Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 26 28.349 E 020 36.715 | elevation 879 m/2,884 ft

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is an enormous wildlife preserve that covers 380 square kilometers of the Kalahari Desert. The park spans across the South Africa and Botswana borders and runs along roughly 200 kilometers of the Namibian border.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was formed with the merger of the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa in 2000, although the two parks both date back to the 1930s and had previously been managed as one ecological unit.

The rough Kalahari Desert is dominated by copper-red sand dunes, and occasional scrub and trees line the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob rivers. Incredibly, a series of life-sustaining watering holes supplies populations of large predators including lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas that patrol the park and feed on the migratory herds of wildebeest, springbok, red hartebeest, gemsbok and eland. The park is also know for its more than 200 species of birds including migrating flamingos, pelicans and over 50 different birds of prey.

Temperatures within the park can vary drastically between day and night. Summer day temperatures frequently top 40 °C/104 °F and winter nights dip below freezing.

The Twee Rivieren gate (S 26 28.439 E 020 36.788) is the only entry and exit gate for the park in South Africa. On the Namibia side there is the Mata Mata gate and from Botswana there are the Two Rivers, Mabuasehube and Kaa gates. Passports are not required to enter the park and visitors are free to drive throughout regardless of which country they entered from. South Africa’s Twee Rivieren gate and Botswana’s Two Rivers entrance are the only gates with passport control, so all visitors transiting from one country to another will have to report to one of those two camps. Note that entry via the Mata Mata gate requires a two-day stay in the park.

All roads within the park are unpaved. If the conditions are good a 2x4 can be used within the South African section of the park, but a 4x4 is generally required within the Botswana area. Make sure to carry plenty of water in your vehicle as you will need to drink a lot to stay hydrated in the hot desert and if your vehicle breaks down or gets stuck you might have to wait a while. No cell phone reception is available within the park except at the Twee Rivieren camp. Allow ample time for driving, as traveling within the park after dark is not permitted and you can be fined for arriving at camps or gates after sunset.

Sights & Activities

Game Drives are available during the morning and at sunset or full day, and all depart from Twee Rivieren, Nossob, Mata Mata and the Kalahari Tented Camp. Note that the drives are offered "when available" so be sure to check in advance.

Morning Walks are also available from Twee Rivieren, Nossob and Mata Mata.


Auchterlonie Museum

Auchterlonie Museum is an old fieldstone farmhouse with displays on the park's history. Part of the display details the series of watering holes that dot the park, which were hand-dug during WWI as a water source for South African troops, had they decided to invade Namibia via that route. The museum is located 35 kilometers north of the Twee Rivieren Camp near the Auchterlonie waterhole.


Sleeping

Accommodation within the South African area of Kgalagadi can be booked through SAN Parks.


Traditional Camps

All three traditional camps in the park have swimming pools, filling stations and shops selling basic foods, wine and beer.


Twee Rivieren

Twee Rivieren is the largest camp in the park, located beside the dry Nossob River. It is also the park's administrative headquarters and the only camp with a restaurant, information center, 24-hour electricity and cell phone reception.


Mata Mata

Mata Mata is situated on the Auob River near the Namibian border. The camp is surrounded by thorny Kalahari bushveld and known for its many giraffes. Generator-provided electricity is issued for 18 hours per day.


Nossob

Nossob is situated on the dry bed of the Nossob River. Surrounded by savannah trees, this is the best camp for viewing predators, and a predator information center is located at the center. Generator-provided electricity is also available.


Wilderness Camps

In order to preserve the pristine atmosphere, the wilderness camps, with the exception of the Kalahari Tented Camp, are limited to a maximum of eight people in four cabins. The wilderness camps are not fenced in, but each camp has an onsite staff member 24 hours a day. No firewood, charcoal or drinking water is provided, and should be brought to the camps, with the exception of Grootkolk and Kalahari Tented Camp, which have gas for cooking and water to boil. Children under 12 years are not allowed at Kieliekrankie, Urikaruus, Gharagab, Bitterpan or Grootkolk camps.


Grootkolk

Grootkolk is located in the far north of the camp, 20 kilometers from Union's End where South Africa, Botswana and Namibia meet. About six hours from the Twee Rivieren camp in the south, Grootkolk is generally accessible with a 2x4 vehicle. The small sandbag and canvas cabins are ground level but have a partially fenced-in braai pit in front. There is one communal kitchen at the site.


Gharagab

Gharagab is located in the northern end of the park on a 4x4-only trail off the main road. The four freestanding elevated cabins have a full kitchen and sitting deck with a view of the watering hole and the surrounding dunes, spotted with thornveld Savannah. There is also a lookout tower at the camp.


Kieliekrankie

Kieliekrankie is located in the southern section of the park, 45 kilometers from the Twee Riviern camp. The four wood and canvas units have been recently renovated with large windows, a sitting deck, and a braai overlooking the watering hole. The camp has panoramic views of the red Kalahari dunes.


Urikaruus

Urikaruus has four corrugated, tin and canvas bi-level cabins, with a lower level, connected kitchen and a bedroom far enough off the ground to park your vehicle under. The camp is located on the dry Auob River and surrounded by camelthorn trees. Each bedroom has a viewing deck of the watering hole located about 50 meters away.


Bitterpan

Bitterpan has four elevated, reed and canvas cabins with a communal kitchen and braai. There is a 6-meter lookout tower at the camp that offers a good vantage point to observe the nearby watering hole. The recently built camp is located on a 4x4-only route from Nossob to Mata Mata through the Kalahari dunes.


Kalahari Tented Camp

Kalahari Tented Camp is the original, largest and most luxurious of the wilderness camps. It is located only 3 kilometers from the Mata Mata camp, where fuel and basic supplies are available. There are 15 spacious, elevated, en suite safari tents with a ceiling fan and viewing deck overlooking the watering hole.


!Xaus Community Lodge

!Xaus Community Lodge is the most unique and luxurious of all the accommodation options within the park. This isolated lodge is on a private concession that is owned and run by the Khomani San and Mier communities. This concession was the result of a historic land agreement between the tribal communities and the South African government that returned a section of the park back to the communities that previously lived in this area. There are 12 luxury units situated at the lip of a large saltpan overlooking a watering hole.

!Xaus will provide you with an authentic taste of the bushman lifestyle including tracking animals, shooting bow and arrow, eating traditional food and learning about local medicinal plants. Included in your stay is both an afternoon and night game drive, and a morning wilderness walk through the dunes.


Aside from the restaurant and shop at Twee Rivieren and the shops at Nossob and Mata Mata, you are on your own for food. Drinking water is not available at the wilderness camps, so plan accordingly.


Aside from the restaurant and shop at Twee Rivieren and the shops at Nossob and Mata Mata, you are on your own for food. Drinking water is not available at the wilderness camps, so plan accordingly.