer flowers like the purple Devil's Claw and the yellow Devil's Thorn as well as pods, seeds, Tsamma melons and Gemsbok cucumbers to photograph.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cats-tail photographed in the Kgalagadi

If you are a Bird Photographer what can you expect to photograph in Kgalagadi...

Martial Eagle photographed at Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkThere are three main birding environments in the park; the dunes, the Nossob and Auob riverbeds, and the three main camps. Most bird species are found throughout the park, but some tend to be more common in either one of these environments.

Check the trees in the three main camps for owls and other bushveld bird species.
Most of our raptor sightings have been along the Auob and Nossob river roads as well as along the two dune roads.

Even if you are staying at one of the wilderness camps you should also be rewarded with good bird sightings, depending on which camp you are at. We have seen secretary birds, martial eagles, lanner falcons, goshawks, sand grouse and owls from our dune cabins at the wilderness camps.

 


Martial Eagle, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Other Activities

Kgalagadi Nossob Hide

Nossob Camp Hide - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Morning and Sunset Drives - experienced rangers will take you in an open 4x4. You leave the camp before the camp gates open. The ranger  will tell you about the Fauna and Flora and talk about the insects, as well as looking out for the big Cats. Please note that departure times change according to the seasons, so please check at reception before you book. No children under 6 are allowed. These drives are only available from the 3 main camps and  Kalahari Tented Camp.

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Shopping

Twee Rivieren is the only shop with credit/debit card facilities and an ATM, so please remember to take cash with you.

Twee-Rivieren (Two Rivers) Camp, Kgalagadi Park

Twee Rivieren Camp Shop

The Mata Mata and Nossob shops only have the basics like firewood and a few tinned foods.  The Twee Rivieren shop opens at 07h30 and closes 15 minutes after the gates close. The Mata Mata and Nossob shops open from 07h30 -12h30, then reopen at 13:30 and close 15 minutes after the gates close.

Petrol Stations and breakdown stations
Only the 3 main camps have petrol stations within the camps that sell leaded, unleaded and diesel fuel, so please fill up at the camp you are staying in because sometimes there is no fuel or there could be a problem at one of the pumps. If you have a problem with your car ask at your camp reception. They can help you and will make the arrangements for you.

Mata-Mata Camp - Petrol (Gas) Station

Petrol Station at Mata Mata Camp

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Safari Dining at Kgalagadi

Restaurants

Out of the three main camps in the Kalahari only Twee Rivieren has a restaurant. They open for breakfast at 7.30 till 10:00 and for dinner from 18:00 to 21:00. There is no view but it has a lovely feel to it with some great wildlife pictures on the walls. The food is not great.

Kgalagadi's Twee-Rivieren Camp Restaurant

Twee-Rivieren Restaurant - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Braais (barbeque) at the Bungalow - We enjoy braaing at our bungalow/cabin at night because you can watch and photograph the night life that came to you at your fire. We have been visited by Black-backed Jackals, Porcupines and Cape Foxes. At the Wilderness camps you could have Lions, hyenas or Leopard come down to drink while you are eating your dinner. In summer we have the moths and other insects coming to the bungalow which we photograph. When you stay in the wilderness camps you are not allowed to walk around the camps as they are unfenced, but don't worry, because many insects come  and visit your dune cabins.

Urikaruus Camp - braai and view

Braai (Barbeque) and Waterhole View from Urikaruus Camp

The river-facing cottages at Mata Mata camp also do not have fences in front of them so while having your barbeque  you can feel at-one with nature and photograph animals at the waterhole.

Mata-Mata Camp River View Cottage

Mata Mata Camp - Family River-View Cottage

Enjoy breakfast or lunch at any of the six picnic sites throughout the park. The picnic sites have braai/barbecue facilities so please take you own cooking equipment with you. These picnic areas are not fenced and all have toilets and benches with chairs. They do not have shops, takeaways or  fresh drinking water so please take your own food and water with you.

Picnic Site at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Picnic Site

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Keeping You Safe

Scorpion, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

A Poisonous Kgalagadi Scorpion

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Link to Kruger 2 Kalahari Website
Everything you need to know, from Wildlife Photography techniques to the best Southern African safari destinations of Kruger Park, Kgalagadi, Pilanesberg & Etosha.

http://www.kruger-2-kalahari.com/

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