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The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP)


Panthera Pardus

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Panthera Pardus

Doing a search on this site I could find only two trip reports on the KTP so thought this would be a good place to start with a trip report. Nestled between Botswana and Namibia in the North Western corner of South Africa is what was formerly called the Kalahari Gemsbok Park which now makes up part of the larger KTP.

 

The Kgalagadi is a harsh land, and Kagalagadi means the Great Thirstland. As would be expected it is arid. At the same time it has a remarkable beauty and a host of animals that survive in this wonderland.

 

This journey will show you each camp, the accommodation, what you will pay for it, and what you can expect to see in the camp and surrounding area. We will start at the northern most camp, Grootkolk, and work our way south down the Nossob Riverbed, across the dunes, on to the Auob Riverbed and finish at the Southern entrance of the Park which is Twee Rivieren (meaning two rivers)

 

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In my opinion the KTP is arguably the best Park on the planet for big cats (you can get really close to these)

 

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and raptor sightings for the price you pay (relatively cheap compared to other Parks).

 

Black Shouldered Kite with Beakfast

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Red Necked Falcon

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You will enjoy many of these sightings to yourself and there are also the little cats, African Wildcat and Caracal.

 

Honey Badgers and Brown Hyenas.

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Aarwolfs and Aaardvarks.

 

Suricates (meerkats) and some very special antelope. Rollers and bee-eaters, waxbills and shrikes :)

 

Beautiful sunrises and sunsets and the red sands of the Kalahari. You do not need a guide to do the KTP. You can get a flight to Upington form Johannesburg or Cape Town and from Upington to Twee Rivieren is a comfortable 2.5 hour drive on a tarred road. Overses visitors will need to hore a car and price will depend on what you get. To get to Bitterpan and Gharagab Camps you will need a 4x4 woth low range as you will be driving the dunes to get to these. For the rest of the camps juts a vehicle with high clearance is rfecommended so that you visisbility is not restricted - the sand ridges at the side of the road ar high in places.

 

 

Be warned, once you get that red sand between your toes, you will just want to return again and again.

All this time effort, you might ask what is in it for me:

1. To share the magic of South African Parks with you.

2. To reach an international group of like minded people to show the challenges and threats we are faced with in conserving these areas so that we can discuss possible solutions. I will post in the Rhino Poaching Topic shortly.

 

 

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Doing a search on this site I could find only two trip reports on the KTP so thought this would be a good place to start with a trip report. Nestled between Botswana and Namibia in the North Western c

@@cheetah80, we will miss each other - have a super trip.   So we come to the end of this trip. We have not had much luck at Munro, Houmoed and Samevloeiing waterholes although others have had some

One of my favourite raptors is the Balck Shouldered Kite, those enchanting ruby red eyes so I will start with that one       Tawny Eagle   Black Chested Snake Eagle   Bateleur Eagle

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africapurohit

@@Panthera Pardus - I'm looking forward to your report on KTP, an area that I have much interest in.

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I will start a summary of my recent trip to Botswana and South Africa which included 13 nights in KTP in a separate thread soon, too

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kittykat23uk

Sounds wonderful and it's somewhere I have never been, are there companies that can organise guide tours to this area? Is it worth visiting in August/ September and generally, when is the best time to visit?

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Panthera Pardus

@@africapurohit - hope I am able to help you africapurohit

 

@@ice - looking forward to see what the KTP delivered to you ice

 

@@kittykat23uk - our winters are June/July/August - the nights in KTP can get freezing cold during this time. We talking up tp -5 even -10 Degrees Celcius. In summer especially December/January it is scorching hot. The highest we experienced was last Decmber 49 Celcius.....But.....This in our experience is the best time to see the big cats. March/April is wonderful as it is not too hot or too cold and all the migratory raptors are in the KTP. September/October/November is also wonderful as it is the lambing season for many antelopes. We have witnessed the miracle of a springbok birth. Others have seen the birth of wildebeest and red haartebeest.

 

Any reason why you don't want to do a self drive. A guided tour will restrict you to the main camps, which are Mata Mata, Nossob and Twee Riveren, nothing wrong with these but there is a special charm about the bush camps as you will see - these are Grootkolk, Gharagab, Bitterpan, Urikaruus, Kalahari Tented Camp and Kieliekrankie.

Edited by Panthera Pardus
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kittykat23uk

I would very much like to do a self drive (or join others who are going and doing it this way) but as I am likely going to be on my own or just with one other lady for my next trip, it's unlikely to be an option that I'd be comfortable with. I was looking for something to combine with mozambique towards the end aug or early sept this time around, just for a week or so..

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Panthera Pardus

@@kittykat23uk - I strongly recommend you do the self drive option when you can.

 

The KTP offers a 4x4 Eco trail. This is a guided trail and we have not done it yet but it is on the horizon for us. It is a 3 day trail and Witgat and Swartrbas are your overnight camps for this trail.

 

You can do camping at the main camps on the ZA side but you provide your own tent and you book a camp site. On the Botswana side you can book campsites at Rooiputs and Polentswa, both on the Nossob Riverbed, Rooiputs in the south and Polentswa in the north. These are very basic and you are really in the bush. They are not fenced and lions have been known to roam the camp, but this happens at the ZA side bush camps too. Although on the ZA side you do have a camp attendant. Further in on the Botswana side you can camp in the Mabuasehube area and at Matopi 1 and Matopi 2. All the Bots camps are bookable through the Botswana National Parks.

 

So to answer your question, I see no reason why you cannot camp at Mabu (as we call it) and then move on to Nossob and camp there, then move on to Matopi. We have not done the Botswana side yet but many of our friends say it is the read deal.

Edited by Tdgraves
p
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to answer another question: these camp sites cannot be booked exclusively, unless of course you try to book all the spaces available

 

in ZA, you cannot book Witgat and Swartrbas and drive there yourself, it has to be as part of the EcoTrail PP mentioned which means you'd most likely be paert of a bigger group of vehicles led by one of the park rangers...to be honest, these EcoTrails are so popular, they are booked out months in advance

Edited by wilddog
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Sharifa

You can move freely between the two sides as long as you have bookings for both sides. Immigration control only comes into it if you enter from one country and plan to leave from another country. So if you enter the ZA side and will also be going to Bots and plan to exit at Twee Rivieren again, all the formalities are taken care off when you enter.

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Africalover

Look forward to read your tripreport.Brings back memories, from last year in march.I travelled from Cape town to Okavango, through KTP and Mabuasehube.It is indeed a magical place and one of the most wild experiencies i ever had in Africa.Especially the unfenced wild campsites in Botswana, we had lions arround our tents at night and landscape is fantastic.I will go back.

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Sangeeta

So what exactly are these Eco-trails? If you are self-driving as part of a standard EcoTrail, does that mean you and a lot of other cars have to follow the ranger car at all times or can one digress?

 

Thank you, Panthera Pardus, for starting this thread. I have also been looking at potential KTP trip in 2014 and this thread will be very useful. I notice you don't mention May as a good month for KTP. Will it be terrible? Was thinking of combining with Indaba...

Edited by Sangeeta
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Eagle Owl

"Be warned, once you get that red sand between your toes, you will just want to return again and again.

All this time effort, you might ask what is in it for me:

1. To share the magic of South African Parks with you.

2. To reach an international group of like minded people to show the challenges and threats we are faced with in conserving these areas so that we can discuss possible solutions. I will post in the Rhino Poaching Topic shortly".

 

 

Thanks PP. A great report. I have for a while decided that the KTP is where i will go for my 40th (years old) trip in two years time, fingers crossed. My dream is to rent a 4x4 and drive from Jo'burg through the KTP and into the CKGR. Dreamed of doing this since reading Delia and Mark Owens book some years ago.

 

I love your photos too, beautiful. You cant write too much on the KTP. I will lap it all up.

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@@Sangeeta

 

no you cannot digress, you have to follow the ranger...in the entire park, both ZA and Botswana side, you have to stay on the designated routes, unless of course you are with a ranger; safety is a top priority, at least on the ZA side, whenever you leave a camp to go on a drive, you are supposed to pick up your permit and tell the staff which way you are heading

 

however, I don't have any more details about the EcoTrail, except those I have shared - I've never done it because we usually only rent 2x4 and not 4x4

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@@ice , don't you work ? :D Always on safari.

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Panthera Pardus

@@Sangeeta - like ice said you cannot digress. You are driving in deep sand and 4x4 with low range is essential. The trail takes minimum of two and maximum of 5 vehicles. The present cost for the trail is about ZAR2500. The Guide will have all the recovery equipment in case anybody gets stuck or have a breakdown.

 

The trail starts at Twee Rivieren on even months and Nossob on uneven months. Participation is totally self catered, including food, water for drinking, showers and vehicle, firewood, tents and vehicles.Campsites consist of a “long drop”, shower bag. From the starting point to the next refueling point is approximately 300km.

 

May is a wonderful month for the KTP - our first trip to KTP was in May and that was a special trip as we had our first ever brown hyena and honey badger sightings in the wild.

 

@@Eagle Owl - you welcome Eagle Owl and thanks.

 

@@Africalover - you can say that again Africalover, a magic place with one of the most wild experiences

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@@ice , don't you work ? :D Always on safari.

to tell you the truth, during the last negotiation with my boss I told him I'd prefer extra vacation days over a raise in salary - and he agreed, so now I usually have seven weeks a year off ;-)

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@@ice,nearly as bad as Jochen,he is always on safari. :P

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Panthera Pardus

Ice - good plan B)

 

A&M - we are practically neighbours. We just live up the road from Kyalami in Thatchfield, Centurion.

 

Grootkolk Wilderness Camp.

Grootkolk means Big Ridge. There are only 4 units in the camp and they are known as Desert Cabins. Each unit accommodates two people so a maximum of 8 people in the camp. It is very poular and bookings open 11 months in advance and are taken up within hours for high season and within days for the rest of the year. The present rate is ZAR1135 per night. For this you get a bedroom, WC, shower, equipped kitchen, fridge, gas stove, braai (barbecue).

 

The units overlook a waterhole. The waterhole is lit up from dusk for about 3 hours. In the next installment I will show you the visitors you can expect at the waterhole, first the accommodation.

 

The parking area with the cabin in the background

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The kitchen area

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cabin - front view

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the waterhole is to the left of the tree and the flood light is in the tree.

grootkolkbraai_zps4d72e583.jpg

 

 

 

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@@Panthera Pardus - Thanks a lot for starting this thread. We have booked the following camps in KTP for December 2013. We had to cancel a similar (but longer) itinerary a few years ago and had always wanted to visit KTP since then. I hope you won't mind if I get back to you and Sharifa with more specific questions as we start planning this trip. I am sure, between you two and @@ice, I will get the best advise.

 

You are right, I did call to book on the day the bookings opened :)

 

BTW - I have read yours and Sharifa's reports on SANParks forum with interest and they have been very helpful in planning our KNP trip. We came back just 2 weeks ago. Matt - report coming soon :)

 

Our plan in KTP is - KK - 2 nights, Nossob - 1 night, Grootkolk - 2 nights, Nossob - 1 night. Not nearly enough but this will have to do for now.

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Panthera Pardus

@@Kavita - looking forward to your KNP report. Yes, you can contact us for any specific questions you have.

 

Grootkolk, Nossob and Kieliekrankie - you going to have a great time Kativa. :)

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Panthera Pardus

An important point I missed. None of the Wilderness Camps have electricity. The fridge and stove are gas powered. Lights are solar powered. Carry extra memory cards - you will need them, and also extra batteries or an inverter in the car to charge your camera/video batteries.

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two other things regarding the wilderness camps:

 

a1) they are unfenced (I think this has been mentioned before)

 

a2) SANParks strictly enforces a 2 persons per unit maximum rule; a rule I find totally stupid because that means if you are travelling as a party of 3 or 5, you automatically have to book an extra unit

Edited by ice
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Panthera Pardus

Yep, the two per unit is non negotiable and no persons under 12 allowed in the Wilderness Camps

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Panthera Pardus

The dilemma of staying at Grootkolk is whether you go out for a drive or you just sit on the porch and enjoy the birdlife and wait for the animals to come to you. Grootkolk has little water baths for the birds and you will see the following:

 

Violet eared waxbill

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Black faced waxbill

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Shaft tailed Whydah, which is a brood parasite, the host is the violet eared waxbill. The male Whydah also mimics the song of the waxbill

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Scaly feathered finch

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Sociable weavers

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Red headed Finch and red billed quelea

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Yellow Canary

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Red eyed bulbul

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of the little things you will get the elephant shrew, striped mice,

 

yellow mongoose and

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we even had this African Wild cat visit once

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