Kgalagadi encompasses a slice of the Kalahari Desert on the border of South Africa and Botswana. The park is among Africa's largest national parks. It extends over 38 000 km², a territory almost twice the size of the Kruger National Park. It offers a unique African safari in an area home to a few mammals you are unlikely to encounter in the more popular national parks.Need Advice?
The Kalahari is not a true desert but rather a semi-desert savanna. Sand ridges cover much of Kgalagadi. When the first rains fall, various annuals burst into flowers, bringing color to the arid landscape.
The two major rivers of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Nossob and the Auob, flow on rare occasions. Their beds meet near Twee Rivieren camp, and the combined channel continues southward to enter the Molopo River outside the park. Kgalagadi does not support the diversity of antelope found in savanna parks. Still, an astonishing 19 species of antelope roam the area. Carnivores include the black-maned Kalahari lion, cheetah, brown hyena, African wild cat, and honey badger. Raptors such as martial, tawny, and bateleur eagles and the pale chanting goshawk are commonly sighted.
In the spirit of conservation, the former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park of South Africa and neighboring Gemsbok National Park in Botswana decided to merge: to protect the natural migratory patterns of the wildlife. It is a just cause for celebration, as the colossal park is home to never-ending splendor and awe-inspiring animal diversity.
Traveling within Kgalagadi is a freeing experience as visitors can cross the border between South Africa and Botswana in search of various wildlife and environmental attractions. Visitors can even enter from Namibia at Mata-Mata. It makes the park an ideal destination to combine with parks in the three countries.
If you want to see the imposing black-maned Kalahari lions, a trip to Kgalagadi is a must. The dramatic contrast between their golden frame and the dark mane adds to their inherent intensity. However, it is essential to consider the park's size, and finding these black-maned cats can take time and effort.
The contrast of their magnitude characterizes experiences to savor in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - from encountering tiny little meerkats to taking in the vast expanse of the desert and legion migratory herds.
Guests to the park will be met at OR Tambo International Airport and assisted in transferring to a domestic flight to Upington in the Northern Cape. The short flight will take you straight into the Kalahari region so remember to pack something cool, especially if you are arriving in summer.
Kgalagadi is on the border of South Africa and Botswana, approximately 250km from Upington, 960km from Johannesburg, and 1100 km from Cape Town. African Sky guests are driven by an experienced guide from Upington Airport in a private, air-conditioned vehicle through the panoramic Kalahari to the park.
Although animals congregate around the riverbeds after the rains from March to May, wildlife viewing in Kgalagadi is exceptional all year round. The scorching rainy season from January to February brings terrific thunderstorms- a marvel to observe – if you don't mind temperatures exceeding 40C.
Similarly, winters become extremely cold, and the temperatures can drop below 0 degrees at night. Birding is better in the winter than in the spring and summer seasons, but the cooler days make exploring on foot much more comfortable. The park does not get crowded, but it may be fuller during the school holidays.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a product of South Africa and Botswana working together. It was founded on 12 May 2000 when presidents Thabo Mbeki and Festus Mogae formed Southern Africa's first peace park. The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park of South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park of Botswana formed this international reserve. The park's history dates back to 31 July 1931, when the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park was established on the South African side to protect the migrating game. Eventually, in 1948, a verbal agreement was made with Botswana (then known as the Bechuanaland Protectorate) to conserve the whole area as one unit.
The park is named after the Kgalagadi people, whose language is related to Tswana. They were some of the first to move into this area and stayed peacefully with Kehoe-speaking people. These people named the area "Kgalagadi," which means "place of thirst."
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is an ideal place to view gemsbok (also known as oryx). The large size of the park allows the migration of wild ungulates and provides the predators that prey on them a large area to survive. The migratory ungulates are the red hartebeest, blue wildebeest, springbok, and eland.
The park's most common predators are cheetahs, hyenas, and the famous black-maned Kalahari lion. Leopards and wild dogs are also spotted occasionally. More than 200 bird species have been documented, including vultures, eagles, buzzards, secretary birds, and ostriches.
The terrain comprises red dunes, sparse grasslands, scrub bush vegetation, desert woodlands occupied by occasional trees, the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob Rivers, and salt pans. Locals believe that the rivers only flow once every hundred years. Underground rivers provide the necessary sustenance for the fauna, flora, and wildlife that call this desert home.
Game drives in the early mornings or late afternoons are available daily. Longer drives on various 4x4 trails, such as the Bitterpan and Mabuasehube, are available. A visit to the Predator Centre at Nossob is a great way to learn more about the habits of Kgalakgadi's predator species.