While it might not be as world famous as Kruger, this park provides another fantastic place for seeing the spectacular South African wildlife. Kgalagadi Trans-frontier Park straddles the border between this country and Botswana.
It is an especially interesting place for seeing big predators and for witnessing the thrilling seasonal movements of animals such as springbok and wildebeest. The total area covered is some 38,000 square kilometres (15,000 square miles), with about a quarter of that area lying in South African territory.
The name translates as “place of thirst” and this pays testament to the fact that most of it lies in the dry and dusty Kalahari Desert, where dry riverbeds and sand dunes form the dramatic backdrop.
If you are lucky you will see lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas here. The weather can get stiflingly hot during the day and cold at night.
The Kgalagadi Trans-frontier Park is a merger of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Most tourism happens on the South Africa side, which has excellent facilities.
The Botswana side only has very basic campsites. The red sand dunes in the inhospitable desert form a magnificent backdrop for wildlife viewing and photography. The park lacks many species found in the lush savannah reserves but offers great predator sightings.
The Kgalagadi is perhaps not the best destination for a first-time safari. It only has two of the Big Five: leopard and lion. Other predators often encountered are cheetah, spotted and brown hyena.
The desert-adapted springbok and gemsbok are the main antelope species. Blue wildebeest, eland and red hartebeest are other herbivores to look out for.
Kgalagadi is famous for its impressive Kalahari lions. With their big black manes, they are considered to be some of the most beautiful in Africa.
The cute suricate and ground squirrel pop in and out of their burrows in the rest camps. The nocturnal springhare is another animal that thrives in the sandy environment.
Bat-eared fox and brown hyena are two of the smaller predators you might see, and very lucky visitors might come across the rarely seen pangolin.
The best time for wildlife viewing in Kgalagadi is toward the end of the Wet season, roughly from March to May, when animals congregate in the riverbeds.
However, many might prefer the cooler winter months of May to September and, as a rule, wildlife viewing is good throughout the year. The summer months from October to April are very hot.
The Kgalagadi has an impressive bird checklist of just over 300 species, but only 102 of those are resident. The park has a fair number of both arid area and bushveld birds and is particularly renowned for its birds of prey, with 46 species recorded.
Some of the species you can expect to see are black-chested snake eagle, bateleur, white-backed and lappet-faced vulture and tawny eagle. Sociable weavers and their enormous nests are very conspicuous in the park.
Pygmy falcons often live alongside the weavers and share their nests. This interesting co-dependency is currently under study. Migratory birds are present from November to April.
There are 3 big rest camps with plenty of services in the park, while the 6 wilderness camps are far more basic for staying in.
Twee Rivieren Restcamp
Mata Mata Restcamp
Kalahari Tented Restcamp