Most people travel to South Africa for safaris only visit Kruger, but South Africa has so much more to offer wildlife enthusiasts. This tour explores two of the little known gems of South African wildlife watching. Firstly we will visit the massive Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, being twice the size of Kruger (about the size of Switzerland) it is one of the largest protected areas in the world and home to some of Africas best wildlife. After the lions, leopards, cheetah, eland and other large mammals of Kgalagadi we will explore some of the Kalahari. Most of this tour is completed on private land and in locations where our team of guides have found some of the rarest and hardest to spot mammals and birds in all of Africa. So for anyone wanting to see some of the African safaris best kept secrets such as aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, aardwolf and black-footed cats then this is the tour for you.
Aardvarks & Aardwolves possible
Safaris in Kgalagadi National Park
Over 30 species of mammals
Rare desert endemic birds
Guided walks for small mammals
Spotlight for pangolins & rare mammals
Destination: South Africa
Tour Dates: 11/8/2020 – 24/8/2020
Duration: 13 nights
Type / Focus: Kalahari Endemics
Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
Once you arrive at the airport in Upington you will meet your local guide and zoologist escort and be transferred the 250km towards the enormous Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. This park borders South Africa, Namibia and Botswana and allows migrations to occur between different habitats and as a result there are large populations of animals here. But for today we will just check into the accommodation, level – Safari Rest Camps or Lodge; and relax with an evening meal before beginning to explore the park tomorrow.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
For the next 4 full days we will explore some of this vast park, we will spend full days inside the park, only returning to the accommodation, level – Safari Rest Camps or Lodge; for your breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is one of the largest national parks in the world and is so large that many of animals that live here still run their full migration routes. In fact it is one of the few places where eland still migrate as they have always done. During these 4 days here the mornings and late afternoons will be very important as we hope to find the famous black-maned lions, spotted hyenas, leopards, cheetahs as well as the more common gemsbok, blue wildebeest, springbok and red hartebeest. But one of the best aspects of mammal watching in Kgalagadi is spending time searching for some of the rarer species that inhabit the park such as meerkats, honey badgers, ground pangolins, bat-eared foxes and brown hyena. The birdlife here is also prolific, for such an arid and dry looking habitat the range of life here is just staggering. There are around 280 species of birds recorded from here and various species can be found without much difficulty. In the evenings we can also arrange a spotlighting night drive where many of the rare mammals can be spotted as they emerge from dens, trees, holes and dense bushes for a night of foraging.
Witsand Kalahari Reserve
This morning you will be transferred south back towards Upington, but we will travel further to the Witsand Kalahari Reserve, this drive will take you through the mosaic of wild Kalahari habitat and private farmland. Once you arrive at the accommodation, 3* guest house (Witsand Kalahari Reserve) the rest of the day will be free for you to relax after the long drive down here. If you wish then after dark we can have a short night drive to try and find aardvarks, pangolins or black-footed cats.
Witsand Kalahari Reserve
During the next 3 days you will be taken around the reserve of Witsand, there are many species of rare and unusual mammals and birds that live here. We will have morning and afternoon game drives or guided walks around the reserve before spotlighting after dark. Your meals will be served in the accommodation, level 3* guest house (Witsand Kalahari Reserve) in between the game drives and allow you plenty of time to rest as a major focus of our wildlife watching will be done at night. This is when we have the chance of seeing ground pangolins and black-footed cats that occur here and hopefully we will catch a glimpse of one of them here. These animals are of course very tough to see (even here where they are relatively common) so luck is needed to see any of them. The bird life in the reserve is also good and there are three species of sandgrouse, African pygmy flacon, crimson-breated shirke and Kori bustard as well as dozens of other species that can be found here are the order of the day. Whilst here we will also spend some time on foot looking for the wonderful bushveld elephant shrew, mole-rats and other small mammals. To try and find the ground pangolins we will concentrate our efforts on the Brulsand, which translates to Roaring Sand; the area for this is a known pangolin haunt. The pangolin will probably be the toughest species to find on this tour and we will return here each late afternoon and evening to see if we can find one. But during the day there are some large mammals that can be found here such as gemsbok, red hartebeest and springbok.
After breakfast we head for Kimberley and more specifically our accommodation, level – 3* guest house (Marrick Game Farm) for the next 3 nights. This pleasant working farm will be our base camp for the next few days. On our first night we will look for an aardvark, which has burrowed quite close to the lodge in the past and as a result had become fairly habituated towards humans, well as habituated as the usual elusive aardvark can get. During this evening excursion we might also encounter bat-eared fox and aardwolf, both of which are quite common here.
During the next couple of days you will be taken to explore the land around our accommodation, level 3* guest house (Marrick Game Fame) as well as another nearby farm called Benfontien Game Farm. These areas are excellent wildlife watching locations. We will also split our time and during the day head off in search of larger species like black wildebeest, giraffe, eland, gemsbok and possibly the beautiful caracal. We will also hike around looking for smaller mammals and reptiles and whilst bird watching there is a good chance of seeing the blue cranes (as a pair breed here every year) and the double-banded courser is a common visitor during the winter. Then after dinner we will spotlight for the rarer mammals, Benfontein Game Fame is a particularly good area for the smallest species of cat in Southern Africa, the black-footed cat. If possible we will look to hire the services of a black-footed cat researcher (Beryl Wilson) and this will increase our chances as she has a couple of black-footed cats radio-collared. During the night excursions it is possible to see Cape fox although they are quite scarce here. If possible we will also try and gain access to a cave system at Griekwastad where we can see a number of bat species (access and permits have to be arranged by the McGregor Museum in Kimberley and is subject to availability).
This morning you will have a last chance for a short game drive in the early morning before breakfast. Then after breakfast you will be transferred back to Upington and your accommodation, level 3-4* hotel; for your last night. You will have your farewell evening meal at the accommodation or a nearby restaurant.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
At this time of year the Kalahari the temperatures are usually between 25-30 degrees C although the nights can be chilly. There is very little rain at all and the skies will appear blue as far as the eye can see.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned vehicle to be driven by your local guide. You get the services of the zoologist escort as well as the local naturalist guide included in the fee.
All our excursions including jeep safaris, guided walks, night safaris and park entrance fees are also included.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be clothes for both warm & dry days and chilly nights and cool morning safaris. Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Insect repellent is handy but not essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4-6 people these do not stretch too far. Spotlights for night drives are also included. Camera Traps will also be used to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend Emirates or KLM as good airlines for flights to Johannesburg; and then from there we recommend South African Airways for internal flights to Upington. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is to and from Johannesburg and Upington is www.opodo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for South Africa. However these are given out free of charge on arrival at the airport. Usually 30 days is granted but please confirm this as less if sometimes given. The easiest way to find information is by visiting www.southafrica.info (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit India, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting South Africa as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Joyce Hoy, Cardiff
Derek & Sally Howes, Essex