The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park straddles the Botswana-South Africa border, a 37,000km2 wildlife reserve on the south-eastern edge of the great Kalahari Desert. This huge, semi-arid savannah receives very little rain and from May to September the park remains almost completely dry. Summer thunderstorms are short-lived, but fierce, suddenly and rapidly filling the park’s many seasonal pans and restoring the landscape with fresh new grass. March to May are the best months to visit when large herds of oryx, eland, and springbok are drawn into the region, and the Kalahari plains are at their verdant best.
The Kgalagadi is famous for its black-maned Kalahari lions, which on the Botswanan side are especially active around Kaa Gate. The gate has a small, permanent water hole, which is a focal point during the dry winter months, as well as two small, unfenced camping sites which can get a little scary when there are lions around at night. If things get too intimidating, you can ask to sleep in the gated compound – behind its eight-foot-high fence. The region around Kaa is usually quite quiet, with few visitors and not much in the way of game. The few scattered, individual campsites are little more than sandy plots under a tree for shade, and perfect for those who love complete isolation.
The tracks through the northern Kgalagadi are sandy and rough, with especially deep sand east of Kaa and on the access road south of Mabuasehube Gate. Once inside the park, the tracks tend to be firmer, but be careful of sudden deep holes dug by various burrowing animals. Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks manages all the campsites on the Botswanan side of the Kgalagadi. Take everything you need with you, including drinking water. There’s water and some rather rundown ablutions at the Kaa and Mabuasehube Gates, but what’s available is limited and brackish. The other camps in the northwest have no facilities at all and a day or two is probably enough to explore region. Make sure you have a radiator seed net to protect it from tall grasses on the overgrown tracks.
Most travelers opt for 4×4 hire when visiting the Kgalagadi National Park.