Kgalagadi Transfrontier park

A week in the Kgalagadi

04/01/2018 1 Comments

South Africa is well known for it's wild life and world class game-viewing parks. These parks range from luxurious and structured to raw and authentic, and it definitely doesn't get more authentic than the Kgalagadi Transfrontier park.

I had the great privilege to spend a week in the Kgalagadi with my husband and in-laws. The park spans over the border of South-Africa and Botswana, and is bordered by Namibia. It rests in the deep history of the “San” people, witnessed wars and focuses on the preservation of nature and animals in their natural habitat.

Here is my amateurs guide to a week in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park:

What to expect:

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  • Apart from the heat of the African sun on your shoulders, your arrival at the park will be met by overwhelming red sand dunes, speckled with large camel thorn trees and an openness that seems never ending.
  • Accommodation in the park is nothing fancy. Most people camp, but there are chalets as well. All chalets are fully furnished and cleaned daily. It’s neat, but only provides the basics (beds with bedding, towels, kitchen with fridge, stove top, kettle, cutlery and crockery). Most rooms have fans or air conditioning.
  • Almost all of the camp sites make use of solar energy and generators, and apart from “Twee Rivieren” (which is the most southern camp site) electricity is switched off at 10PM and switched back on at 5AM.
  • The accommodation is self-catering. So you should pack all foods, drinks and snacks. Some of the camp sites have small shops to help tend to basic needs. The tap water is not necessarily safe for drinking, so you should also stock up on drinking water.
  • The Kgalagadi is mostly self-drive game viewing, however accompanied game-drives can be arranged at certain rest-sites (depending on availability).
  • The Kgalagadi focuses on preservation, and they are very strict on interfering with nature. You will therefor see animals in their most natural habitat, and if you are lucky you will see a large variety of animals.
  •  To make a list of all the animals you may see, would leave time for nothing else. So head over to the SANparks website for a little preview of what might be waiting for you.
Kgalagadi transfrontier park

A 7 day itinerary :

  • Day 1: From Upington enter the park at Two Rivers. Sign in and register at the information center.
  • Drive from Two Rivers to Kielie Krankie (approximately 1.5 hours), via Rooi puts. – Stay 2 nights; do daily game drives.
  • Day 3: Drive from Kielie Krankie to Mata-Mata – stay 2 nights. Do daily game drives. Remember to refuel before leaving.
  • Day 5: Drive from Mata-Mata to Urikaruus (approximately 2 hours) – Stay 1 night.
  • Day 6: Drive from Urikaruus to Two rivers (approximately 2.5hours) – Stay 1 night.
  • Day 7: Refuel and check out at Two rivers main entrance.

The Camp-sites:

Two Rivers (Twee Rivieren):
This is the southern-most and largest of all the rest-camps. This rest-camp consists of beautiful thatch-roof chalets, a camping site, a well equipped supply- and gift-shop, a restaurant and a swimming pool. And it has views looking over Botswana!
Kgalagadi accommodation

Two Rivers family cottage

Nossob:
This rest-site is quite central, and consists of chalets, camping sites, a small shop, swimming pool and information center. They offer night-drives here.

Nossob – Photo by SANParks

Mata-Mata:

Mata-Mata is on the Namibian border, and offers the same accommodation options as Nossob. (We saw most of our animals on the route between Two rivers and Mata-mata).

Mata-Mata entrance gate

The above mentioned camps are all gated, but there are many open ‘wilderness camps’ in the Kgalagadi for those preferring a more natural and open feel.

Grootklok and Gharagab: These wildernis camps are on the Namibian border, but very high up north in the park (so get ready for quite the road trip).

Kalahari Tented Camp: This camp is near Mata-Mata. It consists of 15 furnished tents that are perched on wooden stilts. It has panoramic views over a watering hole and also has a swimming pool.

Kielie Krankie: This wildernis camp is located on one of the parks highest dunes, with a view that will make you feel like you can see all the way to Mozambique. The site consists of 5 fully furnished ‘tents’ with decks overlooking a watering hole. Apparently all units of this site was newly renovated in May 2017.

Kieliekrankie kgalagadi

I don’t know who was brave enough to take this photo, but it wasn’t me

Urikaruus: This site is situated between Two Rivers and Mata-Mata, and is well known for giraffe sightings and is surrounded by Camel thorn trees. This site has 4 fully furnished 2-bed units and one honeymoon suite. I have heard great things about this site, and will definitely try to include it when we go again.

When to go:

Let me start by saying, temperatures reach hell-ish highs in the Kalahari, so choose your time for this trip wisely. I have been told that the best times to go are mid March to September. Don’t even dare going between October and early March (Seriously.).
Our trip was from 26 March-2 April, and every day reached a high of 36-38 degrees Celsius (approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit).

What to pack:

Clothing will depend on when you go, so this list will focus on late March- April.
Toiletries:
  • Sunscreen!!! (50SPF)
  • Mosquito repellent (Tabart)
  • Good moisturizing body lotion
  • Hair shampoo/conditioner
  • Body wash
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Neutral smelling deodorant/ roll-on (try to avoid perfumes and strong scented body spray)
  • Face wash/cleanser
  • Wet-wipes (I found this helped a lot for the game drives, especially if you are going to eat along the way.)
  • Daily medications
  • Emergency medical kit (include pain meds; Allergy/hay fever medication; etc)
  • Doom (bug spray)
Clothes:
Think layers…
  • Tank tops and T-shirts (one for every day)
  • 2 long sleeve T-shirts
  • At least 2 trousers (Jeans)
  • At least 2 pairs of shorts
  • A summer dress or skirt (if thats your style)
  • A thin jersey for layering
  • A warm top/hoodie (It can get cool at night)
  • A jacket or wind-breaker (especially if you are going on a night drive)
  • Pajamas
  • A pair of comfortable shoes (e.g. sneakers)
  • A pair of sandals
  • Slippers
  • Socks and undies
Accessories:
  • A hat! (don’t mess around with the Khalahari sun)
  • A scarf – just incase
  • Good quality sunglasses
  • Binoculars
  • Camera (obviously)
  • Book for the lazy (hot) afternoons
You can leave your watch and cell phone somewhere, ’cause you definitely wont be needing them!
Definitely get your hands on a “Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park information guide” at one of the shops in the park (it was only R60 and SO informative!)
Food: (pack wisely)
  • I would recommend working out a menu for your trip, as to prevent you from over packing.
  • We worked on 2 meals a day (brunch and dinner) with snacks in between.
The Kgalagadi might be nothing fancy in it’s raw- and natural-ness, but visiting this park was an experience I will remember always and (despite seeing too many snakes to my liking) repeat in a heart-beat!
We saw the most amazing and varied wild-life, reconnected with an absence of screens and there is just something about being in nature that rejuvenates the soul.
Have you ever been to the Kgalagadi, or other wild-life parks? Please do tell!
xoxo

Noeline Phillips

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Dad

    04/01/2018

    Lovely travelogue my darling xxx

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