In assocciation with Kalahari Wildlife Tours

Tour 25: 16 Day Arid Parks & Reserves Tour

This tour covers 2 Trans Frontier Parks, 5 National Parks and 12 Reserves/conservation areas


15 Days
14 Nights

DAY 01 Augrabies Falls National Park (South Africa)
DAY 02 Augrabies Falls National Park
DAY 03 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park / Twee Rivieren
DAY 04 Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park / Mata Mata
DAY 05 Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (Namibia)
DAY 06 Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (South Africa)
DAY 07 Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
DAY 08 Diamond Coast
DAY 09 Namaqua National Park
DAY 10 Tankwa-Karoo National Park
DAY 11 Sutherland
DAY 12 Karoo National Park
DAY 13 Karoo National Park
DAY 14 Mokala National Park
DAY 15 Mokala National Park
DAY 16 Kimberley – Departure


This tour covers 07 National Parks and 12 Nature Reserves/ Conservation Areas in the arid desert and semi- desert parts of South Africa and Southern Namibia. Wildlife, landscapes, flora, stargazing and geology are combined in a comprehensive tour of what these areas offer. The Richtersveld in South Africa can only be explored in a 4×4 vehicle.

DAY 01 Upington – Augrabies Falls National Park

Depart to Augrabies Falls National Park, which covers 60 000 ha. En route we visit Tierberg Nature Reserve in Keimoes, from where one has a beautiful view of the lush green Orange River Valley, Proceed to Kakamas on the Rockery Route, a scenic gravel road south of the Orange River, passing through a large quiver tree forest. Stop at the Persian Water Wheels at Kakamas and do wine tasting at the second largest cooperative wine cellar in the world, the Orange River Wine Cellar.

Visit the Augrabies Falls, which is the sixth largest waterfall in the world when South Africa’s largest river, the Orange is in flood. The word Augrabies derives from the Khoi meaning ‘place of great noise. Scenic – and game drive in this moon landscape-like land to awesome viewpoints such as Ararat, Oranjekom on the Orange River Gorge and the “Swartrante” (Black hills) from where one has a great view of this arid rocky desert landscape.

Although Augrabies is essentially a scenic park, game such as giraffe, springbok, gemsbok, eland, kudu red hartebeest, Hartman’s zebra and klipspringer survive in this unique riverine ecosystem. Fish eagles and black eagles are common residents.

Optional 2 hr sunset drive with Sanparks rangers
Overnight: Augrabies
Meals: B & D

DAY 02 Augrabies – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Do a relaxed 2km morning walk to a beautiful viewpoint on the Augrabies gorge, Arrow Point. Depart via Upington to the largest camp in Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park, Twee Rivieren. Afternoon game drive in this 37 000 square km park, which is one of the largest conservation areas in the world and one of the last truly unspoilt ecosystems.

Endemic game such as gemsbok, springbok, eland, giraffe, blue wildebeest and red hartebeest roam the sparsely vegetated red sand dunes and the dry river valleys of the Nossob and Auob where a variety of acacia species thrive.

The Park is well known for good sightings of lion, leopard and cheetah and spotted – and brown hyena are common residents. Because of an abundance of prey in the form of mice, whistling rats, birds and insects, smaller predators thrive in the park. The park is home to caracal, honey badger, black-backed jackal, bat-eared fox, cape fox, African wildcat, mongoose and the ever-popular suricate (meerkat).

Kgalagadi is a bird watcher’s paradise with more than 300 species recorded including at least 20 larger raptor species. The world’s heaviest flying bird, the Kori bustard and the stately secretary bird patrol the riverbeds while the noisy northern black korhaan rule in the dunes.

Optional 3 hr sunset drive and 3 hr morning guided walk (if available) @ R145-00 & R250-00 pp.
Overnight: Twee Rivieren
Meals: B & D

DAY 03 Kgalagadi Trans Frontier Park

Game drive t Mata Mata. Optional 3 hr sunset drive and 3 hr morning guided walk (if available) @ R145-00 & R250-00 pp.
Overnight: Mata Mata
Meals: B & D

DAY 04 Kgalagadi – Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Enter Namibia. Proceed through the vast plains of Southern Namibia to the Ai-Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. Visit en route Giant’s Playground, Quiver Tree Forest and Namibia’s 2nd largest dam, the Naute Dam near Keetmanshoop. Continue to Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. This park spans some of the most spectacular scenery of the arid and desert environments in Southern Africa. Bisected by the Orange River, which forms the border between South Africa and Namibia, it comprises the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park in Namibia and the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa.

Some of the distinctive features in the area include the Ai-Ais Hot springs and the 2nd largest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon. This awe-inspiring canyon measures 160 km in length, up to 27 km in width and reaches a depth of 550 m. This arid zone is further characterised by a unique and impressive variety of succulent plant species, which makes this park an undisputed biodiversity “hot spot”.

Enter the Transfrontier Park at Hobas. Visit the Fish River Canyon, with different viewpoints overlooking the canyon. Although the Park is not known as a game park, springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest, Hartman’s zebra, kudu, klipspringer and ostrich survive in this harsh land. Continue via the 102 000 ha private conservation area, Gondwana Canyon Park to Ai-Ais. Ai-Ais, which means, “burning water” in one of the local languages, refers to the sulphurous hot springs which are found in this area. One of these springs has its eye within the camp. Ai-Ais lies at the southern end of the Fish River Canyon. Relax in the warm pools and spa.

Overnight: Ai-Ais Resort or Canon Lodge
Meals: B & D

DAY 05 Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Depart to Sendelingsdrift Border Post through the vast barren plains of southern Namibia. The road runs parallel with the Orange River through Southern Namibia. Enter South Africa by crossing the Orange River by ferry. The Richtersveld Mountain Desert is regarded as the only true desert and one of the last wilderness areas in South Africa and was recently declared a world heritage site. The rainfall in some areas is less than 50 mm per annum. The Park nestles in a 100 km loop of the Lower Orange River, which forms the border with Namibia.

The Richtersveld is regarded as one of the world’s most prolific and richest succulent areas, nurturing 30% of South Africa’s succulent species, including 3 Quiver tree species and the very rare legendary “halfmens”. Although game is not the main attraction of Richtersveld Park, there is species such as the very rare Hartman’s Zebra, Grey Reebok, Klipspringer, Duiker, Steenbok, Leopard, Caracal, Black backed jackal, Baboons and Vervet monkeys. The park harbours a small number of indigenous people, who live their lives as goatherds, unchanged from the time when their hardy ancestors lived.

Overnight: One of the camps in the Park
Meals: B & D

DAY 06 Ais-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Explore the Park on drives and on foot.
Overnight: One of the camps in the Park
Meals: B & D

DAY 07 Richtersveld – Diamond Coast

The Northern Cape West Coast, known as the Diamond Coast, stretches from the Orange River mouth southwards for about 300km. It has remained virtually unknown to the public at large as it is within the restricted and previously forbidden diamond mining areas. Today most of these areas are open to the public and the area between the Groen- and Spoeg Rivers have been introduced into the Namaqua National Park. The Diamond Coast offers alluvial diamond mine tours, a world-renowned resident seal colony containing more than 350 000 animals, shipwrecks, the Orange River mouth, which is a RAMSAR declared estuary, various conservation areas, South Africa’s only lichen field, eco friendly 4×4 trails, excellent bird life, rough coastline with unspoiled beaches, spring flowers in season, mild summers and a seafood delicacy, crayfish.

Depart to Alexander Bay on the Diamond Coast on the cold Atlantic Ocean. Visit the estuary at the Orange River mouth near Alexander Bay. This previous restricted diamond area is now open to public. The Orange River Wetland is declared as a RAMSAR site and is home to more than 60 bird species including pelicans and many flamingos. After a drive to the mouth we continue to the Lichen Hill. The Richtersveld vegetation has unique species with awesome adoptions to survive in its semi desert climate. One km outside Alexander Bay, a hill of 5 hectares is covered with lichen – the only one of its kind in South Africa. Lichen is neither plant nor animal, consisting of algae and fungi living together in symbioses. Continue south along the coastline to the small harbour town Port Nolloth. This is crayfish and diamond country. Visit the harbour with its diamond boats.

Continue to Kleinzee. Enter the secretive, previously restricted diamond area owned by The Beers. Time at leisure for e.g. a coastline walk. The accommodation is situated on the shoreline. Whales are very often seen close to the shoreline.

Overnight: Noup Diamond Divers’ Camp or camping at Koingnaas Caravan Park
Meals: B & D

DAY 08 Diamond Coast – Namaqua National Park – Nieuwoudtville

Proceed via Koingnaas to Soebatsfontein, where we enter the Namaqua National Park. Namaqua National Park is situated in the world’s only arid biodiversity hotspot. Namaqualand is home to more than 6000 plant species, 250 species of birds, 78 species of mammals 132 species of reptiles and amphibians and an unknown number of insects, making it the world’s most diverse arid environment. More than 40% of these species are found nowhere else on earth.

During early August and September, seemingly overnight, the dusty valleys of Namaqualand are transformed into a wonderland, carpeted with wildflowers. With its winter rainfall, Namaqualand is home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world.

During the rest of the year the Namaqualand is still worth a visit to enjoy the star-studded night skies and the barren landscape with enormous granite outcrops.

Continue to Niewoudtville via the Vanrhyns Pass. Niewoudtville is situated on the Bokveld escarpment. Nearby places of interest are the largest Quiver Tree Forest in South Africa and the 100m high Niewoudtville Water Fall on the Doring River. Niewoudtville is known for its unique vegetation, with the biggest variety of bulbous plants in the world. This small town with its warm sandstone buildings is situated in a flat landscape covered by wheat, heather and proteas due to higher rainfall close to the edge of the escarpment. During spring the area changes into a colourful carpet of spring flowers. 8 Km from town is a majestic view from the top of Van Rhyns Pass over the Knersvlakte.

Attractions include the Wild Flower Reserve on Glen Lyon with displays of over 500 000 endemic Bulbinella, Glacial Rock Striations from Permian era 280 million years ago, Khoisan Rock Paintings on Papkuilsfontein and the impressive NG Church built from sandstone.

Overnight: Guest House
Meals: B & D

DAY 09 Niewoudtville – Tankwa Karoo National Park

Depart to Calvinia. Stop for a cup of tea at the historical Hantam House. Other interesting sites are South Africa’s largest Post Box and the well maintained Calvinia Museum and “Makadas’, the last steam locomotive on the one way railway line to Calvinia, which has closed down.

Continue on dirt road via the Bloukrans Pass to Tankwa Karoo National Park. The Park is situated on the southern boundary of the Northern Cape with the Roggeveld Escarpment in the East, Cederberg in the West, and Klein Roggeveld Mountains in the South. This unique national park covers 111,000 ha and is situated within the Succulent Karoo Biome where you’ll find rare and endangered plant species, rich endemic birdlife, and landscapes that will take your breath away – from the sheer cliffs of the Roggeveld Escarpment to the moonscapes of the Tankwa Desert.

Although the park is home to small numbers of Red hartebeest, gemsbok, springbok and steenbok and predators such as leopard, caracal, African wildcat and black backed jackal, sightings are rare. Tankwa Karoo National Park is the ideal destination for those seeking the brightest stars in Africa, a once in a lifetime glimpse of a rare endemic bird or perhaps nothing more than a silence that reaches deep into the soul.

Overnight: Elandsberg Cottage or Informal Camping
Meals: B & D

DAY 10 Tankwa Karoo – Sutherland

Travel through the park to exit gate. Depart on back roads to Sutherland crossing the Ouberg Pass, from where one has a panoramic view of the lower-lying Karoo and the Ceres Karoo Mountains about 200km away.

Sutherland, the coldest place in South Africa, is situated on the Roggeveld Plateau 1450m above sea level and is known for its clear night skies and cold, biting winters. With weather conditions like this Sutherland is home to the world-renowned South African Astronomical Observatory. The site houses ten telescopes, one being SALT (Southern Africa Largest Telescope). SALT is the largest single, optical telescope in the southern hemisphere, with a hexagonal mirror, 11 metres across. SALT is housed in a dome seven storeys high. Qualified observers conduct tours of the observatory. Experience a night tour where one can view interesting objects in the sky through two visitor telescopes, a 16” Meade and 14” Celestron Telescope.

Other attractions are the NG Church, which was occupied by British troops during the Anglo-Boere War and the Louw Museum, which is the birthplace of two famous Afrikaans poet writers, NP van Wyk Louw and W.E.G Louw.

Overnight: Kambro Kind B&B or similar
Meals: B & D

DAY 11 Sutherland – Karoo National Park

Do a guided tour of the observatory including a visit to Salt. Depart to Fraserburg. This area is known for important fossil discoveries of which some is exhibited in the old parsonage museum. Visit the Gansfontein Paleo Surface where there is a distinct trace fossil of a gastropod of which a similar trace was recently discovered in Antarctica. Other visits can include the unique six-sided structure the Pepperpot and the old power station where the seven Lister Blackstone engines may still be seen and well maintained colonial style houses.

Continue to Karoo National Park. The Great Karoo is a vast and unforgiving landscape of which the Karoo National Park is but a small portion. Being the largest ecosystem in South Africa, the Karoo is home to a fascinating diversity of life, all having adapted to survive in these harsh conditions. Karoo National Park is dominated by the lofty Nuweveld Mountains and rolling plains, where many species that originally occurred here now occupy their former ranges.

The Karoo National Park has a wide variety of endemic wildlife. Many species have been relocated to their former ranges – such as Black rhino and Cape buffalo, as well as Cape mountain zebra. The park is also home to Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Eland, Burchell’s Zebra, Kudu, Springbok and Klipspringer.

Over 20 breeding pairs of black eagle find sanctuary within the park and large numbers of lesser kestrels are summer visitors. Karoo Korhaan, Ludwig’s Bustard and Namaqua Sandgrouse are common residents. There is also a wide diversity of succulent plants and small reptiles.

Overnight: Chalet at Karoo National Park
Meals: B & D

DAY 12 Karoo National Park

Game drives on game drive routes and 4×4 trails.
Overnight: Chalet at Karoo National Park
Meals: B & D

DAY 13 Karoo – Mokala National Park

Depart north to Mokala National Park. Mokala National Park is South Africa’s newest park and is situated 80 km south of the diamond city Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province. The land of the previous Vaalbos National Park near Barkly West was handed back to local people and in a huge operation more than 800 head of game was trans-located from Vaalbos to Mokala. The grassy plains studded with camelthorn trees and isolated dolerite hills give Mokala a typical African feeling.

Mokala is home to many endangered species including black- and white rhino, Cape buffalo, roan antelope, sable antelope and tsessebe. Other species include black & blue wildebeest, giraffe, eland, kudu, gemsbok, red hartebeest, Burchell’s zebra, waterbuck and mountain reedbuck .are some of the species roaming the sandy plains.

Various bird species, including a white-backed vulture breeding colony numbering 200 birds and many lizard species can be seen in Mokala and leopard tortoises are common sightings in summer. Afternoon game drive.

Optional activities include sunset drive and bush braai (BBQ), Vulture drive, San rock art drive and endangered species drive
Overnight: One of the camps in Mokala
Meals: B & D

DAY 14 Mokala National Park

Game drives in Mokala
Overnight: One of the camps in Mokala
Meals: B & D

DAY 15 Mokala – Kimberley

The duration of the morning game drive will depend on clients’ departure schedule from Kimberley. Depart to Kimberley. If time allows and clients are interested we can visit one or more of the Anglo Boere War battlefield sites en route. A visit to Kimberley has to include a tour of the Big Hole and recently renovated Kimberley Mine Museum. The Big Hole is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world and the Mine Museum takes one back to a diamond-digging era more than a hundred years ago. Visit Kampher’s Dam where greater flamingoes and the largest population of lesser flamingoes in Southern Africa, numbering about 25 000, are residents. Drop off at the airport or at accommodation. End of the tour.

Accommodation can vary from the itinerary depending on availability.

Rates on request:
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