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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The king of beasts flops down on the top of a sand dune, the dry desert wind ruffling his dark mane as he surveys the sprawling plain dotted with thorn trees and fellow creatures that make up this resplendent desert kingdom.

One of the world’s last truly unspoilt ecosystems, the park is a result of the unification of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok Park and Botswana’s Gemsbok National Park. At 38 000km2, it is one of the largest conservation areas in the world.

Red sand dunes with sparse desert scrub and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob in which thorn tree, raisin bush and shepherd tree predominate, extend across the national boundaries.

The park gives sanctuary to herds of endemic antelope that have roamed the semidesert savannah and endless pans for aeons, these include: gemsbok (oryx), springbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and eland. Then there are the famed black-maned Kalahari lion, leopard, cheetah and smaller game including mongooses, porcupine and honey badger. 58 mammal, 55 reptile, insect and a host of plant species share the desert and dry while approximately 300 species of bird, including at least 20 species of large raptor, share the endless blue sky.

The park has three traditional rest camps. The main one being Twee, which has chalets, camping facilities, night drives, an information centre, a restaurant, shop, fuel and swimming pool and it offers guided day. Nossob offers chalets, camping, night drives, guided day walks as well as a predator information centre. Mata-Mata has new chalets, a shop, fuel, guided day walks and night drives.

There are also six upmarket unfenced wilderness camps that allow visitors to feel at one with the Kalahari. Kalahari Tented Camp has 15 fully equipped, self-catering units, sleeping two to four people and a swimming pool. The camp overlooks the waterhole in the ancient Auob River. Grootkolk is small and exclusive, only 20km from Unions End. This is the prime predator area.

Kielie Krankie, situated on a high dune, has stunning views over the sand dunes. Four two-bed units overlook a waterhole. Urikaruus, on the banks of the Auob River, is a lofted camp with four two-bed units that also overlooks a waterhole. Two camps, Bitterpan and Gharagab, are only accessible by 4×4. Bitterpan, small and exclusive, is surrounded only by the silence of the great Kalahari, with four two-bed units and Gharagab, just north of Nossob, has four two-bed units that open up to beautiful Kalahari tree and savanna veld.

A passport is not needed to enjoy the Botswana side as long as entry and exit is made through the same gate. Camping in Botswana is available at Polentswa, Rooiputs and Two Rivers. There are two 4×4 routes: Wildernis and Nossob Mabuasehube.

For reservations to camp on the Botswana side of the Park, and to book the wilderness trail contact: The Parks and Reserves Reservation Office: tel 09 (from South Africa) 267 580774; fax 09 267 580775.