Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Most Beautiful National Park In South Africa

Best place to visit for Cheetah and Lion sightings is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. A game park full of wildlife in the semi-desert of South Africa and Botswana (formerly called Kalahari Gemsbok National Park), souring hot and unforgivably harsh.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Kalahari Gemsbok National Park) - Best Game Park in South Africa - Botswana for lion and cheetah - sightings and birding.

Why do I sit in a car when its 40+ degrees with no shade to speak of for hours on end?!

The sun is burning everything, there’s a haze in the air, its dusty, its dry and not a single cloud to speak of and yet here we are in the South African part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (formerly known as Kalahari Gemsbok National Park).

The reason for that is, there are five lions – young ones – three males and two females lying somewhat relaxed in the shade some thirty meters or so from the water. I say “somewhat relaxed” because there’s a Giraffe who is obviously very thirsty and wants to get to the waterhole.

Kgalagadi, South Africa

A little further off a group of Gemsbok ( Orix Antelope ) are also waiting impatiently as are the Springbok who seem to be content to let the Giraffe get the first shot at the waterhole.

Of course we are all waiting to see if the lions will react if any animal comes within striking distance. Lions being opportunists will take their chances when presented and this looks like one of those times as the Giraffe is ready to risk a possible attack to get to the water.

Kgalagadi, South Africa

The lions, sprawled under the Camel thorn trees (in the shade) ears up, tails twitching, getting ready to pounce. Luckily for the Giraffe this is a young and inexperienced lot and they rush without much conviction too early and the Giraffe merely canters off a hundreds meters or so. The lions return to their spot under the shade and flop down in apparent exhaustion.

And so begins the whole saga again: the giraffe slowly making its way back to the waterhole, the Gemsbok and Springboks waiting to see if it’s safe, willing the Giraffe on. Eventually the lions move to a more shady spot a little further from the waterhole and the Giraffes patience pays off as he can now get that much needed drink.

Kgalagadi, South Africa

The Gemsbok and Springboks seeing their opportunity also drink their fill before moving further down the dry riverbed a safe distance from the now sleeping lions. The lions also wonder up to the water to slake their thirst every so often and peace is restored.

Information and map of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

This is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, an area only slightly smaller than Switzerland at approximately 38,000 square km. Situated in the Northern part of South Africa and crossing the border into Botswana it was formally declared a Transfrontier Park in May 2000.

Map of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

https://i2.wp.com/www.sanparks.org/images/parks/kgalagadi/maps/full_parkmap08.jpg?resize=833%2C672&ssl=1

The south-western part of the park comprises dune veld, with its unique semi-desert vegetation while the north-east comprises Kalahari plains thorn veld. Also and playing an important role in the grazing and life patterns of the animals are the salt pans.

Wildlife in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Its a great place to see Lions, Cheetah, Leopard and a host of other predators and scavengers. The bird life is phenomenal even for this dry dusty, extremely hot and sun baked world. Antelope species such as Gemsbok, Wildebeest, Springbok abound but the real gem here are the smaller animals such as Suricates, Mongoose, Ground Squirrels and its fair share of reptiles. No Buffalo, Elephants, Hippo or crocs as grazing and water is scarce.

Kgalagadi, South Africa

Where to stay in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Accommodation from camping to luxury lodges to self catering wilderness camps (accessible by 4×4 only) is available. The three main camps all have fuel, small shop, information centre and reception. Each camp has a small swimming pool which proved to be a life saver as it is seriously HOT!

Kgalagadi, South Africa

What to do in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Activities such as Game drives or walks can be booked at the camp reception. We spent hours sitting at the bird hide at the camp especially at night and in the middle of the day (to escape the heat) watching the animals coming and going from the waterhole.

Kgalagadi, South Africa

Best memories of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Our two most memorable moments were the lions roaring at night and one of the scariest thunderstorms I have ever experienced, but it is hard to pin it down to those two as every day is different with new sightings and happenings.

A great park to visit at any time, summer (extremely hot) or winter and yet another place we shall be returning again and again.

Kgalagadi, South Africa

 

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Author: George Mostert

Since 2013 I travel together with Marcelle around the world. Finding hidden treasures at the unbeaten trails is where we aim for. We are still discovering best ways to travel cheaply to be able to live our dream. It's working out quite well up to now. We share our experiences as house sitters and travelers on our websites and hope for a lively exchange with other travelers.

3 thoughts on “Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Most Beautiful National Park In South Africa”

    1. If you’d like to hike it’s better to visit between April and September for cooler temperatures. The water flow is the highest between November and April if there were good rains. The water level was very law when we visited but it was impressive anyway.

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