Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

kgalagadi male lion
Male lion sleeping in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

By Vicky · Published Sep. 30th, 2021 · Updated Nov. 24th, 2022

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is an amazing national park across South Africa and Botswana with incredible animal encounters and a true sense of wilderness.


Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is in Northern Cape, 2hr30 and 250 km north of Uppington. It’s 11 hours, 1080 km from Cape Town and 10 hours, 910 km from Johannesburg.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Map with Campsites


  • The accommodation in this park can be fully booked months, if not a year, in advance. There isn’t really a low season because retired people spend months here all year round taking amazing wildlife photos. Look out for cancellations, and if you’re flexible and opt for more expensive cottages, it might be possible to book closer to the time. Wilderness Camps sell out the fastest.
  • Conservations fees per day are R404/101 for foreigners/South Africans, both halfprice for children or free with a WildCard.
  • There is an ATM at Twee Rivieren but cards normally work in the park. It’s not a bad idea to have some cash just in case.
  • There are fuel stations at Twee Rivieren, Nossob and Mata Mata but they sometimes ration so fill up in Uppington.
  • Water at the camps, if available, is highly mineralised and not suitable for drinking. Shops at the rest camps sell water.
  • Outdoor lighting in camps is minimal, bring a headtorch.
  • Summers days can be very hot, winter nights absolutely freezing.
  • Visit nearby Augrabies Falls National Park, about 4 hours south.
  • For the other side of the park, check out our Mabuasehube Guide.
  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was one of our final and best stops on our 2-month road trip around South Africa.

Predator sightings are a highlight of this arid park. Lion, leopard, cheetah and even brown hyena are frequently seen. In particular, it’s common to see lions every day. Read our guide to find out all you need to know to plan the best trip to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Information and Itinerary

The main park gate into Twee Rivieren opens a 7 am and closes at 7:30 pm all year round. The gates into the game viewing areas of the park vary by month based on sunrise and sunset.

05:30-19:3006:00-19:30 06:30-19:00 07:00-18:30 07:00-18:00 07:30-18:00 07:30-18:00 07:00-18:30 06:30-18:30 06:00-19:00 05:30-19:30 05:30-19:30
Gate opening times for game viewing in Kgalagadi

From Twee Rivieren, it can still be a significant drive to get to other accommodation within the park so bear this in mind when choosing your first night. We had some of our best sightings near Twee Rivieren and found it a great camp so it’s not a bad idea to stop here for a night on your way in and out. In summer the game gates open before the main park gates so you can safari for a couple of hours and still leave early on your last day.

ostrich family in kgalagadi transfrontier park, south africa

If you can, reach Twee Rivieren by mid-afternoon to have time to check in and swim before a late-afternoon game drive. We had a bit of trouble in Uppington (our car set on fire, read more about it in Chasing Ostriches: A Two-Month Road Trip through South Africa*) so didn’t arrive until late evening.

Twee Rivieren to… Distance, kmTime, hours4×4
Mata-Mata 130
Kalahari Tented Camp 125
Bitterpan220 7 Yes
Kieliekrankie 45
Gharagab315 8 Yes
Nossob to… Distance, kmTime, hours4×4
Gharagab1553 ½ Yes
Grootkolk 1053
Union’s End 115 3

We spent five nights in the park: Twee Rivieren –> Nossob*2 –> Mata-Mata –> Twee Rivieren. Staying at Nossob for two nights allowed us to spend one day driving north from Nossob towards Union’s End and back. We booked only a few weeks in advance and were lucky to get bookings – we camped all nights apart from one where the only space available was in a chalet. We would have loved to stay in a Wilderness Camp or at the small, unfenced campsites on the Botswanan side, but they were all full. Five nights was a good amount of time to spend in the park, though I still wish we could have stayed longer!

The night before visiting the park, we stayed in Kalahari Lion’s Rest*, a lovely place in Uppington with AC, good views and a great atmosphere.

South Africa Travel Book

While roaming the back roads and national parks in our ‘trusty’ Defender, I wrote a book about our adventures, check it out on Amazon*.

We climbed misty mountains, camped in empty deserts, sunbathed on tropical beaches, and saw wildlife galore under the hot African sky.

lion yawning in kgalagadi transfrontier park, south africa

Safety in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

While very rare, there have been incidents of animal attacks in the park. Common sense is the best safety precaution. Only get out of your car at designated areas such as camps and picnic spots. When you do, first check your surroundings for any dangerous animals. At the unfenced camps, don’t stray far from your accommodation or car, and don’t walk around after dark. Children under 12 are not allowed in the wilderness camps. Make sure that all children are supervised at all times anywhere within the park.

Apart from the obvious larger predators, snakes and scorpions can be found within any rest camp or at picnic spots. Make sure to wear shoes and be alert.

Every time you enter the game viewing areas you have to check out at the camp reception and state where you are going next. You then must show this stamped card when you arrive at your next camp. This is for safety reasons so that if you don’t arrive back, they know where to look for you. There may be a short queue in the mornings as everyone tries to leave as soon as the gates open.

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park Contact Details

South Africa: Accommodation can be booked online. For 4×4 trails, to book day visits or any other queries, contact SANParks on + 27 (0) 54 561 2000 (Twee Rivieren), [email protected].

Botswana: For accommodation booking, or to book the two wilderness trails, contact the Botswana Parks and Reserves Reservation Office, part of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks on +267 397 1405 or +267 3 918 0774, [email protected].

Roads within Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The roads inside the park are all gravel and graded frequently, though corrugations quickly form again. You should deflate your tires when you enter the park and never drive over the speed limit of 50 km/hr. This gives you a comfier ride and helps stop corrugations from forming. On the flat main roads (Twee Rivieren to Mata-Mata or Nossob), sedans are ok in the dry season (May-Nov) but you’ll be bumpy and a bit low to see the game. In the wet season (Dec-Apr) the roads can flood making a high clearance 4×4 advisable.

The roads cutting through the dunes (Upper and Lower Dune Road) can be sandy so a high clearance 4×4 is also recommended. Only 4×4 trailers/caravans should be taken over the dune roads.

Car Rental

4×4 vehicles can be rented from Kgalagadi Lodge, 5 minutes to the south of the park, from R1200 per day. Car hire is also available from Upington Airport*, including 4x4s. For a longer trip, you can also rent a fully equipped 4×4 from Britz* from Cape Town, Johannesburg or Durban. Some of their cars come with rooftop tents and other camping gear.


The three main rest camps, Twee Rivieren, Mata-Mata and Nossob all have fuel and accept cards. It can be unreliable and rationed at times outside Twee Rivieren. Make sure to fill up whenever possible.

main roads in kgalagadi transfrontier park, south africa
Flat and corrugated main road
flooded road in Kgalagadi national park, northern cape
Main road after rain
Upper Dune Road through the Kgalagadi, northern cape
Upper Dune Road, sandy in places

Things to do in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The principal activity in Kgalagadi is self-drive safaris. The three main rest camps, Twee Rivieren, Nossob and Mata-Mata, plus Kalahari Tented Camp offer guided morning and sunset drives. At least two guests are needed and sometimes guides are unavailable so check with the reception in advance. There are several 4×4 trails, some short and some lasting multiple days.

Leopard in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Self-Drive Safaris in Kgalagadi

two cheetahs in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Unlike other game parks such as Kruger, there are not many route choices in Kgalagadi. The two main roads along the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob are where the game principally congregates. Additionally, there are two routes that cut through the dunes between these main roads – Upper Dune Road and Lower Dune Road. These two routes can be sandy and go up and down many dunes so are only recommended for 4×4, high-clearance vehicles. There is a much lower concentration of game in the dunes (apart from steenbok) but the landscape is worth seeing and if you’re heading between Nossob and Mata-Mata they are a good way to go. At fairly close intervals along the roads are waterholes and picnic sites.

two cheetahs in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
antelope grazing in the dry nossob riverbed
Herds of Antelope on the Dry Riverbed
steenbok in the dunes of kgalagadi transfrontier park
Lone Steenbokkie in the Dunes

Strategy for Wildlife Watching in Kgalagadi

Our strategy for wildlife watching was to head out from camp at first light and drive quickly to the first waterhole. We would then continue driving for a couple of hours, checking out more waterholes before stopping for breakfast at a picnic spot. We would then either return back to camp or head on to our next camp if staying elsewhere, arriving before lunchtime.

Perhaps a dip in the pool and some reading, before lunch and more relaxing in the shade during the heat of the day. Several hours before the gates closed, as it began to cool down, we’d head out again to the nearby waterholes. We always allowed ourselves enough time to return to camp, plus a bit extra in case we saw something special on the way.

Check out our description of the picnic sites and waterholes towards the end of this article.

Kgalagadi 4×4 Drives

The 4×4 drives all require a 4×4 vehicle with low range. Make sure to have enough fuel, especially for the sandy 4×4 trails. Our fuel efficiency decreases by about 20% from 10 to 8 km per litre on very sandy trails (Land Rover Defender 110 TD5). If you head into Botswana, you don’t need to do border formalities or show a passport if you’re returning to South Africa.

4x4 trials and lion in kgalagadi transfrontier park

4×4 Drives in Kgaladagi, South Africa

The 13 km one-way Leeuwdril 4×4 Trail cuts from just north of the Leeuwdril waterhole on the Nossob road through the sand dunes across to the lookout point at Houmoed waterhole on the Mata-Mata road. The Leeuwdril Trail is part of a 50 km loop from Twee Rivieren where this trail should be booked. A fee of R180 per vehicle is payable on booking. Speed limit of 25km/hr on the one-way 4×4 section. Make sure to deflate tires and report back to the reception afterwards.

The 214 km Nossob 4×4 eco-trail stretches through the red sand dunes between Twee Rivieren and Nossob. The Nossob eco-trail is guided and is a four-day, three-night route, stopping off at basic unfenced campsites overnight. Two to five guest vehicles are allowed, each with a maximum of five occupants per car. Guests must bring all their own supplies including a tent, braai wood, braai grid, water and food. The trail leaves at 9 am every Monday except over Christmas/New Year and heads south (Nossob to Twee Rivieren) on odd months, north (Twee Rivieren to Nossob) on even months. No children under 12. R3762 per vehicle excluding the park conservation fee. Book in advance.

The 61 km Gharagab 4×4 Trail is for the exclusive use of Gharagab Wilderness Camp guests. Gharagab is a one-way trail that heads south from Union’s End via the Gharagab Camp to the main road north of Nossob. No trailers allowed, these can be left at Nossob Rest Camp.

The 120 km Bitterpan 4×4 Trail is for the exclusive use of Bitterpan Wilderness Camp guests. The Bitterpan Trail is one-way and heads west from Nossob to the Twee Rivieren/Mata-Mata road via the Bitterpan Camp. No trailers allowed, these can be left at Nossob Rest Camp.

4×4 Drives in Kgaladagi, Botswana

The 170 km Nossob-Bosobogolo 4×4 Access Trail is a two-way route that runs between Nossob in South Africa and the Mabuasehube section in the Botswanan side of the park. This trail takes 5-9 hours. There are two individual campsites, Matopi 1 and 2, roughly halfway along the trail. Since it is an access trail, not a wilderness trail, you do not need to book the route itself, only the campsites. While convoys are recommended, single vehicles are ok.

4x4 trials in mabuasehube, gemsbok national park, botswana

The 155 km, two-day Mabuasehube Wilderness 4×4 Trail travels one way from the Mabuasehube section on the Botswanan side to Nossob in South Africa. There is an obligatory overnight stop at Mosomane campsite (no facilities) along the trail. One group of between two and five vehicles may start each day. No trailers allowed, some challenging sand dunes. Book in advance.

The 257 km, three-day Polentswa Wilderness 4×4 Trail heads from Polentswa (60 km north of Nossob) to the Kaa Entrance Gate in Botswana and back, in a one-way loop linking some pans. There are two basic camps with no facilities en route. One group of between two and five vehicles may start each day. Book in advance.

meerkat in kgalagadi transfrontier park
meerkat in northern cape, south africa
meerkat in kgalagadi transfrontier park
meerkat in south africa
meerkat in kgalagadi transfrontier park, south africa

Accommodation in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

birds in kgalagadi transfrontier park northern cape, south africa

There are several different accommodation options within the park, all with a different vibe. The three main rest camps are Twee Rivieren, Mata-Mata and Nossob which are large, fenced sites with camping, chalets/cabins and other facilities similar to other SANParks rest camps. The several small Wilderness Camps containing self-catering cabins on the South Africa side gives you a greater sense of remoteness. Nearby on the Botswanan side are three small, basic, unfenced campsites at Two Rivers, Rooiputs and Polentswa. Additionally, there are two lodges in Botswana and !Xaus luxury lodge in South Africa. Outside the park, Kgalagadi Lodge is just 5 minutes away. If you do stay here, remember that only 20 day visitor vehicles are allowed per day, contact SAN Parks to book your park visit in advance.

Kgalagadi Rest Camps

There are three main rest camps in Kgalagadi: Twee Rivieren, Mata-Mata and Nossob. They all have a basic shop, fuel, electricity (not 9:30pm-5am in Mata-Mata and Nossob), a swimming pool, camping, chalets, waterhole and hide.

Twee Rivieren Rest Camp

lion, kgalagadi

Twee Rivieren is the largest rest camp and the main entrance to the park. You must check in here. This is the only rest camp with phone reception, a restaurant, an ATM and 24hr electricity. Border control is here if heading to Botswana or Namibia. The reception is open from 07:00 until 19:30. Border control is open 07:30 until 16:00.

There’s a new, slightly secret hide overlooking a waterhole at the edge of the camp. It’s a 400 m walk from the shop and a 200 m walk from the last chalet at the northern end of camp.

Mata-Mata Rest Camp

leopard in the kalahari, south africa

Mata-Mata Rest Camp is on the banks of the dry Auob River and at the border with Namibia. There’s a photo gallery focussing on owls and a hide overlooking a waterhole in the campsite. Supplies can be erratic from Twee Rivieren so it’s best to already have your essential supplies and stock up when you can. This includes fuel. There is no electricity 9:30pm-5am.

Nossob Rest Camp

brown hyena in kgalagadi transfrontier park, south africa

Nossob Rest Camp is on the edge of the dry Nossob River. There’s a predator centre with many cool photos and a hide overlooking a waterhole that lions and other predators sometimes visit. You can get freshly baked bread at the shop – order a day in advance! Supplies can be erratic from Twee Rivieren so it’s best to already have your essential supplies and stock up when you can. This includes fuel. There is no electricity 9:30pm-5am.

Wilderness Camps

There are five true wilderness camps, all unfenced with no extra facilities, in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park on the South African side. These are Urikaruus, Gharagab, Bitterpan, Grootkolk, Kieliekrankie. For safety reasons, each camp has an armed guard and children under 12 are not allowed to stay.

The units at each camp apart from Gharagab all have fully-equipped kitchens, braais and bathrooms. Gharagab has a communal kitchen. You must bring all your supplies, including wood and water for drinking/cooking. Salty water is provided for showers. All camps have electricity for lights but no charging points. These camps are extremely popular, can be fully booked a year in advance. Watch out for last-minute cancellations.

Kalahari Tented Camp is a larger wilderness camp and !Xaus Lodge is a community-run luxury lodge, both of which allow children.

Red sand dunes of the kalahari in kgalagadi national park, south africa
Wildness Camps offer a feeling of true remoteness in the wild Kalahari Desert


Four 2-bed self-catering chalets (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*). Additional separate communal kitchen and dining room area. Overlooks a waterhole, lit at night with lions common. R2125 for two people. 20 km from Union’s End, 100km north of Nossob, at least 6 hours from Twee Rivieren and accessible to all cars.

Gharagab – 4×4 only

Four elevated 2-bed self-catering cabins (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) in the middle of savannah and camelthorn trees. No waterhole but the units all have a raised viewing deck overlooking the wilderness. Check-in at Nossob, 4 hours away. R2125 for two people. Accessible by 4×4 only, one way from Union’s End.


Four 2-bed self-catering cabins (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) on top of a dune, all with private decks overlooking a waterhole. Check-in at Twee Rivieren (1.5 hours drive) or Mata-Mata (2.5 hours drive). R2125 for two people.


Four 2-bed elevated, self-catering cabins (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) roughly halfway between Twee Rivieren and Mata-Mata. All units overlook the dry Auob River and a waterhole. Check-in at Twee Rivieren (2 hours away) or Mata-Mata (1.5 hours away). R2125 for two people, R2370 for the honeymoon cabin. Accessible to all vehicles. Camp surrounded by Camelthorn trees full of birds. The easiest wilderness camp to get to.

Bitterpan – 4×4 only

Four 2-bed ensuite chalets (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) with raised viewing decks overlooking a large pan and waterhole. Communal fully-equipped kitchen and braai area. Accessed via a one-way route from Nossob, 2½ hours away. Guests must exit towards Mata-Mata. A 4×4 is essential due to deep sand on the approach route. Unimogs and trailers (including 4×4 trailers) are not allowed. Trailers can be left at Nossob. Check-in at Nossob. R2125 for two people.

Kalahari Tented Camp

A larger camp (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) overlooking the dry Auob Riverbed with a waterhole visible from some tents. Fifteen units include tents for 2, family tents for up to 4, and one luxury honeymoon tent. Onsite swimming pool, but for other facilities, Mata-Mata is only 3 km further north. From R2090 for two people. Guided morning and sunset drives can be arranged from here.

!Xaus Lodge

A privately-run, community-owned luxury lodge (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) overlooking a large pan and a waterhole. All-inclusive at R5375/2500 per adult per night Foreigner/South African, discount for children under 16. Price includes all meals, guided game drives and bush walks, and visits to a Bushman Craft Village. Guests are met on the day of arrival at 2.30pm at the Kamqua picnic site halfway between Twee Rivieren and Mata-Mata. Guests may leave their car at the picnic site or drive their 4×4 vehicle in convoy with the lodge vehicles to !Xaus.

Camps in Botswana near the Nossob River

unfenced campsites in botswana, the toilet
unfenced campsites in botswana, the shower

There are three small campsites and two lodges on the Botswanan side of the Nossob River that are easily accessible from the South African side. If you return back to South Africa, you don’t need to complete border formalities or have a passport to visit these.

The campsites are all unfenced with basic facilities. They generally have shade, a longdrop toilet (flush at Two Rivers) and a bucket shower for which you have to provide your own water (provided for you at Two Rivers). You need to be fully self-sufficient and a 4×4 is required. They are run by Botswanan Parks and Reserves – see contact details box above to book in advance. Check-in at the Botswanan side of Twee Rivieren reception. Campsites are BWP120/60 (R160/80) adults/children plus vehicle entry fees BWP10-50 (R13-65).

The two lodges are run by private concessions and are both from R2000 per person, all-inclusive for meals with the option to book guided game drives. Children over 8 only.

Two Rivers Campsites

Four well-spaced campsites opposite Twee Rivieren, each with an A-frame and braai. Clean ablutions and flush toilets. Very small and quiet compared to the South African side where a shop and other facilities are available. Just outside of the park, so there are no large wild animals wandering through.

Rooiputs Campsite

Six well-spaced campsites, 25 km north of Twee Rivieren, each with a shaded area, braai. Shared longdrop toilet and shower between two sites. Bring your own water. All sites are similar and have good shade. Site KTROI-04 is at the end so feels more remote and has a nice view. KTROI-05 is slightly raised and has a view of a small waterhole. Renowned for lions in camp.

Polentswa Campsite

Three well-spaced campsites overlooking Polentsaw Pan, 55 km north of Nossob, each with a shaded area, braai and longdrop toilet. 4×4 vehicles only. Bring all your own water. KTPOL-01 has the best view of Polentswa Pan, while KTPOL-02 is large and slightly raised. KTPOL-03 has a lot of shade but the view to the Pan is slightly obscured.

Tashebube, Rooiputs and Polentswa Lodges

Rooiputs Lodge (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) has a wonderful location in the desert 25 km north of Twee Rivieren. The eleven chalets all have an expansive view over a waterhole. Polentswa lodge (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) overlooks Polentswa Pan, 60 km north of Nossob. Eight safari tents all with a view over the pan and a waterhole.

Outside Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

red sand dunes of the kalahari north of uppington

Kgalagadi Lodge

Kgalagadi Lodge (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a private lodge just outside of the park, 5 minutes to the south. There’s both camping and chalet accommodation. Camping and chalets. Rental of 4×4 cars is also available here from R1200 per day. Remember to book your Kgalagadi Park visit in advance as day visitors are limited to 20 per day. Try using the SAN Parks online system or check the Kgalagadi Park contact details box.

Border Crossings in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

You can enter Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park from South Africa, Botswana or Namibia, It’s possible to visit the entire park without having to complete border formalities as long as you leave back into the same country.

If you want to exit into a different country, you have to complete border formalities at Twee Rivieren and spend a minimum of two nights inside the park. You only need a passport if you leave via a different country. Immigration control at Twee Rivieren is open 07:30-16:00 every day.

Entering Botswana from Kgalagadi

You currently (Oct 2021) need to comply with Covid rules such as a PCR test within 72 hours of entering Botswana.

To enter Botswana from South Africa, you must complete exit and entry formalities at Twee Rivieren. A ZA sticker and your vehicle (4×4 only) papers are required. You have to buy a temporary import permit (TIP) and third party car insurance, both of which you pay for at the border. The total cost is P160 (R210) and an extra P20 (R26) for a trailer. This fee is payable at the Botswanan immigration in Twee Rivieren and cards are accepted.

To enter South Africa from Botswana, you will complete both sets of border formalities at Twee Rivieren.

Entering Namibia from Kgalagadi

This border is currently closed due to Covid.

To enter Namibia from South Africa, you must complete exit formalities at Twee Rivieren. A ZA sticker and your vehicle papers are required, and you have to pay a road levy of R242 per vehicle and R154 per trailer. This fee is payable at Namibian immigration at the Mata Mata Border Post. It can be paid in Rand or Namibian Dollars, only in cash.

To enter South Africa from Namibia, you will complete exit formalities at the Mata Mata Border Post. You must also report to passport control at Twee Rivieren to enter South Africa or if you are continuing through to Botswana.

Waterholes and Wildlife in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

A small selection of the waterholes are mentioned below, though obviously, it mainly depends on luck what you’re going to see. The best times are always the early morning and evening, though we also saw the three big cats and a brown hyena in the middle of the day.

Near Twee Rivieren Rest Camp

lions near twee rivieren, kgalagadi transfrontier park


Although only 5 km north of Twee Rivieren, this is an excellent waterhole to spot predators. Lions are common, and cheetahs can also be seen here. It’s just past the turnoff to Mata-Mata: if you’re headed in that direction, drive 100 metres further to check this waterhole before moving on. It’s at the confluence of the Auob and Nossob Rivers. You can pop here from Twee Rivieren an hour before the gates close and sit to see what arrives.

herd of springbok in the kalahari national park


20 km north of Twee Rivieren, a good place to see both spotted and brown hyenas if you’re lucky and arrive at first light or stay until just before dark. There are often lots of grazing animals nearby. Not too far from Twee Rivieren, it’s another good waterhole to sit at and wait for dark.

Near Nossob Rest Camp

Marie Se Draai

12 km south of Nossob, a good place to see leopards, cheetahs and antelope. It’s not so far from Nossob and is nice in the sunset. There are many birds of prey here, especially yellow-billed kites.

gemsbok near nossob rest camp

Cubitje Quap

10 km north of Nossob, a good place to see lions if you’re lucky and many birds. Since it’s close to Nossob, it’s a good place to check out in the evening just before returning to camp.

lion at a waterhole in kgalagadi gemsbok national park


A nice waterhole 30 km south of Nossob. Herds of gemsbok are common here.

gemsbok and green grass in the kalahari, kaspersdraai waterhole, gemsbok national park

Near Mata-Mata Rest Camp

lions at craig lockhart waterhole in kgalagadi

Craig Lockhart Waterhole

17 km south of Mata-Mata. A good place to see giraffes, lions and leopards if you’re lucky. 

leopard at a waterhole in kgalagadi transfrontier park

Dertiende Boorgat

A waterhole 40 km south of Mata-Mata and 10 km north of Urikaruus. A good place to see leopards, Cape fox and lions. Great for birds. Also saw a brown hyena in the middle of the day here.

dunes in the kalahari and a salt pan


Large pan/waterhole in the middle of the sand dunes halfway along the Upper Dune Road between the main roads of Twee Rivieren/Mata-Mata and Twee Rivieren/Nossob. 80 km from both Mata-Mata and Nossosb. The Dune Roads tend to have less wildlife than the riverbeds, but many steenbok.

The Best Time of Year to Visit Kgalagadi

ostrich in yellow flowers and long grass in the kalahari

There are advantages and disadvantages of visiting the Kgalagadi at any season in any time of year. Summer brings heavy rain showers and thunderstorms which turn the grass green and luscious flowers appear. Animals have their young and predators concentrate along the dry riverbeds to chase them and shelter under the shade of the large trees. The roads can be slightly tricky after rain and the middle of the day can be very hot. Winter is the dry season and the landscape turns to desert. Game concentrates around waterholes but the morning and evening light comes and goes very quickly. The days are short and the nights can be extremely cold.

Picnic Spots in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

None of the picnic spots are fenced, so check your surroundings before leaving your vehicle. All picnic sites have ablutions and tables.

auchterlonie stone cottage at auchterlonie picnic site
Stone cottage at Auchterlonie


Seven shaded sites, each with a picnic table at a spot raised above the Auob Riverbed. The small, adjacent Auchterlonie Museum documents life here 100 years ago, based in a restored stone cottage. There’s also a reconstructed animal kraal and well. 37 km from Twee Rivieren, 81 km from Mata-Mata.


Picnic tables under trees. 1km south of the Upper Dune Road cut across to Nossob, 113 km away. 55 km from Mata-Mata, 61 km from Twee Rivieren.


Picnic tables under trees. 50 km north of Twee Rivieren, 120 km south of Nossob.


Picnic tables under trees 60 km south of Nossob, 110 km north of Twee Rivieren. Storks like to sit in the trees here.

sociable weaver in the kalahari gemsbok national park
ground squirrels in northern cape, south africa


A small site with tables under trees, 65 km north of Nossob and 52 km south of Union’s End. Many sociable weavers can be found here.

Union’s End

Picnic tables under trees. 117 km north of Nossob, 283 km from Twee Rivieren and just south of the turnoff to Gharagab.

Twee Rivieren and Nossob

Both Twee Rivieren and Nossob have day visitor areas with tables underneath trees where guests not staying overnight can relax.

I hope you found this guide to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park useful. If so, check out our guide to Mabuasehube just across the border, or discover other national parks in Botswana. If you like national parks and hiking, discover more in our South Africa Guide.

Guidebooks to explore more of South Africa

Kgalagadi National Park was one of the last stops on our two-month road trip around South Africa which you can find out more about in my book*.

FAQS – Kgalagadi

What is the speed limit in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park?

The speed limit in Kgalagadi is 50 km/h, 20 km/h in the rest camps and 25 km/h on the 4×4 routes.

What does Kgalagadi mean?

Kgalagadi means ‘thirstland’ in the local language of the San Bushmen. The name Kalahari is a derivation of this.

What should I take to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park?

There are only three small shops (selling water, braai wood, basic food etc.) within the park so you should take everything you need to Kgalagadi, including food. A headlamp, binoculars, camera with a zoom lens if you have one should also be taken. It gets cold, especially in winter, so take a thick jacket, and extra blankets if camping.

Where is Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park?

Kgalagadi is 2hr30 and 250 km north of Uppington in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The park is 11 hours and 1080 km from Cape Town, and 10 hours and 910 km from Johannesburg.

Do you need a 4×4 in Kgalagadi?

You do not need a 4×4 in Kgalagadi National Park but if you don’t have one your choice of roads will be limited, your ride will be bumpy and you will miss being elevated for better viewing of the wildlife.

How big is Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park?

Kgalagadi Park is 38,000 km², almost the size of the Netherlands, with one-third in South Africa and two-thirds in Botswana.

sunset over the kgalagadi
Sunset over Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

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    1. Hi Shane! Union’s End is the meeting point between South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Before it was called the Republic of South Africa, the country’s name was the Union of South Africa (it changed in 1961 when South Africa left the Commonwealth headed by the Queen and became a republic with a president). So Union’s End just meant the end point of the Union of South Africa.

  1. What helpful information!
    May I ask if you know (I’ve contacted every nr for the park to no avail), if we book a 2 sleeper, will the park add a mattress for our young son? It’s for one of the nights where we could only find 2 sleeper chalets open.

    1. Hi Bernadine,
      Sorry, I don’t know the answer to your question.
      The phone operating hours for SANParks are reduced over the Christmas period, maybe that’s why you’re having trouble getting through? See opening hours below.
      Have you also tried SANParks central reservations numbers: +27 (0)12 428 9111 or +27 (0)82 233 9111.
      25-26 December 2021: Closed
      27-30 December 2021: Open 07h30 to 14h00
      31 December 2021: Open 07h30 to 12h00
      1-2 January 2022: Closed
      3 January 2022 onwards: Open 07h30 to 16h00 weekdays.

      Good luck!

  2. Can a single 4×4 vehicle travel west to east from Nossob (Kgalagadi) to Mabuasehube part of the park and which route is recommended please? (No other accompanying vehicle)

    1. Hi Janet! Yes, a single 4×4 vehicle can travel both west to east and east to west on the Nossob-Bosobogolo 4×4 Access Trail between Nossob and Mabuasehube, and you don’t need to book this. That route is fine for a single vehicle, though obviously remember to take recovery gear! The drive takes between 5 and 9 hours. As a single vehicle, you are NOT ALLOWED to take the Mabuasehube Wilderness 4×4 Trail, which must be booked in advance and you must travel Mabuasehube to Nossob (east to west).

  3. How can I make personal contact with the Tourism manager of the Kgalagadi. I only receive a automatic reply referring to various booking facilities when I send a e-mail to [email protected]

    1. Hi Chris, I think phoning the Kgalagadi park reception on 054 561 2000 or 21 552 0008 would be the best option to get contact details for the tourism manager.

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