Jump to content

Tails and Tales from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park


Morkel Erasmus
 Share

Recommended Posts

Morkel Erasmus

Since this Park seems to be under-represented here in the Trip Reports forum, and since I visit for 1 to 3 weeks every year, I thought I would start a thread where I could share bits and pieces from my trips over the years to this lovely and spell-binding place. All of these are self-drive, although there are new lodges opening up now which would open the place up to people who want to be catered for on a higher level of luxury than normal chalets or "rough camping". Whether we as Kgalagadi purists agree with this approach is debatable (for selfish reasons of course - keeping the experience wild).

 

Let the Kalahari magic begin! Anyone who has been is welcome to add images and stories to the thread...

 

Oh, and I am headed there in 3 weeks again! :D

post-14617-0-26547300-1383915032_thumb.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Morkel Erasmus these lodges sound interesting. It is difficult to do any sort of camping (rough or otherwise) as an overseas visitor in a rental...Any idea when they might be opening?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

First up...to get an idea of the special kind of sighting that can be enjoyed in the Kgalagadi with minimal tourist levels, check out this one (not mine)!!

 

Hint: Leopard vs African Wild Cat.

 

http://www.wildcard.co.za/blog.htm?action=view-post&id=4626

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

@@Tdgraves there are a great many overseas tourist who come just for that - hire a rental 4x4 with rooftop tent and all the equipment you need and go for it :)

 

Here is the website for the lodges - I think the Rooiputs lodge is already operational with Polentswa soon to follow.

 

http://tashebube.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Morkel Erasmus

 

@@Tdgraves there are a great many overseas tourist who come just for that - hire a rental 4x4 with rooftop tent and all the equipment you need and go for it :)


Maybe i just like my creature comforts too much ;)

However, i am now considering ta shebube instead of kruger in jan - i see it is low season - do you still think it is a good time to go?

Ps your sighting wad indeed epic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the best sequences I've seen, perhaps you can be forgiven the rookie mistake. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

@@Tdgraves January is one of the BEST times for the Kgalagadi! The whole period from October to February is IMHO the best season. It's piping hot, reaching 50 degrees celcius on some days - though at Ta Shebube you should probably have airconditioning in your room ;) - plus it's a dry kind of hot, where Kruger in January is humid and pressing and steamy. In the Kgalagadi, shade still provides respite...in Kruger not! :)

 

From October to early December the thunderstorms start teasing here and there and mostly in the distance. It's cork dry and animals flock to the waterholes, with surrounding vegetation almost non-existent which makes for awesome photography. From mid December to end February the rains really come and you will see a semi-desert carpeted with short green grass and an array of wildflowers, with excellent visibility and sightings still to be had. You will also have the bonus of seeing dramatic skies and thunderstorms which add a lot to your photos.

 

The cheetah photo below was taken in February/March 2012...the lions in October 2010.

post-14617-0-61736400-1384153483_thumb.jpg

post-14617-0-91610600-1384153500_thumb.jpg

Edited by Morkel Erasmus
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

One of the best sequences I've seen, perhaps you can be forgiven the rookie mistake. :)

 

Thanks Hilary (@twaffle)... ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Tdgraves January is one of the BEST times for the Kgalagadi! The whole period from October to February is IMHO the best season. It's piping hot, reaching 50 degrees celcius on some days - though at Ta Shebube you should probably have airconditioning in your room ;) - plus it's a dry kind of hot, where Kruger in January is humid and pressing and steamy. In the Kgalagadi, shade still provides respite...in Kruger not! :)

 

From October to early December the thunderstorms start teasing here and there and mostly in the distance. It's cork dry and animals flock to the waterholes, with surrounding vegetation almost non-existent which makes for awesome photography. From mid December to end February the rains really come and you will see a semi-desert carpeted with short green grass and an array of wildflowers, with excellent visibility and sightings still to be had. You will also have the bonus of seeing dramatic skies and thunderstorms which add a lot to your photos.

 

The cheetah photo below was taken in February/March 2012...the lions in October 2010.

 

thanks @@Morkel Erasmus

SOLD!

Now I have to persuade hubbie that the extra money and 11 hour drive from Joberg is worth it.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Tdgraves I've been following the progress of the Ta Shebube camps with interest, and have been considering visiting them.

 

Both Rooiputs and Polentswa are now open. Not sure when Union's End is expected to open.

 

There are some photos of the camps on Expert Africa's website-

http://www.expertafrica.com/south-africa/kgalagadi-transfrontier-park/ta-shebube-rooiputs

http://www.expertafrica.com/south-africa/kgalagadi-transfrontier-park/ta-shebube-polentswa

 

I'm pretty sure they won't have aircon. I don't think aircon is really feasible in anywhere with canvas walls and no mains electricity supply.

 

I've found a trip report from some people who visited the camps here-

http://www.kruger-2-kalahari.com/kgalagadi-trip-report-august-2013.html

http://www.kruger-2-kalahari.com/rooiputs-luxury-lodge.html

http://www.kruger-2-kalahari.com/polentswa-tented-camp.html

 

Would you be planning on driving to the camps and staying on a "self drive basis" ie doing your own game drives? If not then driving 11 hours from JNB wouldn't make sense. You can fly into Upington and get a road or air transfer into the park, and stay in the camps in an all inclusive basis with game drives included.

 

On time of year, I found these comments by @@Morkel Erasmus very useful-

http://photography.wild-eye.co.za/a-reason-for-every-season-in-the-kgalagadi/

 

Morkel- I've also been considering a trip to the Kgalagadi, which if I did it would be in the Jan-April time frame. When would you prefer within that range? It sounds like Jan/Feb? I note in the above link, you mention that, at that time of year, predators might be inactive in the shade until after dark, due to the heat. That sounds like the biggest downside to me. Do you think March-April would be better? Or are there pros of January that outweigh the heat and its effect on the animals?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thanks @@stokeygirl I hadn't managed to find any photos as yet

there seems little point using their self-driving rate as you are not allowed to drive yourself around their concession and the additional 2 game drives puts the price up to the fully inclusive rate anyway

 

We already have a hire car booked so it'd be a waste to leave it in jo'berg and the flights to upington are over £500 plus the flight/road transfer would mean around £1000 each. So I figured driving would be the best option.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

 

thanks @@Morkel Erasmus

SOLD!

Now I have to persuade hubbie that the extra money and 11 hour drive from Joberg is worth it.....

 

 

:D @@Tdgraves you can always fly to Upington from JHB and then get a local operator to transfer you the last 250km northwards to KTP. Not sure that this wouldn't cost much more than driving all the way but worth investigating as it takes you off the road for 9 hours and also you don't need a vehicle if you will be driven around by the Ta Shebube guides...

:)

 

EDIT: okay saw your last comment so strike this one from the roll :o

Edited by Morkel Erasmus
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

On time of year, I found these comments by @@Morkel Erasmus very useful-

http://photography.wild-eye.co.za/a-reason-for-every-season-in-the-kgalagadi/

 

Morkel- I've also been considering a trip to the Kgalagadi, which if I did it would be in the Jan-April time frame. When would you prefer within that range? It sounds like Jan/Feb? I note in the above link, you mention that, at that time of year, predators might be inactive in the shade until after dark, due to the heat. That sounds like the biggest downside to me. Do you think March-April would be better? Or are there pros of January that outweigh the heat and its effect on the animals?

 

@@stokeygirl - glad someone reads my ranblings LOL :D

 

March/April would be better temperature-wise yes...but by then (normally - assuming normal rainfall season) the grass would have grown quite a bit by then which could impede visibility. Also, if the rains fall better on the Botswana side then animals might move from the riverbeds altogether and stay away for some time. There was a period after heavy Easter rains in late April/May this year where very little in the way of predators were seen in the Nossob or Auob riverbeds because of good rains in Bots.

 

What I said about summer temperature and its effect on predators can be restated/boiled down to this:

In the early mornings they are VERY active.

In late afternoons you will often find lions still lying down until it's time to leave for camp (which you won't necessarily have to do when staying at Ta Shebube), but cheetahs are very active late afternoons (probably because of the lions' added laziness as they are mortal enemies in the Kgalagadi, with lions the main culprit behind Cheetah mortality rates).

 

But then again - there are very few "rules" with wildlife...just my experience up to now. :o

 

 

Oh - and here's another teaser. In my mind there is only TWO other prides where you can see lions who are equally handsome to these Kalahari lions...and that is in the Busanga Pride, and the Marsh Pride (Notch and sons) of the Mara. ;)

This boy is called Mufasa Junior and is the king of the pride that roams in a 10km radius around Rooiputs, so right where you might be staying...

post-14617-0-87279600-1384167538_thumb.jpg

Edited by Morkel Erasmus
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Morkel.

In general, the Jan timeframe would fit better with my other plans. However, Easter is early April (this would be 2015 not 2014), and would offer the chance to squeeze an extra couple of days on safari out of my annual leave allowance!

 

But you have talked me round to January.

 

Those lions definitely are a draw.........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

He's a stunning looking lion!

 

Indeed! You will notice he looks lean...I've found most KTP lions to look leaner than lions found elsewhere due to frequency of meals and the distances they roam in order to get to enough food and water. But the mane is where it's all at for KTP lions ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

Thanks Morkel.

In general, the Jan timeframe would fit better with my other plans. However, Easter is early April (this would be 2015 not 2014), and would offer the chance to squeeze an extra couple of days on safari out of my annual leave allowance!

 

But you have talked me round to January.

 

Those lions definitely are a draw.........

 

I agree, there are times that suit me better leave-wise, but other than that I prefer going this time of the year. We are actually going there soon in an Etosha-KTP combo trip for 17 days (me and wife and kids driving all the way ;)).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh - and here's another teaser. In my mind there is only TWO other prides where you can see lions who are equally handsome to these Kalahari lions...and that is in the Busanga Pride, and the Marsh Pride (Notch and sons) of the Mara. ;)

 

 

I think that some Ngorongoro Crater lions are not slouch either.....

 

 

Indeed - haven't seen recent photos of any so my bad :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Morkel Erasmus

Also take note that although Ta Shebube has concession roads, they are probably on the Botswana side in the dunes. There are animals there but in the dry months and early summer the activity will be in the riverbeds, where you will have to contend with "self-drive" tourists like myself (I behave) and others (who will probably behave but there are some who are silly). Still, at our epic lion kill sighting I linked to above, there were at most 6 vehicles around at any time. I've had amazing sightings all on my own or with only 2 vehicles (if you count me) around. You can't compare this to the experience in Southern Kruger ;)

 

Note on temperature in summer:

What I said in the blog post is true. Last year ambient temperature around sunset was still low-30s high-20s due to the heated ground after a long sunny day. Thundershowers cool this off nicely most days though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't mind heat for myself (unless it's a walking safari, which this won't be). Much prefer it to cold and you wouldn't catch me there in winter. Minus 7- no thanks!!

 

Easter has other downsides too- I guess the area would be busier, the camps probably busier and the flights more expensive. I'd prefer a more off season time, to be honest, unless I desperately need the extra couple of days of public holidays to make the trip happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Erasmus

Nice Tripreport and nice photos.

But very sad to read tjhat more lodges a moving in, especially Botswana side. If it is not Africas wildlife that is destroyed then it is the wilderness feeling.

 

Michael.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy