An oasis in the desert

This post is the first post of  Kalahari  Series II – 2011Also see Kalahari Series I – 2009.

We have just returned from another wonderful trip to the Kalahari – specifically the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) – with lots of stories and photographs to share.

We went a month earlier in the year (early August as apposed to our normal period of  September – October), and even a month made a difference to our experience. It was colder (we’re still in our winter here in the southern hemisphere) than we are used to, one morning getting down to MINUS 7 degrees Celsius. A dry cold, without snow or frost. Daytime temperatures were a lot milder than we usually experience. Also there was a difference in the game we saw. We came across big herds of buck – Blue Wildebeest, Springbok and Red Hartebeest with the smaller herds of Gemsbok – but there were fewer young buck around. September seems to be the month for babies. We had wonderful sightings of lions, leopards, cheetah and foxes, but none of the little African Wild Cats. There were lots of little birds about, but relatively few of the raptors we are used to seeing in large quantities. I was hoping to photograph the Kalahari spiders and bugs this year, but except for the odd moth and bees, there were few around. However, there were also very few snakes around – we only saw one whereas normally there are lots of Cape Cobras and Puff Adders around. Which I have to say I was very happy about, even if it meant missing out on some photo opportunities!

So where was the oasis? At the entrance to the KTP, they have now built a new reception area/main gate/border control. (This was already there during our 2009 visit, but as I wasn’t thinking like a blogger yet, I didn’t take any photos!) Previously these functions resided in several different, separately located buildings. The new building which houses all the functions under one roof can only be described an oasis. This odd looking building somehow fits in with scenery, yet is nice and cool inside. A haven from the dust, harsh Kalahari sun and heat outside. The KTP has counters where they can process your arrival, and you can relax after a long drive (for us about a day and a half from the Southern Cape). And if you are going to travel through the KTP to Botswana or Namibia (both countries border on the KTP), officials from those countries can attend to you at their counters.

While Willie did the official business, I wandered around and looked at everything. The architecture of the building and colours and design of interiors and exteriors, were very carefully thought out to reflect the area and the culture of the indigenous people. Things were functional, yet beautiful. You can also sit and look at information pamphlets and books in the very comfy “lounge area”. What a great way to ease into the Kalahari experience!

The “new” Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park reception building

A close up of the front entrance

Inside – an oasis of soft lighting, coolness and comfort.

Booking in – a calming experience for the hot, frazzled traveller.

An interesting carving.

And its companion piece.

A magnificent sculpture outside of Gemsbok (the female with the thinner longer straight horns).

The Kalahari 2011 Series:


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Categories: Lifestyle/Travel


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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23 Comments on “An oasis in the desert”

  1. August 23, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    The building looks almost identical to the one at the KNP Orpen gate near me. They must have used the same architect/designer. I love the cool that they offer when you arrive 🙂

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

      Well, whoever designed these buildings, I think they did a great job. I could also have sat there for quite a while! It was so cool and calming after a long drive.

  2. Sarita Botha
    August 23, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    The look of the building inside and out looks calm and relaxing. Looks like whoever designed it, got it spot on.

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      Yes, I totally agree. They have carried some of the themes to other buildings and structures. Which you will be seeing a lot of in the weeks to come as I photographed just about everything! 😉

  3. August 23, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Unique finish! great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

      Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment! 🙂 I will writing more posts on the design of the buildings there.

  4. August 23, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    We were there in February 2008 and boy I would give my left arm to be able to go back! It was amazing!

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      Hi Tara! Well, we’ve just got back and I am already missing it. It’s such an unusual environment – so different to the Southern Cape. And of course being without television, radio and phones, you really relax and just enjoy your surroundings.

  5. Lu
    August 23, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Welcome back! – I’m looking forward to reading this series 🙂

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

      Thank you, Lu! Be careful what you wish for . . . I have a LOT of material to publish! Have already started making notes of the posts I want to write.

  6. August 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Again what beautiful pictures that transport us to your part of the world.

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

      Thank you! I’ll be posting a lot more photos in the coming weeks, to try and share our trip with everyone.

  7. August 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    It’s great to have you back. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures. Welcome home!

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

      Thank you Kathy! It’s good to be home again. I didn’t have Internet access during the trip, so have a lot of catching up to do re: the blogs I follow. Was already reading yours on my phone on the car trip back again, but still want to comment on your posts.

  8. August 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Cool building. Is there lodging there too, or is it just for passing through?

    • August 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

      This building is at the main gate to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, and is just the main office, but there is a camp at Twee Rivieren close by.

  9. August 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    welcome back!!!!

  10. jacquelincangro
    August 24, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    Looks like a great start to a lovely vacation. I can’t wait to hear more about it. Welcome home!

    • August 24, 2011 at 7:34 am #

      Thanks Jackie! You are definitely going to be hearing more – took lots of photos . . . 😉

  11. August 24, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    This looks great – I can’t wait to see the rest.

  12. September 8, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    I’ve never been to the park – but now that we are seeing it through your eyes, it is definitely on my ‘must-do’ list!

    Normally, these kind of visitors’ centres stick out of the landscape like sore thumbs – but this looks simply beautiful, and as though a lot of thought went into creating this welcoming and cool oasis in the desert.

    • September 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      We really love it in the Kgalagadi – maybe you can tell?! 😉 We both like semi-desert landscapes – very different to the areas we normally spend time in. We’re wondering whether Etosha is worth a visit – any comments on this?

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