The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is famous for it’s red sand dunes, black maned lions and exceptional wildlife photography opportunities. It has become a very popular safari destination for travellers looking for a more rustic and down to earth experience. If you are planning to visit the Kgalagadi, here are some tips before you go.
1. Book Early
The park has become so popular you now have to make a booking up to a year in advance to get a spot at your desired camp. Some wilderness camps such as Kieliekrankie, Bitterpan and Urikaruus are almost always fully booked. Rule of thumb is, take what you can get and work your itinerary around that. Always be on the lookout for cancellations, you might just get lucky.
Also note that some camps are located in the South African side of the park and others in the Botswana side, which means you have to make bookings for camps at their respective park boards.
For South African camps you can book here:
- Online: SANParks website
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: +27 (0)12 428 9111 or mobile: +27 (0)82 233 9111
For Botswana camps:
- DWNP central reservations: Tel +267 318 0774,
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Getting There
The park sits in a fairly remote location, wedged between three counties South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. It’s quite the drive to get to park regardless from where you are coming from, so expect to make an overnight stop on your way there.
- Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport to the the park is about 950 km /10h drive.
- Cape Town to the park is about a 1050km/ 11h30min drive
- Windhoek Namibia to the park is about a 250km/2h30min drive.
- The nearest airport is situated in Upington which is about a 2 hour drive from the park.
Here are a few places you can stay on your way there:
Van Zylsrus Hotel
A quirky hotel with lots of character in a very small town called Van Zylsrus. Have a drink at the local bar before you retire for the night in one of the eccentrically decorated rooms. The next day you still have 2h 40min drive to the park.
If you are geared for camping and coming from Johannesburg direction, then this is a great overnight spot. Leeupan is situated on the Askham road roughly 26km from VanZyls Rus. The camp is surrounded by camelthorn trees and red Kalahari dunes, the perfect setting to kick off your Kgalagadi trip.
Pre-book a visit to the famous Meerkat Manor (their neighbours) if you want to see adorable Meerkats up close. Visits are only open on Sundays.
Leeupan Booking: Lorraine +27 82 438 3960
Situated just outside the park this is the perfect overnight stop if you won’t make the gate time or if you couldn’t find availability in the park. Chalets and camping spots available.
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3. Get a Wild Card
If you purchase a Wild Card Membership, you will get one year’s unlimited entry to 80+ National Parks, Reserves and Resorts around Southern Africa, depending on the type of cluster you choose. It’ s still worthwhile getting the card even if you are only staying for a few days, because you will save a lot of money on the daily conservation and park entry fees.
You can purchase the Wild Card online, or at the entrance gate when you check in.
4. What to pack
The Kgalagadi is a land of extremes, it will get scorching hot during the summer and freezing cold during winter months, therefore it all depends on what time of year you visit the park. I covered all these details in my post what to pack for a summer safari and if you going in the winter go check out my Safari Essentials post.
My husband always says you can never pack enough gear, but if you are like me and only want to pack the essentials then only pack what I’ve listed below:
- Camera – The Kgalagadi offers plenty of opportunities to capture big or small wildlife in action, packing a camera is an absolute must.
- Lenses – Generally lenses with a focal length of 300mm and above are used for wildlife photography, but it won’t be a problem if you don’t have a big lens. You will be surprised at how many sightings happen right next to your vehicle in the Kgalagadi.
- Binoculars – For bird lovers and those not so close sightings.
- Chargers and Extra Batteries – Not all camps have power so having a back up battery is a nice to have, and charge your camera whenever you get the chance.
Food and Beverages
All camps in the park, except for Xaus! Lodge are self catering which means you must pack your own food and drinks for the duration of your stay. The main camps such as Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata and Nossob have small convenience stores stocked with cold drinks and snacks but I’d suggest you do your grocery shopping before you arrive.
5. Join Kgalagadi Sightings Group on Facebook
The members on this group share sightings within the park, updates on route conditions, cancellations and useful tips. Post a question about anything you want to know about the park, and the group will help you.
Then when you’ve returned from your amazing trip to the Kgalagadi, you too can share your sightings and memorable moments on the group.