"The Kalahari - Barren land with many treasures" Kalahari Gemsbok National Park by MikeAtSea

Far off the beaten track in the North Western Corner of the Northern Cape Province, tucked between Botswana on the right and Namibia on the left lays the Kalahari Transfrontier National Park. Transfrontier because the borders now have opened between South Africa and Botswana and one can explore the park in both countries.

The park is barren with massive red sand dunes and sparse vegetation. It is home to large herds of Springbok, Gemsbok, Eland and Wildebeest who take cover under large Camel Thorn Trees.
Here also a number of predators are at home such as Lion and Leopard. Having seen these massive desert lions on a number of occasions it is always a treat. During my last visit a group of 8 lions including 2 cubs did their game hiding in the shade and then moving a few meters away from us to the near-by water hole.

The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa was proclaimed in 1931 mainly to protect migratory game, especially the gemsbok. Together with the adjacent Gemsbok National Park in Botswana, this park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares one of very few conservation areas of this magnitude left in the world

Three camps are within the South African side of the park Twee Rivieren, Nossob and Mata Mata. These camps offer accommodation in all budget areas as well as some camping facilities.

Another highlight of the park is the bird life. 297 species of birds are at home here and very fascinating are the particularly birds of prey.

5 THINGS TO SEEK
1. Gemsbok - these large striking desert antelope are the emblem of the park.
2. Suricate (Meerkat) - these hyperactive little omnivores have a wonderfully intricate family structure.
3. Black-maned Kalahari Lions - Physically impressive, they are the kings of the Kalahari Desert.
4. Sociable weavers - the busy little birds construct huge communal nests.
5. Pygmy falcons - the park is famous for its birds of prey. This is the smallest falcon in Africa and is often seen around Sociable Weaver colonies preying on the birds.

The Kalahari is an arid region with an annual rainfall of 200 mm, mainly between January and April. In summer day temperatures may exceed 40?C. Winter days are sunny with night temperatures often below zero.

Getting to the park I normally take the road on the Botswana side which is a lot better then the one in South Africa. Passing the Molopo Kalahari Lodge on the left you will see about 2 km later the turn off to the South African / Botswana Border Post on the right. Once passing the border formalities you enter Botswana, here the border formalities take place in the police station turn off the main road to the right and you will find the police on your right hand side after around 500m. You have to turn back to the main road and travel on around 50 km of gravel till you reach the Kalahari National Park.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is situated approximately 250 km from Upington in the far Northern Cape and 904 km from Johannesburg. Visitors driving from Johannesburg have a choice of two routes, either via Upington with the last stretch of 60-km gravel road see above of my choice in using the Botswana side of the road or via Kuruman, Hotazel and Vanzylsrus (?340 km gravel). The airport in Upington is the nearest airport to the Park and has car-hiring facilities.

  • Last visit to Kalahari Gemsbok National Park: Jan 2004
  • Intro Updated Oct 11, 2005
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Reviews (6)

Comments (2)

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2005 at 12:12 PM

    Do you get up that close to the Lioness as well? ;-]

  • Waxbag's Profile Photo
    Nov 22, 2004 at 8:59 AM

    Great info on Kgalagadi. I'm surprised so little has been written about this place.

MikeAtSea

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