Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Preperations for the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park (KTP)
at the tri-border region Namibia, South Africa, Botswana
In Upington, the gate to the Kalahari, our Toyo received his 40‘000 km service. As this was a big service we had it done by the official Toyota representative within on day.
For safety sake we rather replaced the bearings of our off-road trailer a bit earlier at an off-road centre. Thus both vehicles were fit to tackle the challenging roads of the KTP.
Barbershop men only
Men hairdresser is not allowed to cut women hair in the barbershop. It took all our persuasion to get the hairdresser to cut Brigitte's hair. The price for the very short haircut was Rand 90, or Sfr. 6. Because in the shopping mall are other Hair Salons, the barber shop got only the authorization for men treatments.
13Km on the outskirts of Upington we camped at the Monate lodge in the midst of dozens of Springboks. The campground Eland Lodge in Upington is huge, but was totally abandoned. There our trailer would have been too unattended during our shopping trips.
Game Drives in the KTP
After a couple of very insisting calls Brigitte managed to book three nights at the apparently fully booked Twee Rivieren Camp.
We used this as start-up camp to travel to three other camps within a period of two weeks. Traveling into the KTP from Twee Rivieren requires a permit which has to be picked up at the gate and has to be returned before the gate closes at sunset. Permits that are not handed back by sunset result in a search campaign.
We started our game drive in the morning after the gates were opened in north-westerly direction towards Mata Mata. The sun was rising and lit up the plain. After a 20 km drive we discovered a lioness in the plain in front of us. She was busy dragging a part of her kill underneath a tree right next to us - to save it from other interested parties. A couple of jackals watched from a safe distance. They were interested in the leftovers of the oryx.
From the fringes of the pan a Brown Hyena made its appearance. Its target was the tree under which the lioness has retreated with her prey. Now it started to get very exciting. The hyena was five metres away from the tree when the lioness darted towards it and attacked. The hyena snarled at the lioness, but made a fast retreat.
It made another attempt from the other side of the tree fifteen minutes later but was driven back again by the attentive lioness.
24 hours later we visited the sleeping lioness underneath her tree again. Visibly satisfied she was lying next to the left overs of her prey.
On the way to Camp Nossob we found the carcass of a wildebeest. Jackals were feeding on it. 48 hours later little remained. Raptors, jackals and hyenas reduced it to a gnawed off skeleton.
Close lion encounters
We spend over two weeks in 4 different camps in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Nationalpark. From the camps drove out on gravel roads and sand tracks into the park. Our game drives added up to more than 1000 kilometres.
The Mabuasehube Area on the Botswana side is a paradise for adventurous and a challenge for self-caterers. The remote campsites are not fenced which helped us to a unique lion encounter on the Mpayathutlwa pan.
Thanks to our comprehensive equipment which allows us to go without long drops and primitive showers we were able to get a short-notice substitute camp site between the two - 600 metres apart - official ones. Our two neighbours had booked their sites a year in advance!
We’ve had breakfast on our wonderful campsite with breath-taking view onto the pan. I tried to find a slow puncture on the left rear Toyo tyre. Suddenly Brigitte warned me: „Lion behind you!“ and took shelter in the trailer. A gorgeous male lion was strolling calmly towards us. Distance approximately 20 metres. At 10 metres I looked the guy straight into the eyes with my lens and quickly retreated - very impressed - into the safety of the Toyo.
In the meantime Brigitte had lifted the lower entrance hatch and had let the top one down. She was not able to completely close it anymore and literally through a narrow gap looked the lion, which stood at the entrance and smelled her, into the eyes. The lion took the quality of our equipment to the test. He sniffed at and bit into a chair and even the sturdiness of our table was tested with a bite.
Then he brought his attention to Brigitte’s Crocs, which she had taken off before entering the trailer. These caught his interest. He snatched up one and lay on his side to take it for a gnaw test.
After about ten minutes he got up and left for the pan.
We stayed for three nights on this amazing campsite ever so often checking our backs. The lion did not return, but the following night we were visited by four spotted hyenas.
Special Immigration Conditions in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park (KTP)
As our South African tourist visa (3months) was about to expire we asked at the South African immigrations in the park which steps to take next. The officer explained that he would stamp off our visa before it expired. When leaving into the Botswana side of the park we would have to get an entry stamp and tourist visa from Botswana Immigrations. Until then we were allowed to travel the park without a visa.
For us a rather unconventional, but helpful solution which worked-out without any complications. We had to open the gate at the border ourselves and unfortunately there was no customs officer to check our goods.