Kgalagadi FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) The Kgalagadi in general
Where the red dunes and scrub fade into infinity and herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest follow the seasons, where imposing camel thorn trees provide shade for huge black-mane lions and vantage points for leopard and many raptors - this is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa was proclaimed in 1931 mainly to protect the migrating game, especially the gemsbok. Together with the adjacent Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, this park comprises an area of over 3,7 million hectares - one of very few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world. Red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob show antelope and predator species off at a premium and provide excellent photographic opportunities.
The name Kgalagadi means "land of thirst" - "Thirstland".
Kgalagadi could be considered a haven for birders especially when interested in birds of prey. A total of 264 bird species have been recorded for the whole of the KTP, where 152 are vagrants, 16 migrants, 78 are residents and 18 nomadic. There are 60 mammal species that have been recorded and the KTP , the Rodentia and Carnivoria are the two largest families with 27% and 33% respectively. 215 bird species and over 400 plant species have been recorded in the Kgalagadi.
The area also has archaeological significance and traces to Stone Age human activity have been found.
The Kalahari is an arid region with an annual rainfall of 200 mm, mainly between January and April. In summer, day temperatures may exceed 40°C. Winter days are sunny with night temperatures often below zero. Visitors should anticipate extreme heat during the day and extreme cold during winter nights.Accommodation
Kgalagadi has six different camps of varying size, facilities and cost. Three traditional rest camps have a basic shopping facility and fuel. The three wilderness camps, with no fences, invite the Kalahari and the tranquility of Africa right into your room.
Traditional Rest Camps are:
All three have swimming pools
Wilderness Camps are:
Kalahari Tent Camp
Due to the high demand for accommodation in Wilderness Camps, three additional camps, with four fully equipped units each, were developed.
Kieliekrankie wilderness camp
- Sunk into a dune, with endless views of the red Kalahari sands. Located in the Twee Rivieren region, this unique self-catering wilderness camp will be accessible by passenger vehicles.
Urikaruus wilderness camp
- Located in the Mata-Mata region of the park, between the veil of old camelthorn trees, overlooks the Auob River. Urikaruus is accessible by passenger vehicles.
Gharagab wilderness camp
- Located in the far northern region of the park, will provide guests with elevated views of Kalahari dunes and the thornveld savannah. Gharagab will only be accessible by 4x4. Wildlife
Because of the sparse vegetation and concentration of animals in the dry riverbeds of the Auob and Nossob Rivers, Kgalagadi offers premium mammal viewing. It is especially renowned for predator watching and for the seasonal movement of large herbivores such as blue wildebeest, springbok, eland and red hartebeest.
Ground Squirrel and Suricate (Meerkat) are two more of the park’s more prominent species.
Honey Badger (Ratel), Pangolin (Scaly Anteater) and Bat-eared Fox are some of the park specials to search for.
But it is the predators that are the park’s biggest attraction. Excellent chances of seeing cheetah, leopard, brown and spotted hyena and the most beautiful black-maned lions in the world.
A variety of raptors may be seen, the commonest being Tawny and Blackbreasted Snake Eagle, Bateleur, Whitebacked and Lappetfaced Vulture, as well as smaller species such as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon and Greater Kestrel.
The Nossob Riverbed is rated as one of the best places in South Africa to view raptors, particularly during the summer months when large numbers of migratory eagles, kites and falcons move through the park. Travel
Roads in the park have gravel surfaces and are accessible to cars. A 4x4 vehicle is not required, but pick-up's (bakkies) and 4x4's make traveling easier.
Especially during the rainy season the roads can be closed or under repair, or even under water! While planning, or just before you leave for the Park it is best to check this topic for the current status of the roads.
Roads outside the Park can be in a less then desirable condition. These however are not managed by SANParks but by the Local Government. If you have complaints about them here are contact details:
Siyanda District Municipality-Roads Department
Mr. Gerrit Lottering
Mobile - 082 807 1173
Office Number - (054) 561 337 2800
Hired cars may be collected at Twee Rivieren provided that an advance booking was made.
When driving from one rest camp to the other, travelers should depart before 12:00 to ensure arrival before sunset as no travelling is allowed in the park after dark. Cape Town to Kgalagadi
The most direct route for sedans; take the N7 from Cape Town via Malmesbury, Piketberg, Citrusdal, Clanwilliam and Kammieskroon to Springbok. This is a long arduous drive - but there are many birds of prey that can be seen along this route.
Then proceed on the N14 to the right at Springbok via Kakamas and Keimoes to Upington where you will turn left on the N10 to Kgalagadi. Your first stop will be at the Twee Rivieren rest camp in the Park.
There is an alternative and shorter route to take. Turn off at Vanrhynsdorp and take the route via Niewoudtsville, Calvinia and Brandvlei to Keimoes. Travel distances within the Park
Here are distance table with the estimated time it will take you to get to the respective camps. Note that these times are when driving at 50 km/h without stopping for any animal sightings; you can almost double the time given to get to your destination.
Twee Rivieren - Mata - Mata 2,5 hrs 121km
Twee Rivieren - Kalahari Tented Camp 2,5 hrs 119km
Twee Rivieren - Nossob 3,5 hrs 161km
Twee Rivieren - Grootkolk 6 hrs 268km
Twee Rivieren - Urikaruus 2 hrs 67km
Twee Rivieren - Kielie Krankie 1,5 hrs 45km
Twee Rivieren - Garagab 316km
Nossob - Union's End 3 hrs 124km
Nosso - Mata-Mata (over Kamqua dune road) 3,5 hrs 161km
Nossob -Grootkolk 2,5 hrs 100km
Nossob -Bitterpan 2,5 hrs 53km
Nossob -Garagab (entrance route) 4 hrs
Garagab -Nossob (exit route) 3 hrs
Grootkolk - Garagab (entrance route) 2 hrs
Bitterpan -Mata-Mata 2 hrs 44km
Bitterpan - Kalahari Tented Camp 2 hrs 41km
Mata-Mata - Kalahari Tented Camp 4km
Malatso -Nossob 8 hrsHow to get there
The entrance at Twee Rivieren Gate is situated approximately 260 km north from Upington in the far Northern Cape and 904 km from Johannesburg.
Tourists have a choice of two routes, either via Upington (60 km gravel) or via Kuruman, Hotazel and Vanzylsrus (±300 km gravel).
Daily flights to Upington from Johannesburg and Cape Town are available. Gate Hours
Jan/Febr - 06:00 - 19:30
March - 06:30 - 19:00
April - 07:00 - 18:30
May - 07:00 - 10:00
June/July - 07:30 - 18:00
August - 07:00 - 18:30
September - 06:30 - 18:30
October - 06:00 - 19:00
Nov/Dec - 05:30 - 19:30
Tourists wanting to visit the Botswana side can enter Botswana at the Gemsbok/Bokspits Border post (60km south of Twee Rivieren), at Middelputs, McCarthy’s Rest or Makopong Border posts to visit the Mabuasehube section of Gemsbok National Park, where several campsites are available. A 4x4 vehicle is necessary. (A valid passport is necessary, no visa is required). Bookings for the Botswana side still has to be done through their office.
The "Official Information Guide" which contains info about the park, flora, animals and a map, can be purchased at Twee Rivieren for around R35 and is very informative. Food and drink
If you reserve accommodation with a kitchen then it will have all the utensils and accessories, accommodation with communal kitchen will not.
At Twee Rivieren is a good shop, with some fruits and vegetables. Nossob has a shop with basic goods like potatoes, zucchini and bread. In Mata Mata there us a very small shop. All shops sell firewood.
It would be advisable to take a stop at a shopping mall in Upington and stock your fridge with fresh things.
Some people may find the water to be too salty to drink, but mixed with some juice it is fine. People with very touchy innards may want to bring mineral water though, reckon on 5 liters per person per day. Electricity
The newer tented camps don't have electricity, it is all solar battery powered, so you cannot charge camera or video batteries. At Mata Mata you can have this done at the office, but as it takes a while to charge, sitting there can become quite tiring. There is no charging facility at Bitterpan. Malaria and other dangers
Kgalagadi is a low risk malaria area. Wear shoes at night and take a torch as a precaution against scorpions and snakes.