Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park General Information

Africa's first formally declared trans-border conservation area, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, on the border of South Africa and Botswana, was officially launched on May 12, 2000 by then South African President Thabo Mbeki and Botswana President Festus Mogae.

The combined land area of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is +/-38,000 km² of which 28,400 km² lies in Botswana and 9,600 km² lies in South Africa. 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.

Because of the sparse vegetation and concentration of animals in the dry riverbeds of the Auob and Nossob Rivers, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers premium wildlife viewing destinations anywhere. It is especially renowned for predator watching and for the seasonal movement of large herbivores such as blue wildebeest, springbok, eland and red hartebeest.

Ground Squirrel and Suricate (Meerkat) are two more of the park’s more prominent species. Both these ground dwelling species live in large family groups for added protection and can easily be seen throughout the park. Honey Badger (Ratel), Pangolin (Scaly Anteater) and Bat-eared Fox are some of the park specials to search for.

But it is the predators that are the park’s biggest attraction. Excellent chances of seeing cheetah, leopard, brown and spotted hyena and the definitive black-maned lion exist.


Travel Times

Maximum travel speed is 50km/hr. 20km/hr or less suggested for gameviewing.
Twee Rivieren - Mata-Mata 3.5hrs
Twee Rivieren - Nossob 4.5hrs
Twee Rivieren - Grootkolk 7.5hrs
Twee Rivieren - Urikaruus 2.5hrs
Twee Rivieren - Kieliekrankie 1.5hrs
Nossob - Grootkolk 3hrs
Nossob - Union's End 3.5hrs
Nossob - Bitterpan 3.5hrs
Nossob - Mata-Mata 4.5hrs
Nossob - Gharagab 4hrs


Park Facilities & Accommodation in 2016

Being part of the KTP, both South Africa and Botswana benefit by the raised international profile of the park and most importantly by guaranteeing the long-term conservation of the valuable wildlife resources and their natural migratory patterns, thus helping to maintain the integrity of the Kalahari ecosystem. 

The park is one of SANParks’ top performing and financially sustainable parks and includes three rest camps and six wilderness camps, with a total of 97 accommodation units and 81 campsites available.

Twee Rivieren is the largest of the rest camps and the southern entrance to the park, as well as a South African tourist access facility. Other tourism structures include a restaurant, shop, swimming pool, and petrol station. Open vehicle game drives are also conducted from the camp.

The second largest camp is Nossob. The camp is situated in the middle of the park between
Twee Rivieren and Union’s End, on the banks of the Nossob River and includes accommodation, a shop, petrol station, information centre and a game hide overlooking a waterhole. Open vehicle game drives are also being conducted.

The third rest camp is Mata Mata, which is situated on the banks of the Auob River on the Namibian border northwest of Twee Rivieren. Facilities include accommodation, a shop, petrol station, Namibian tourist access facility and game hide overlooking a waterhole. 

The six unfenced wilderness camps are KieliekrankieUrikaruus, Kalahari Tented Camp, Bitterpan, Gharagab and Grootkolk

The park offers a four day, 4 x 4 Eco-trail that runs through the dunes between Twee Rivieren and Polentswa, north of Nossob rest camp with three overnight campsites at Swartbas, Rosyntjiebos and Witgat. 

The park also has six picnic sites at Kamqua, Melkvlei, Dikbaardskolk, Lijersdraai, Union’s End and a museum / picnic site at Auchterlonie.

There were a total of 40, 084 visitors in 2014 / 2015, of which 7, 918 were day and 32, 166 overnight visitors. Of these, 23.44% were International visitors, 2.32% from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and 74.24% local. Of the 29, 759 South African visitors most originate from the Western Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape, and only 2.99% of these visitors were black. 

Of the 9, 397 International visitors most originate from Germany, The Netherlands, France, and Switzerland and of the 928 SADC visitors most are from Namibia.

During 2014 / 2015 financial year, the park achieved 89.4% unit occupancy with 31, 436 units occupied which is significantly higher than SANParks’ average of 60.5%. Campsite occupancy achieved was 78.0%. The number of visitors participating in offered activities totalled 5,166 seats sold on game drives and day walks. There were 217 participants in the guided 4 x 4 Ecotrail.

The !Xaus Lodge which opened in July 2007 as part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, is owned by the Khomani San and Mier communities, and is the first fully catered luxury lodge to be located in the park. Whilst the park is performing exceptionally well, it is limited in terms of growth potential, due to an agreement with Botswana that limits tourism accommodation development.

River Systems

The southern Kalahari lies about 900 m above sea level with a gentle south westerly slope. The area is drained by the Nossob, Auob, Molopo and Kuruman Rivers. 

Both the Nossob and Auob Rivers have their sources in the Anas Mountains near Windhoek, Namibia. They flow south east joining 6 km north of Twee Rivieren and continue on as the Nossob to the Molopo and Kuruman Rivers outside the park 60 km to the south, which flow in from the east. 

There they become the Molopo River continuing to flow south towards the Orange River. At Noenieput sand dunes have blocked its course for at least the last 1, 000 years. The rivers are predominantly dry, only flowing for short periods after abnormally high rainfall. 

The Auob and Nossob rivers differ in that the Auob cuts a steep sided, narrow valley (100 m - 500 m wide) through the calcrete along its entire course, while the Nossob flows in a shallow, sandy trough until it cuts through the calcrete near Kameelsleep windmill south of which it continues in a similar form to the Auob. 

Both these rivers are relics of a wetter epoch and often referred to as “fossil” rivers or “dry” rivers. 

Recorded floods for the Auob and Nossob Rivers are scanty, but the former is known to have flooded in 1933 – 34 and the latter in 1806, 1933 – 34, 1963 and 1987 (Nash 1996). Within the predominantly sandy southern Kalahari the availability of natural supplies of drinking water is strictly seasonal, being restricted to the harder bottomed pans and fossil riverbeds for short periods during the rainy season. 

In historical times the region was generally devoid of water in the dry season. The indigenous wildlife had to either move to permanent sources of drinking water or use alternative sources such as underground storage organs or melons. 

Human settlement around the periphery of the park interferes with the natural movement patterns of wildlife. It was believed that this interference prevented access to permanent natural water sources and, to compensate, artificial water points, fed from boreholes, was introduced (Parris 1983). 88 Boreholes have been erected within the park, predominantly along the riverbeds of which only 68 are active. The water in the boreholes are often highly mineralised.