Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

The African predator experience of a lifetime is located at Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park’s section in South Africa, known as the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Set in the harsh location of a red sand dune desert, this park offers a uniquely authentic experience of wildlife and environment alike. Here you can spend the day watching breathtaking black-maned lions, cheetahs and hyenas to name just a few. While Kgalagadi is not host to elephants or rhinos and other members of the Big Five, it is host to some simply stunning predators, and a few friendly meerkat faces too.

  • Best Time To Go


  • Average Safari Cost:

    $150-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $30 for adults; $15 for children

  • Highlights

    True wilderness experience, fantastic Khalahari landscapes, black-maned lions, meerkats; special landscape photography and birdwatching

Why Visit Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa?

Kgalagadi National Park is a very special location in South Africa, and one that is all too often missed out of a trip to the rainbow nation. Its harsh and wide-spanning red desert is something to be in absolute awe of, as is its world-renowned black-maned lions which are widely thought of as some of the most beautiful in all of Africa.

Though Kgalagadi spans two countries, South Africa and Botswana, the best side to be on is the South African where there are properly developed facilities and all of the major wildlife viewing opportunities. It is an ideal location for those who are returning to South Africa for the second time, or for experienced safari-goers seeing as the park has just two of the Big Five present. Being off-the-beaten-track, though, helps to make you feel much closer to the wildlife than at big national parks as Kgalagadi never gets crowded. Kgalagadi is honestly a South African hidden gem, so we recommend being ‘in’ on the secret and heading there yourself.

Pros And Cons

  • Brilliant predator viewing
  • Spectacular photography opportunities
  • Authentic African desert scenery and landscape
  • Fantastic birdwatching
  • Off-the-beaten-track, meaning that the park is often quiet and non-touristy
  • Not a Big Five destination, so the variety of wildlife is lesser than other parks
  • Quite far away from South Africa’s main tourist destinations
  • Very hot temperatures can sometimes be unbearable, so plan around this

Best Time To Go

The best time to head to Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park in terms of wildlife viewing is in the months of March through to May when animals congregate on the riverbeds at the end of the rains. However, this time of year is coincidentally the hottest time of year, meaning temperatures can often get uncomfortable and difficult to manage. That’s why we recommend heading to Kgalagadi in the months of May through to September, when it’s cooler, but still excellent for wildlife viewing as there is little vegetation to obstruct visibility in this desert park at all times of year.

If this time of year doesn’t work for you, it is possible to head to Kgalagadi during the months of October through to April and still catch sights of your favourite predator. October through to April is the best time to go bird-watching in the park as the migratory birds are present in the park, so if birding is your thing, you know what to do. As well as this, the photographers among you will also appreciate this time of year to take photos of the scenery, predators and birds as things are somewhat easier. Just remember that the temperature in the months of November through to February range from 35 to 45 degrees Celsius, so ensure you are hydrated and can handle intense heat well!

Start your African Adventure

Wildlife And Birds

For a spectacular view of South Africa’s majestic predators, Kgalagadi National Park is the place to be. Spend your time there watching the world famous Kalahari lions and charming meerkats who pop up around you while on your travels. You will also catch sights of the bat-eared fox, leopard and hyena around the park and it will truly be a safari to remember.
List Of Animals
  • Lion
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Hyena
  • Giraffe

Rare Animals

  • Giraffe
  • Wild dog
  • Pangolin

Frequently Seen Animals

  • Lion
  • Leopard
  • Cheetah
  • Hyena
  • Wildebeest
  • Meerkat


Over 300 species of bird have been recorded at Kgalagadi with 102 of them being actual residents of the park. Kgalagadi is one of the best parks in South Africa for birds of prey, of which it has 46 species, which are best viewed in November through to April, but are still observed all through the year.

p>Endangered Birds

  • Pacific golden plover
  • Western marsh-hamier
  • Wilson’s phalarope
  • Green sandpiper
  • Ruppell’s vulture

Endemic Birds

  • Black-chested snake eagle
  • Bateleur
  • White-backed and lappet-faced vulture
  • Tawny eagle
  • Martian eagle
  • Kori bustard

Getting There And Safety

As the South African side of the park has proper facilities and campsites unlike the Botswana side, it is best to fly into O. R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg. From there, Kgalagadi is 584 miles away, so you could rent a car and drive or get a connecting flight to Upington Airport (UTN) and drive for the remaining 124 miles.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to South Africa

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to South Africa

For more details see our South African Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

For details about visas see our South African Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Please note that malaria risk is high around the year in all areas below 1,800m. To protect yourself you should avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeve tops and long trousers especially in the evenings, using insect repellents and, when required, sleeping under a mosquito net.

For more details about vaccinations, see our South African Safari - Complete Travel Guide.

Drinking Water

According to AfricaCheck, "South Africa is relatively poorly endowed with water resources and is considered a “water-stressed” country.

"However, according to the Department of Environmental Affairs, South Africa’s drinking water supplies are of international standard and in compliance with World Health Organisation requirements".

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in South Africa. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of the safari trip cover.

What To Pack

You should pack clothes suitable for both hot and cold weather as days can be very hot followed by very cold nights. Your clothes should be in neutral tones, not bright colours. Other items to pack include: insect repellent, camera, torch, binoculars, sunglasses and sun block.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.