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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is an escapist wilderness of sand dunes, desert-adapted lions and migratory herds. It is one of Southern Africa’s beautiful safari secrets.

Highlights of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Two black-backed jackals drinking from a waterhole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

A Safari in South Africa and Botswana

Animals cross unmarked international borders in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The park was created by merging South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok park with Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park.

The park has many highlights, especially for anyone on a self-drive holiday through Southern Africa.

So much space!

Herd of gemsbok walking in the dry Auob river bed, Kgalagadi

It is difficult to appreciate the size until you get there. Kgalagadi spans more than 38,000 square kilometres! The park only receives a handful of daily visitors, so you can really get out and connect with your wild side.

You will find solace and seclusion here, although the park is never absolutely silent. Even in such a wild desert you can find life, notably arid specialists such as gemsbok and springbok.

Kgalagadi’s desert beauty

Kgalagadi desert beauty at sunset

Kgalagadi translates as “the place of thirst.” Local fables suggest that its rivers only flow once a century!

The harsh desert climate is unforgiving, so a safari in winter is recommended, between June and September.

Yet this desert landscape evokes so many superlatives. Red dunes and ochre scrub blur upon the horizon. Camel thorn trees stand like sentinels. Lions wander sand-filled basins.

It is a park worthy of exploration even if you don’t see the animals. Just to set up camp in such a wilderness makes Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park worthy of any detour.

Animals that move with the seasons

Black-maned lion walking in the Kalahari

Kgalagadi’s main wildlife highlights are antelope herds. Gemsbok travel in large numbers, as do eland and blue wildebeest.

Springbok don’t need to drink as they take their water from vegetation. You can often encounter herds of more than a thousand springbok on the dusty plains.

Predators in Kgalagadi have an abnormally large range. Although there are less than in other Botswana and South Africa safari destinations, searching for them on your own is always an adventure.

Desert-adapted lions are also a wonderful highlight. In addition, this is one of very few parks where you can see both spotted hyena and brown hyena.

Leopards and cheetahs are present but don’t count on seeing them. Such secretive and solitary animals are always a challenging sight on such large landscapes.

Planning a Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Safari

Leopard tortoise crosses the road in front of a jeep, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The park is really out of the way for a Botswana safari. However, it is a great place to stop on route between South Africa and Namibia, or South Africa and Botswana’s Kalahari.

Self-sufficient campers can utilise the many campsites in the park – you will need a rooftop tent to ensure safety from the predators. It is best to plan a route at the park gate, so staff can advise you on seasonal areas with most wildlife.

You can also drive to the park and go on game drives operated by park authorities.

There are no scheduled safari flights as Kgalagadi is really an overlander’s destination.

You can see plenty of wildlife without a guide, because of sparse vegetation and concentrated animal populations.

So Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park can be the safari expedition you are dreaming of.