Situated on a strip of land on South Africa’s northern border with Botswana, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park gets its name from the word for ‘place of thirst.’ However, its arid semi-desert landscapes and sparse vegetation still manage to offer up incredible wildlife viewing, as well as being the ancestral homeland of the Khomani San Bushmen.
Spanning South Africa and Botswana, with both animals and visitors able to cross the unfenced border unhindered, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park covers 15,000 square miles – twice the size of Kruger National Park.
From the South African gateway town of Upington, safari goers can admire an impressive array of species. While known as an excellent destination for encountering predatory big cats such as cheetah, leopard, and lion, the park also boasts a pack of highly endangered Cape wild dog.
At the other end of the spectrum, crowd-pleasers include lovable meerkat, and large seasonal herds of ungulates comprising wildebeest, springbok, hartebeest, and eland. The region’s birding is particularly strong on raptor species, such as secretary birds, eagles, and buzzards.
In addition to its wildlife options, visitors to Kgalagadi have the chance to explore some of the heritage of the Khomani San, and experience some of the finest night skies anywhere in the world. The park’s !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park area became Africa’s first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2019.