9th to the 15th of August 2018
We returned to Upington to then turn north to the Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park but first stayed overnight at a camp ground on the Orange River 100 kilometres outside Upington which was very quiet and peaceful. It was going to be a very cold night again so we lit a fire and stayed toasty warm until we turned in. The next morning the water in the kettle was frozen and all the taps in the van and the shower block were also frozen. The sun must have reached the womens side first because that side got water through first so there was nothing else I could do but have a shower in the womens! We left reasonably late compared to what we have been doing because 1. We had to wait for the water pipes to thaw for a shower and 2. We only had around 100 kilometres to get to Upington. On arrival ion Upington we needed to pick up some last minute supplies and do a few other chores so decided to stay the night. We found a great coffee shop, did some food shopping and picked up a box of diesel fuel injector cleaner. Having also heard that the Kgalagadi Frontier Park was very busy at this time of year we decided to call into the National Parks office to see if we could book camp sites. To our dismay there was nothing available because it was a long weekend this weekend unbeknownst to us! Further more there was also none available for the coming two months however there are some private camp parks outside the National Park but they too were full for this weekend. So we decide to sit tight in Upington at a campground right in the city on the banks of the Orange river and is walking distance to most attractions in town. We spent one great afternoon at the Orange River Cellars doing a wine tasting as well as feasting on a Cheese Platter and a Kalahari Platter which was made up of all sorts of meat including different Biltongs, salami and ham. We also went out to the Upington Airport that apparently has one of the longest runways in the world and was used as an emergency runway for the Shuttle if it ever needed it. It also had a visit from the Concorde which is quite amazing for a small town! We also went out on a sunset boat ride on the Orange River one night and got talking to the owner who he said had a mate who might be able to get us into the Kgalagadi. The next day we met his mate Theo who gave us the tip on how to get into camp in the Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park. The park is actually in three countries, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana and at the southern entry both South Africa and Botswana have booking receptions and he said we must go to the Botswana one because they have an allotment of camp sites that never get used. So on arrival we did as Theo said, we entered the building and went left to the Botswana side and told the lady in reception our sad story of coming all the way from Australia and not being able to book a camp site. She gave us the most beautiful smile and said “let me see what I can do” and after about five minutes came back out and said she had a camp site for three nights for us! Not only that it was about half the price of the South African side but in the same camp ground!
It was quite a crowded camp site but everyone was great and we met quite a few characters over the three nights. Kgalagadi is a huge park mostly known for its predator cats and to cover it properly you would need weeks not days like we had but we did as much as we could in the time we had. On the first day we still had four and a half hours before the camp closed so we used that time to do a loop that ended up getting us back to camp with 10 minutes to spare before the gate closed. We managed to see lots of Gemsbok, Springbok, Blue Wilderbeest, Ostriches, a mother Cheetah and her two adolescent cubs and two male lions who were just finishing off a kill.
The next day we were out in the park all day and had morning coffee at one picnic site and then lunch at a second picnic site however these sites are not fenced so you do so at your own risk! Again we saw the same two lions and some different cheetah as well as a lot of other animals. Something else we had noticed here was the abundance of birdlife with many birds of prey and many other very beautiful birds.
On our last day we were up early and went through the camp gates when they opened at 7am.
We went straight to a nearby waterhole that we thought may have a lot of animals but it was bare so we then kept on down the road where we came upon two cheetah (more than likely adolescent brothers who had recently been given their marching orders by their Mum!) walking along beside the road.
We followed them from a reasonable distance and they ended up at another waterhole where they had a long drink and a good look around! About 100 metres further on we could see a small herd of Springbok and we thought we might be in with a chance to witness a kill.
Alas they decided to head off over the hill and we didn’t see them again but shortly after I was talking to a guide who said that they had killed a Springbok the previous day so would probably not be ready to kill again yet. We then headed back to the camp for breakfast and to do some washing in the camp laundry. After we had lunch we went out again but didn’t see any predator cats but did see some beautiful birds and managed to get some great photos of a Secretary Bird, Tawny Eagle and a Swallow tailed Bee-Eater.
We did really enjoy our time here but you do have to do a lot of driving to see not a huge amount of game. I think we covered about 430 kilometres over the 2 and a 1/2 days and most of that doing 30 to 40 KPH! From here we head back to Upington to pick up some provisions before crossing the border into Namibia.