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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Safari Information

Kgalagadi Porcupine Kalahari Gemsboks Camelthorn Tree in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Kalahari Black-maned Lion
Return to Map of Kgalagadi

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 Mogae.

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.

Mabuasehube (Botswana side)

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 beautiful red dunes up to 30m high on their 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, Cheetah, 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.

Top           Return to Map of Kgalagadi           Return to Map of South Africa

Water / Land Activity Table for Botswana camps:  Water/Land Botswana
Flying Times between Botswana camps:  Fly Times Botswana

For further information about Botswana, click More Botswana
For further information about South Africa, click More South Africa

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