THE KGALAGADI TRANSFRONTIER PARK

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INTRODUCTION

Our campsite at Nossob rest camp.


Having attended AB and Natasha's wedding in Pretoria in April 2003, we decided to make the most of the nearly 2,000 kilometre trip and, on our return, make a detour via the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (previously known as the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park). The park is situated in the Northern Cape province, in the part of South Africa that sticks out like a wedge in between Namibia and Botswana.

The park is fenced along the Namibian border, but the Botswana border, which follows the Nossob river, has never been fenced. The border is marked by concrete blocks planted every kilometre or so along the middle of the riverbed, with one side inscribed "RSA" and the other "RB". The largest part of the park lies in the southwestern part of Botswana. During the Kalahari Gemsbok Park era, public access from South Africa was restricted to the South African part of the park, but since it has been made a transfrontier park, access to the Botswana side has also become possible, but restricted to 4x4 vehicles, and without a passport unless one decides to leave the park on the Botwana side or vice versa.

The Auob river also flows (hardly ever, though.....) though the park, and the two main roads in the park follow the dry riverbeds. One route follows the Auob river in a more or less northwesterly direction from Twee Rivieren (two rivers) rest camp where the Auob "flows" into the Nossob, up to Mata Mata rest camp on the Namibian border. The other follows the Nossob river in a more or less northerly direction from Twee Rivieren up to Nossob rest camp, and then on along the river to Union's End, where the Namibia and Botswana borders meet. Two additional routes run across the permanent dunes to connect the two river routes, and there are also some 2x4 routes that were opened to public access upon the park's transformation into a transfrontier park. Union's End, the northern end of the South African part of the park, is not a town, just the point on the map where the old Union of South Africa "ended" between South West Africa (Namibia) and Bechuanaland (Botswana). About ten kilometres back along the road there is a picnic spot that's also named Union's End.

Of all the big game parks in Southern Africa that I've already visited several times (the huge Kruger National Park - larger than Israel - in the Mpumalanga lowveld, Pilanesberg National Park near Sun City and Ben Alberts Game Reserve at Thabazimbi, both in the North West province, Mkuze Game Reserve in Natal, Etosha Pan in northern Namibia and Hwange in north western Zimbabwe), the Kgalagadi is my favourite. The Kalahari region is a semi-desert and vegetation is mostly sparse grass with few trees, so one can really SEE the animals.

But enough of the chatter, you're probably here to see what we've seen, so on to some pictures. If you do want to find out more about the Kgalagadi park, try their website. Or just ask me, I might have some of the answers.....


THE BIGGER BIRDS

The Pygmy Falcon (Bleeksingvalk) is usually seen atop a tree like this from where it has a good view. Their main prey is the little Sociable Weavers that are known for their HUGE communal nests. At first glance I often mistake this falcon for a huge pigeon.

Here we have a Blue Crane (BloukraanvoŽl) having a drink at one of the dams along one of the dune roads in the park. Many of the waterholes are still fed by windmills, but quite a large number have lately been converted to solar-powered pumps. I can't say I really like these solar-powered contraptions, since the old windmills were much less visually intrusive than these brand new and glaringly reflective affairs.

The Redcrested Korhaan, a bustard, is the loudest mouthed bird I've ever encountered. It makes an extremely loud "kraack-kraack-kraack" sound and can frighten one right out of one's boots when walking in the veld.

The Bateleur Eagle (Berghaan) is our most beautiful eagle, but these two youngsters are not yet big enough to have earned their colours.

The Kori Bustard (Gompou) is one of the larger birds found in the park.

The Ostrich (Volstruis), the largest bird on earth, cannot fly. This male is doing his mating ritual - if he stirs up enough dust, the two ladies are sure to take notice.

On the ground the Vulture (AasvoŽl) is not a pretty sight, and its ungainly hopping walk is not very dignified. But in the air it's a different story - these guys can give flying lessons to almost any other bird. They can stay in the air for hours on end while hardly ever flapping their wings, by riding the air currents.

When it comes to elegance, no other bird is in the same class as the Secretary Bird (SekretarisvoŽl). It's slow and elegant manner of walking reminds one of a model parading designer outfits.

Since we're here for a drink, how about some dancing too?

Or shall we leave the partying for later and get on with the secretary convention?

The Secretary Bird is a big bird and it almost needs a runway to take off and land. Its landings are usually not nearly as elegant as its walk.


INDEX

To the other Kgalagadi pages:

The Herbivores
The Carnivores

To the rest of my website:

Front Page
Accommodation (Sea-Spray Self Catering Holiday Flat)
The Story of a Kalahari Telephone Pole
The Chessie System in N Scale, & Decoder Installation Guides
The Langkloof Apple Express
Introducing Ourselves
Some Links to Other Websites
Travel Photography Webring by lbobke
Travel Photography Forum
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Vacation & Travel Webring
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Created on 7 September 2003. Last updated on 21 September 2011.