Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a large game reserve and conservation area located in southern Africa. It is situated between South Africa and Botswana and is composed of two adjoining national parks including Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park covers a total land area of 38,000 square kilometers. The largest part of the park is situated in Botswana where it covers approximately three-quarters of its total surface area and one quarter in South Africa.
In Botswana, the park is located in the Kgalagadi district while in South Africa, it is found in the Northern Cape. The park is managed by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Botswana and South African National Parks in South Africa.
Most of the terrain in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park consists of red sand dunes, sparse vegetation, few trees and dry riverbeds of Nossob and Auob Rivers. These are very dry rivers which are said to flow about once per century with brief flows after large thunderstorms. However, water flows underground and provides a life force for grass and the camelthorn trees that are growing within the river beds.
Historical Background of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa was gazetted as a park in 1931 in order to protect the migrating game in the park and also to protect them from poachers.
In 1948, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and the Union of South Africa verbally declared the area a conservation area; and in 1992 representatives from the South African National Parks Board and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Botswana set up a joint management committee to manage conservation projects in the area.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was formed after the signing of a peace treaty in 1999 between Botswana and South Africa. In 2000, Presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa formally launched Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park as the first peace park in Southern Africa.
Weather in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Being located within the Kalahari Desert, the weather in the park can reach extremes with summers being extremely hot and winter nights being extremely cold. January is midsummer and temperatures during the day can exceed 40˚C. During winter, temperatures can drop to -11˚C at night.
Wildlife in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
The park has an abundance of wildlife and is home to large predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas. It also has large herds of migratory blue wildebeests, springbok, eland, and the red hartebeests which move seasonally within the park. Since 2005, the park has always been considered a Lion Conservation Unit, with the highest lion populations in Southern Africa.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is home to more than 200 species of birds including vultures, eagles, buzzards, and secretary birds to mention but a few. This makes the park a good spot for birding safaris both in Botswana and South Africa.
Activities in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Game drive safaris are the most common activity conducted in the park. The park offers tourists both day and night games. 4×4 Wheel drive safari vehicles are recommended for visitors doing a game drive in the park. This will help visitors easily navigate the rough and sandy roads in the park. Game drives in the park will give you an opportunity to a variety of wildlife in the park such as lions, elephants, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, jackals and several species of antelope including springbok, gemsbok, impala, hartebeest, eland and many more.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park also offers visitors camping as an activity. There are several wilderness camps located within the park but visitors will have to carry their own food, firewood and drinking water. There are also some campsites located within the park and these provide visitors with conducive lodging facilities and amenities like swimming pools and air conditioning to keep cool during the hot season in the park.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is home to about 200 species of birds which makes it a great place for birding safaris in the park.
Accommodation in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
There are three traditional lodges in form of rest camps that are situated within the park and these are Rooiputs Lodge, Polentswa Tented Lodge, and Nossob Rest Camp. The lodges provide guests with amenities such as air conditioning, gift shops and swimming pools where visitors can cool off from the scorching heat in the park.
The park also has six wilderness camps that provide shelter to visitors spending a night in the park. However, visitors staying in any of the wilderness camps in the park must carter for their own food, drinking water and firewood. Camps within the park include; Two Rivers Camping Kgalagadi, Rooiputs Camping ground, Polentswa camping ground
What to Pack for Your Visit to the Park.
Remember to carry with you the following items when planning your trip to the park; Binoculars, torch, insect repellent, sunscreen cream, sunglasses, a hat/cap, and a camera.
How to get to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
Tourists can access the park from either South Africa or Botswana. Visitors travelling to the park in Botswana can drive from Gaborone for about 550 kilometres until Tsabong. From Tsabong to the park is approximately 310 kilometers on tarmac road. Alternatively, travellers to the park can use another route from Gaborone to the park via Hukuntsi which is approximately 675 kilometers.
From South Africa
If you are planning to visit Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the South African side, you can access the park about 250 kilometres from Upington in the far Northern Cape and approximately 904 kilometres from Johannesburg.
The park can also be accessed by air with domestic flights leaving from Johannesburg to Upington Airport which serves the park on the South African border.