Those who follow my photography will know that I tend to visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park…a lot.
In fact, all of the Wild Eye Ambassadors have a soft spot for this arid wonderland. I cannot think of a single naturalist or wildlife photography fanatic in South Africa who doesn’t have a passion for the Kgalagadi. It’s got so much going for it: wide open terrain, big skies, intense predator action, diverse wildlife and some of the best photographic light that you can find.
I often get asked when is the best time to go.
The answer? Any time…
Seriously, though, here are a few of the pros and cons of every season in the Kalahari.
Autumn: Normally from March to May
- Seeing green blankets of grass in a desert, along with some wildflowers.
- Spectacular thundershowers.
- Plentiful game all around.
- Stunning sunsets.
- Grass can be a bit long if the rains were good
- It’s piping hot.
- Rain in the dunes can lure animals away from the riverbeds, reducing sightings
Winter: Normally from June to August
- Temperatures are more endurable during the day.
- Skies are bright blue, often with streaky clouds.
- Light gets harsh a bit later in the day as opposed to the warmer seasons.
- Lovely golden colours from the drying grass.
- Temperatures get freezing at night – pack some thermals and fleece.
- No real dramatic weather.
- Grass can still be quite long after the summer rains.
- On the colder mornings, predators may prefer to remain higher up in the dunes than in the lower-lying riverbeds where most of the driving occurs.
Spring: Normally from September to November
- Grass starts to wither and fade away.
- The well distributed waterholes are the congregating point for lots of animals and birds.
- Nice temperate weather: Warm in the days and mild at night.
- None, really. It’s a lovely time to be in the Kalahari.
Summer: Normally from December to February
- The terrain will be barren and open, at its driest, affording great visibility and photographic angles.
- The rains may just start to appear, ensuring dramatic skies and bringing relief from the heat.
- The Springbok fawns may start to “drop”, meaning an increase in predator activity.
- Waterholes are where the action will be at.
- Large diversity of raptors present for the twitchers (bird-watchers)
- It. Is. Hot. VERY HOT.
- If the rains fall in Botswana first, animals may migrate Northeast and out of the riverbeds.
- Did I mention that it is hot? The temperature can reach over 50 degrees celcius at midday in the peak of summer.
- The earth is baked so hot that even as the sun sets late in the afternoon it can still be very hot (35+ celcius), which means predators will rest in the shade until it gets dark. Morning drives are your best bet during this time – but anything can happen at any time!
I trust you will believe me when I say that you really cannot go wrong in visiting the Kgalagadi at any time of the year.
I personally prefer the summer or autumn period. Lastly, I might add that there are some real amazing sightings to be had of rare species like Caracal, African Wild Cat, Honey Badger and Brown Hyena…and the raptor viewing is phenomenal.
I hope the advice I’ve given and the images have made you consider going to the Kgalagadi sometime…
I think in the near future I might also do a post on some logistical/travel tips and advice when visiting this unique location too.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the Wild Eye office should you wish to arrange some bespoke private photographic guiding to the region.
Happy shooting and sharing, folks!