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2018 trip to arid parks?

Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Mokala, Namaqua, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld
Sander
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2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by Sander » Tue May 30, 2017 3:22 pm

Hello,

We are a family in The Netherlands. We have been to SA several times before (mostly the north eastern parts, Garden Route and Cape Town), the last time in March 2015 for the adoption of our 2 boys. We are planning to take them back to their country of birth in 2018. Besides our two boys, our family consists of 2 dads. We would love to travel to Namibia and/or Botswana as well, but this is not advisable for our type of family. This is why we are considering the South African arid parks instead for our next trip.

Our boys will be aged 6 and 8 by that time, and have their main school holiday in July / August. I was thinking of flying to Cape Town, hire a 4x4 Toyota Hilux camper with rooftop tent, and include Karoo NP, Kgalagadi NP, Augrabies NP, Richtersveld NP, and Namaqua NP (is there a chance for flowers in August?), before heading back down to Cape Town along the west coast (and maybe include West Coast NP, because we have been there with our boys in 2015).

My questions are:
- how does it work with borders in Kgalagadi, given that it is a transfrontier park? We are very anxious to end up in Botswana or Namibia wihtout being able to return to SA, because our adoption is not recognised in Namibia/Botswana, and given the homophobia there. Would we be passing borders while gamedriving in Kgalagadi and if so, is that considerd a formal border crossing? Or is there no actual border post and can one move around freely? Or is it clear in what part you are and is it still worth the trip to stay on the SA side the entire time?
- The same goes for Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. I was reading this: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/richters ... _there.php and it seems we have only 1 way in (over Steinkopf and Port Nolloth and Alexanderbaai) if we wish to stay on SA soil. Is that worthwhile?
- any tips in general for this itinerary?
- is July/August a suitable time for this trip? I'm reading about temperatures below freezing point at night, and we would be camping (rooftop)...?
- should we add any other destinations, or maybe drop any? What are interesting stops along the way, also for our boys?
- we would prefer fenced campsites because of our kids, it looks like all the main SANPARKS restcamps are fenced...?
- I'm guessing malaria is not an issue in these arid parks during winter?
- Even though it is winter, I'm finding top rates for 4x4 hire in this season. Any tips on saving money there?

Thanx for any tips and assistance!

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barryels
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by barryels » Tue May 30, 2017 4:51 pm

Dear Sander,

- how does it work with borders in Kgalagadi, given that it is a transfrontier park? We are very anxious to end up in Botswana or Namibia wihtout being able to return to SA, because our adoption is not recognised in Namibia/Botswana, and given the homophobia there. Would we be passing borders while gamedriving in Kgalagadi and if so, is that considerd a formal border crossing? Or is there no actual border post and can one move around freely? Or is it clear in what part you are and is it still worth the trip to stay on the SA side the entire time?


Although Kgalagadi is a Transfrontier Park, it does not mean that you will have to cross any of the borders when visiting Kgalagadi :thumbs_up: . The fenced in camps in Kgalagadi where I would suggest you stay at will be Twee Rivieren (Entry from the SA side into the park), Mata Mata and Nossob. This will give you many hours of gamedriving.

- The same goes for Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. I was reading this: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/richters ... _there.php and it seems we have only 1 way in (over Steinkopf and Port Nolloth and Alexanderbaai) if we wish to stay on SA soil. Is that worthwhile?


I suggest you read the Richtersveld advice topic in this instance.
It is a bit difficult to say if it is worthwhile without knowing the amount of days you will be in SA.

- any tips in general for this itinerary?


How many days in SA will be helpful to be of assistance :thumbs_up: .

- is July/August a suitable time for this trip? I'm reading about temperatures below freezing point at night, and we would be camping (rooftop)...?


Here is a link to the August weather in Kgalagadi for easy reference Sander: KTP in August

- should we add any other destinations, or maybe drop any? What are interesting stops along the way, also for our boys?


Can only help when we know how long you would be in SA Sander :thumbs_up: .

- we would prefer fenced campsites because of our kids, it looks like all the main SANPARKS restcamps are fenced...?


Yes :thumbs_up: .

- I'm guessing malaria is not an issue in these arid parks during winter?


You are correct Sander.

- Even though it is winter, I'm finding top rates for 4x4 hire in this season. Any tips on saving money there?


If I look at the parks that you mentioned (apart from certain areas in Richtersveld) I see no need to make use of a 4x4.

If we know the dates that you will be in SA, members of the forums will be more than willing to help with your itinerary :thumbs_up: .

Regards,

barryels
Always be humble and understanding.

Sander
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by Sander » Tue May 30, 2017 5:09 pm

Hi!

Sorry to have left out this vital piece of info: we are planning for a 3 week stay in SA. We will need a few days in Cape Town because we have friends there, so effectively the trip along the arid parks will take 2.5 weeks.

I'm a bit puzzled that we would not need a 4x4 - several SANPARKS arid parksites I read today mentioned that it is not always needed, but often recommended... at least high clearance. I saw pictures of sandy roads that would make me a bit nervous with a regular 2x4.... What we know from Kruger and other parks is that not all "loops" are open to 2x4 cars...?

The advantage of the Toyota Hilux Campervan is that it is not only a car but also a camper. The rates are comparable to "regular" campers, which we used in Kruger the last time we were there. However, it felt like we were missing out with the regular camper, because we couldn't do the smaller loops. When we were driving on corrugated gravel roads, the cups, plates and cutlery were rattling so loud, that most interesting animals were hiding away, laughing at us from behind the trees...

Am I correct that there are no elephants in any of the northern/western cape parks?

Thanx for your quick reply!

Cheers
Sander

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barryels
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by barryels » Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:25 am

Hi Sander,

The reason for my suggestion to make use of a 2x4 was as a result of your question regarding tips to save money as a result of the top rates for hiring a 4x4, however I have a feeling that you don’t want to miss out on 4x4 roads on this trip and with that in mind I suggest that you stay with a 4x4 :thumbs_up: .

I did a few calculations for you to give you an idea of the distances that you will have to drive to get to the SANParks as mentioned in your opening post which are as follows:

1. From Cape Town to Karoo NP = 457 Km
2. From Karoo NP to Upington = 628 Km
3. From Upington to Augrabies NP = 122 Km
4. From Augrabies NP to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park = 367 Km
5. From Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to Springbok = 627 Km
6. From Springbok to Sendelingsdrift (entry to the park from the SA side) = 331 Km
7. From Sendelingsdrift to Namaqua NP = 309 Km
8. From Namaqua NP to the West Coast NP = 462 Km
9. From the West Coast NP back to Cape Town = 99,2 Km

This gives you a total of 3 402,2 Km that you will have to travel on the loop to visit the parks you mentioned.

If you wish to cut out Richtersveld Transfrontier Park during this trip you will have 588,5 Km less to drive to get there and back on your route.

Your itinerary will then look like this:

1. From Cape Town to Karoo NP = 457 Km
2. From Karoo NP to Upington = 628 Km
3. From Upington to Augrabies NP = 122 Km
4. From Augrabies NP to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park = 367 Km
5. From Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to Springbok = 627 Km
6. From Springbok to Namaqua NP = 51.8 Km
7. From Namaqua NP to the West Coast NP = 462 Km
8. From the West Coast NP back to Cape Town = 99,2 Km

This gives you a total of 2 813 Km that you will have to travel on the loop to visit the parks you mentioned.

Taking into account that you will have approximately 17 nights available to do this trip, I would suggest the following:

1. Drive to Karoo NP and stay over for 2 nights
2. Drive to Upington and stay over in Upington for 1 night. The reason for the 1 night stay in Upington is that I would only stock up in Cape Town for my trip to Karoo NP and then use Upington to stock up for the rest of the trip. This will help with the fuel consumption of your vehicles from Cape Town to Upington. If you decide to stock up at Upington, I will give you the information via PM of where to shop and order before you leave for SA. You can then just pick up your food etc. when in Upington.
3. Drive to Augrabies and stay for 3 nights. Remember that Augrabies NP does not only have the falls, but also night drives and 134 Km of roads inside the park to experience its fauna and flora.
4. Drive to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and stay for 7 nights. I would suggest Twee Rivieren for 2 nights to explore the southern part of the park. Then move to Mata Mata for 2 nights to explore the Auob river side of the park. The next camp I suggest to stay for 2 nights is Nossob to explore the Nossob river side of the park. Then you stay for your last night again at Twee Rivieren to get an early start to the next day’s drive to Namaqua NP.
5. Here you have two choices. Either drive to Springbok and stay over for the night and then drive the 51.5 Km the next day to Namaqua NP for a 2-night stay, or drive the 678.8 Km from Kgalagadi to Namaqua. This will give you an additional night at the end of your trip in Cape Town to rest before your return back home.
6. Drive to West Coast NP and stay for 2 nights.
7. Back to Cape Town.

This will give you a total of 17 nights to get to and enjoy the parks.

I suggest that you read all about the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier ParkPark by using the link HERE to decide if you want to include it in your trip.

You will be in SA during the flower season, however with the current drought in the southern parts of SA it is not possible to say for sure that they will be in bloom during 2018. Lets hope we get good rains again and that you will enjoy the wonderful flowers during your visit.

Finally, there are no elephants in the parks that you will visit :thumbs_up: .

I hope the above will help you in deciding on your final itinerary for your 2018 trip :thumbs_up: .
Always be humble and understanding.

Hippotragus
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by Hippotragus » Thu Jun 01, 2017 11:43 am

I think barryels has given you excellent advice and has suggested a very good itinerary!!

Good luck with the planning. You have a lot to organise and a great trip to look forward to.

I am sure your boys will have a wonderful trip and enjoy every moment of it.
Skukuza 13 October 2017
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hilda
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by hilda » Thu Jun 01, 2017 1:09 pm

Sounds like this would be a stunning trip Sander! Hope you are going to share your experiences, sightings and photos with us in a Travel Tale HERE. :dance: :dance:
"It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light". Aristotle Onassis.

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Son godin
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by Son godin » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:36 pm

Our school holiday in the winter starts from 23 June to 16 July. If your holidays starts after that period you should be able to get place by booking on-line, but if it overlaps you will find very few units available when on-line opens. You will also be required to make two bookings if in July and August.

July bookings open 25 July and on-line 26 July. August bookings only 1 Sept. July is a very popular month so remember to check as soon as it bookings open.

You can try one of the unfenced camp that is available for under 12 year olds. The family units at Kalahari Tented Camp is safe for families, but remember to restrict the boys not to wander around out side the fence of your unit. Even walking to the pool is not safe as lions can be resting there.

Winter is cold, but by taking enough warm clothing it will be fine to cope with.

The distance from Cape Town to KTP is far and stops in between will all depend on time available. Barryels gave you some good suggestions on making the daily distance a bit shorter. Not sure if the kids will be interesting in star gazing and a good stop can be Sutherland. In winter it will be very cold (often the lowest temp in winter) and for that reason some refer to it as Sidderland.

I see Barry left out Mokola near Kimberley. The campsite is very nice with private kitchen and ablution block. Only 5 sites. From there you can drive in one day to Twee Rivieren. A possible route can be pass Vanzylsrus to see the famous meerkats if you do not mind 160 km of gravel road.

Your route back can cover Augrabies and then Richtersveld. Might be lucky to see the first flowers, but usually out 2nd half of August. I've read some-where that the Tatasberg camp is not open any more due to a fire, but as you will get a campervan I can recommend De Hoop and Kokerboomkloof. Just be careful of scorpions and snakes in the Arid regions (both KTP and Richtersveld).

Going back home you can try to follow the coast line from Lambersbay to CapeTown via Langenbaan. I am sure you will know of a few places in Cape Town to visit too.

Enjoy the planning and hope you will have an amazing holiday.
Jan 2018: Next trip to KNP - Tamboti, Talamati, Maroela and Satara

Sander
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by Sander » Fri Jun 02, 2017 2:39 pm

Wow!!! Thank you everyone! I was offline for a couple of days, sorry for the late reply!
All this input makes our trip much easier to plan.
Yes, we have experienced that booking Sanparks accommodation - even campsites - is extremely difficult in the July SA school holiday period. In 2015 we managed to score an extremely low return airfare (booked in May, travelling in July), and I've spent the 2 months prior to our trip watching the Sanparks website, hitting the refresh button over and over to see if any spots became available from canceled bookings.
We'll try to steer clear of this period if we can ;-)

Again, thank you so much!

Sander
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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by Sander » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:14 pm

Hi guys,

I've been browsing and planning and thinking some more, your information has been so helpful!

With regards to the planning of our trip: I have discovered that our boys' school holiday allows us to travel between August 11th and September 2nd. So we can steer clear of the South African school holiday in July, which should make it easier to book campsites online. It would also enhance our chances to see the Namaqua flowers because we would be there in the last week of August, and I recall from our last visit to West Coast National Park that flowers also are in bloom there in August.

With regards to 2x4's and 4x4's and saving money: I am quite shocked by the prices of non-camping accommodation in KTP. The cheapest unit would still be around 1500 ZAR a night. If we would not camp, we would have to rent a car on top of that, that fits our family and luggage and has enough clearance to drive the park roads and large distances comfortably. The combined cost of a rental car in our category and accommodation, are comparable to renting a camper, including the camping fee. In that case I'd rather camp. I've also browsed and browsed and browsed on campers, and discovered that there is not much price difference between a 2x4 and a 4x4 camper (I expected the latter to be more expensive). I'm guessing the 4x4's don't need to be as big (which makes the driving easier) because in most cases the sleeping is done in rooftents. Our boys are very keen on sleeping in a rooftent :wink:

I could use some money saving tips on renting 4x4 campers with rooftents. I've found Wicked Campers, who use older model campers at half the cost of the regular rental companies. I don't mind that they're older, but I do mind about safety and reliability. Anyone who has experience with this or who can recommend a reliable but also affordable 4x4 camper rental company?

Thanks again!
Sander

PS with the suggested itinerary it looks as though we should buy a wild card for international visitors

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Re: 2018 trip to arid parks?

Unread post by Jonkers » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:37 pm

Hi Sander,
I remember you from another forum! Now with two boys :clap:
I am so glad to read you want to take a trip to the arid parks. Your boys will love it.
Seeing their school holiday is the late one end August mid September is a perfect time to travel.
You coming from the Netherlands ( and remembering my children at that age) can take a dip in the pool in the different camps.
You say you have friends in CapeTown, perhaps it is possible for them to ask around if among the friends someone is willing to rent out camping equipment or has a camper. There is a company Helderberg camper hire situated in Somerset West who used to rent out equipment, but I m not sure if they still do.
Perhaps the best is to try and secure tickets and book campsites. If your boys can not sit quietly I would recommend stay in the main camps (Nossob, MataMata, 2Rivieren) so they can run around. If they can 'behave' Kalahari Tented camp, the family tent as a splurge, would be fantastic.
If you can do Richtersveld and book a 4 persons chalet you have a beautiful view over the river and the mountains. There is a daytrip to the Oranje river which can be done without too much complications in a 4x4. Naturally you have to go barefoot IN the Oranje river being Dutch :wink:
Try to visit all the parks according Barryels suggestion, you will be surprised how much each park differs and at the end it will be difficult to pick a favourite


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