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 Kalahari 2011 Series:
- An oasis in the desert – this post
- Take your camera to the bathroom (and other Kalahari safari tips)
- The long road North – Southern Cape to Upington
- The Long Road North – Upington
- Showing your kid where its food comes from
- Fierce Creatures
- Gemsbok Graphics
- The Long Road North – Upington to Twee Rivieren and beyond
- Campfire story: The Last Outpost
- Slip-Slap-Slop-Slide and other Bush Beauty Tips
- Hey Mom . . . wait for me!
- A tough customer
- Frenzy at the “water hole” – includes the movie
- The Camp Cat