Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Part 3 Polentswa


15th to 21st May 2022

Polentswa campsite is only an hour’s drive north of Nossob. There are only 3 campsites – each taking a maximum of 3 couples. It is located in the Botswana side of the Park and each site has a separate shower, long drop but no water nor power. Take rubbish bags.

Campsite fire and braai.

One of the major benefits of Polentswa is that there are only 3 campsites and it is a good hour’s drive from Nossob. Hence little traffic till later in the morning.

On our previous visit we had playful lions passing through our camp. This time they were nearby too. And another large male staked his claim on the main road to Nossob.

On one occasion we took a drive to Unions End at the far north of the Park on the South African side. Much to our surprise at the Unions End waterhole we observed a Barn Swallow flying around us.

On the journey north we also came across a large herd of Red Hartebeest. Beasts we had not seen elsewhere in the Park.

Just north of Polentswa – about 12 kms – is a picnic site – Lijersdraai. It has a waterhole nearby..

The Burchell’s Sandgrouse were the predominant Sandgrouse that we observed at waterholes. They could be heard and seen swirling around above then take a dive for the waterhole only for one to decide to head back into the sky and they all followed. Once at the waterhole they did not stay long and any nervousness sent them all back into the air. Their antics were fun to watch – especially when the raptors were about.

Once landed it is a case of absorbing as much water under their breasts and wings to take back for their young. A sip or two for themselves and then they were off. Ever watchful for marauding Lanners and Goshawks.

We saw a good selection of raptors while staying in Polentswa – Eagles, Goshawks, Snake-Eagles and Falcons and a lone White-backed Vulture.

Then there other species of birds and animals that we saw during our time driving around the area.

Much of our time was spent at the Polenswa Porontsoab waterhole – some 2 kms from camp. There always seemed to be some sort of activity present every time we visited. Jackals catching Sandgrouses, Lanners trying to catch Sandgrouse, Jackals befriending raptors, raptors befriending other raptors, raptors bombing other raptors and the usual influx of thirsty animals.

Porontsoab Waterhole

Here are some photos of Black-backed Jackals and their interaction with each other. And they are very successful at catching Sandgrouse especially compared to the antics of the Lanner falcons. Having caught a bird one Jackal would come very close to the car and scoff down its meal.

The Lanner Falcons – sometimes six in a tree – would watch the jackals and wait to make their move. however, it seemed that by the time they reached the waterhole they had been spotted and their prey had already taken flight. For some strange reason the Sandgrouses were not so intimidated by the close presence of the Jackals – much to their demise.

And there was obvious friendship at times between animals and birds; and raptors and raptors.

And animosity between raptors for no apparent reason. As this Lanner Falcon attacks a Pale Chanting Goshawk.

Others that appeared for a drink.

Thirsty Wildebeests coming in for a drink

After six nights at Polentswa it was time to leave and head for our last three nights in Twee Rivieren. Meanwhile we had recorded 51 bird species during our time in Polentswa. Full list shown in Part 4 Twee Rivieren.

We hope you have enjoyed the read so far.

Paul and Sally Bartho

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Part 2 Nossob


10th to 15th May 2022

We all left Mata Mata early and headed for Nossob. Sally and I went on ahead to see if we could find a spot in the campsite where we could all congregate. As it happened, we found two adjacent semi-shaded sites right at the end on the top level.

And at night we felt as though we were the only people there. However the temperature dropped – significantly to about 2 degree C. Then rose to 32 degree C during the day. Thankfully the electric blanket kept us warm at night.

Nossob is a well situated camp. It is the place to overnight before heading across the dunes to Mabuasehube almost 200 kms to the east. Although you can only travel north or south from Nossob, there are waterholes to visit in each direction. Heading south the road goes to Twee Riveren bypassing Rooiputs and there are two cross roads to Mata Mata along the way.

The camp has a shop and petrol & diesel pumps. There is a wifi spot just outside the office which is available for a fee. It has a swimmong pool and the ablutions are clean and have good hot water. There is also a hide at the camp overlooking a waterhole which is open all day and night..

The two closest waterholes are Rooikop to the south and Cubitje Quap to the north.

Over the five days we were at Nossob we spent time wandering around the waterholes north and south as well as time birding in the camp.

Some of the animal species seen included Bat-eared Foxes, a Leopard with family, Hyenas, Giraffe, Steenbok, Springbok and Yellow-tailed Mongooses.

We came across a (very long) Cape Cobra raiding a sociable Weaver’s nest – with no luck it seemed.

Here are some of the birds photographed as we travelled around.

Nossob Camp is well worth a walk around – not only around the open area by the north gate but also in the glamping and camping areas. We even saw Black-backed Jackal in the camp on one of our walkarounds.

Nossob camp is the home to a variety of Owls and we were fortunate to see and photograph a few of them. We heard Barn Owl, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Scops Owl and White-faced Owls every night. And I was able to get photos of the latter 2 during the day.

Over the five days there we recorded 64 different bird species. Full list shown in Part 4 Twee Rivieren.

Then we were on our way to Polentswa for six nights. See the next installment – Part 3

Paul and Sally Bartho

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Part 1 Rooiputs and Mata Mata

3rd to 23rd May 2022

Having spent a couple of nights at Augrabies, the 4 of us – my sister – Natasha – and her husband – Dick, Sally and I headed to the Kgalagadi for three weeks. On the way we stopped in Upington to stock up. And then again at Askham to top up with diesel and to buy firewood.

Our program was 3 nights in Rooiputs (Botswana), 3 nights in Mata Mata (RSA), 5 nights in Nossob (RSA), 6 nights in Polentswa (Botswana) and 3 nights in Twee Rivieren (RSA).

Showing both the South African and Botswanan side (Mabuasehube) of the park.

Looking at the map above to give you an idea of a sense of the scale of the park, the road from Nossob to Bosobogolo in Mabuasehube is 180 km. The road is thick sand and numerous dunes to maneuver. Allow 8 to 10 hours depending on the conditions at the time.

We visited the western side of the park.

The area we visited

Rooiputs 3rd to 6th May 2022

Once we were through check-in we drove to Rooiputs campsite. Typical scenery is flat following the east side (Botswana side) of the riverbed.

We met our friends Arthur and Rose at camp number 2 in Rooiputs as planned.

Camps on the Botswana side are not fenced. We have seen Lions, Brown Hyenas, Black-backed Jackals, Bat-eared Foxes wandering through our campsites over the years. Once in Polentswa a Cape Fox rested under Sally’s chair as she was sitting on it.

Our set ups can be colourful.

Arthur and Rose

Driving around, we took advantage of many of the picnic sites and waterholes.

Many smaller raptors were displaying along many of the roads we travelled. Red-necked Falcons, Gabar Goshawks and African Pygmy Falcons in particular.

One Tawny Eagle did make an appearance on the ground.

Tawny Eagle

There is a set of thorn trees immediately after a small waterhole (on the right) not far back towards the main gate from Rooiputs. Over the course of the three weeks that we were in the park we always saw 5 White-faced Owls well hidden in that set of trees. They were not only hard to find but they were almost impossible to photograph.

On another occasion we came across four Cheetahs strolling up to a ridge where they stopped and posed for us on the skyline. Mom and 3 youngsters. Always a special sighting.

We spent the early part of each day in the car exploring the various waterholes and picnic sites sometimes making a circuit up towards Nossob then crossing over towards Mata Mata at Kij Kij and back via Twee Rivieren. Along the way we saw plenty of Springbok and Oryxes along with othe animals and birds.

Midday was mostly spent in camp relaxing and then late afternoon we would take a short drive around. Evenings were spent around the campfire watching out for predators, listening to the silence and enjoying the starry skies.

In all we identified 64 different bird species in the area. Full list shown at the end of Part 4 – Twee Rivieren.


And then we were off to Mata Mata for 3 nights.

Mata Mata 6th to 9th May 2022

South Africa’s Mata Mata camp is on the western border of the Park. It is an enclosed camp and is located at the border post into Namibia.

The ablutions and wash up area were clean and recently upgraded.

The site also has a hide with nighttime lighting. And there is a large area around the cottages and camp to walk round. Photos below of the campsite, its hide, ablutions and views over the fence.

We each found a site near the fence. Although we looked for shade it was fortuitous that we did not find much as the weather was quite bitterly cold early mornings.

Between the Camp and Kamqua Picnic site (60 kms) there are three short loop roads. This drive follows the dry Auob riverbed. There are small waterholes along each of these loops which attract many small birds – in particular Red-billed Quelea as well as Sandgrouse. Of course, raptors are there to feast – especially Lanner Falcons and Gabar Goshawks. It is fascinating to watch the raptor antics as they try to catch a meal.

Often on that 60 kms of road we have seen prides of Lion as well as Leopards, Honey Badgers, Bat-eared Foxes, Owls, Secretarybirds and Pale Chanting Goshawks.

At one of the waterholes – Veertiende Boorgat – we spent a lot of time bird watching.

The Lanners often arrived too late to catch a meal- even when they were working together.

The Gabar Goshawks waited patiently for the Lanners to rest before they had a go. They were in the tree directly across from us.

Typical countryside.

During our travels in the area we came across a few snakes on the road, a lion having a drink and a male leopard languishing below an overhang on a rocky hillside.

And some of the other critters photoed as we drove around.

Our next destination – Nossob campsite. To follow in next post.

In all we identified 50 different bird species in the area. Full list shown at the end of Part 4 – Twee Rivieren.


Paul and Sally Bartho