The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is famous for its red sand dunes, black-maned lions, and exceptional wildlife photography opportunities. It has become a very popular safari destination for travelers 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 Kgalagadi Transfrontier 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. The 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 on the South African side of the park and others on the Botswana side, which means you have to make bookings for camps at their respective park boards.
The Botswana camps are far more rustic and all are unfenced. For these campsites, you will need your own camping equipment and be fully self-sufficient.
On the South African side, the main camps (Twee Rivierien, Nossob, and Mata Mata) offer self-catering chalets as well as campsites for those staying in tents, overland vehicles, and 4×4 caravans.
For South African camps you can book here:
- Online: SANParks website
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Telephone: +27 (0)12 428 9111 or mobile: +27 (0)82 233 9111
For Botswana camps:
- DWNP central reservations: Tel +267 318 0774,
- Email: email@example.com
We use a great booking agent called Botswana Footprints to book the Botswana camps.
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 the park regardless of where you are coming from so expect to make an overnight stop on your way to the park.
All main roads to the park are tarred, except if you come from Johannesburg and you travel via VanZylsrus. There is a notorious 150km gravel road between VanZylsrus and Askham which can get very corrugated.
All roads within the park are gravel roads and can get sandy in some areas. It’s advisable to visit the park with a high clearance vehicle and to deflate the tyres as soon as you enter the park. You will need a 4×4 vehicle if you plan to visit certain wilderness camps and also the Botswana campsites. The main camps ( Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata, and Nossob) are accessible with 2×4 vehicles.
Here are a few places you can stay on your way to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park:
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 neighbors) 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 for the Kgalagadi
The Kgalagadi is a land of extremes, it will get scorching hot during the summer and freezing cold during winter months, therefore what you need to pack 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.
You only need to pack your passport if you plan to enter and leave the park at different gates. If you enter the park at Twee Rivierien (South Africa) and plan to leave at Mata Mata gate ( into Namibia) or Mabuasehube gate (into Botswana) then you will need your passport and stay at least 2 nights within the park. If you plan to enter and exit at the same gate such as Twee Rivieren you won’t need a passport even if you visit camps within the Botswana side of the park.
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 backup battery is nice to have, and charge your camera whenever you get the chance.
Food and Beverages
All camps in the park, except for the semi-luxury lodges are self-catering which means you must pack your own food and drinks for the duration of your stay. The main camps – Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata, and Nossob have small convenience stores stocked with basic food items, snacks, sodas, and beers but I strongly suggest you do the bulk of your grocery shopping before you arrive.
Bread buns, eggs, and fresh produce such as cucumbers are usually the first items to sell out.
The shops also sell ice and wood however, it’s cheaper to buy wood outside the park. We usually buy our wood in Askham, a small town situated about 70km from the park.
5. Join the Kgalagadi Sightings Group on Facebook
The members of 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 with the group.
For more Kgalagadi inspiration, check out Juba’s Journey Youtube channel:
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I won’t recommend products if I haven’t used & loved them myself.