Skip to Content

Kgalagadi roads

Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld

Moderator: hilda

User avatar
Posts: 508
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:42 pm
Location: South African National Parks (SANParks)

.Kgalagadi roads conditons, distances and times......

Unread postby Danie » Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:25 pm

Under normal circumstances (no excessive rain,etc), a passenger car will be fine in Kgalagadi (except for 4x4 routes as discussed on our website here==>

Please also have a look on our website under:
You will find the following:
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
How to get there
The Kgalagadi Transfontier National Park is situated approximately 250 km from Upington in the far northern Cape and 904 km from Johannesburg. Visitors driving from Johannesburg have a choice of two routes, either via Upington (with the last stretch of 60 km gravel road) or via Kuruman, Hotazel and Vanzylrus (+/- 340 km gravel). Upington airport is the nearest airport to the Park and has car-hiring facilities. All guests intending to travel to Twee Rivieren, be it via Upington or Vanzylrus, must note that the gravel sections on both routes are badly corrugated and travelling at high speed is not advised.

Travellers Information
Travelling Distances within the Park
Twee Rivieren - Nossob: 3.5hrs
Twee Rivieren - Mata-Mata: 2.5hrs
Twee Rivieren - Kalahari Tent Camp: 2.5hrs
Twee Rivieren - Grootkolk: 6hrs
Nossob - Union's End: 3hrs
Nossob - Mata-Mata (over Kamqua dune road): 3.5hrs
Nossob - Bitterpan: 2.5hrs
Bitterpan - Mata-Mata: 2hrs
Nossob - Grootkolk: 2.5hrs
Mata-Mata - Kalahari Tent Camp: 4 km

Roads in the park have gravel surfaces.
Light aircraft may land on a tarred runway at Twee Rivieren. Prior permission must be obtained from the Park.
Hired cars may be collected at Twee Rivieren provided that an advance booking was made.
When driving from one rest camp to the other, travellers should depart with travelling times in mind to ensure arrival before sunset as no travelling is allowed in the park after dark.

NB: All routes within Botswana are to be travelled by no less than two vehicles.

4x4 Routes
Prior bookings are essential for these routes and can only be contemplated in a single direction as a whole.

Mabuasehube Wilderness Trail (starting at Mabuasehube) - 155 km
Wilderness Trail (starting at Polentswa) - 257 km
Direct Route
These routes allows access to within Botswana but can only be driven with a 4x4

Direct Route - Nossob Riverbed to Mabuasehube - 170 km
Direct Route - Kannaguass to Kaa - 85 km
I hope this helps!
Enjoy the beautiful Kgalagadi!

Danie Pretorius
Senior Manager: IT Infrastructure
South African National Parks (SANParks)

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 177
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:15 am
Location: Paris

Unread postby elpaco » Wed Sep 07, 2005 5:35 pm

have you read the long post I have written giving info about the park ? you will have some infos about the roads out and inside the park

Kalahari Tented camp is 3 kms away from Mata Mata, and the roads are quite okay in that part of the park, so you will be able to go there with your car ...

be just aware that the roads are very bumpy everywhere but 'drivable' with a 2WD...
if you need a comparison with the Kruger, I would say that most of the roads in Kgalagadi are a 20% worse than the worst bumpy secondary road you have seen in Kruger


Unread postby leeS » Tue Nov 14, 2006 7:25 am

What was the distances between petrol stations like on the Calvinia road?

User avatar
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
Posts: 813
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 10:23 pm
Location: Cape Town

Unread postby Dreamer » Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:52 pm

Hi leeS
Calvinia to Brandvlei is 132 km,
Brandvlei to Kenhardt 139 km
Kenhardt to Keimoes 64 km
Keimoes to Upington 39 km

Enjoy the journey

User avatar
Bush Baptist
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Legendary Virtual Ranger
Posts: 10015
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:38 pm
Location: In the shadow of Table Mountain

Unread postby Bush Baptist » Wed Nov 15, 2006 7:36 am

Howzit Lee,

There are 2 on the CT side of Van Rynsdorp, plenty in Calvinia, one in Brandvlei, and a few in Kenhardt.

Unless you have a real gas guzzler and drive all the way in second, you should have no problems!
Last edited by Bush Baptist on Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 771
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:55 pm

Unread postby madach » Mon Nov 05, 2007 9:31 pm

At the risk of getting flamed....

I've took a close look at all the cars that I saw in KTP last month to check how of them had blown down their tyres. I estimate that less than 50% of all the visitors follow the guidelines of blowing down the tyres:

The people that don't blow down the tyres cause much more damage to the roads than the occasional car that speeds. I've not seen many speeding cars in either this last trip or my trip in April of this year so I think that the speeding problem in KTP is blown way out of proportion on this forum. Next time you're in KTP check the tyre pressure of cars and tell people why they have to blow down their tyres. That will do much more for the KTP road conditions than complaining about speeding on a forum.

Just my 2 cents...

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 211
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:06 pm
Location: Cape Town

Unread postby afri-explore » Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:21 pm

The grading of the road creates the high windrows next to the road and some roads already looks like a subway. If we stop grading the road it will not be necessary to impose speed limits.
On the Botswana side and in the Richtersveld the roads simply do not allow for speeds above 40km/h, unless you want to break something. It can be argued that only 4x4's again will be able to negotiate bad roads. Maybe the problem with the roads on the SA side is that it looks like a highway. If it was a narrow and winding road it may impact less on the environment and force people to drive slower and enjoy nature more - the main reason of going there in the first place.

User avatar
Kgalagadi Guru
Posts: 2574
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:18 pm
Location: Twee Rivieren, KTP

Unread postby Kgalagadi Guru » Wed Nov 07, 2007 10:25 am

If we don't grade the roads, our own vehicle expenditure would be so high (it is already in excess of R5.00 per km for bakkies- excluding fuel!) that we will either have to close the Park, or hike accommodation prices up by one hell of a percentage. It will also prohibit many of our current clientele from returning, as they do not have 4x4's, and this will be bad for business, as well as aiding in making the Park "4x4's exclusively", which we do not want at all.

A narrow, winding road will be great- at this stage, we do wind it as much as we can, but it needs to be wide enough to permit 2-way traffic, and this oncoming traffic might be one of our flatbeds or tippers. Botswana's roads, with few exceptions, are one-ways; this would be to restrictive for our purposes. Also, should the road be too narrow, you will have more incentive for tourists to go off the road. OK, this will happen anyway, but with a narrower road, it is more tempting.

As for environmental impact- there is a lot of impact already, considering you have a road on a clay surface, inside a riverbed. You can misimise the impact with a narrower road, yes, but the runoffs are still there, as well as the 100+ year recovery rate, and the spontaneous "eruption" of pioneer plants along the roads, creating a corridor effect.

The best way to sort out roads will be to rebuild and/or resurface, and we did receive a nice grant for that. Just a downside, of course; it costs a LOT of money, and takes time, since we have to limit the building to quiter times (otherwise we have to close the Park for a year, or create little detours around the current roads) The plan is to have the roads sorted out by 2010....
Head: Field Guiding
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

User avatar
Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 771
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 9:55 pm

Unread postby madach » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:13 pm

@afri-explore: I agree 100%. One of the main reasons for the forming of corrugation is people driving in the park with too high tyre pressure. Lowering your tyre pressure is not a choice, it's mandatory. In my opinion not deflating your tyres is unacceptible behaviour as it is damaging to the roads. It should be added to the list of fineable offences...

User avatar
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:46 pm


Unread postby Olonana » Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:34 pm

Junior and others

I am not completely disputing dropping the pressure, but warning against going too low if your cars tyres CANNOT (are not engineered to handle 1.6 to 1.2 bars) handle it.

I used a set of Cooper STs and they wore EXTREMELY fast on the outer edges after running them at low pressures for 10 days! At R1500 a tyre, it makes me hesitant to drop down that low again.

The best would probably to have a set of radial plys (running at 1bar) for use in the Kalahari, but who can afford a dedicated set for trips to the park?

Realistically one does not drive Dunes in the Kgalagadi so cant completely go the drop down at all costs.

Getting a spare wheel to Nossob is not a easy nor cheap thing (especially if the car one uses has a " solid mini spare" Murano, Honda which is really not comfortable etc).
Bush Wanderer

User avatar
Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger
Posts: 211
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:06 pm
Location: Cape Town

Unread postby afri-explore » Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:44 am

I just completed a 6000km tour through Namibia and Botswana on Yokohama AT tyres (and towing and off-road trailer). I started the trip with brand new tyres. 750km was on very rough roads and varying conditions, such as deep sand, water and mud, sticks in sand. I have no visible wear on or damage to the tyres

We were 4 vehicles and we stopped regularly to inflate/deflate tyres to match the conditions. Gravel 1.5 to 1.8bar, deep sand down to 1bar. Rule: Adapt to the situation and keep your eyes open for possible hazards.

In all vehicles (24 000km), we had 1 side-wall puncture and we sometimes had to use new escape routes around obstacles as Botswana experienced heavy rains just before this trip. That means that it is very difficult to see sharp sticks in the undergrowth or in mud pools. We had to do a few recoveries when vehicles got stuck in sand and mud. (the worst experience of the trip was when I had a smash and grab situation in Windhoek and lost my laptop, camera and all photo's)

The same group toured KTFP before (Swartpan, Polentswa loop, etc) and we always use tyres pressures to suit the conditions. We experienced no tyre damage in KTFP.

Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Oct 26, 2007 8:43 am
Location: Durban

Re: Roads and Pressure - March 2008

Unread postby discobob » Fri Apr 11, 2008 12:53 pm

afri-explore wrote:
High tyre pressure and/or worn out shock absorbers are the main culprit of currugations forming.

And two-wheel drive vehicles! 4-wheel drives are "kinder" to gravel roads as they create less wheelspin, so those of you with 4x4's that leave them in 2H to save that tiny bit of fuel - don't. Put them in 4H and save the roads rather.

User avatar
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:46 pm

Washboards - Corrugations

Unread postby Olonana » Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:19 pm

Corrugations or Washboards (RSA, Aus or USA terminology)

This thread on roads is interesting and it appears there are many angles to this discussion. I went off in search of some research on the matter and came across Dr Karl an Australian Road Engineer and Off road specialist.

In short he talks about “HOW” the corrugations form – surely this is the element to attack – prevention is better than cure! His answer is simply keep the road surface smooth, which I would suggest is through regular maintenance and not by managing the effect of a rough road such as reducing tyre pressure to levels below 1.4.

Also, an experiment conducted in Australia showed that a 2WD causes corrugations more than a 4WD!

Lets hope that the Minister of Tourism does not approve a tar road for the TR and MM route, as that is not desirable as is just as likely to corrugate if not maintained properly.

If you want to see the full text visit his site at Extract from

He notes the following quoted from the site with my comments within the [] brackets:

One thing I have discovered in trying to understand natural phenomena is that there are usually a few explanations - not just one single explanation. I strongly suspect that we (ie, road engineers) don't fully understand corrugations!

Now the first thing to realise is that Outback dirt roads are not the only surfaces that get corrugations.

You can see corrugations on bitumen and even concrete roads, you can also see corrugations on steel railroad lines, there are corrugations on the overhead metal rails that feed power to electric trains and trams, skiers in the snow country often find rough corrugated washboard patterns on a well-travelled ski trail.

[Well this does show it is not just a Kgalagadi road that develops this pattern, railway lines, snow slopes – skiers don’t even have wheels!].

A major factor in making corrugations was the road speed of the vehicle.

So here is Mather's theory of corrugations.

It's based on the fact that you can never make a road perfectly smooth. There will always be tiny little bumps. Once his wheel got up to about 6-7 kph, it would bounce up when it hit a tiny bump. As the wheel came down and hit the sand, it would spray sand both forwards and sideways off the track, leaving behind a little crater. This crater would then be the valley of a corrugation. As the wheel came up out of the valley, it would jump into the air again, and so the pattern of valley-and-mountain would repeat itself.

[So maybe dropping the speed limit in the park to 5km/h is the answer, but could make for a rather challenging visit. The 120kms between TR and MM would take 24 hours of driving at 5km/h! Clearly this won’t work]

Mather saw that the first few corrugations to appear on the "smooth" road were quite shallow, and very close to each other. But as the corrugations got deeper, they gradually moved away from each other, until their height and their distance apart had settled into a stable pattern. Once this stable pattern of corrugations was set up, then the entire pattern of corrugation would migrate down the road in the direction of travel of the wheel. In the Australian Outback, engineers have seen corrugations heading in opposite directions on each side of the road from (say) a cattle grid, with each set heading in the direction of travel of the cars.

A bump on the road that makes one car's wheels bounce, will also make any other cars' wheels bounce. These bouncing wheels will all tend to land at the same point. And that's how the corrugations form.

[Maybe naïve but surely if this is the “how” the answer is simply to ensure a smooth non bumpy road with and through regular maintenance such as regular grading or dragging,(as we cant make a smooth road once off.]

The faster the road traffic, the further apart are the corrugations. French engineers working in the fast and flat desert roads of North Africa found corrugations that were about one metre apart.
[KTNP corrugations appear to be some 8cm to 12cm apart. Also worth considering is perhaps requiring vehicles to travel at varied speeds instead of getting everyone to drive the same 50km/h, as this would mean each car is only making it identically worse regardless of the weight or tyre pressure due to all bouncing being more or less exactly the same].

The other explanations for corrugations involve engine resonance, wind (either natural or created by the moving vehicle), wheel hop, braking, acceleration, the road itself shrinking as it dries out, the wave of dirt pushed in front of the tyre, and the influence of shock absorbers.
[Of note here is the suggestion that a poorly constructed road base could be a further reason for corrugations. Where the road base is flexible and movements occurs will see rapid corrugation formation.]

But I was especially impressed by the Turnbull Family, who did experiments on their 3-kilometre airstrip with a 4WD, a 2WD and a semi-trailer (nope, they didn't test a bulldozer).

They ran each vehicle 10 times along their airstrip. They put each vehicle through acceleration, cruise, and slow breaking. Why did they do this? Well, they said that " ... number one son Cory chose a science project to do on holidays (he boards at Toowoomba Grammar School)..."

Cory made some good scientific observations:

The 2WD had more corrugations
[Ban 2WD from the KTNP? Not a wise tourism decision, so can't do!];
Most corrugation occurred at acceleration (all vehicles);
2nd most corrugations occurred at braking
[Not much one can do about this in the park]
Corrugation increased with traffic;
Size of corrugations was in proportion to tyre diameter (semi, 4WD).
Bush Wanderer


Unread postby zakiya » Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:57 am

Hi everyone.

Herewith is the response from the KTP management.

Park management is aware of the scenario and it is receiving urgent attention, further also that the 562km of roads are maintained on the following basis;

1) Roads are scraped 12 times per year i.e. once per month,

2) Focus on before peak season/ times example holidays.

3) Road leveling exercises are conducted on weekly basis if and when identified.

4) All the above are done taking into consideration weather patterns and available resources.

There are however certain sections of the road infrastructure that do require immediate intervention and management is exploring alternative options to rectify the specific sections. Further to the abovementioned, one also need to indicate that incorrect tyre pressures by tourist and heavy loaded vehicles also adds difficulty to the already difficult excerise.

Kind Regards
Dupel Erasmus

I hope this adds more perspective to your complaints on the roads in KTP.


Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 9:17 pm

Road Conditions including Surroundings

Unread postby Wodwik » Mon May 11, 2009 8:44 am

Hi, here are my views on the KTP roads. We travelled JNB Kuruman, Van Zyls Rus, Nossob, Mata Mata and then a week in Namibia in a 4x4. Kuruman-VZR is OK for about 80km/h with a few corrugated sections. VZR to Askham is badly corrugated for the 1st 60km and then not too bad. I find 80 is a decent speed as 40 really rattles the bones.
Roads in the KTP are diabolical, as there is no sub-course used. It doesn't help to grade a sandy road occasionally, Parks needs to spend money and do a proper job or they will lose tourisits. The Mata Mata road is particularly bad (saw a 4x4 trailer minus wheel) and it's no fun focusing on a juddering steering wheel when one should be looking for cheetah! Many visitors seem to do 60+ to make it more bearable - even with tyres at 1.6bar.
Sanparks could take a trip to Namibia to see proper gravel roads (and they have a tiny economy to support it.

Return to “Arid Parks”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: barryels and 13 guests