In a place where the red dunes and scrubs fade to infinity and where all existing form of life seems impossible, something special will take over your body and spirit. No, you’re not on the moon but in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, one of the most special place in this world…

For the past three years, I’ve spent at least a month each year in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. The park can sometimes look quite hostile due to its hot and arid climate, the cold nights, the sand storms and because of the capricious tendency of the animals not to show up. You either love the park or hate it.
I personally loved it from the very first time. Maybe because I’ve been lucky to see most of the fauna this exceptional place has to offer, and because of the sand storms that allowed me to take beautiful photos.
In the Kalahari you will learn to respect nature, understand it and be patient.
Depending on the seasons you will know which animals you will most likely see, where, when… So here’s my personal experience to get you ready for one of the most amazing experience of your life.

Kalahari the forgotten land


The park spans over South Africa and Botswana. Although the South African part only represents the quarter of the 38 000 square meters of the park, I really recommend you visit this part first before getting into the Botswana side where you will need to be super equipped and know your bush.
There is no phone signal in the park (only in Twee Rivieren), and 4×4 are sometimes mandatory if you want to explore some parts of the park where there are only sand roads where you will get stuck.
For those of you who are not too keen on camping, most of the camps have bungalows, quite basic, nothing luxurious though.
Food wise… Plan it wisely! There are some shops in the main camps, but only canned food and frozen meat or products.
Invest in a fridge (for cars), and loads of vegetables, fruits, good wine, dairy, etc…
Not too scared? Let’s go!

Kalahari South Africa

Twee Rivieren is the first camp you will go through when entering the park, and where you will do all the custom formalities.
Although this camp is not very charming, a lot of lions, meerkats and sometimes leopards can be spotted there.
So depending on your arrival time at Twee Rivieren, it would be better for you to spend the night there or why not try Xaus Lodge (the only lodge of the park), or Kieliekrankie, an unfenced camp surrounded by red dunes. From there, it’s up to you to decide where you want to go, but Mata Mata and Nossob are the most popular camps of the park.

I usually always start with Mata Mata, which is about 3 hours drive from Twee Rivieren. Situated on the banks of the Auob River and on the Namibian border, this camp remains for me one of the best to spot animals and birds.
If you’re thinking about camping, the camp has a lot of trees, under which you will watch, incognito, the resident meerkats running around. But what’s even better, is that you can cross the Namibian border on foot, and buy delicious fresh Springbok meat from a lovely farmstall !
Another thing to try there, the Kalahari Tented Camp, unfenced, just next to Mata Mata, where I got lucky enough to find myself just face to face to a huge lion while getting something from the car. The best animal spots are for me Craig Lockhart and Vaalpan for the lions, and Sitsas (right next to the entrance of the camp) which is a perfect hunting spot for cheetahs.

Wildlife in Kalahari

After Mata Mata, I usually go straight to Nossob. The road between the two places is absolutely amazing. You will cross a real desert surrounded by red dunes on which the Oryx, emblem of the park, are staying completely still like ghosts. Nossob is surrounded by an open savannah, making the camp really famous for the fantastic predator hunts that you can even see from the camp’s hide.
The camp has far less shade than Mata Mata and is also usually warmer, but due to the abundance of predators, you will soon forget the heat.
If you wake up early, you will be lucky enough to spot the shy brown hyena, and for the late risers, the vultures and bateleur eagles taking a dip in the waterholes.
The best waterholes around Nossob are Cubitje Quap where the pygmy falcons hunt the sociable weavers, Kwang for the vultures and eagles, Polentswa for the leopards and Marie Se Draai and Bedinkt for the lions.

I believe that through my experience, you understood that the Kgalagadi is quite an unusual destination. Unlike other parks, you won’t find any luxurious lodges (except !Xaus Lodge), but that’s, for me, the charm of the place, it’s untamed.
Camping there is an extraordinary experience where you will get to meet interesting people while having a glass of wine by the fire, or hear the roarings of a lion or the laughs of a hyena during the night. This place remains for me one of the most special I’ve had the chance to visit and where there’s almost no massive tourism, specially when you go for the unfenced camps.
So forget everything you thought you knew about safaris, you’re in the Kalahari !

Text : Nathalie Bardin

Photos : Jean-Marc Lederman

Travel to Kalahari

If you’re coming from South Africa, the first camp and border post Twee Rivieren is 252kms from Upington. The drive will take between 3 to 4 hours.


– SANParks
– !Xaus Lodge

Best time to visit: From March to May.

Climat : the Kalahari is a semi-arid region where you can get thunderstorms followed by strong winds. There is a big contrast between the cold nights and very hot days, so take warm cloths with you.