By Siva Madhavan
Siva loves travelling, here he details his Kalahari trip..
Before my visit to the Kalahari, my mental image of the landscape was a barren desert of rolling sand dunes with hardly any life form. The reality could not be more different. When I visited the Kaglagadi Trans-frontier Park (KTP) in the northwest corner of South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, I was stunned by the beauty of the place and the variety of wildlife.
The KTP is a semi arid region, covering 36000 hectares spanning South Africa and Botswana. While about one third of the park is in RSA, access to the Botswana section of the park does not require a passport unless one intends to exit through the Botswana gates. Essentially two rivers run across the park; the Aoub from northwest to southeast and the Nossob from north to south. Both rivers are usually dry; The Aoub runs once in 11 years and the Nossob once in 50. However, after the rains, both the rivers have lush green grass which provides food for the herbivores and they in turn attract the carnivores.
For visitors from RSA, the easiest gate for entering the park is the Twee Rivieren gate, which is about a 2 hours drive on a tarmac road from Upington. South African Airways operates regular flights from Johannesburg to Upington, which takes about an hour. Upington airport has car hire facilities. The roads in the park are gravelled and usually a 2-wheel drive is sufficient; however a higher vehicle has the advantage of better game viewing.
There are three main camps run by Sanparks (www.sanparks.org) in the RSA section of KTP. The Twee Rivieren camp is right next to the Twee Rivieren gate and consists of self catering chalets as well as camping facilities. There is a shop and a restaurant at this camp. Mata Mata rest camp is about 120 kms northwest of Twee Rivieren along the Aoub River and has self catering accommodation (the premium chalets overlook a waterhole) and a shop, but no restaurant. Nossob camp is north of Twee Rivieren and lies along the Nossob River.
Activities of Kaglagadi
The wildlife in Kaglagadi is very rich, the prime attraction being the black mane lion. The other predators are the cheetah, brown hyena, bat ear fox and African wild cat. Other mammals are the springbok, gemsbok, giraffe and the hartebeest. There are also a large variety of birds, including birds of prey.
Game drives can be self driven, which mainly consists of driving along the Aoub and Nossob Rivers, as well as two cross roads connecting the two rivers at different points. The camps also organise night drives as well as walking safaris which are great experiences. Both are highly recommended since they offer a completely different perspective of the flora and fauna compared to a daytime self drive
Nearby Places To Visit
About 100 kms west of Upington is the Augarbies falls, created by the Orange River emptying itself down a 56 meter ravine. The view is spectacular, especially after the summer rains. Self catering accommodation is provided by Sanparks right next to the falls. Activities include lovely treks, canoeing and biking.
I recommend staying 1 night at Augarbies, 2 nights at Mata Mata and 1 night at Twee Rivieren camps. It may also pay off investing in the Lonely Planet guide for South Africa, which provides practical information of immense use.
SIVA MADHAVAN works as Financial Director of Savouries, Spreads and Dressings Division Unilever – when travel bug has not bitten him to explore some new parts of Africa.