Kgalagadi transfrontier Park

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Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park’s very beautiful terrain comprises fossil river valleys dotted with dwarfed trees and bushes, grasslands and different coloured sand dunes. Wildlife is abundant, and the animals are attracted to waterholes along the otherwise dry riverbed.

Several species of antelope, including the ubiquitous springbok and gemsbok, hartebeest, and eland can be seen, as well as the famous black-maned Kalahari lion, jackal, brown hyena, and wild cats.

Rich birding is always part of the experience. Over 170 species of birds have been recorded here, and it is not uncommon to see over 30 bird species within a few kilometres of the campsite.

At Mabuasehube, the terrain is a mixture of typical Kgalagadi tree and shrub savanna with patches of wide open grass savanna.

This area of KTP comprises a series of exceptionally large pans, which are the principle focus of the reserve. Campsites dot the various pans, and many are situated on slight promontories, giving almost unimpeded vision, thus making for good game viewing right from your camp-side chair.

Three of the largest pans lie along the main road; these are Bosobogolo, Mpayathutlwa and Mabuasehube. others, like Leshologago, Khiding and the fossil valley complex called Monamodi, are linked to the larger pans by sand tracks.

Each pan is different. The floor of Mabuasehube pan is bare clay that is rich in salts, and this attracts animals that come to lick the surface, deriving essential minerals from it. The floor of Bosobogolo pan is short, shrubby grassland, which antelope frequent to graze, accompanied, of course, by predators.

All of the major predators can be seen at Mabuasehube, including the Kalahari black-maned lion, cheetah, leopard, brown hyena, bat-eared fox, lynx, and silver fox. Small mammals, like the Cape fox, aardwolf and blackfooted cat can be seen at the pans in the evening.

Makgadikgadi National Park

Makgadikgadi N park

Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

largely uninhabited by humans. Its stark, flat, featureless terrain stretches – it would seem – to eternity, meeting and fusing with a milky-blue horizon. This is the Makgadikgadi – an area of 12 000 sq kms, part of the Kalahari Basin, yet unique to it – one of the largest salt pans in the world.

For much of the year, most of this desolate area remains waterless and extremely arid; and large mammals are thus absent. But during and following years of good rain, the two largest pans – Sowa to the east and Ntwetwe to the west – flood, attracting wildlife – zebra and wildebeest on the grassy plains – and most spectacularly
flamingos at Sowa and Nata Sanctuary. Flamingo numbers can run into the tens – and sometimes – hundreds of thousands, and the spectacle can be completely overwhelming.

The rainwater that pours down on the pans is supplemented by seasonal river flows – the Nata, Tutume, Semowane and Mosetse Rivers in the east, and in years of exceptional rains, the Okavango via the Boteti River in the west.

During this time, the pans can be transformed into a powder blue lake, the waters gently lapping the shorelines, and flowing over the pebble beaches – a clear indication of the gigantic, prehistoric lake the Makgadikgadi once was. Research suggests that the Makgadikgadi is a relic of what was once one of the biggest inland lakes Africa has ever had.

Africa’s most famous explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, crossed these pans in the 19th century, guided by a massive baobab, Chapman’s Tree – believed to be 3 000 to 4 000 years old, and the only landmark for hundreds of miles around. Seeing this amazing tree today, you are given entry to an era when much of the continent was uncharted, and explorers often risked their lives navigating the wilderness on oxcarts through rough and grueling terrain.

Moremi Game Reserve

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Moremi Game Reserve

It is the first reserve in Africa that was established by local residents. Concerned about the rapid depletion of wildlife in their ancestral lands – due to uncontrolled hunting and cattle encroachment – the Batawana people of Ngamiland, under the leadership of the deceased Chief Moremi III’s wife, Mrs. Moremi, took the bold initiative to proclaim Moremi a game reserve in 1963.

It is the only officially protected area of the Okavango Delta, and as such holds tremendous scientific, environmental and conservation importance.

And, undoubtedly, Moremi ranks as one of the most beautiful reserves in Africa, possibly in the world.

Moremi Game Reserve is situated in the central and eastern areas of the Okavango, and includes the Moremi Tongue and chief’s island, boasting one of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on the continent.

This makes for spectacular game viewing and bird watching, including all major naturally occurring herbivore and carnivore species in the region, and over 400 species of birds, many migratory and some endangered. Both Black and White Rhino have recently been re-introduced, now making the reserve a ‘Big Five’ destination.

Contained within an area of approximately 3900 sq kms, here land and Delta meet to create an exceedingly picturesque preserve of floodplains – either seasonally or perennially wet, waterways, lagoons, pools, pans, grasslands and riparian, riverine and mophane forests. This terrain makes driving Moremi’s many loops and trails both delightful and, at times, totally inspiring.

Moremi is a very popular destination for the self-drive camper, and is often combined with the Chobe National Park to the northeast.

 

The rustic Third Bridge campsite, situated near the pretty Sekiri River, flanked with thick stands of papyrus, is a favourite, creating lasting memories of resplendent Okavango sunsets.

Chobe National Park

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Chobe National Parks

Undoubtedly one of Africa’s most beautiful rivers, the Chobe supports a diversity and concentration of wildlife unparalled anywhere else in the country.

Established in 1968, the park covers approximately 11 7 00 sq kms, encompassing floodplains, swamps and woodland. The Chobe River forms its northern boundary. There are four distinct geographical areas in the park: the Chobe Riverfront, the Ngwezumba pans, Savuté and Linyanti.

During this season, on an afternoon game drive, you may see hundreds of elephants at one time. You may be surrounded by elephants, as the main Serondella road becomes impassable and scores of family herds cross the main road to make their way to the river to drink, bathe and play.

Driving the loops that hug the river’s edge, you may see up to 15 different species of animals on any one game drive, including waterbuck, lechwe, puku (this is the only part of Botswana where they can be seen), giraffe, kudu, roan and sable, impala, warthog, bushbuck, monkeys and baboons, along with the accompanying predators lion, leopard, hyena and jackal.

Take a river cruise – and you’ll experience the park, and the animals, from another vantage point. Here you’ll get up close and personal with hippo, crocodile and a mind-boggling array of water birds.

Over 460 bird species have been recorded in the park, making it one of Africa’s premier venues for bird Safaris. Common species to be seen include the Sacred ibis, Egyptian Geese, the ubiquitous cormorants and darters, Spur-winged Geese, pel’s Fishing Owl, carmine Bee-eaters, most members of the kingfisher family, all the rollers, the unmistakable Fish Eagle, the Martial Eagle, and many members of the stork family.

The Chobe River rises in the northern Angolan highlands, travels enormous distances before it reaches Botswana at Ngoma. Like the Okavango and Zambezi rivers, the Chobe’s course is affected by fault lines that are extensions of the Great Rift Valley. These three mighty rivers carry more water than all other rivers in Southern Africa.

Nxai Pan National Park

nxai pan

Nxai Pan National Park

Part of the great Makgadikgadi complex, Nxai Pan National Park covers an area of 2 100 sq kms, and comprises several larger pans – Nxai Pan, Kgama-Kgama Pan and Kudiakam Pan, which were once ancient salt lakes. These larger pans are now grassed, and are scattered with islands of acacia trees, and smaller pans that fill with water during the rainy season – thus providing rich resources for wildlife.

Wildlife viewing is seasonal, and dependent on if and when the rains come, and when animals migrate. There are several artificial watering points. If the rains have been good, December to April is the best time to visit.

Common species to be sighted are zebra, wildebeest, springbok, impala, gemsbok, hartebeest, giraffe, lion, cheetah, wild dog, brown hyena, bateared fox, and sometimes elephant and buffalo.

The park is one of the more accessible areas of the Makgadikgadi, a mere 50 kms from the Nata-Maun Road.