I am surprised at the number of people who use the park as a stop over only. Do they miss out on a great experience!
I couldn't agree more with you!
Just spent the last 3 days in B/West, and visited the park 6x, just to relax before school starts again today!
I have thought about your quote for a very long time, and even wrote to Sanparks a number of years ago, and told them that ``Karoo NP will remain merely a convenient stopover between Cape Town and Johannesburg until they return all the animals that belong there, especially the predators like lions, then it will become a proper destination in itself''.
Much was my surprise when a while after that, the announcement came that lions were to be introduced to KNP, so that it would no longer ``only be a convenient stopover between Cape Town and Johannesburg, but a destination in its own right.'' I know this caused serious dissent among KNP lovers, and I can understand why -- the Karoo is a place where you need to walk and listen... and with lions around, that is not so easy anymore!
The lions are back, and driving in the park has an exciting edge to it, but there are still a few things missing...
Imagine going to the Kgalagadi transfrontier Park, with ONLY the following facilities:
Twee Rivieren camp/The road to Rooiputs/ the road to Houmoed/1 chalet near Kieliekrankie on a 4x4 route. No leopards, no cheetahs, 8 lions plus the usual general wildlife and...
Honestly -- how many people would bother to travel from Cape Town or Johannesburg or Germany to go and see that?
Now change the name from Kgalagadi to Karoo. We have the same recipe, and expect people to spend more time there...?
* Honestly -- there are only 2 loops to drive (1 is currently half-closed),
* NO waterholes shown on maps, NO `waterholes' (only a derelict old cement dam plus trough x2, leftovers from previous farms) near the road where animals and birds like sandgrouse can be photographed or viewed while drinking…
* Spread 2 groups of lions over 80 000 hectares, where they mostly prefer the remote, mountain areas… plus a few black rhinos and buffalos hiding in an inaccessible spot
* Stop your vehicle on either of the loops, switch off the engine and listen to… the sound of trucks on the N1 in the background! Try to photograph the beautiful zebras on the first loop, and you find B/west or trucks on the N1 in the background!
*The true wilderness areas are on the 4x4 route, or around the corner into Doornhoek picnic spot, where you feel truly remote and cut off from our rushed world, but most visitors can’t go on that (easy) 4x4 route…
The only solution I can see is that there needs to be at least 1 more proper loop into the western interior of the park, up to the Leeu river, with at least a small campsite there at a central point where animals come down to drink, so that visitors have more options and incentives to investigate this beautiful park better.
*Plus bring in the missing springbok (I saw more zebras than springbuck!) plus leopards plus cheetahs, and eventually even wild dogs??? These predators can keep each other in check, and make the park more attractive to visitors!
* Considering that such an inordinate percentage of the park is inaccessible mountainous terrain, a very special 3 day guided hike could cover this magnificent area on foot...
I can see the day when true nature loving Capetonians don’t bother driving all the way to Kgalagadi anymore, but zip off to Beaufort West for the weekend to enjoy their wilderness experience in this stunning park with its huge sky and towering blue mountains…
Friedrich von Hörsten