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. :)