Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park: Camps
Travel time: 05/2013, 05/2012.
A typical game day starts early at 5:00 in summer or 5:30 am in winter season with a wake-up call as the animals are more active at this time and to avoid the heat of the day. After a quick coffee or tea the jeep leaves around 5:30 (6:00) at dawn. In winter it is cold at this time of the day especially while driving with an open vehicle. Blankets are provided for protection but better bring your warm winter cloth with you. The morning game drive takes usually 3 hours including a break with hot coffee or only some water dependent on the camp chosen. On return at around 9:00 breakfast is ready.
Now is relaxing time until lunch is served at around 2:30 to 3:00 pm.
Between 4:00 and 5:00 pm the afternoon game drive starts with another 3 to 4 hours drive through the reserve hoping to pop into something interesting and last usually into the early night. A short stop around sunset for a sun downer. Also this drive can get cold in winter after sunset so take something warm with you. After the return at around 7:00 pm dinner will be served and time for the camp fire is up.
At rainy days all game drives are postponed as it will be very uncomfortable to drive with an open vehicle, you camera equipment would get very wet and also the animals will hide in the dense bushes to protect themselves from rain.
The bush walk starts at the same time than the game drive and usually directly from the camp with armed guides in front. You have to walk behind each others to keep the silhouette small. Also you should keep silent and watch out where you place your feet to avoid noise by stepping onto dry branches and because of the uneven surface.
The bush walk is more intended for a closer look to animal tracks, birds, insects and the surrounding vegetation because on foot it is nearly impossible to get close to any larger animals. Good guides will stop here and there for detailed explanations. Usually after 1.5 hours of walking a short break will give time to relax. Take some water with you as nothing will be provided at that break. On return at around 9:00 breakfast will be ready.
- Come in the off-season to avoid the crowd. May is a perfect month as the weather is dry and sunny with ambient temperatures at day and cold nights. Fewer guests at the game drive means more chance to stay as long as you like close to animals to get the best picture. And none of the animals hibernates.
- If you come here in winter bring a windbreaker, a warm fleece, light gloves and a head covering as it is cool at the morning game drive or after the sun is down at the evening game drive.
- Bring some clear glasses if your eyes have problems to tolerate the airstream as you travel in open vehicles on dusty dirt roads.
- Bring a bottle and some fruit powder because the water from the tap is drinkable but not always very tasty.
- If everything worked well drop a tip of 100 R per day which usually will be divided between the guides (2/3) and the staff (1/3). If everything was perfect it could be more ;-).
Booking Klaserie and Sabi Sands:
Siyabona Africa (www.siyabona.com) offers carefully chosen standard programs on their website which varies from basic to luxury. But if nothing will really suit you just let them know your expectations and they will come up with a nice proposal. The communication via mail worked excellent and they did not get tired offering me different programs until one was suitable. And they met my expectations fully as everything worked very well. The flights, the transfers to the camps and also the camps were exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for this nice holiday Dominique.
Just one recommendation: Do not change camps too often as the packing and unpacking is a fun killer.
Dantes Liebenberg (www.kalahari-tours.co.za) runs customized 4x4 tours and camping all over South Africa, Bozwana, Simbabwe and Namibia since more than 20 years. Tell him what you are looking for (nature, animals, photos, movies, motorbike tours, etc.), how much time you bring and what you are willing to spend and he will tailor the perfect tour for you (example). His headquarter is in Upington which has an airport and is only 250 km away from the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. On his compound he has a lodge for guests arriving late or flying out early. The lodge offers basic cooking facilities, a bed room and a small bath. Children are welcome.
He is an excellent off-road driver and spots animals from far while driving. He knows the country and its national parks very well and can tell you everything about the animals you are watching. He takes much care about the customers needs, install the camp sites and cooks very well.
Best is that he is the administrator of a beautiful private owned reserve area called Cammspannen bordering the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Namibia.
Africa on Foot (2012)
Africa on Foot is located in the Klaserie private reserve less than 40 minutes drive from Hoedspruid airport and pick-up can be arranged if you don't come with your own car. To enter this reserve a conservation fee of 25 R/day is charged as well as a gate fee of 120 R for every time you enter the reserve. The Klaserie landscape around the camp is more or less flat grass land with lots of bushes and some threes. It is kept in its natural way except the dirt roads. Spotting animals is tricky because of the dense vegetation but the pictures taken are much more "natural" looking.
The big advantage to stay at Africa on Foot or nThambo is that three landlords are sharing their property which includes also Gomo Gomo property. And all guides from all the camps are staying in radio contact informing each other if they spotted something interesting while on a game drive. That means more chance to see some rare animals. They also will avoid turning more than two vehicles to the spot at the same time to avoid too much pressure onto the animals and to get pictures without a jeep in the background. But that means too that you may have to wait close to the spot until one of the jeeps left the sight or you may have to give way for others after a certain time.
Africa on Foot is specialized in morning bush walks (refer to "General Information" above) but they are very flexible. So if you do not want to do another morning bush walk at the next day, they will find a place on a jeep from another camp. Even they may call in a jeep if one is around when it is too tricky to approach animals on foot, drive to the animals and continue the bush walk afterwards. At afternoon only the normal game drives are offered as they are lasting into the might.
The camp Africa on Foot (avi-video 29 MB) has 5 round huts in African style which are nicely decorated inside. Two beds with soft mattress, an open shelf to stow away your personal items and in an open extra chamber a bathroom with washing bow, toilet and shower with hot water. As all windows have a mesh there is no mosquito net around the beds. Bring your own if you are a mosquito-magnet or fear them too much.
After dark two petroleum lamps next to the beds will spend warm light for a romantic atmosphere. If necessary you can switch on two additional portable LED lamps. A portable fan will spend some cooling breeze at night if necessary. Power supply is limited as most energy comes from solar panels. The only charging station for personal electrical equipment is next to the dining area.
The dining area as well as the living room is also nicely decorated in African style as well as the small bar where drinks are available for reasonable prices. For the very hot days a dip into the small pool will be refreshing or spend the time between the game drives up on the tree house where mostly a bit of a breeze is blowing. On request you can sleep on the second floor of this tower overlooking the landscape. Here is the best reception (Vodacom) for mobile phones but for internet the connectivity is mostly not good enough.
Coffee and tea are available all around the day. The breakfast after the morning game drive/bush walk is good with eggs, meat and toast. Lunch is more basic but surprisingly tasty, dinner will be served as buffet or as braai from the camp fire which is already up when returning from the afternoon game drive.
Highly recommendable if you like to get close to the nature.
nThambo Tree Houses (2012)
The camp nThambo is close to the Africa on Foot camp. Please refer to the description from Africa on Foot for the landscape and benefits of the game drives here. nThambo offers two game drives a day but can also arrange bush walks with Africa on Foot.
nThambo (avi-video 26 MB) has 5 very well maintained and clean tree houses with their open front overlooking the landscape. The houses are actually not build in trees but they are at the same level than a tree house would be. The open front can be closed easily if the wind blows too hard. Even with the front closed it is still windy inside as the houses are build from wood and tent cotton and have no solid walls or flooring. All rooms have sufficient space, two beds with semi-soft mattresses and a good mosquito net around the bed. All tree houses have their own toilet, hot shower and electricity all around the day. Internet via mobile phone (Vodacom) is mostly possible.
The living, dining and bar area in a separate building are nicely build from wood with a high roof top, very well maintained and wide open to the bush land. A bonfire area is enclosed as well as additional toilets, a small pool and a sun deck. Coffee and tea are available all around the day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are buffet style, delicious and mostly with some traditional food. Vegetarian or gluten free meals are available on request. Once or twice a week a traditional braai will replace the dinner buffet.
Highly recommendable as it offers a very relaxing stay in the middle of the wild.
The camp Umkumbe is located inside the Sabi Sands private reserve and around 2 hours drive away from KMIA airport at Nelspruit. The landscape around the camp is divided into three different areas: Next to the camp is a river where sometimes animals can be spotted at night as the area is illuminated by floodlights. If you are lucky also at daylight some animals can be seen right from the camps terrace. On the other side of the camp alternate dense scrubland with larger grass areas. On the plateau of the Umkumbe reserve the landscape opens wide as only a few bushes and trees are present because the granite surface hinders their growth naturally.
To have a better view onto the animals they cut or burn down the grass in regular turns and the fresh green after the cut attracts even more animals. Hundreds of animals can be seen here at once. The drawback is pictures from animals in a man-made nature. As the whole area is on higher elevation also the temperatures are lower than in the lowlands. They can also arrange bush walks.
The Umkumbe camp (avi-video 31 MB) has 7 solid bungalows, some equipped with an own terrace facing the river. The rooms are equipped with a king-size bed with hard mattress and a mosquito net as well as AC and a safe for valuables. In a separate room are toilet, washing bowl and a shower with hot water. The rooms could be a bit better maintained. The main area has a large air-conditioned living room with sofa, a billiard table and dart board for rainy days and a covered front with some sofa where the coffee and tea facility is located.
A large terrace with a small pool invites for sun bathing or animal spotting. Next to it is the dining area with a bar at the rear where all kind of drinks are available for reasonable prices. Also a bonfire area for the dinner is present as well as additional toilets. The breakfast at 9:00 is good, the lunch basic with only some toast sandwiches and good dinner as buffet mostly with some local food.
Recommendable for easy animal spotting.
Cammspannen can only be booked via www.kalahari-tours.co.za as self-organized tour or with Dantes Liebenberg as guide and organizer. Dantes is a experienced off-road driver, has a proper 4x4, spots wildlife from far while driving, cooks quite well and serve the customer very well. What ever your request is he can organize it.
Cammspannen is a 12 800 ha private reserve area bordering the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Namibia and is not far from Twee Rivieren, the south entrance to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It is one of the most remote, unspoiled areas of South Africa with lots of smaller wild life as well as gemsbok, springbok, duiker, steenbok and ostrich. You may also spot leopard, hyena, caracal, jackal and African wild cat. At a night game drive you may find porcupine, aardwolf and fox.
The Cammspannen camp has only the most necessary camping infrastructure: A corrugated-iron shack with gas cooking facilities were Dantes prepared breakfast and dinner, a separate shack with shower, washing bowl and a toilet, some shady area to pitch tents, a braai area and some 12V solar powered lights. The local water can only be used for washing but not for drinking. No mobile phone reception, no 230V electricity, no air-condition, no fence around the camp. Only pure beautiful nature :-))
Kgalagadi Lodge (2013)
The Kgalagadi Lodge (www.kgalagadi-lodge.co.za) is only 6 km away from Twee Rivieren, the southern entrance of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. It has some camping areas with clean and well maintained private bathrooms with shower, washing bowl and toilet. They are that large that you do not need to pitch your tent ;-) Electric outlets are outside of the bathroom as well as a shaded area.
They also have well maintained bungalows for singles (450 R), couples (600 R) and families (750 R) with AC, TV and a fully equipped kitchen. The main building at the entrance hosts a shop with a small bakery and a restaurant open only until 6 pm. The restaurant also offers delivery service (menu) to your place even after 6 pm on request. A small pool for kids is is next to the restaurant. Everything is very well maintained.
Nossob Camp (2013)
The Nossob Camp is located inside the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park towards the southern end. Two many dirt roads, a off-road track and a few connection roads going through the park. Certain resting areas are installed with toilets where you are allowed to leave the car at your own risk.
The park has lots of animals to spot, big and small ones. As you are not allowed to leave the road bring very good binoculars and lenses with you. The game drive in the park is very well but not that spectacular than the game dives at the private areas at Krüger.
The Nossob Camp offers camping as well as large private lodges. Every place has its own camp fire place with a small table and seats. The shared facilities (washing / bath) for the camping area are shabby and not clean. Bring bath slippers. They also have a small pool as well as a shop.
Best is that they run their own game drives with tours at morning, sunset, night (time table & price list) and provide other activities. Next to the entrance is a hidden observation platform at an artificial water hole to attract the animals. Here you can take a seat with your binoculars and wait until something happen. At night two bright lights are switched on for night watching.
Not very recommendable because of the dirty bath rooms.