GREEN KALAHARI ACCOMMODATION KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER NATIONAL PARK
The former Kalahari Gemsbok National Park of South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park of Botswana merged to form Africa's first transfrontier game park, known as the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, officially opened in 2000. The new Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the first “peace park” in Africa and its success set the standard for other transfrontier parks. With a surface area of about 3.8 million hectares, it is twice the size of the Kruger National Park and one of the largest nature conservation areas in Southern Africa and one of the largest remaining protected natural ecosystems in the world. In this vast ecosystem, animals are freely moving across unfenced borders between the two countries. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the most North Westerly National Park in South Africa. The name, 'Kgalagadi' is derived from the San language and means "Place of thirst". Although referred to as a desert, the area is more of a “wilderness’ or “arid savannah” with its rippling dunes, grasslands, saltpans and dry, tree-lined watercourses. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is home to two of Africa’s greatest wildlife species, the black manned African lion and the beautiful Oryx (Gemsbok).

In addition the park gives sanctuary to herds of endemic antelope, such as springbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and eland that roamed the semi desert savannah and endless pans for thousands of years. The famous black-maned Kalahari lion, leopard, cheetah and smaller game including mongooses, porcupine and honey badger, 58 mammal species, 55 reptile species, countless insect species and a host of plant species share the desert and dry savannah landscape.  The endless blue skies are dominated by about 300 species of bird, including at least 20 species of large raptor.

Visiting the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in January is a very rewarding experience. Although it is very hot, with temperatures reaching the fourties, it is the time of broiling skies, green dunes and many young animals. On the hottest days, the game concentrates around the waterholes in large numbers, making for hours of game viewing. After the summer rains, the yellow devil’s thorn (Tribulus zeyheri) flowers and the gifbolle (Nerine lacticoma) shows off their pink blushes, transforming the park into a floral display of yellow and pink patches. Many of the predators have young, with lion cubs and baby jackals seen. Antelope, too, had dropped their young and the Nossob and Auob riverbeds contain large nurseries.

Visitors can fly or drive to Upington in the Northern Cape then take the R360 to the park entrance at Twee Rivieren, which also has a landing strip for smaller aeroplanes and car hire facilities. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers a safe opportunity to experience a hostile land without the necessity of mounting a full-scale expedition. It is situated 1076km from Cape Town and 1090km from Johannesburg.

On the South African side, there are three rest camps and six unfenced wilderness camps connected by well-maintained game viewing roads along the dry beds of the Auob and Nossob rivers. Along these routes are well-located picnic spots, with the one at Union’s End on the border of Namibia evoking a sensation of being at the remotest spot on earth. There are no tourist facilities on the Botswana side, which is accessible only to the owners of 4x4’s. Kgalagadi South Africa has nine different camps of varying size, facilities and cost. Three traditional camps that have a basic shopping facility and fuel are situated on the South African side of the Park. Kgalagadi is the first Park to provide accommodation in six wilderness camps that, with no fences, invite the Kalahari and the tranquillity of Africa right into your room.
Lion (Panthera leo) - The lion stands out from the other 'big cats', not only in its distinctive appearance but also in being the only felid that lives in organised social groups. In appearance the lion is a powerfully built, muscular cat. The fur is short and generally uniform in colour, ranging from grey/buff to reddish brown in coloration with the exception of the undersides which are often white, especially in females. The back of the ears and tip of the tail are dark brown or black. However the most distinctive feature of the male lion is its mane, a ruff of thick, long fur. The colour of the mane varies from a light brown to almost black and covers the sides of the face, neck and in some animals extends to the abdomen. The adolescent male begins to grow its mane at about 18 months and it continues to grow until the cat reaches about five years of age - throughout this period it is common for the mane to darken. A fully developed male lion can grow up to 10 feet in body length and is surpassed in size only by the larger species of tiger .
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Camel Thorn tree - Acacia erioloba. The Camel Thorn tree, or "Kameeldoringboom" in Afrikaans, is without question the best known of the trees or plants in the Kalahari desert. Depending on growth conditions the camel thorn tree can become an immense tree of up to 10 m high, or less commonly, a smaller, multistemmed shrub. Strange as it may seem, the "Camel" that the name suggests, is not the Dromedary camel, which do occur in the Kalahari but which is an imported animal, and bred in captivity. The name "Camel thorn" actually refers to the love of Giraffe's latin name Camelopardus or Afrikaans "Kameelperd" meaning "Camel-horse", as can be seen from the old botanical name of the tree, Acacia giraffae.
Camps
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park consists of three traditional rest camps.

• The main rest camp is Twee Rivieren which has chalets, camping facilities, night drives, guided day walks, an information centre, restaurant, shop, fuel and a swimming pool. All the chalets are equipped for self-catering.
Nossob offers chalets, camping, night drives, guided day walks as well as a predator information centre.
Mata-Mata has new chalets, a shop, fuel, guided day walks and night drives.

The six new upmarket unfenced wilderness camps allow visitors to feel at one with the Kalahari.

Kalahari Tented Camp has 15 fully equipped, self-catering units, sleeping two to four people and a swimming pool. The camp overlooks the waterhole in the ancient Auob River.
Grootkolk is small and exclusive, only 20km from Unions End. This is the prime predator area and also overlook a waterhole.
Kielie Krankie, situated on top of a high dune, has stunning views over the sand dunes. Four two-bed wood-and-canvas units overlook a waterhole. It is the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park’s most spectacular camp. Sunk into a dune, with endless views of the red Kalahari sands. Located in the Twee Rivieren region, this unique self-catering wilderness camp will be accessible by passenger vehicles.
Urikaruuus, on the banks of the Auob River, is a lofted camp with four two-bed units that also overlooks an active waterhole. Located in the Mata-Mata region of the park, between the veil of old camelthorn trees, overlooks the Auob River. Urikaruus is accessible by passenger vehicles.
• Two camps, Bitterpan and Gharagab, are only accessible by 4x4. Bitterpan, small and exclusive, is surrounded only by the silence of the great Kalahari, with four two-bed reed units it overlooks a magnificent pan. Gharagab, just north of Nossob, has four two-bed wood-and-canvas units that open up to beautiful Kalahari tree and savanna veld. It is the most remote part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and visitors have to take their own water. Located in the far northern region of the park, will provide guests with elevated views of Kalahari dunes and the thornveld savannah. Gharagab will only be accessible by 2x4 or 4x4, not an ordinary sedan. To be certain, contact the park before hand to acertain the prevailing conditions.
Kgalagadi has nine different camps of varying size, facilities and cost. Three traditional rest camps have a basic shopping facility and fuel. The three wilderness camps, with no fences, invite the Kalahari and the tranquillity of Africa right into your room.
©South African Tourism
Elevated above the red sands of the Kalahari and suspended in time is Bitterpan – an exclusive, stilted camp overlooking a waterhole. Bitterpan is situated in the centre of the wilderness opening up a new 4x4 route through the Kalahari dunes from Nossob to Mata-Mata and the Kalahari Tent Camp. It is on a ONE-WAY route starting from Nossob. It is approximately a 2½-hour drive from Nossob to Bitterpan, while from Bitterpan to Craig Lockhart in the Auob tourist road takes another 2½ hours, and thereafter 15 minutes to Mata Mata, or a 2-hour drive to Twee Rivieren. It is strictly a 4x4 route, but BIG 4x4’s such as Unimogs (heavy vehicle 4x4) are not allowed.
Areas of special interest

The usually dry riverbeds of the Auob and the Nossob Rivers provide the best game viewing. The roads between the camps follow these riverbeds. The dune roads from Kij Kij to Auchterlonie and Dikbaardskolk to Kamqua link the two riverbeds. Union’s End – at the northern most part of the South African side of the park.

5 Things to seek

* Gemsbok these large striking desert antelope are the emblem of the park.
* Suricate (Meerkat)these hyperactive little omnivores have a wonderfully intricate family structure.
* Black-maned Kalahari LionsPhysically impressive, they are the kings of the Kalahari Desert.
* Sociable weaversthe busy little birds construct huge communal nests.
* 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.

Birdwatching

The Kalagadi Transfrontier Park has a list of approximately 280 species of birds, of which only about 92 are resident. The remainder comprises mainly nomadic, migratory and vagrant species, which number about 17, 50 and 121 respectively.

A variety of raptors are seen, the commonest being Tawny and Black-breasted Snake Eagle, Bateleur, White-backed and Lappet-faced Vulture, as well as smaller species such as Pale Chanting Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Pygmy Falcon and Greater Kestrel. Less common are Martial Eagle and Red-necked Falcon. Barn, Spotted and Verreaux’s (Giant) Eagle Owl are common, while Pearl-spotted Owlet, White-faced and African Scops-Owl may also be seen. Larks and Sparrowlarks (Finchlarks) are abundant particularly after good rains which is also a good time to see seed-eaters such as Violet-eared Waxbill, Black-throated Canary, Shaft-tailed Whydah and Lark-like Bunting. Kori Bustard is common along both the Auob and Nossob riverbeds with Ludwig’s Bustard being relatively common during summer.

Mammals

Because of the sparse vegetation and concentration of animals in the dry riverbeds of the Auob and Nossob Rivers, Kgalagadi offers premium mammal viewing destinations anywhere. It is especially renowned for predator watching and for the seasonal movement of large herbivores such as blue wildebeest, springbok, eland and red hartebeest. Ground Squirrel and Suricate (Meerkat) are two more of the park’s more prominent species.

Both these ground dwelling species live in large family groups for added protection and can easily be seen throughout the park. Honey Badger (Ratel), Pangolin (Scaly Anteater) and Bat-eared Fox are some of the park specials to search for. But it is the predators that are the park’s biggest attraction. Excellent chances of seeing cheetah, leopard, brown and spotted hyena and the definitive black-maned lion exist.
©South African Tourism
©South African Tourism
Activities
Guests can participate in the following activities when available:

* Lectures, slide shows and holiday programs are organized from the information centre at Twee Rivieren
* Night drives at Nossob and Twee Rivieren, when available - enquiries at camps reception desks (min. 2 persons / max. 20 persons)
* Day walks at Nossob, Mata-Mata and Twee Rivieren, when available - enquiries at camps reception desks (min. 2 persons / max. 20 persons)
* Nossob 4x4 Eco Trail - for information and bookings, please contact the reception desk at Twee Rivieren
* Leeuwdril 4x4 Loop - for information and bookings, please contact the reception desk at Twee Rivieren
Please note that all day and night walks and night drives are only available on request, and are subject to availability.

4 x 4 Routes - when available
* Nossob 4 x 4 Eco Trail - 214 km
* Bitterpan trail - 120 km
* Mabuasehube Wilderness Trail - 155 km
* Wilderness Trail (starting at Polentswa) - 257 km
* Direct Route – Nossob Riverbed to Mabuasehube - 170 km
* Direct Route – Kannaguass to Kaa - 85 km
* Leeuwdril 4 x 4 Loop - Total off-road distance is 13,2 km (passing the Gemsbok windmill)

Facilities
* Laundry tubs and ironing facilities (no iron) in camping area of Twee Rivieren, Nossob and Mata-Mata.
* Twee Rivieren, the largest rest camp and administrative base, has a swimming pool, information centre, shop and public telephone and cell phone reception.
* Restaurant - serves breakfast and dinner (A-la-Carte)
* Predator centre at Nossob.
* Hides at water hole at Nossob and Mata Mata.
* The camps have limited freezing facilities and cannot provide a freezing service to tourists.
* 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 (premium and unleaded) and diesel at Twee Rivieren, Mata-Mata and Nossob.
* Five picnic sites throughout the Park with barbecue facilities and communal ablution (no water available).
* Swimming pool in Twee Rivieren and Kalahari Tent Camp, Mata Mata and Nossob.
©South African Tourism
©South African Tourism
©South African Tourism
Contact details
A passport is not needed to enjoy the Botswana side as long as entry and exit is made through the same gate. Camping in Botswana is available at Polentswa, Rooiputs and Two Rivers. There are two 4x4 routes: Wildernis and Nossob Mabuasehube.

• For reservations to camp on the Botswana side of the Park, and to book the wilderness trail contact: The Parks and Reserves Reservation Office:
Tel 09 (from South Africa) 267 580774
Fax 09 267 580775

• For reservations to stay on the South African side contact: The South African National Parks Call Centre:
Tel 012 428 9111
Fax 012 343 0905
E-mail reservations@sanparks.org

• To contact the Park
Tel 054 561 2000
Fax 054 561 2005.
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