Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Travel Guide

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a large wildlife preserve and conservation area in southern Africa. The park straddles the border between South Africa and Botswana and comprises two adjoining national parks: Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park of South Africa

Kgalagadi means place of thirst. The park is located largely within the southern Kalahari Desert. The terrain consists of red sand dunes, sparse vegetation, occasional trees, and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob Rivers. The rivers are said to flow only about once per century.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park of South Africa

However, water flows underground and provides life for grass and camelthorn trees growing in the river beds. The rivers may flow briefly after large thunderstorms, a cause for celebration among the wildlife, who will flock to the river beds and slake their eternal thirst.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park of South Africa

The park has abundant, varied wildlife. It is home to large mammalian predators such as black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. Migratory herds of large herbivores such as blue wildebeest, springbok, eland, and red hartebeest also live and move seasonally within the park, providing sustenance for the predators.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park of South Africa

The weather in the Kalahari can reach extremes. January is midsummer in southern Africa and the daytime temperatures are often in excess of 40°C (104°F). Winter nights can be quite cold with temperatures below freezing. Extreme temperatures of -11° C and up to 45°C have been recorded. Precipitation is sparse in this desert area.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park of South Africa

Within the park there are three traditional tourist lodges, called "rest camps". These are fully serviced lodges and include amenities such as air conditioning, shops and swimming pools. There are also six wilderness camps in the park. The wilderness camps provide little more than shelter and wash water; visitors must supply their own food, drinking water and firewood.

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