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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park


Home -> Reviews & Tips -> Trip Reviews -> Kgalagadi 2007



In June 2007 we went for a week long trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Since it was winter a lot of the pans were barren which meant that the wildlife was scattered over a larger area and therefore less frequently encountered, however, the birdlife, spectacular scenery and road conditions more than made up for this! We had never before been to the Kgalagadi so we wanted to experience as much of it as we could in a short space of time. This involved over 2500km of travelling in just five days including covering the 170km from Mabuasehube to Nossob twice in 2 days!

The Botswana side of the park is split into two sections - the calcrete pans of Mabuasehube and the sandy dunes to the west in what was formerly the Gemsbok National Park. The calcrete pans attract the usual Kalahari antelope such as Gemsbok, Springbok, Hartebeest and Wildebeest as well as providing suitable habitat for Cheetah and the impressive Kalahari Lions. The bushveld surrounding the pans is home to Kudu and Eland as well as smaller mammals such as Mongeese and Suricates.
Although not as good for wildlife the dunes to the west are nevertheless worth visiting with unique scenery and challenging roads adding to the wilderness experience. The numerous gerbil and vlei-rat holes suggests a healthy population of snakes, raptors, jackals, foxes and honey badgers particularly in the summer months when the dunes are covered in grasses and the rodent population peaks.
The South African side of the park is a different experience altogether with well developed camps resulting in much higher tourist numbers and, as a result, the roads, particularly near Nossob and Twee Rivieren, can become quite busy. Although not tarred the roads are navigable in non-4x4 vehicles which makes this section of the park more accessible for the less adventurous. Game viewing is best along the Nossob and Auob river valleys where predators such as Lion, Cheetah and Hyena are regularly seen along with the usual antelope and smaller mammals such as African Wild Cat, Ground Squirrel and the frequently encountered Black-backed Jackal.

Although the wildlife numbers were low compared to other areas at this time of year we still managed to see Lion, Eland, Gemsbok, Springbok, Suricates and Black-backed Jackal to name a few with the highlight being a pair of Aardwolfs on Mabuasehube pan! The scenery along the Mabuasehube - Nossob road was well worth experiencing as were the challenging road conditions, both in this section and on the way in and out of Mabuasehube! Another highlight was the birdlife in the campsites in particular the friendly Redbilled Francolins which paid us a few visits along with the numerous other birds such as Marico Flycatcher, Chestnut-vented Titbabbler, Crimson-breasted Shrike and Yellowbilled Hornbill.


Monday 18th June
Palapye - Gaborone - Tsabong
Left Palapye at 8:30am, after filling up the long range fuel tank, and arrived in Tsabong around 5pm having stopped for lunch along the way. The road from Sekoma to Werda consists of narrow tar however a new road is being constructed which meant we had to use a gravel detour for a few km.
Our camp for the night was Berrybush Farm which is located about 10km outside of Tsabong and is signposted from the road. There are 6 en-suite rooms available as well as a campsite with toilets and hot showers. The campsite consists of a boma area with a stand pipe and braai area with wood provided. Meals are available in the farm house if booked in advance - we had dinner (lehata, stew and salad) and breakfast (poached eggs and mince) both of which were very nice. After dusk the temperature dropped sharply resulting in a cold night in the tents!
Distance travelled: 850km











Tuesday 19th June
Tsabong - Draaihoek - Bosobogolo Pan
After leaving Berrybush we tried to locate somewhere in Tsabong selling diesel but to our dismay none of the filling stations had any available! We were informed that the nearest available supply was in Draaihoek, 100km back towards Gaborone! After realising that there was no alternative we set off for Draaihoek only to see a diesel fuel lorry entering Tsabong so we turned round to follow it back to Tsabong only to be informed that it was filling up the government tanks only! A second lorry arrived and again it contained diesel however this one was bound for Middelpits!! So after wasting time following diesel tankers we set off for Draaihoek (Phepheng) where we were able to get diesel despite the fact that the fuel station consisted of two pumps outside a general dealer!!
Since we were over 100km from Tsabong we decided to go on to Makopong and take the road from Makopong to Mabuasehube which is no further in distance than the road from Tsabong to Mabuasehube that we originally planned to take. The first 40km were not too bad however for the last 60km the road became a very bumpy single track road - it took 2 1/2 hrs to do the 105km to the gate. The delay and poor road condition meant that we didn't arrive at Mabuasehube gate until 3pm.
Since you are not allowed to collect wood from within the park we had to go and search for wood back down the Draaihoek road - we came across an excellent log which we managed to get on to the roof rack. We carried the whole log with us to each campsite as it chopped up nicely into perfectly sized logs - we used the last of it when we reached Kanye on the friday night!
Once in the park we travelled to Bosobogolo via Mpayathutlwa Pan however there was not much wildlife to be seen apart from Suricates in a colony shared with Ground Squirrels and a pair of Yellow Mongeese.
We camped at Bosobogolo Pan where both campsites have a good view of the pan. After braaing some impala chops and chicken we retired early in preparation for our trek to Nossob the next day.
Distance travelled: 240km


















Wednesday 20th June
Bosobogolo Pan - Nossob
After eating breakfast and being entertained by tame Chestnut-vented Titbabblers and Marico Flycatchers, we set off for Nossob. Shortly after leaving Bosobogolo we came across a stunning russet Slender Mongoose which posed nicely for photographs.
From Bosobogolo to the campsites at Matopi 1 & 2 (about 60 and 70km respectively) the road is badly corrugated and passes through quite dense bushveld in parts, however, the last 100km crosses some beautiful dunes with the road becoming very sandy and quite challenging especially when crossing the dunes. The changing landscape provides habitat for Sociable Weavers with their huge nests a feature of this area. Numerous holes provide evidence of the resident gerbils and whistling rats that thrive in these conditions, attracting Black-backed Jackals and the ever present Pale Chanting Goshawks.
The Land Rover came into its own cruising through the sand with diff-lock only required a few times - one particularly bad dune required some skill to navigate it as the road up the dune involved a sharp turn in deep sand just before the peak. The 170km from Bosobogolo to Nossob took us just over 6 1/2 hrs and we arrived in Nossob in the early afternoon.
Coming from Botswana with its tranquil and more remote campsites, giving a true wilderness experience, we were quite disappointed with Nossob camp. The camping sites are very close together giving little privacy although the nice ablutions were very welcome! Fuel is available here and a shop has basic supplies which allows the less adventurous to experience the Kalahari! Due to the high volume of traffic, and the fact that there are only two roads out of Nossob, the roads were quite busy and corrugated in parts. We saw the usual wildlife, although we did see a male Lion however it was too far to photograph (though there were still 5 cars stopped to watch!), but we were not there long enough to do any serious game viewing. After dinner (boerwors stew) we spent an hour in the hide watching, and being amused by, Springbok and Gemsbok antics before going to bed ready for the return leg in the morning!

Distance travelled: 210km




























Thursday 21st June
Nossob - Mabuasehube Pan - Monamodi Pans
The return leg took just under 6hrs as the dunes seemed easier when approaching from the South African side (possibly because more vehicles travel this direction) and we didn't stop long for lunch at Motopi. We arrived in Mabuasehube shortly before 3pm and drove to Monamodi Pans via Mpayathutlwa, Khiding, Mabuasehube and Lesholoago Pans. The highlight of the day was seeing two Aardwolves mating on Mabuasehube Pan in the late afternoon! A Rednecked Falcon at Lesholoago Pan campsite was another good sighting and it let me approach close enough for a few photographs before flying off.
The campsites at Monamodi Pans are set back from the pans and don't have a view of the pans themselves, however the surrounding bushveld is picturesque. Birdlife in the camp was quite good with Redbilled Francolins paying us a visit as well as Yellowbilled Hornbills, Whitebrowed Sparrow-Weavers, Glossy Starlings and a pair of Crimson-breasted Shrikes.
Dinner was a beef stew with spaghetti after which we roasted the last marshmallows while sitting round the fire before going to bed.

Distance travelled: 240km










Friday 22nd June
Monamodi Pans - Hukuntsi - Kanye
After leaving Mabuasehube about 10am we travelled the cut line road north towards Hukuntsi. The first 35km follows the park boundary on a wide, rutted sandy road, then the road bears right and becomes two tracks through the bush. The right hand track seems to be used more frequently and the sand is less deep however if travelling north there is the possibility you will meet another vehicle travelling on the same track which could pose problems! From the cut line to Lokgwabe is approximately 95km and took just over 2hrs. From here the road is tarred and after 100km, through Hukuntsi, we reached the Trans-Kgalagadi Highway at Kang.
After stopping at Kang for lunch we left for our final stopover at Motse Lodge in Kanye, arriving just before 6pm. The lodge itself is pleasently situated and the campsite was surprisingly quiet since you are not too far from the village. The price for camping was double the advertised rates on the internet (apparently they recently increased the prices) and was definitely not worth the P60 per person we had to pay. The toilets were fair however there was no lighting in the campsites and only a communal standpipe some distance from each site.
We decided to try out the restaurant which was quite expensive for what you got, with most of the menu being unavailable, and the service quite poor although rather amusing at times!!
During the night the temperature dropped and was as cold as any of the previous nights with lots of dew in the morning which even turned into ice on the rooftop tent!
Distance travelled: 550km










Saturday 23rd June
Kanye - Gaborone - Palapye
After leaving Kanye we began the final leg back to Palapye stopping in Gaborone on the way back, arriving in Palapye around 3pm. The trip was another success however we were glad to be back home after covering over 2500km on some rather gruelling roads!

Distance travelled: 390km









Road from Sekoma to Tsabong
Berrybush Farm campsite, Tsabong
Makopong - Mabuasehube Gate, KTP
Mabuasehube Entrance Gate, KTP
Mpayathutlwa Pan, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Suricate, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Slender Mongoose, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Mabuasehube - Nossob road
Nossob valley, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kori Bustard, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Monamodi Pans Campsite, KTP
Mabuasehube - Hukuntsi road
Common Ostrich, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Rednecked Falcon, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Aardwolves mating, Mabuasehube Pan
Redbilled Francolin reading the bird book!