Experience It: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Botswana’s Boundless Park

Experience It: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Botswana’s Boundless Park
Get acquainted with history when you step inside the first-ever transfrontier park in Africa. Formed by a treaty between Botswana and a newly-liberated South Africa in 1999, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a natural masterpiece.

Free-roaming wildlife and vast scenic landscapes come together to create a breathtaking experience. Come and visit a safari park that is in a league of its own. Take your time as you get to know the secrets of this expansive wonderland.

Africa’s Peace Park

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The Kalahari Gemsbok National Park was first established in July 1931 to protect migrating animals from poachers. Years later, in 1992, a joint committee was set up to manage the shared area as a single ecological unit. The committee was composed of representatives from the South African National Parks Board (SANParks) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Botswana.

In a drafted management plan, the two nations agreed to cooperate and create an incredible tourist attraction that would benefit both countries. The nations signed a historical bilateral agreement in 1999 and just like that, Africa’s Peace Park (the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) was formed.

The peace park comprises two adjoining national parks:

  • the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa, and
  • the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana

Three-quarters of the park is situated in Botswana. The park’s transfrontier nature allows the animals to roam freely between the two countries.

This merger is ideal for a country like Botswana. A country that is considered to be one of Africa’s greatest wildlife destinations.

17% of the country is devoted to National Parks and Game Reserves. Impressively, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park stands side by side with greats like the Chobe National Park and Okavango Delta.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: Where Two Countries Meet

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers a unique opportunity due to its location. Part of the park is located in the extreme southwest corner of Botswana, adjacent to South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.

Special immigration provisions have been designed to allow travellers to enter the park in one country and leave in the other. Visitors can camp at Two Rivers in Botswana, clear the border at Twee Rivieren, and go through to the South African side with ease.

When you visit, you get a two-in-one vacation. This is a peace park that affords you the privilege of visiting brilliant Botswana with the great option to see South Africa too.

Preserving The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: Establishing !Xaus Lodge

In October 2002, the government set aside land for the native people. 107.22 mi² (277.69 km²) was allocated as San Heritage Land and 116.35 mi² (301.34 km²) was allocated as Mier heritage land.

The San (Bushmen) are believed to be one of 14 remaining “ancestral population clusters”. It is thought that all known modern humans are genetically related to these people. Similarly, the Mier people have inhabited the area for generations.

Part of the settlement agreement was to provide for the communities. The agreement aimed to secure funds that would help construct a tourism facility. This land was named the !Ae!Hai Heritage Park.

The communities created the !Xaus Lodge (meaning “heart” in the local language) on this land. The lodge and its land are managed commercially on behalf of the Khomani San and Mier communities by Transfrontier Parks Destinations.

At the !Xaus Lodge, the cultural practices of the San and Mier communities are maintained. Local people are encouraged to create and sell crafts, tapping into their cultural heritage.

This cultural exchange helps preserve the history of these communities. They express their culture to foreign visitors through beautiful works, which fosters education and understanding.

Interestingly, the !Ae!Hai Heritage park is also the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in Africa.

Wildlife & Rivers at Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The open environment means that the mammal population thrives. The park offers premium viewing destinations. The sparse vegetation means the animals tend to congregate across the dry riverbeds as they search for water.

In the Kgalagadi, predators roam the land, hunting for seasonal large herbivores. Powerful blue wildebeest, nimble springbok, and agile eland are some of the animals to look out for.

Ground-dwelling species like squirrels, Meerkat, Honey Badger, Pangolin, and Bat-eared Foxes lie low, avoiding the gaze of predators. If you have a sharp eye, you might just spot some scurrying about.

There are promising chances that you will see Cheetah, Leopard, and Brown or Spotted Hyena. Let’s not forget the mighty black-maned Kalahari lion! The area is a lion conservation unit and stronghold in Southern Africa.

Kgalagadi lions have incredibly large home ranges because of the relatively low prey densities. They search far and wide to find potential prey. Luckily, this makes it easier for these animals to be spotted by eager tourists!

Other noteworthy features include the two large ephemeral rivers that run through the park. These are the Nossob and the Auob Rivers.

Both rivers have long dried up. However, they do provide underground water for vegetation. Water can sometimes linger in these rivers for a few days after good rains.

The dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob are fitting in a sparsely vegetated land that features stunning red dunes. These richly-hued dunes represent a perfectly preserved ecosystem. The crimson dunes fill the area with spectacular colour and are a truly astonishing sight.

Comfort & Luxury At The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Besides the !Xaus Lodge, there is plenty of accommodation offered at the park. Every type of traveller can have their needs met.

A selection of self-catering camps is situated across the central dune field. The Kalahari Tented Camp is perfect for experienced drivers who are comfortable with traveling in remote spaces.

Adventurous spirits can enjoy numerous camping experiences. These are offered throughout the park. These camping spots offer the ideal places for exploring the unknown.

You might be looking for more of a luxurious setting for your safari vacation. If so, the Kgalagadi has a place for you too.

A range of private lodges can be found on the Botswana side. These provide fantastic deluxe accommodations. Plus, many of these offer gorgeous views of waterholes, which are often frequented by lions and gemsbok.

And, that’s not all. On top of wonderful accommodation, you can also enjoy escorted walks at Twee Rivieren or guided game drives through the Kgalagadi. There are a wealth of safari possibilities for wilderness lovers.

It’s Time To Visit Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The travel bug, or wanderlust, cannot and should not be ignored. Once the spirit of Africa has got you, there is no looking back.

As a country, beautiful Botswana is the backbone of Southern African tourism. Take a relaxing yet exhilarating trip to the vast open plains and experience this country’s wild side for yourself.