While Kruger National Park was the out-and-out winner for your favourite park in South Africa, here are the runners-up.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape
There are few other protected areas in Southern Africa that can match Kgalagadi’s size, sense of wilderness and range of accommodation options. Spread across two national parks in South Africa (9 591 square kilometres) and Botswana (28 400 square kilometres), this cross-border conservation area is larger than most small countries. Contained within it are Southern Africa’s last migrating herds of springbok, as well as hundreds of wildebeest and eland and large indigenous lion and cheetah populations.
‘The palette of natural colours Kgalagadi has to offer is a photographer’s dream,’ adds Capetonian reader Anton Lotz of the park set within the Kalahari Desert, a three-hour drive north of Upington. Its landscape is defined by endless dunes, which are fixed in position by the vegetation despite strong prevailing August winds. Cutting through these dune fields are two ephemeral rivers – the Auob and the Nossob – which flow only every few decades when rainfall is particularly good. The two main roads follow these dry riverbeds, as do most of the animals, which congregate around 120 manmade waterholes tapping into ground-water reserves more than 50 metres below. Along with fences on the western and southern borders of the park, these boreholes are people’s only real influence in this massive conservation area; the rest of the park’s ecological system operates pretty much unhindered, as it has done for tens of thousands of years.
Another reason Anton and others love Kgalagadi is that it’s less well known than some other parks. ‘The wildlife experiences are more intimate and the enjoyment of nature more personal.’
It’s one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas, yet visitors can choose from a variety of comfortable accommodation options, including eight small, unfenced wilderness camps (each with eight fully equipped self-catering chalets), as well as campsites and chalets at the three larger camps of Twee Rivieren, Nossob and Mata-Mata. Privately owned !Xaus Lodge is a communityrun luxury concession in the southwest of the park.
Visit in November or December. Although temperatures are high, the first thunderstorms would have transformed the semi-arid landscape into a wonderland of life. You’ll also miss the busy winter season and get a 30 per cent discount if you visit between 1 November and 15 December.
A morning walk with a ranger at Twee Rivieren, Nossob or Mata-Mata gives you a chance to stretch your legs and learn about the survival strategies of plants and animals.
Get away from the busy southern region and