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Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

Naracoorte
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Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

We have recently returned from our trip to Augrabies Falls (3 days) and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (17 days) which was our first visit to both parks. Below a trip summary which may help others in planning.

We flew to Upington. Short pleasant flight; Upington airport very well laid out and appointed. Desert 4x4 supplied our hire vehicle and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. Friendly, professional service and excellent vehicles. We used a Toyoto Hilux dual cab fitted with a canopy and fridge. Upington is quite scenic spread out along the river and has all shops and services one would need. The drive to Augrabies Falls is straight forward and took about 1 1/2 hours.

The park exceeded our expectations. The landscape and scenery with such unique geology and dramatic falls and gorges is stunning. Sanparks accommodation is some of the best we have experienced anywhere. Staff wonderful. Three days here was just right for us to explore the park. Don't overlook this park.

Kgalagadi was a VERY different experience to any other park we have been to; even Etosha which is also a semi-arid park. It is an easy 2 1/2 hour drive from Upington on excellent roads.

Putting aside the landscape and wildlife for a moment...I cannot emphasise enough just how much the dramatically LOWER number of visitors impacts positively on the experience. No wonder it is so hard to book!!! There are hardly any chalets in Nossob and Mata Mata and with the exclusivity of the wilderness camps (only 4 couples at each) it makes for a very relaxed experience. In 17 days the most vehicles at a predator sighting including our own was 6! We saw NO bad behaviour or rudeness or littering or other disrespectful behaviour that one sadly sees at some other more busy parks. It was pure bliss!

I would strongly advise to stay at Kielie Krankie and Gharagab which were both superb and kept in immaculate condition by the dedicated staff. The setting is breathtaking and awe inspiring in such huge boundless space and timeless landscapes. I can only imagine that Urikaruus and Grootkolk are similarly wonderful. We weren't taken as much by Bitterpan but had fun getting up the one steep dune on the 4x4 route (third time lucky!).

There were mornings leaving camp at KK and Gharagab that we saw not a SINGLE other car in the first two hours of driving. Even leaving Nossob or Mata Mata the 4 or 5 cars waiting at the gate soon dispersed and then you feel like you are alone on the road!

The roads were no where near as bad as I thought they might be and they were constantly being scraped and graded.

One has to get used to the fact that there are not the large number 'support cast' species like you see in Kruger for example. Whilst there are always Gemsbok, Springbok and Wildebeest and Hartebeest around and about, there are long stretches of time and kilometres where there is little to see. Sometimes the smaller critters and birds provide great sightings but even these became scarce when the weather changed and the famous Kalahari storms started to blow in. Patience is key.

Having said that of course these quiet times are interspersed with amazing sightings of predators. We had wonderful encounters with lions including a lone lioness with a small cub playing at Nossob camp waterhole at dawn. Perhaps the highlight(s) for us was 7 cheetah in four different sightings. :) Others included meerkats, yellow mongoose, incredible raptor viewing and behaviour and interaction with other species, striped mice and whistling rats and bat eared foxes in abundance.

I don't think KTP is a park for a first time experience but for more experienced wildlife enthusiasts it is highly recommended. I think for a second visit we would choose to go later in the year...perhaps October when it is drier and hotter and waterholes may be utilised more often.

We will definitely return. :)

Port Elizabeth
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1. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

I have been to KTP in April, October and December. My favourite was December. Although, it was ridiculously hot in the middle of the day, and all you could do was use the pool, it was still a wonderful time to go. The predator sightings were superb.

In October, take water for making tea/coffee, boiling potatoes. The water quality is very bad as the boreholes are so dry.

Queensland...
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2. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

Exc info in trip report from tryhard and useful tip from lamlee. I've never been to either place. Always thought if i ever make it to Augrabie then i'd go in March when river has plenty water and falls are rumbling. But after reading yr report perhaps October is better time. I can handle the heat so Nov-Feb is out for me.

Moose Jaw, Canada
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3. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

Glad you had a great trip. I would probably agree that KTP is not a first time safari park, but that in no way diminishes the experience. The only reason I would say that is because I would hazard a guess and say most first timers would want the elephant, rhino, buffalo, zebra etc experience which of course you cannot get here. The solitude and predators is definitely what makes it special. Already planning our return trip.

Cornwall England
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4. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

Thanks so much for the report, only 13 weeks and we will be flying out. So excited, any photographs? We tagged on Augrabies as an afterthought. So glad now. C

Naracoorte
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5. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

Haven't got my photos on a site yet but will endeavour to do so this week. :)

One other thing: if you are in KTP for any length of time like we were I suggest going to the trouble of planning meals in advance because your fresh fruit and veg will run out in days and then the only produce available in the park will be mostly a few old potatoes and onions and the occasional lettuce and tomato but supplies are erratic. There is a reasonable selection of frozen meat at the three main camps. Frozen bread is available and eggs were there but they run out frequently. The other grocery selection at Nossob and Mata is very limited so we did find it tricky at times to put a decent meal together especially as we are vegetarians. If staying at Mata Mata walk the couple of hundred metres through the Namibian border post (passport formalities not required) and visit Sitzas Farm Shop for some yummy goodies and local crafts.

Also at Mata Mata we were able to get mobile phone reception via MTC Namibia with our global TravelSim we used in our phone.

Cornwall England
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6. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

Thanks. Going to take some Look What We Found again, took some to Botswana last year. They are good meals that have some veggies in them. Will stock up at Upington as far as possible. We have 13 night, all wilderness camps. Looking forward to the farm stall in Namibia. Did he have meat, veg? C

Naracoorte
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7. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

The farm stall usually has some meat and biltong and home baked bread, jams, condiments and rusks. They didn't have any fresh veg. But it is very popular and supplies sell out quickly so try to visit in the morning (they are only open a couple of hours in the morning and later afternoon - hours are on a notice in MM reception)

Oh and DON'T buy braai wood in the park it is green and full of moisture and won't burn properly - apparently it is a common complaint. Buy all the wood you will need in Upington.

I keep thinking of more things lol....two very good books to read:

'Hyena Nights and Kalahari Days' by Gus and Margie Mills

and an incredible insight into the Bushmen and their history with the park;

'What Dawid Knew' by Patricia Glyn

Port Elizabeth
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8. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

At Nossob, you used to be able to put in an order at reception in the morning for bread, and it would be delivered, wonderfully fresh and hot to your campsite/accommodation in the evening. One of the wives of the staff used to make it, not sure whether it still happens.

Take long lasting veggies like butternut squash and carrots with you. Tinned beans, chickpeas and lentils work.

Cape Town Central...
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9. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

So glad you liked my favourite park (KTP). And excellent suggestions re fresh fruit/veg etc.

No, unfortunately the ladies at Nossob don't make the bread any more.

The shop just across the border at Mata Mata in Namibia has excellent springbok and lamb, but I've never seen any fresh fruit or veg there. I believe the freshest meat is delivered on a Thurs :)

The park shops within the park are getting a much more varied supply, but I would never reply on them for anything other than frozen meat.

My general rule in KTP is when you see petrol/ice/water/charcoals/bread/eggs/tomatoes/onions - buy them. They often run out.

Yes, agree that it's probably not the 1st park you'd recommend for 1st timers for the reasons blindbumpy succinctly mentioned. I always take 1st timers to Kruger, and then repeat visitors to KTP. I love the interactions that you can (often) see at close hand, and the small critters are always entertaining.

Cornwall England
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10. Re: Augrabies Falls & Kgalagadi Trip Summary

Great about the farm stall. We are at KTC for 2 nights so will go there early. Such a shame about the bread at Nossob we were looking forward to that. Will get plenty of wood in Up. Any problems with bats in the 'rooms'?

This will be our 4th safari and KTP really is our sort of place. We do go to Kruger first for two weeks as we haven't been there yet then we drive to KTP and Augrabies . C