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

Kalahari National Park South Africa

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, it’s dusty, it’s dry and not a single cloud to speak of and yet here we are in the South African part of the Kalahari National Park or as by the new name: Kgalagadi Transfrontier 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 Transfrontier Park (Kalahari Gemsbok National Park) - Best Game Park in South Africa - Botswana for lion and cheetah - sightings and birding.

Young lion ready to leap off

A little further off a group of Gemsbok (Orix Antelopes) 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.

The lions, sprawled under the Camelthorn 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 hundred 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.

Kalahari National Park

Springboks in the Kgalagadi

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 wander up to the water to slake their thirst every so often and peace is restored.

Information And Map

This is the Kalahari National Park, an area only slightly smaller than Switzerland at approximately 38,000 square kilometers. 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 National Park

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

Wildlife in Kalahari National Park

It’s a great place to see Lions, Cheetah, Leopard and a host of other predators and scavengers. The birdlife 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 is 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 are scarce.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park boasts of wildlife. Herds of antelopes provide food for predators, both to be watched frequently at the waterholes.

Kgalagadi, South Africa

Where to stay in Kgalagadi National 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, a small shop, an information center, and reception. Each camp has a small swimming pool which proved to be a lifesaver as it is seriously HOT!

You can stay in one of the SANParks Camps which are Twee Rivieren, Nossop, Mata-Mata, and Kalahari Tented Camp. Click here for more information.

Or, you can choose a private lodge close to the Kgalagadi National Park.

Xaus Lodge

Xaus Lodge offers secluded accommodation within 70 km of Twee Rivieren. The lodge is owned by traditional South African communities and the chalets are designed like their own traditional dwelling places. The lodge features a swimming pool and a restaurant.

You can enjoy the view of many animal species at the water pan. Guests are taken out on guided bush walks and visit bushmen artists in their village. Xaus Lodge offers a free shuttle service.

Info & Prices

What to do in Kalahari Gemsbok 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.

Marcelle's Wildlife Photography: Cheetah Cub in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa Marcelle's Wildtierfotografie: Gepardenjunges im Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Südafrika

Best memories

Our two most memorable moments were the lions roaring at night 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.

Read more about our Southern African safari adventures:

Here is an overview of all our national park blog posts:

Wildlife National Park Travel Inspiration

Kalahari National Park

Kgalagadi, South Africa


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