Exploring the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Our road trip to see the sights of South Africa didn’t get off to a very good start. Our mission statement was to see as much of South Africa as we could in the three weeks we had set aside for our purpose. We started driving up the east coast of South Africa from Cape Town. After getting severely lost on our way to a friend’s holiday house in Coffee Bay we though the worst was over. But after a few blissful days rest we were back onto the road with Johannesburg as our destination and soon hit major car trouble, which had us staying over at a small inland town while waiting for repairs.
Not the ideal start to our South African road trip …
Still we made it to our ultimate destination, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The park draws its name from the fact that it traverses the South African and Botswanan borders, with the majority of the park falling on the Botswanan side. The park also borders on Namibia, making it truly well-named as a transfrontier park.
In reality the park is made up of two national parks; the South African Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the Botswanan Gemsbok National Park. The name Kgalagadi means “place of thirst”, unsurprising since the park falls largely within the Kalahari desert, famous for being the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world.
We stayed at chalets at the Grootkolk camp, one of the many camps available in the park. Grootkolk is situated in the dunes is wonderfully remote, a perfect destination for that feeling of really getting away from it all. Make sure you bring plentiful supplies of food and drinking water for your stay, because the nearest amenities are more than two hours away. We braai’ed under the African stars most nights – a perfect way to end a day of watching wildlife.
Also be aware that the temperatures in this area can reach to above the 40 degrees Celsius mark, so be fully prepared for the extremes of this climate. Other accommodation options include the Kalahari Tented camp, an exclusive getaway which includes a luxury honeymoon tent, and the Nossob Rest Camp.
The Kgalagadi park’s most famous wildlife inhabitants are perhaps the Kalahari black-maned lions, but also look out for leopards, hyenas and antelope when you’re game-viewing.
We also learned something of the history of the human inhabitants of the park, the Mier and Khomani San peoples. The Mier were traditionally farmers of goats and have lived in the area for over a hundred and fifty years. The Khomani San have an even longer history as hunter-gatherers in the region. These people have had a history of oppression by colonisers of South African and Botswana but have thankfully been restored some of their cultural heritage through the creation of a protectorate of more than 500 square kilometres of land for their use.
Despite the rocky start to our trip, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was amazing and truly lived up to expectations.