Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

South Africa, AFRICA

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) is a large wildlife preserve and conservation area in southern Africa. The park straddles the border between South Africa and Botswana and comprises two adjoining national parks:botswana-world-map

  • Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa
  • Gemsbok National Park in Botswana

The amalgamation of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswa­na’s Gemsbok National Park on 12 May 2000 gave birth to the 3.6 mil­lion hectare Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Kgalagadi means place of thirst. The park is located largely within the southern Kalahari Desert. Red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob show antelope and predator species off at a premium and provide excellent photographic opportunities.

kgalagadi-map

Weather Essentials

Month High Temp. Low Temp. Rain Weather Season
January 35°C 19°C 4.5 cm Summer
February 34°C 19°C 4.8 cm Summer
March 32°C 17°C 4.6 cm Summer
April 29°C 13°C 3.7 cm Summer
May 25°C 6°C 0.8 cm Winter
June 22°C 2°C 0 cm Winter
July 22°C 1°C 0 cm Winter
August 25°C 2°C 0 cm Winter
September 29°C 7°C 0.4 cm Winter
October 31°C 12°C 1.3 cm Winter
November 33°C 15°C 2 cm Summer
December 35°C 18°C 2.3 cm Summer

Wildlife viewing at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is very good all year round but it is at its best when the rain ends and the animals congregate around the riverbeds making for easier sightings. Out of 12 months, May / June / July are supposed to be the best months.

Attractions

Self-driven game viewing and relaxing around a campfire is the most conventional attraction/activity in any national park. At Kgalagadi, other activities includes:

Guided sunset drive – Depart at dusk and watch the sunset bring the warm Kalahari sands to life and return to camp under the cover of darkness. The radiant star- and moonlight contrast spectacularly against the jet-black sky.

Morning Walk – Participate in the natural beauty of a Kalahari dawn by going on an early morning walk. An informative field guide will share secrets of this thirsty land with you as the day gently unfolds.

Months of May, June & July are supposed to be the best time to visit KTP, when the rain ends and the animals congregate around the riverbeds making for easier sightings. Be mindful of the severe winter conditions during these months as the temperature can dip below freezing at night.

Camping – There are different types of camping options available at KTP. 6 traditional rest camps, 3 wilderness camps and 1 luxury rest camp is available on the South Africa side of KTP:

  • Traditional Rest Camps
    1. Twee Rivieren – is the Park’s largest rest camp and administrative headquarters. This popular rest camp offers a range of accommodation types to suit a variety of tastes and budgets including family cottages, chalets and camp sites. This is the only camp with 24 hrs electricity and cell phone reception.

    2. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 31
      Maximum people per chalet – 1x6p, 22x4p, 2x3p & 6×2 people
      Camping sites 24 with electrical points and 6 without
      Power source Electricity, 240v, 15amp, 24 hours
      Supplies – The shop at Twee Rivieren is well stocked
      Other facilities – ATM, Gas Station (Petrol & Diesel), Swimming pool, restaurant, main Reception and border control
      Activities – Guided morning and sunset drives, guided morning walks

      Waterholes close to Twee Rivieren
      (i) Samevloeiing
      Wake up early and sit tight to meet the waterhole’s resident leopard in morning light. In the meantime, witness gemsbok duel with their mighty horns, or a wobbling honey badger as it makes its way to the water’s edge. It’s a productive spot – you could spend the entire day here and see red hartebeest, caracal and black-maned lions.
      Location: 10 km north of Twee Rivieren (S26 26 6.32 E20 37 30.59)

      (ii) Houmoed
      If a brown hyena sighting is what you’re after, drive to Houmoed waterhole before dusk and park at the southern tip of the Auob riverbed. Spotted hyena are also regular visitors – given that they have dens close to both Houmoed and Lijersdraai waterholes – but it can be tricky to get photos since they often appear after sunset.
      Location: about 28 km north of Twee Rivieren (S26 20 21.5 E20 35 27.3)

      (iii) Monro
      Keep an eye out for the majestic Kgalagadi lion, or the odd ostrich coming in for a sip.
      Location: about 36 km north of Twee Rivieren on the Auob River (S26 17 28.7 E20 34 59.5)

    3. Mata-Mata Rest Camp – is situated on the banks of the Auob River on the western boundary bordering Namibia and is surrounded by thorny Kalahari dune bushveld. A generator provides electricity for 18 hrs per day and there is no telephone or cellphone reception. Mata-Mata is 2.5 hrs drive from Twee Rivieren.

    4. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 15
      Max people per chalet – 7x2p, 4x4p, 2×6 people
      Camping sites 20 with electrical points
      Power source Electricity, 240v, 15amp, 05:00-23:00
      Supplies – The shop at Mata-Mata has basic supplies
      Other facilities – Gas Station (Petrol & Diesel), Swimming pool, bird hide, Port of Entry to Namibia
      Activities – Guided morning and sunset drives

      Waterholes close to Mata-Mata
      (i) Craig Lockhart
      You won’t have to crane your necks to see giraffe approach for a drink – the region’s population of more than 30 giraffe favours the various acacia trees seen around the waterhole.
      Location: about 15km south of Mata-Mata (S25 51 55.4 E20 06 10.5)

      (ii) 13th & 14th Boreholes
      The 13th and 14th boreholes are a great place for birders: regular visitors include the rufous-cheeked nightjar, barn owl, vultures, bateleur, Verreaux’s eagle-owl, and ostrich. Patience will yield bigger payoffs – the Cape fox, spotted hyena, eland, lions and an occasional leopard. Meanwhile, the fields around the boreholes are popular with grazers like wildebeest and look particularly photogenic in the evening light.
      Location: between Urikaruus and Mata-Mata (13th Borehole: S25 58 14.0 E20 16 43.8 / 14th Borehole: S25 56 46.7 E20 13 05.4)

    5. Nossob Rest Camp – is situated within the dry riverbed of the Nossob and is surrounded by tree savannah and is famous for spectacular predator sightings. A generator provides electricity for 18 hrs per day. No phone reception is available at the camp which ad to the tranquillity and peaceful atmosphere at Nossob. Nossob is 3.5 hrs drive from Twee Rivieren.

    6. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 18
      Maximum people per chalet – 2x6p, 6x4p, 2x3p and 8×2 people
      Camping sites 20 with electrical points
      Power source Electricity, 240v, 15amp, 05:00-23:00
      Supplies – The shop at Nossob is very basic
      Other facilities – Gas Station (Petrol & Diesel), Predator information centre
      Activities – Guided morning and sunset drives

      Waterholes close to Nossob
      (i) Kwang
      You’ll see everything from lions to blue wildebeest at the Kwang waterhole and shots can be particularly lovely if you wait for evening’s sunset hues to silhouette your subjects.
      Location: 20 km north of Nossob (S25 17 57.49 E20 31 46.83)

      (ii) Bedinkt
      Looking for cheetah and other big cats? Look no further than Bedinkt waterhole. Here you’ll also see leopard and lions, as well as not-so-big “kats” – the meerkat to be exact.
      Location: 35 km north of Nossob (S25 13 32.22 E20 29 6.87)

      (iii) Marie se draai
      This is a great waterhole to photograph in evening light, and you may spot some of the Kgalagadi’s rather shy kudu. According to staff at Nossob, park visitors are more likely to see a leopard than a herd of kudu.
      Location: 10 km south of Nossob (S25 27 8.14 E20 40 17.62)

      (iv) Rooikop
      Trees and bushes can obscure this waterhole from clear view, so photographers will have to spend time finding good angles through the branches. Keep your eyes peeled for subtle signs of life – though fairly common throughout the park, the African monarch butterfly can prove a pretty photo for those who’ve taken their fill of larger game.
      Location: 5 km south of Nossob (S25 27 4.77 E20 36 54.13)

  • Wilderness Camps
    1. Bitterpan – is situated in the center of the wilderness opening up a new 4×4 route through the Kalahari dunes from Nossob to Mata-Mata and the Kalahari Tent Camp. This camp is not fenced and a tourism assistant is on duty at all times. It is approximately a 2,5 hr drive from Nossob to Bitterpan, while from Bitterpan to Craig Lockhart on the Auob tourist road takes another 2.5 hrs, and thereafter 15 minutes to Mata-Mata, or a two hour drive to Twee Rivieren. It is strictly a 4×4 route, but BIG 4×4’s such as Unimogs (heavy vehicle 4×4) are not allowed.
    2. Visitors to Bitterpan should please note the following:

      • The camp and its access roads are strictly for the use of its residents only!
      • Visitors must supply their own firewood or charcoal.
      • Visitors must supply their own drinking water.
      • No Trailers (even 4×4 trailers) will be permitted.
      • Visitors should be aware that there is limited driving opportunity once at the camp.
      • Only a one-way 15 km game drive, however visitors staying longer than one night may use the escape route to Moravet to go onto the tourist routes and back.
      • The entrance and exit roads (and the 15 km game drive) are strictly one-way.
      • No fuel and no shop, nearest facilities at Nossob and Mata-Mata.

      Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 4
      Maximum people per chalet 2 people
      Power source Solar and gas (no conventional plugs)
      Supplies Both Nossob and Mata-Mata are under 60km away
      Other facilities – Raised viewing platform (6 meter high) and a private circular drive route
      Waterhole – about 100 meters from the cabins

    3. Grootkolk – is tucked away in the dunes, overlooking a waterhole, 20 km from Union’s End where the three countries South Africa, Botswana and Namibia meet. It is a wilderness camp nestled amidst red sand dunes with only the stars and silence for company. Grootkolk is 6 hours drive from Twee Rivieren and 2,5 hours from Nossob. The camp is accessable to sedan vehicles.

    4. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 4
      Maximum people per chalet 2 people
      Power source Solar and gas (no conventional plugs)
      Supplies The closest shop and fuel is at Nossob which is 2.5 hours by car to the south
      Other facilities – A communal kitchen, dining room and braai place allow 8 people to socialise together
      Waterhole – about 70 meters from the cabins

    5. Kalahari Tented Camp – is situated high up on a red sand dune, overlooking a waterhole in the dry bed of the ancient Auob River. The tent camp is 3 km from the Mata-Mata Rest Camp where Kalahari Tent Camp residents can refuel and get basic supplies at the shop.
    6. Visitors to Kalahari Tent Camp should please note the following:

      • The camp and access road are strictly for the use of residents only!
      • Visitors must supply their own firewood or charcoal.
      • Visitors must supply their own drinking water.
      • No fuel and no shop, closest facilities at Mata-Mata.

      Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 15
      Maximum people per chalet – 4x4p and 11×2 people
      Power source – Solar and gas (no conventional plugs)
      Supplies – Fuel and a small shop are close-by (3km) at Mata-Mata
      Other facilities – Swimming pool
      Waterhole – about 120 meters from the cabins

    7. Kieliekrankie Wilderness Camp – is situated 50 km (1.5 hours) drive away from Twee Rivieren on the Southern Dune Road. At this camp guests have to provide their own drinking water and firewood. The camp is unfenced, and there is a tourism assistant on duty. This unique self-catering wilderness camp is accessible by passenger vehicles.

    8. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of units – 4
      Maximum people per chalet – 2 people
      Power source – Solar and gas (no conventional plugs)
      Supplies – Twee Rivieren is a little over an hour’s drive away
      Waterhole – about 120 meters from the cabins

    9. Urikaruus Wilderness Camp – is situated 72 km (2 hours) drive away from Twee Rivieren on the road to Mata Mata between the veil of old camelthorn trees, overlooks the Auob River. The camp is unfenced, and there is a tourism assistant on duty. Urikaruus is accessible by passenger vehicles.

    10. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 4
      Maximum people per chalet – 2 people
      Power source – Solar and gas (no conventional plugs)
      Supplies – The Twee Rivieren shop is a 2 hour drive away
      Other facilities – The units are linked by a raised boardwalk
      Waterhole – about 50 meters from the cabins

    11. Gharagab Wilderness Camp – is situated 164 km (4 hours) drive north of Nossob on the road to Unions End. The camp is unfenced, and there is a tourism assistant on duty.

    12. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of chalets – 4
      Maximum people per chalet – 2 people
      Power source – Solar and gas (no conventional plugs)
      Supplies – The closest shop and fuel is at Nossob which is 3 hours south by car
      Other facilities – Raised viewing platform and short drives to Gharagab (4km) & Dankbaar (18km) waterholes
      Waterhole – about 70 meters from the cabins

  • NOTE: Children under the age of 12 are not allowed at any of the park’s Wilderness camps listed above.

  • Luxury Safari Lodge
    1. !Xaus Lodge – is a community owned luxury safari lodge overlooking a large salt pan and waterhole fed with fresh water. The lodge is situated 30 km into the desert, reached after driving over 91 sand dunes from the turn-off at Rooibrak waterhole, 60 km northwest of Tweerivieren.

    2. Check Accommodation Availability

      Number of beds – 24
      Maximum people per room – 2 people
      Power source – Self-generated electricity (5 hours a day)
      Supplies – All meals are catered for by the lodge. A curio shop sells artworks made by the ‡Khomani San
      Activities – Early morning guided dune walks, visiting ‡Khomani San crafters, sunset drive with sundowners on the dunes, night game drives & star gazing through telescopes

      Visit www.xauslodge.co.za for more information.

Apart from these there are 2 more private camps on the Botswana side worth considering:

  1. Rooiputs – is located about 25 km north of Two Rivers along the Nossob River Valley. The lodge is perched along a vegetated red sand dune offering extensive panoramic views of a valley of acacia savannah and grassy plains. Lions are frequent visitors to the adjacent waterhole.

    • 9 standard en suite thatched chalets.
    • 1 family unit
    • 1 honeymoon suite with outside bath tub
    • All chalets are privately set on raised wooden decks with a perfect view of the waterhole
    • Chalets have a main sleeping area, small sitting area, ensuite bathroom with his and hers wash basin, toilet, outside showers and a large veranda
    • The sleeping area has double or twin beds, high quality mattresses and linen ensuring a relaxed night’s sleep
  2. Polentswa – is located 58 km from Nossob camp or 222 km from Two Rivers along the predator rich Nossob Valley on the Botswana side of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The camp is nestled amongst tall trees and dwarf scrubs overlooking the Polentswa Pan with its waterhole and exciting game. In contrast to Rooiputs, Polentswa’s accommodation comprises of classic safari tents, all built on raised wooden platforms and under enormous canvas roofs that also encompass a spacious private veranda. The tents are furnished with a huge bed which allows for exciting and far sweeping views of the Polentswa Pen. The main building is originally furnished to reflect the spirit and essence of an authentic tented safari camp.

    • 7 luxury classic safari tents
    • 2 desert suites/family units
    • All tents are privately set on raised wooden decks with a perfect view of the waterhole
    • Tents have a main sleeping area, dressing area, en suite bathroom with wash basin, adjoining shower area open to the desert and to the stars and a water born toilet
    • The sleeping area has double bed, high quality mattresses and linen ensuring a relaxed night’s sleep
    • The tents are not ideal for twin beds

For bookings & other enquires related to these Botswana camps, you can contact Ta Shebube

Considering the limited number of accommodation available, some of the wilderness camps are fully booked 11 months in advance. Keeping this in mind, plan your travel & bookings well in advance.

Distances between various camps for travel planning

From To Travel Time
Twee Rivieren Rest Camp Nossob Rest Camp 3.5 hrs
Twee Rivieren Rest Camp Mata-Mata Rest Camp 2.5 hrs
Twee Rivieren Rest Camp Kalahari Tent Camp 2.5 hrs
Twee Rivieren Rest Camp Grootkolk Wilderness Camp 6 hrs
Nossob Rest Camp Union’s End 3 hrs
Nossob Rest Camp Mata-Mata Rest Camp (over Kamqua dune road) 3.5 hrs
Nossob Rest Camp Bitterpan Wilderness Camp 2.5 hrs
Bitterpan Wilderness Camp Mata-Mata Rest Camp 2 hrs
Nossob Rest Camp Grootkolk Wilderness Camp 2.5 hrs
Mata-Mata Rest Camp Kalahari Tent Camp 10 min

Travel

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park spans over two countries: South Africa and Botswana. Except for some basic campsites, there are no facilities on the Botswana side and most visitors to the park go to the South Africa side. O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg is where most will arrive when visiting South Africa. Kgalagadi is located approximately 904 km. from Johannesburg. It is possible to rent a car in Johannesburg and drive from there, or you could take a connecting flight into Upington Airport (UTN) in the far Northern Cape. The distance from Upington to the Kgalagadi is 250 km.

Johannesburg -> Upington -> Twee Rivieren Rest Camp (Kgalagadi) is the most common route taken by most tourists visiting Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park from the South African side.

There are two entrance gates for the South Africa side. The first is the Twee Rivieren Gate in the south, which acts as border post with the Two Rivers gate on the Botswana side. The second is the Mata-Mata Gate, which can be entered from Namibia. Airstrips for chartered flights are available at Twee Rivieren and Nossob Camp and hired cars can be collected at Twee Rivieren if prior arrangements are made with a car rental company.

Most of the roads in the South African part of the park are accessible with an ordinary car, but high clearance (SUV or pick-up type vehicle) is preferred. Even then, it is possible to get stuck on the sandy roads, so some people might choose to play it safe and hire a 4×4.

Park Gate Timings

Month Open Close
January 06:00 19:30
February 06:00 19:30
March 06:30 19:00
April 07:00 18:30
May 07:00 18:00
June 07:30 18:00
July 07:30 18:00
August 07:00 18:30
September 06:30 18:30
October 06:00 19:00
November 05:30 19:30
December 05:30 19:30

Wild Card

Wild Card membership gives you one year’s unlimited access to the Wild partner parks, reserves and resorts, depending on the type of cluster you choose. Membership is available for an individual (one person over 18 years of age), couple (any 2 people – 2 adults or 1 adult and 1 child) or family (2 adults and up to 5 children under 18 years of age), while foreign visitors can get International Wild Card membership.

International visitors may purchase only an International All Parks Cluster unless in possession of a valid South African residence/work permit. International All Parks Cluster provides access to 80+ parks & reserves around Southern Africa in the SANParks, Msinsi, EKZN Wildlife, CapeNature and Swazi Clusters Parks.

Individual Couple Family
R 2,450 R 3,830 R 4,585

Purchase Details

Maps & Area

Tips

  • Consult your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your travel to ensure all precautionary medication and vaccinations are taken care of.
  • Check the weather conditions during your travel dates to ensure right type of clothing. Click here to view Current Weather
  • Some important items to carry during your trip are insect repellent, torch light and a cap/hat.
  • No pets are permitted inside the park.
  • Firearms must be declared at the gate where they will be sealed. The seal will be broken upon departure.
  • Watch out for scorpions in the summer. Always check your shoes every morning before putting them on.
  • Roads in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park are not sedan friendly. Vehicles which will be using any of the 4×4 routes should have a ground clearance of at least 20cm.
  • When driving from one rest camp to the other, travellers should depart with travelling times in mind to ensure arrival before sunset as no travelling is allowed in the park after dark.
  • In case of breakdown, stay in your vehicle and wait for the next passing vehicle for help. Do not try and walk to the next camp.
  • Tourists wanting to exit the park other than the point of entry must ensure that all immigration controls must be done at Twee Rivieren and a 2 night stay in the park is compulsory.
  • No children under the age of 12 is allowed at any of the park’s Wilderness camps.
  • Firewood collection is not permitted in the park.
  • Adhere to the speed limit of 50 km/h. Speed of 20-30 km/h is ideal for spotting wildlife.
  • recommended tyre pressure for dune driving is 1.4 bar or 20.3 PSI
  • Do not feed animals for you own safety as well as for the animal well-being.
  • Avoid wearing very bright cloths and fragrant perfumes while on game drives.
  • No foreign currency is accepted in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) on the South African side, only South African Rand (ZAR) is accepted.
  • ATM facility is available at Twee Rivieren only.
  • Shops in Twee Rivieren, Mata-Mata and Nossob sell commodities that you would find in your local supermarket, including fresh meat, milk, cheese, eggs, bread, wine and beer.
  • Petrol (Unleaded) and Diesel is available at Mata-Mata, Nossob and Twee Rivieren. Premium petrol will only be available at Twee Rivieren rest camp.
  • All cards, credit and debit cards are accepted at the fuel stations within the park.
  • 1 USD is about 12 ZAR. Click here for Currency Converter