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Photography

Kgalagadi has all the elements for dream photography: perfect light and setting, willing models, and sparse vegetation for an unobscured view and shooting angle.

The warm light of the early morning sun, gives an unmatched quality to the red dunes and surroundings. Combine that with a black-maned lion, with bright honeycomb eyes, walking into view… and hopefully you have at least 4GB of memory available!

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Photography Tips

- Dust cover – bring a “blanket” for your equipment, to keep out the fine dust.
- An old towel, with an old winter sheet sewn to either side, does wonders to keep out the dust.

Camera Equipment

Lenses – a good wide angle, and longer lens of between 300 to 600 mm. Light is usually not a problem in Kgalagdi, and even the “slower” lenses work well.

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Bean bag and/or vehicle mount is essential, as you may spend long hours at a waterhole, Enough memory (external hard drives) and battery packs power can be a problem, as not all the camps have electricity, and even then it may be intermittent due to the use of generators.

Other Useful Tips

We use a vehicle with high ground clearance. The roads are very sandy and may be deep with high banks lining the road. Always make sure you have enough water with you.

If you have specific species in mind, please inform us when booking restcamps. Most important – the first 3 and last 3 hours of the day are the best for photography – DON’T SLEEP LATE!

Kgalagadi – Photographers’ Paradise

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Kgalagadi (Kalahari) means “land of thirst”in the Setswana language, quite literally one of the world’s oldest deserts, formed over 60 million years ago. It is a huge semi-desert region in Southern Africa stretching from South Africa, through Namibia, into Angola and comprising the entire western and central regions of Botswana. It is also home to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, a 3.7 million hectare expanse of pristine desert and desert dwellers.

Kgalagadi is characterised by red sand dunes and sparse vegetation and is home to black-maned Kalahari lion, leopard, cheetah, spotted and brown hyena, wild dog, black-backed jackal, gemsbok (oryx), blue wildebeest (gnu), eland, springbok, red hartebeest, duiker and steenbok.

215 bird specieshave been recorded. The Kalahari also offers sightings of animals rarely seen in other parts of Africa. These include Honeybadger, Porcupine, Aardvark, Meerkat and the occasional Pangolin.

The desert conditions offer the unique opportunity to observe animals in their natural environment, employing special adaptations for survival.

Nature is more quiet and reserved due to the open terrain, and only the bold will be daring enough to proclaim its territory out loud. It would thus not be uncommon to hear the loud echoing roar of a lion breaking the peaceful silence of the Kalahari night. Cheetah can be seen stalking their quarry, using the very limited cover and running down their prey over the dry river bed.

A honeybadger can be seen following a cape cobra into a camelthorn tree, before finally apprehending it, dropping to the ground and consume it with relish. After the rain, a pride of lion can be seen inspecting a big puddle of water, before chasing each other through the water as if for the first time.

 

Weather In Brief

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Winter in Kgalagadi is known for cold nights, followed by crisp air and warm colours in early morning. The arc of the sun is low, allowing for longer hours of good light for photography. Winters are dry and a herd of springbok filing along the riverbed, with a trail of powdery dust creating ghostly images with the backlight of the rising sun, would be a typical appearance.

Food is scarce, and the herbivores have to travel long distances between their grazing and water holes. Predators often use this opportunity to stalk their prey at the water holes. With the change of seasons, comes the wind and dust-filled skies and a beautiful spectrum of reds at sunset. This creates a dramatic effect, unmatched in our more familiar national parks.

Summers are warm to hot, with the occasional thunderstorm that fills the sky with dark clouds and sheet lightning. The nights are short and the predators are often forced to still be stalking their prey in the early morning hours. With the rain come the green vegetation and an abundance of babies, a time of easy “hunting” for predator and prey alike.

Rest Camps & Sightings

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The rest camps are situated along the Nossob and Auob rivers, with most tourist routes developed along the dry river beds.

Other than the flowing dunes, covered by grass in summer and barren in winter, only the occasional camelthorn tree obscure the view in the wide open expanse. Camp gates open at sunrise and close at sunset, allowing for maximum photographic opportunities.

Water holes are situated at regular intervals along the Nossob and Auob rivers.

It is frequented by predators and herds of plains game alike, and the proximity to the tourist routes, make each water hole an ideal vantage point for photographers.

Wildebeest jostle and play near the water, while waiting for their turn to drink.

Big flocks of sandgrouse approach and land against the breeze, taking two quick sips of water, before flying off in a cloud of dust. Lanner falcons stoop from high above, making spectacular strikes on the departing sandgrouse.

Though animals in this desert environment are well adapted for long periods without water to drink, sightings at the water holes are almost guaranteed.