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.

Sunset

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.

Sunset

Paul and Sally Bartho