Africa's first formally declared trans-border
conservation area - the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) on the border
of South Africa and Botswana - was officially launched on May 12, 2000
by South African President Thabo Mbeki and Botswana President Festus
Transfrontier parks, border parks or
transboundary conservation areas are protected areas that straddle
international boundaries. The
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is such a protected area in the southern
Kalahari Desert. The southern Kalahari represents an increasingly rare
phenomenon: a large ecosystem relatively free from human interference.
The absence of man-made barriers (except to the west and south of the
Park) has provided a conservation area large enough to maintain examples
of two ecological processes that were once widespread in the savannahs
and grasslands of Africa - the large scale migratory movements of wild
ungulates and predation by large mammalian carnivores. These processes
are impossible to maintain except in the largest of areas, and their
presence in the Kalahari makes the system of special value to conservation.
In addition to this, the Kalahari has a particular aesthetic appeal.
The harsh, semi-arid environment has placed adaptive demands on both
fauna and flora that are of considerable scientific interest. Few other
conservation areas have attracted so many research projects. This research
has revealed a widely fluctuating environment, driven by rainfall events
which vary widely in time and space, which produce a system that is difficult
to predict and understand without long-term study.
The significance of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier
Park is that it is the first formally declared Transfrontier Park in
Africa and it will hopefully
serve as a model for conservation in the 21st Century. The Government
of Botswana is keen to make the Transfrontier Park a success. The Peace
Parks Foundation (an NGO dedicated to promoting transfrontier parks in
southern Africa) has played an important role in the development of the
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and provides assistance for the creation
of other transboundary conservation areas in the region.
The combined land area of the KTP is about 38,000 km2 of
which 28,400 km2 lies in Botswana and 9,600
km2 in South Africa.
Kgalagadi means "land of thirst" and
the huge, desert landscape is part of the Kalahari Desert - the largest
continuous area of sand in the world. It is characterised by red sand
dunes and sparse vegetation and is home to black-maned Kalahari lions,
leopards, cheetah, spotted hyaena, wild dog, black-backed jackal, gemsbok,
blue wildebeest, eland, springbok, red hartebeest, duiker and steenbok.
Some 215 bird species have been recorded. The
area also has significant archaeological significance and traces to
Stone Age human activity have been found.
The park caters for all kinds of
tourists including those who want to take the city to the wilderness
and those who want to escape from city life to the wilderness. There
are six-bed cottages at three rest-camps namely Twee Rivieren, Mata Mata,
and Nossob on the South African side. The cottages at Twee Rivieren are
air-conditioned but at Mata Mata and Nossob they are not.
For those who prefer the wild, the park offers camping at these camping
grounds: Two Rivers, Rooiputs and Polentswa. These places offer basic
amenities like ablution blocks and shade structures but at Polentswa
the campers are required to provide themselves with water. The Mabuasehube area of the Park also offers camping at 7 camping grounds
namely Mabuasehube Entrance, Monamodi, Leshaloago, Mpaathutlwa, Mabuasehube
Pan, Khiding Pan, and Bosobogolo Pan.
You do not need to take a passport to use the Transfrontier Park. You
may enter from either country and enjoy all the facilities. However,
you must return into the country from which you came. There are plans
to set up a common entry point with customs and immigration facilities
so that tourists may enter from one county and leave the park into the
other country but it is likely to take a year or two before this facility
is in place.
Tourists are now permitted to make a trip to the transfrontier park and
to stay on both sides of the park. However, it is still necessary to
make separate bookings with Reservations Offices in the respective countries,
for the periods spent in each country.
The Mabuasehube ('red earth' in
Segologa) area of the Park on the Botswanan side is one of the world's
largest and most pristine wildernesses. This is the one area in Botswana
where you'll see the shifting sand dunes that many mistakenly believe
to be typical of the Kalahari. The Mabuasehube area focuses on three
major pans and several minor ones. Each pan is flanked by
southern and western edges. The largest pan, Mabuasehube, is used as
a salt lick by itinerant herds of Eland and Gemsbok.
Further south is the grassy Bosobogolo Pan, which attracts Springbok
as well as Lion, Cheetah, Brown Hyena and Wild Dog. There are also five
other large pan complexes and a number of smaller ones. Vegetation highlights
include several Acacia species.
Mabuasehube is best visited in late winter and early spring when herds
of Eland and Gemsbok migrate out from the Gemsbok section (Botswana
side) of the park.
Kalahari Gemsbok (South Africa side)
The former Kalahari Gemsbok National
Park on the South African side is characterized by a semi-desert landscape
of Kalahari dunes, Camelthorn-dotted grasslands and the dry beds of the
Auob and Nossob Rivers.
Most of the wildlife lives in the river valleys
or around the pans and animals move freely between the Botswana and South
African sides. Springbok and Gemsbok are most common, but there's also
the occasional herd of Blue Wildebeest. Eland inhabit the sandy dune areas
and you might see Red Hartebeest around the northern end of the Nossob
River. This area also has a full compliment of predators, including Lion,
Leopard, Wild Dogs, Jackal and both Brown and Spotted Hyena. There are
also 238 bird species present with 44 being birds of prey.
All that are missing are the indigenous people, the San, who were displaced
when the original park was created in 1931; they're petitioning the South
African government for the right to return to their traditional lifestyle
within the park.
to Map of Kgalagadi Return
to Map of South Africa
/ Land Activity Table for Botswana camps: Water/Land
Times between Botswana camps: Fly
further information about Botswana, click More
further information about South Africa, click More