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Kgalagadi North-South Trip Report

Tell us about your breathtaking experiences in the parks
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Kgalagadi North-South Trip Report

Unread post by nicksteroonie » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:15 am

Hello everyone, just spent 6 of the most incredible days possible in the Kgalagadi.

We are regular visitors to Kruger and we've also visited many of the other SANParks, but nothing could prepare us for the vastness and wilderness of the Kalahari.

Here is a brief summary of our trip for anyone that cares to read it.

Day 1: Molopo Lodge to Grootkolk

My wife and I couldnt contain our excitement, so we were up before sunrise and ready to make our journey on the dreaded Ashkam - Twee Rivieren Road. We decided to wait until there was at least a bit of light and dropped our tyre pressure to 1.6.

By 7:20am we were already in the park doing the necessary paper work at TR. The road turned out to be not half as bad as people made it out to be. It turns out they had graded it just the day before! :?

We set off for Grootkolk before 8:00am at a medium speed because we had a long way to go on the first day. We couldnt believe the number of Kori Busted's in the park! This was nothing like the Kruger.

Within the first hour, we got to Kij Kij and low and behold, 3 lions right next to the road. We sat with them for a few mins and then began following them as they moved off up the dunes on the Kielie Krankie rd. Amazing!

We continued our journey and about half way between TR and Nossob we came upon 3 Cheetahs walking right in the middle of the road! We slowed down to a snails pace and drove behind them for about 20 minutes following them as they were preparing to hunt a Wildebeest. Unfortunately, the kill never materialised but how lucky was this? Lion's and Cheetah's within the first few hours in the park!


Closer to Nossob we came upon some vultures, and as usual my wife exclaimed that there must be a kill around (this is a standing joke in our family). This time, it turned out to be no joke and we came upon some Jackal eating some carrion probably killed by a Lion earlier that morning.

After going through Nossob the drive was uneventful after the already action filled morning, but by normal standards still incredible. We couldnt believe the numbers of Gemsbok and Springbok in the park.

We arrived at the beatufil bush camp of Grootkolk at around 4:00pm. So peaceful - exactly what we had been looking forward to.

We met Jannie the tourism assistant who turned out to be one of the nicest characters in the Park and another guest by the name of Gert and his wife who started sharing all of their Kalahari stories with us.

This was was going to be good. Day 2 to follow shortly.
Last edited by nicksteroonie on Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Day 2: Grootkolk - what a spot!

Unread post by nicksteroonie » Mon Aug 13, 2007 1:00 pm

Day 2: Grootkolk - what a spot!

After spending a relaxing evening in front of the braai listening to the sounds of the wild, we awoke the following morning to the peace and quiet of Grootkolk.

What a beautiful spot in the bush it is. The 4 chalets are perfectly designed to give each one maximum privacy and you hardly know there is anyone else in the camp.

We decided to have a nice fry-up breakfast, my favourite past time whilst in the bush. As I started frying the bacon and eggs, I heard Gert calling me from his tent on the opposite end of the camp. I looked around the corner and he gestured to me that we should go to the communal eating area as there were some Lions approaching.

Wow! Lions in the camp!

We quickly walked to the communal kitchen and saw 3 male lions, 1 older one apparently the father, and 2 younger sons approaching the waterhole.


After watching for about 10 minutes, they were literally metres away from us at the Waterhole. What struck me about the Lions in the Kgalagadi is that they are scared of nothing, and they are still completely wild. Unlike the ones in the Kruger that are sometimes so used to cars and traffic.

After about 45 minutes, the lions looked like they were settling in for the day at the Waterhole, so we decided we would continue with our breakfast whilst watching the Lions. This seemed almost a sacrilege! :)

Anyway, our decision to continue with breakfast turned out to be the correct one, because the Lions moved about 100m from the Waterhole and spent the entire day there.

We decided to take a quick drive to Union's End and then get back in time to watch the Lions in the afternoon. On the way to Union's end, we spotted a Cheetah across the road from the Union's end picnic spot.

How lucky were we? We knew this is almost unheard of to have this much luck in the bush. Actually, we had been told that we would see nothing at all at Grootkolk. How wrong they were!

Back at Grootkolk in the afternoon, we watched as the Lions unsuccessfully chased some Warthogs. At around 4pm the Lions had moved off and we could hardly see them anymore.

We decided to start with our braai at sundown, and as we did so a Leopard walked right through the camp between our tents down to the Waterhole. We were all spellbound as it drank its fill and then turned around and headed back directly through the camp. Even sniffing at the stoep of one of the tents before leaving and barking irritably on its way out!

Grootkolk will always be one of my favourite places after these experiences.

Day 3 to follow shortly.
Last edited by nicksteroonie on Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread post by Jonkers » Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:40 pm

Great !
It must be the same lions we met at Grootkolk
It was 6 o clock in the morning and we were preparing a breakfast for an early start because we had to go to KTC and did not wanted to be on of the speedsters in the park
It was still dark and I was not sure but could it be? Unpacking the already packed spotlight we saw the lions. The rest of the camp was still sleeping but it was amazing how they played and drinked. Suddenly two of them walked direct from the waterhole to our cabin and stopped in front of the sandbag wall (?) and just looked at us while we were standing inside the tent behind the gaze and gazed... at them. The other two joined them and we think they knew we had a long day and after 15minutes of staring to eachother they decided to walk on and leave us
We thought the Kudu's and the running Springbok and Wildebeest against the backdrop of the sunset was great the night before, but waking up and have this experience.

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Unread post by Stoffel » Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:21 am

michele nel wrote:We are spending 2 nights there on Dreamer's advice.....hope you not telling stories Dreamer....

It is surely not stories Michelle - Grootkolk is really magical. It was the first of the wilderness camps we stayed during past May. We were there for two nights, but it could have been longer. We were also fortunate with the lions at the waterhole (3 females and a cub). This is also where we saw our first kudu and warthog ever in KTP.

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Unread post by Arnold » Tue Aug 14, 2007 7:36 am

Can all of you guess where I took the pic of the lion track that I use as avatar?

It is the track of a male lion, at the camp gate at Nossob - just before you enter the "passage" to the game hide.

The fellow and his female partner had a romp the whole night underneath the hide and he sniffed and marked his territory all over the place. We sat there terrified in the hide while he sang his serenade to his lady friend - imagine the roaring of a mating lion just 3 feet away under the floorboards!

That is why we return to Kgalagadi! :dance: and will return again and again.
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Unread post by nicksteroonie » Tue Aug 14, 2007 12:00 pm

Day 3: Grootkolk to Gharagab

We woke up on the third morning in the KTP to a chilly winter's day. At around 9am when we left the camp, it was only around 6 degrees, rising to a maxium of 8 at midday.

We were planning on stopping at Union's end picnic spot to make a nice breakfast but the only place to really stay warm was in the car, so we decided to make our way to Gharagab.

The 4 x 4 route doesnt pose too much of a problem for the average 4 x 4 driver, except for a few dunes that are a bit more tricky.

The 32km route from Grootkolk to Gharagab is really beautiful. Endless fields of grasslands blowing in the wind. We drove at a leisurely pace taking in all of the scenery. Here you really feel that you are in the middle of nowhere. Just what we wanted.


We saw lots of Steenbokkies and a few Duiker as well as Suricates. If we had read our Kgalagadi Info Guide we would have also known to look for pairs of Goshawks in the Tree's as this indicates the presence of Honey Badgers. Well we saw many Goshawks, if only we had known!

Unfortunately, the Gharagab waterhole that marks the half way point on the route to the camp was not functional, but we still saw a nice herd of Red Hartebees and many Gemsbok close to it.

We arrived at Gharagab at around 2pm. The camp is another beautiful spot! Situated at the top of a dune and looking down on a waterhole about 100m away you have a perfect view of anything that may come to quench its thirst.


After unpacking our mountains of food and supplies we took a drive to the Dankbaar waterhole which is 4 km's from the camp. Eric the tourism assistant told us this is apparently allowed and is the only short drive possible from Gharagab.

At the waterhole we saw some nice Lion spoor and we were later told that visitors to the camp had seen the Lion at the waterhole that morning.

That evening whilst we were braaing, we heard the Lion roaring as it approached closer and closer. By around 10pm it was bitterly cold and we couldnt sit outside anymore.

This turned out to be unfortunate, because in the morning there was Lion spoor all around the Waterhole in front of the camp!

Still a spectacular day in the Kgalagadi!

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Unread post by anne-marie » Fri Aug 17, 2007 11:16 pm

What a chance !
Grootkolk is also my prefered, also 3 lioness and 1 cub through the camp... eyes in eyes...
Now, I'm not sure at all if I would return to KTP instead of Kruger... oh dilemma
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Unread post by nicksteroonie » Tue Aug 21, 2007 8:02 am

Hi Michele, actually we werent even disappointed. Just hearing the lions at Gharagab and being so far in the wilderness made it all worthwhile.

The 4 X 4 route out of Gharagab is more hectic than the way in, but its a lot of fun and really beautiful scenery.

We decided to do the whole round trip from Gharagab to Grootkolk and back to Gharagab one of the days we stayed there. It was a lot of fun!

That day we were lucky enough to see some Bat eared foxes on one of the pans.

So there is a lot to see around there.

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Unread post by Caracal » Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:09 am

Are you actually allowed to do the route Grootkolk/Gharagab/Grootkolk even if you are not overnighting at Gharagab ? I seem to think that you have to be a resident at Gharagab to do that route. We are spending 2 nights at Grootkolk.Our friends travelling with us do not have a 4x4 that is why we are not staying at Gharagab. It woiuld be nice to do the route ( they could come with us ) . I can then say that I have done all the camps and roads on the South African side of KTP.

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Unread post by nicksteroonie » Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:14 am

Hi Michele, no you are not allowed. You can only drive to Gharagab if you are staying there overnight.

We stayed 2 nights at Gharagab and thats why we had time to do the whole roundtrip twice.

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