Mirages, rainbows, thunderstorms and dust: Kgalagadi, January 2017

Kgalgadi 01-2017 (Photo: 2BWild)
Kgalagadi 01-2017
(Photo: 2BWild)

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) trip report – 2016/2017

This recce trip undertaken by 2BWild Safaris to the Kgalagadi Desert in South Africa in December 2016/January 2017 was a wonderful experience and great success.

Our route
Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg

This is indeed a very special and unique African wilderness area where one can experience the nuances of the vast Kalahari Desert and the specialised flora and fauna which thrive there.

Access using 4×4 vehicles is essential and accommodation in the wilderness camps is an experience of a lifetime.

To book this tour and 4×4 vehicle click here.

 

Gharagab

Gharagab - captures the magic of the African Kalahari
Gharagab – captures the magic of the African Kalahari

 

Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg
From Nossob rest camp, situated roughly in the middle of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP), it’s a relatively long 155km 5 hour interesting and enjoyable drive to the Gharagab wilderness camp. The “main” gravel road is in good condition, albeit with minor corrugations, with interesting waterholes and pans along the way.

Right up near the top of the Park near Unions End, one leaves the “main” gravel road on a one way route around and back down to Gharagab. It’s one-way for good reason – the “tweespoor” (twin track) is a sandy bumpy twisty road with a few mild dune rises to negotiate. A good 4 wheel drive vehicle is essential.

After the exciting dune driving we see the camp from a distance, considerably raising our anticipation. The camp attendant Andries was there to meet us, well presented, smartly dressed in his uniform, friendly and courteous as they all are. We were shown to our log cabin, one of four, and what a cosy “home-from-home”.

Overlooking a floodlit waterhole down in the arid valley below, this beautiful private cabin was well appointed with all the basic requirements for a comfortable stay. Ours was Unit #1 – worth noting as it’s the only one with a 220V electricity plug behind the fridge – I won’t tell if you don’t! Perfect for charging car batteries, laptops and cell phones – whilst you download all those terrific photos and videos from your cameras).

Twin beds, spacious bathroom (again with good water pressure and piping hot water), a complete kitchenette with full range of cutlery, crockery and dish-wash basin. Not to mention the magnificent balcony with a fixed braai (barbecue) and most incredible view of the expansive bush, dunes, and waterhole below. Pure bliss.

During our stay we saw an unprecedented 14 jackal during the afternoon and evening, visiting to drink before moving briskly on. Gemsbok, springbok, common duiker and more. Unfortunately no lion during our stay, although Gharagab is renowned for its strong and vociferous lion population.

One of the best features of Gharagab is the lookout point on the rise behind the camp. This well constructed wooden deck, above the water tanks and solar arrays, offers a magnificent view across the African Kalahari dunes. A perfect spot for sundowners. Just beware of wild animals when walking there and back – and be sure to leave before nightfall.

Gharagab can be extremely hot in summer – over 44C – and extremely cold in winter. So choose your visiting time with care. The hottest period is October/November. Our trip took place in December – and was quite bearable, being a dry heat (as opposed to a humid coastal heat).

Urikaruus

Urikaruus wilderness camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Urikaruus wilderness camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Johannesburg > Vryburg > McCarthy’s Rust (Botswana border post) > KTP: Twee Rivieren > Nossob > Gharagab > Bitterpan > Kalahari Tented Camp > Urikaruus > Kielie Krankie > Augrabies Falls > Kuruman > Johannesburg

These beautifully designed riverside cabins stole our hearts from the minute we arrived.

Set high up on stilts overlooking the Auob “river” (usually dry), these five units are all interconnected with a wooden boardwalk, making them suitable for large family groups, or private individual bookings.

The elevated structure not only offers an excellent view of the river bed and floodlit waterhole – but it also enables the free movement of wildlife – including lion – below the cabins.

During our one night stay we experienced the most magnificent thunderstorm which introduced a brief but important flow in the river. We were also treated to a dusk view of the resident lioness escorting her three tiny cubs to the waterhole.

The bedroom and kitchen/dining room are on separate levels, each with own balcony.

Exceptionally clean, well kept, with all cutlery and crockery, efficient fridge, and piping hot water with good pressure in the shower.

Of all the KTP wilderness camps I would rate Urikaruus as the best – and not to be missed – with a minimum of two night’s stay.

Our camp attendant Erick was most helpful and efficient.

 

KTP gallery

All photos: 2BWild Safaris

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