With a massive land of 38,000 kilometers, there is something very compelling about the KgalagadiTransfrontier Park. Given the nature and variety of life, one can only imagine how unique it is, and still, it will probably be nothing like what you imagine.
It is not a flat sand desert, nor is it rippling with endless pale dunes, patches of trees, and even some grasslands. It has an arid to semi-arid climate with an excellent underground water reserve. This water is solely responsible for the water supply of plants. Although, it is said that once in a century, the river flows through this land too.
This park has its own importance, but it also has a neighbor that is equally special. That neighbor is, Gemsbok National Park. Essentially, these two are pieces of one land but are separated by the borders of two countries. Two-thirds of the park lies in the region of Botswana, while the remaining one-third falls in the region of South Africa. Since the year 1948, Botswana and South Africa have co-operated in the management of two adjacent Kalahari parks.
Even though today, this setup seems natural, it wasn’t like this always. In 1999, the first-ever cross-border collaboration of its kind unified the two parks into one under the name of KgalagadiTransfrontier Park. This has unified the southern Kalahari into one huge conservation area, twice the size of Kruger National Park, and will hopefully serve as a model for future transfrontier conservation projects.
The park was previously called Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, as the animal most at home in this arid region is the gemsbok (also called oryx). To preserve this unique specie and to prevent poaching, this park was established in July of 1931. The borders dividing the country were designed in a way that didn’t block the animals from their usual natural pathway.
This large antelope is extremely adapted to the environment of the desert and can easily go for months without drinking water. This is because it reabsorbs its own waste fluids and doesn’t sweat much.
Its core temperature can rise much higher than it would kill most animals, and to avoid boiling its brain, blood is first passed through the nostrils to cool it down.
Another animal that epitomizes the Kgalagadiis the meerkat (also known as suricate). These cute mongooses run around in gregarious packs, scavenging for lizards, beetles, scorpions, and mice and scatter at the first sign of danger from an eagle or other predator. Due to the availability of food, many birds migrate towards this region. Right now, there are more than 200 species of birds that feed on the other animals that live on this land.
Although this park has a limited number of species, large-scale migration can occur in such a huge park. Animals like gemsbok, springbok, blue wildebeest, eland and red hartebeest follow their instincts in order to find better pastures. Just like birds, the good supply of food attracts carnivores like lion, leopard and cheetah. They are not as common as the birds, but if you are lucky, you might get a chance to see these predators during your visits.
Other distinctive creatures of the Kgalagadi are small monogamous bat-eared foxes, sociable weavers that live in the feathered equivalent of an apartment block of nests.
While we’re discussing animals of Kgalagadi, we must mention the King of the Kgalagadi – the black-maned lion. This animal was discovered in 2017 when he was only five years old. Now, he has mated and started a troop of lions on the land of Kgalagadi.
How is Kgalagadi Unique?
While other wildlife preservation parks are all about wild animals and their natural habitat, Kgalagadi is a little different. In this park, you will not see as many animals as you would usually expect with other wildlife parks. But here you can appreciate so much more. From unique weather to amazing scenery, the environment of this park is serene.
Unlike other natural life reserves, this region is all about sightseeing. Even people who aren’t interested in animals, find this place peaceful in its unique way. That being said, it is not that there are no animals here. Instead, you find a limited variety of species with mostly predators who migrate for food.
Another important point that makes this area stand out is its unexpected weather. The visitors can get an idea of what they’re going to face, but they can never be sure of what they will encounter. That is the best part of visiting this region; it is full of surprises.
You can see so many pictures of others full of scenery. But when you visit, it is possible that you only get to see dry deserted land. The same goes for wildlife. While you expect to see a variety of different species, you might not be able to see all of them. But maybe you will get to appreciate something else. Every minute on the land of Kgalagadi is like opening an explosion box; you never know what’s inside it. And that is what makes it better than the rest.
In this massive park, there is a total of 19 rest camps. These camps are fully equipped and offer every facility, from food to air conditioning. Here, the visitors can peacefully enjoy their trip without any worry.
While there are only three original rest camps in the KgalagadiTransfrontier Park, there are seven amazing wilderness camps that provide a more natural and wildlife appropriate environment. In such facilities, the visitors only get water and a shelter to stay in. The guests themselves must arrange all the other necessities like food and drinking water.
When visiting wildlife preservation parks, special attention should be given to the weather conditions. For a deserted area like Kgalagadi, the summer days are nearly impossible to live in. The two extreme kinds of the weather of this land are given below with their specific importance for the visitors of the park:
The Spring and early summer, from September to December, are quite dry and warm in Kgalagadi. But by January, it is very hot (up to 102°F (39°C), and the rain arrives. During this time, it is tough for visitors to have a nice time. The scorching heat and the dry air makes the already hot environment even more unbearable.
But if you are brave and up for a challenge, then maybe you can visit in the very hot late summer months of January to March. If you succeed to tolerate the heat, you might be entertained by formidable light and sound of extravaganzas from thunder and lightning storms.
Although this weather is not comfortable for all, those who belong to deserted places, enjoy their visits to the KgalagadiPark even in the hottest days of the year.
The cold winter months for this region are from April to September. This time is probably the best to visit the Kgalagadias the days are clear and warm, but nights can get very cold. Due to this, visitors get to enjoy the deserted warm air without having to deal with the extra hot days.