So you may recently have read through my astonishingly entertaining trip report of our 12 night stay in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in March 2017. Or, even more likely, you didn’t (but you totally should). Regardless, I’m here to give you five simple reasons why YOU HAVE TO VISIT KGALAGADI. Like now. Well, maybe not RIGHT now (make sure you book first and you take plenty of supplies). Just get there ASAP.
If you’re anything at all like me you LOVE Kruger, but here’s why you should take some time to check out the Kgalagadi for your next safari experience:
So the downside to the Kgalagadi when compared to traditional game reserves like Kruger is that you won’t be able to spot ALL of your favourite African mammals. Unfortunately there are no elephants, no rhinos and no buffalo. Also I don’t think there are any wild dogs, though allegedly there were reports of them being spotted years ago but I’m not sure of the veracity of those reports. You definitely won’t be spotting the full Big 5 but let me tell you, if you are keen on big cats – in particular lions and/or cheetahs, this is the place for you. I’ve travelled A LOT in Africa and there’s nowhere else that provides a better chance to see cheetahs (and lots of them). The Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is probably the second best place, but even there you aren’t going to see TEN CHEETAHS IN ONE DAY, like we did during our Kgalagadi trip. We also saw lions EVERY SINGLE DAY. And lots of those sightings were near or ON the road. It’s definitely #1 place for predators. (side note: leopards exist but are elusive – we did not see one during our 12-night stay).
2. Unfenced camps.
The downside to Kruger is that you are not able to camp or stay in unfenced camps. All the camps are fenced so yes you are nice and snuggly safe and your kids can generally run around with gay abandon, but WHERE IS THE FUN IN THAT. Give me danger and suspense any day of the week. I want to feel like I am being stalked as I walk in the dark to my tent, or watched from close proximity as I retrieve something from my parked car. There’s a rush you feel when staying (and particularly camping) in the wilderness with no fences that you cannot get at fenced camps. My favourite ever African safari experiences have probably been camping in Botswana in the wilderness with NO FENCES OR PROTECTION and having lions or elephants walk through our campsite. While we were there. It’s amazing. Most camps in Kgalagadi are actually fenced, but you can stay in some of their wilderness camps like Grootkolk, Kalahari Tented Camp, Kieliekrankie and Urikaruus (plus camps on the Bots side) that are totally unfenced and open to the wilderness. That means you have to be careful (especially at night) and it also means you may have lions come past and check out your braai as you’re cooking dinner. AMAZING.
3. The smaller, rarer things.
Kruger is awesome for Big 5 sightings. I have literally spent a week there before where I saw the Big 5 every single day (the drought helped). You will not want for big and hairy sightings there, that is for sure. But what about the smaller, more elusive wildlife? Once you have been on safari once or twice or one hundred thousand times like us, you start craving things like brown hyenas, bat-eared foxes, cape foxes and meerkats. Who on earth doesn’t want to see meerkats in the wild? ONLY SOMEBODY SICK IN THE HEAD. Well you cannot see them in Kruger, because they don’t exist – nor do they exist in Sabi Sands or any other typical Big 5 game reserve in South Africa in the Kruger region. BUT THEY ARE LIVING FREE IN KGALAGADI AND WE FOUND THEM! We also saw all of those other things plus a porcupine, eland, hartebeest and other cool animals that are either elusive or non-existent in Kruger. The KTP is also AMAZING for birds, particularly owls and raptors.
I’m all for the Big 5, but this place offers so many special sightings that you just won’t get in Kruger.
4. PHOTOGRAPHY. Plus the landscape and scenery.
Admittedly the scenery around South Africa (and pretty much Africa in general) is pretty amazing regardless of where you go. But if we are comparing to places like Kruger (which does have a lot of its own beauty), the semi-arid environment of the Kgalagadi has such a stark beauty and it is PERFECT for photography. There is much less vegetation compared to the lowveld and other safari areas in Southern Africa, which makes spotting wildlife easier and photography EVEN EASIER. On top of that, the animals get their water from man-made waterholes which are conveniently placed along roads for your VIEWING PLEASURE. Which means you are almost GUARANTEED to see lions and cheetahs drinking. I mean I’m not going to place a money-back guarantee or anything, but over our 12 nights we saw at least three different cheetah drinking sightings and more than eight lion drinking sightings. Shit is pretty and photographic here. Trust me.
5. The action.
So you can get action anywhere you go on safari in Africa (as long as it’s not the zoo) but you have to be lucky. Of course luck plays a part in KTP as well, but you are MUCH MORE LIKELY to see a kill because animals congregate around the waterholes and that’s where lots of kills take place. To be fair, we didn’t see any actual kills during our 12 night trip, but we saw two cheetahs almost kill a jackal (SO CLOSE), plus we saw cheetahs stalking springbok and some lions look interested in stalking springbok (but we had to go). Oh and a cheetah hunting and almost kill a hartebeest AND two lions almost kill a (different) hartebeest! We also saw three cheetahs with THREE RECENTLY KILLED KILLS (seriously, three cheetahs that killed three springbok). We left them and found five cheetahs with one kill (it was a mum with sub-adult kids). I am pretty sure people had seen both sets of cheetahs make the kills, and during our time we heard of lots of people seeing kills (particularly cheetah kills around the Mata Mata / Urikaruus area).
On top of that because of the congregating around waterholes you see other action – like one morning we saw a lion drinking from a waterhole but got bored (haha, but seriously) so drove on to find a cheetah drinking from the next waterhole, and then a jackal was running around and then the cheetah saw a lion coming and started drinking crazy quickly and then sprung up and ran away in time for the big male lion to strut over and drink. SO MUCH ACTION. By the way after that we drove on to see more lions at another waterhole and then ALMOST RUN OVER TWO MORE CHEETAH ON THE ROAD. I mean I’m not even kidding. When did you ever have a morning at Kruger where you saw three different lion sightings at three different waterholes plus two separate cheetah sightings? PROBABLY NEVER AND YOU PROBABLY NEVER WILL. So you just have to go to Kgalagadi.
I REST MY CASE.
In conclusion, you should TOTALLY consider visiting the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park for your next safari experience. Is it better than Kruger? No, I wouldn’t say that as Kruger has the whole Big 5 and if you are only going on one safari then you NEED TO SEE ELEPHANTS. But if you have already been on safari a few times and you’re looking for something new, the Kgalagadi is definitely worth checking out! We will hopefully definitely be going back – and visiting the Botswana side for even more wilderness action 🙂
Feel free to get in touch if you would like more info, have any questions or want help planning your Kgalagadi trip. Or for more information and advice on any other South African game reserves, and/or if you would like us to help plan and book your safari, please get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging/calling on Skype: carapring. We can get the best price for your safari 🙂