In the Northern Cape, sandwiched between Namibia and Botswana, is a magical corner of wilderness for serious safaris. Here, Botswana and South Africa have joined forces to protect the wildlife on opposite sides of their border, forming the world’s first Transfrontier Park: the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park consists of about 38,000km² of the Kalahari and was previously split between South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park.
The Park is characterised by vast arid landscapes with red dunes, sparse vegetation and camel thorn trees. Animals tend to gather in the dry river beds and waterholes. Herds of Gemsbok, Springbok, Eland and Blue Wildebeest follow the seasons, closely watched by prides of Black-Mane Lion. Other predators include Leopard, Cheetah, Brown and Spotted Hyena and birds of prey.
Meaning of the name
The Kgalagadi were some of the first people to penetrate the northern Kalahari and although they did not always remain there, the name they gave the area remained.
Kalahari is derived from the Kgalagadi word Makgadikgadi, meaning saltpans or the great thirstland.
Original rest camps of the Park
Twee Rivieren is the largest and most developed, and the only one with a restaurant. Other facilities include a well-stocked shop and a family-size swimming pool. It’s usually the first stop within Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, near the southern entrance.
Nossob Rest Camp
Further north, Nossob Rest camp is fairly basic, with seven types of self-catering chalets – although most visitor camp here. It also has communal cooking facilities and a small shop, and its central location provides one of the best spot to enjoy the parks untouched wilderness.
Mata Mata Rest Camp
Set in Kgalagadi’s southwest, Mata Mata Rest Camp is quite simple, but a great place for adventurous small families. Its self-catering chalets are ideally situated to explore the whole of the park, including the fantastic wildlife and spectacular wilderness
Wilderness camps in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
More recently, six ‘wilderness camps’ have been built in scenic locations deep in the park. Small, remote and unfenced, these are very different in character to the rest camps; they feel more isolated and closer to the wildlife. Most take eight people when full. All require you to bring your own water, fuel and food – though cooking utensils, crockery and cutlery are provided – and all the accommodation is en-suite. For safety, each has a single armed game scout in residence.
- Grootkolk Wilderness Camp
- Urikaruus Wilderness Camp
- Kielie Krankie Wilderness Camp
- Bitterpan Wilderness Camp
- Gharagab Wilderness Camp
- Kalahari Tented Camp
- !Xaus Lodge
Morning and sunset drives are available at Twee Rivieren, Nossob, Mata-Mata and the Kalahari Tented Camp. (All game drives and guided walks are subject to availability. There are also six 4 x 4 routes to explore (when available).
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is about 361 km from Thuru Lodge . If your driving from Johannesburg or Bloemfontein via Groblershoop, Thuru Lodge is the perfect stopover on your way, at the port of the Green Kalahari.