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Upalisu Kagalagadi trip report : June 2006

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Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Germany

Upalisu Kagalagadi trip report : June 2006

Unread post by upalisu » Mon Jul 31, 2006 5:39 pm

Hi everybody, this is my first post.

After visiting South Africa (we live in Germany) for several years (Kruger Park, game parks in Kwazulu-Natal) I was curious about the Kalahari. This year, we (my wife and I) extended our visit to the Kgalagadi Park.
I got lot of information from this forum, so I like to give something back to you all.
I will start my trip report today and add more the following days.
Please excuse my English; it is not my native language.

Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park Day 1: July 09.

The first 200 km road from Upington is in excellent condition, the last 60 km are poor, but improvement is coming: the first 20 km are under construction for a tarred road.

About 70 km before the park we got a first sight what to expect: near the road on a fence we spotted a Martial Eagle, very impressive!


We arrived in Twee Rivieren at noon and moved in our chalet. Nice accommodation!


After lunch we started for our first game drive. We drove along the Auob River to the Kielie Krankie turnoff, then through the dunes to the Nossob road and back to camp.
The first animals were not far away: Gemsbok, Impala and Ostrich.
We had seen Gemsbok (Oryx) before, but never so many animals like here. No wonder, that the former name of Kgalagadi was „Gemsbok Park“.

The most impressive view of this afternoon was a group of Oryx in the red dunes along the Kielie Krankie road.


On the Nossob road we soon realised, that our car was not the best for a park visit. The Nossob road seems to be lower than the other roads. In a normal sedan you have difficulties to look over the bushes on the banks of the road.


Anyway, we were happy with our first day in the park!

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Germany

Unread post by upalisu » Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:08 pm

Thank you all for the nice welcome!
After answering some of your questiones, I will continue with the trip report later today.

katydownunder You got really nice pics ,especially love the second Gemsbok pic on the dunes.

Thank you katydownunder, yes the second Gemsbok pic is one of my favourite photos of that trip, this is "Kalahari" for me...

BushkidWhat car would you recommend for Kagaligadi? (Planning to go there in the next year)

It must not be a 4WD, but something higher than a normal car.
Even with a normal car, we had lot of nice sightings (as you will see later), but often our view was limited, because of the high banks and high grass.

SkopsieI assume the Impalas you are referring to are Springboks. No Impis in KTP.

Sorry, sorry: I have been in Kruger Park too often. Of course here we have Springboks, no Impalas!

Were the evenings very cold? (Planning trip next year this time)

Not all were very cold, but you have to be prepared: look at the coming trip report!

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Germany

Unread post by upalisu » Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:54 pm

Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park Day 2: July 10.

At 07:30 we waited at the park office to get our permit, so that we could leave for our next game drive.
This is something I don’t understand: at every camp you have to give away your permit when you are in camp, and pick it up again when you leave the camp. Never experienced something similar in Kruger Park, or any other game park.
Anyway, we were one of the first to leave the camp at sunrise. During the first hour we saw only few animals, mostly ostriches. Seems to be, they are early risers! In the tall grass we spotted some Steenbok too.

Later on we met Sringbok, Oryx and Wildebeest on their way to the waterholes. We had hoped for lions, cheetahs or a leopard in the early morning hours, but nothing.
Two Oryx are fighting (or playing?) in the river bed.

Our best sighting was a Tawny Eagle, sitting on a dead tree in front of us. We came very close.
Until now we have been alone on the road, but unfortunately two other cars came along and that was too much for our eagle, he took off for a saver place.

At noon we arrived at our next camp, Urikaruus wilderness camp. What a nice place! Four green and white huts, build on stilts, connected with a boardwalk, were facing a waterhole.
Urikaruus wilderness camp: on the upper level the sleeping room and bathroom. On the lower level the kitchen/dining room.

In front of the Urikaruus bushcamp you have this waterhole.

We always prefer bush camps over the bigger camps. In bush camps wild Africa comes closer to you.

In the afternoon we made a short visit to the Mata Mata Camp and the Tented Camp. We liked the Tented Camp more than Mata Mata, which looked small and overcrowded (lot of tents side by side).

This birds are waiting in a bush, before decending to a waterhole.

In this region of the park live the only Giraffes of Kagalagadi (little more than 30), and we nearly saw them all: a group of four, then a herd of twenty and later again a group of six animals!
A herd of giraffe on the way through the Auab river bed.

And we saw our first cats: the driver of a 4WD pointed on a dune: “up there are two cheetahs”.
We looked at the top of the dune and saw two little black points (through our binoculars we recognised two cheetah heads). I took a photo, but I will not show it – it can be everything…

We got one more surprise this day, a bad one: arriving back in camp our neighbour pointed at our car: “you have a flat tire”.
It was time enough to change the tire before darkness, but we were shocked, when we saw the spare tire: one of those little tires, only good enough to go to the next petrol station. Our neighbour said what we were thinking: “this tire is a joke for the Kalahari”.
Then he rescued us: he was well equipped. First he pulled out of our flat tire a screw, noting there was no further damage. Then he sealed the tire with a puncture repair kit and with a compressor he gave it enough pressure. Wow! I stood ashamed beside my Toyota Corolla…

After dinner we made a little fire, which saved us from a very early sleeping time: the temperature dropped to single digits quickly.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Germany

Unread post by upalisu » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:13 pm

Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park Day 3: July 11.

It was a cold night and a cold morning. Outside temperature was -5°C. Inside the hut we had at 7:00 -1°C for breakfast!
Image Image

Our tire looked still good and we left quickly through the dunes to Nossob, warming us up in the car.
The dunes drive brought nothing special, Oryx, Steenbok, and Ostrich.
Like Dikbaardskolk Picnic Site all others are not fenced. So look around. The only safe place is in the toilet!

On the Nossob road we stopped at the Cheleka waterhole, where Oryx and Hartebeest were present. The Hartebeest were the dominating animals, the Oryx always left, when Hartebeest arrived.

Again we found out, that small cars are not suited for the Nossob road, because of the high banks and the tall grass (even more north of Nossob).

Much better was the Marie se gat loop, where we had fine viewing. Lots of Oryx, Impala and Wildebeest. Not to forget the Kori Bustards and Secretary Birds.
At the waterhole a group of young wildebeest was playing around, chasing each other.

Image Image Image

We reached Nossob early, made a little picnic and bought some basic food at the shop. The petrol station was closed (until 13:00). I did not care, our tire still looked good and my petrol tank was little more than half full.
So we left for Grootkolk wilderness camp in the north of the park. Along the way we saw nothing special, some Wildebeest, Ostrich and of course Oryx. Again: our car was too low for good viewing.

We arrived at Grootkolk camp early at 15:30 (we were the first guests).

The Grootkolk bushcamp has 4 huts for two people, like the middle one. On the left seems to be a double hut for 4 people, which I can not find on the reservation system?

What made me nervous was the amount of petrol I had now: it showed little less than a quarter. Enough to go back to Nossob the next day? Nobody was able to help me. There was no petrol at Grootkolk, and the later arriving guests all had diesel cars.
The huts of the camp were on the smaller side. The kitchen with table and chairs were outside in the open. Hopefully it will not be -5°C for breakfast the next morning!
We kept the door to the hut always closed, because lot of mice lived around the camp and sometimes they visited our kitchen. More nervous made us some bees, which were looking for water at the tap.

Image Image

So we enjoyed the late afternoon, looked after some birds and some Kudus in the far distance - the waterhole in front of the camp was very quiet. Later we watched a nice sunset. We loved the peaceful surroundings of the camp.
Sitting around our campfire was fine; it was not so cold this evening.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Germany

Unread post by upalisu » Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:22 am

Thank you for your interest.
Here are some answers to your questiones:
katydownunderAnd I especially love this little Mouse (Was that in your car?)

No, it was in the ouside kitchen.

About the cold nights:
We were prepared and had our sleeping bags with us, so during the nights we had no problems.

arksThat photo of the moonrise (or is it moon setting?) is gorgeous!!

This was moon setting early morning just before sunrise.

ToddelelfeI also saw a pic in the Mata Mata reception with a lion laying in a toilet at a picnic spot. So please be careful.

Thank you for your advise. Will remember it next time.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Germany

Unread post by upalisu » Thu Aug 03, 2006 6:08 pm

Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park Day 4: July 12.

Breakfast was outside with a temperature of +5°C. Not bad, but honestly, I can’t remember any occasion, sitting at home for breakfast in the garden with a temperature of 5°C!
At the waterhole were some wildebeest.
Image Image

So we started our return trip to Nossob. I got some advice from my wife: stop the air condition, don’t drive any loops, and don’t stop for photos, what else can be done to save fuel?
The display in our car showed a fuel range of 140 km that is 34 km more than the distance to Nossob, so where is the problem, was my reply.
To make it short: we made it to Nossob, with 7 km fuel range left. My wife was not amused…
The petrol station at Nossob was closed of course. I went to the office, explained our situation and got my fuel. Our bungalow in Nossob was not so romantic like the others in the wilderness camps, but everything else was o.k.
Yesterday afternoon and this morning we made only few animal sightings. And still no big cats! I know, there are lot of other wonderful things to see in a park and I like them all. But after 4 weeks in Africa (we were in Kruger Park and Kwazulu-Natal before our visit to Kagalagadi) and no lions (we saw a wonderful leopard in Kruger Park) it is a bit disappointing…
So I looked around for some other animals and made friend with some ground squirrels in the camp.
I crawl on all fours and got some fine shots of them (my wife again was not amused, because of my dirty trousers…)
Image Image

But then came our afternoon game drive, which gave us all, we were looking for!
Little north of Nossob is a view point on a little hill. From there we saw 5 cheetahs walking through the river bed, a mother and four (big) young ones!
We were able to follow their path for several minutes, before they laid down in the shadow of a distant tree. Hey, this was better than the ground squirrels!
(Maybe the photos of the squirrels are better than the cheetah photos…).
But this was only the beginning!

Driving south of Nossob I realised in the shadow of a tree something lying on the road. It was a lion!
Coming nearer, we recognised a lioness, sleeping on the road.
Image Image

For about a minute our car was not further than 7 meters away, before she noticed us. She left her shady place and slowly walked down the road. Not far away she laid down again in the shadow of the next tree.
She seemed very tired, and not only that: her belly looked quiet thick, like a pregnant mother, not far from giving birth!
Slowly we passed her, stopped 50 meters away from her, hoping she will come our way, to get some photos from the front. After about 2 minutes she walked towards us.
Image Image
Slowly she passed us, without any notice of our car – we thought.
Suddenly she disappeared! “Where is she?”
Well, she searched for the next shadow on the road – and the only shadow was that of our car, so she laid down behind our car!
What to do? We gave her some time to rest. After 5 minutes we slowly drove away. Without a shadow she moved away along the road…
Image Image

But this was not the end:
Driving back, we met close to Nossob the night drive. The passengers looked exited into the bush. Our question was answered by the driver: “a leopard, coming in your direction”.
And there he was: 10 meters in front of us he crossed the road. He was small and looked injured. Soon he disappeared in the bushes.

What an afternoon!
No cats in the first 3 days – and now cheetah, lion and leopard in one afternoon!

Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 23, 2006 12:55 pm
Location: Germany

Unread post by upalisu » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:04 am

Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park Day 5: July 13.

Our last day in the park.

In the morning we drove from Nossob to Twee Rivieren.
We were so happy with the day before, that we had no more big wishes.
First we met a group of ostriches - in other parks we have never seen such large groups of ostriches before.
Then we spotted an eagle on a tree. Not sure which kind of eagle this is?

After half of the way we met three parking cars, always an alarming view, that something special is around!
We could not believe our eyes: three little lions, no, four little lions were playing in the grass!
Image Image
It took a while, before we spotted the mother, or the two mothers, in the shadows of low bushes. Suddenly they heard something and stood up. Two lioness and four cubs!
Slowly they moved into higher grass and out of sight.

Happy as we were, my wife asked now for a male lion, but only few Kilometres more to go inside the park!
Again we met some parking cars. What were they looking for? You bet: a male lion mating with a lioness! Unbelievable!
Image Image

When we checked out in Twee Rivieren, we answered the question, if we enjoyed our stay, with a loud “YES” from the bottom of our hearts!

Our next visit is scheduled for September 2007!

Thank you for your patience reading my trip report. I hope you like the photos.

Our tire was fine until we returned the car at Johannesburg airport!

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