A Reason for Every Season in the Kgalagadi

Morkel Erasmus All Authors, Morkel 5 Comments

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…

kalahari_dunes_1_2011

Seriously, though, here are a few of the pros and cons of every season in the Kalahari.

Autumn: Normally from March to May

Pros:

  • Seeing green blankets of grass in a desert, along with some wildflowers.
  • Spectacular thundershowers.
  • Plentiful game all around.
  • Stunning sunsets.
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cheetah_walking_1_KTP_2012

Cons:

  • 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
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storm_1_KTP_2012

Winter: Normally from June to August

Pros:

  • 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.
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kalahari_tree_dune_1_2010

Cons:

  • 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.
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springbok_backlight_2_KTP_2010

Spring: Normally from September to November

Pros:

  • 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.
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lanner kill KTP 2

Cons:

  • None, really. It’s a lovely time to be in the Kalahari.
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brown_hyena_1_KTP_2012

Summer: Normally from December to February

Pros:

  • 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)
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massive_male1

Cons:

  • 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!
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storm_2_KTP_2012

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.

caracal_pose_1_KTP_2012

secretary_bird_flight_1_KTP_2012

badgers1

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!

Morkel Erasmus

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Morkel’s links:

Comments 5

  1. Henry Green

    Excellent stuff Morkel. The Kalahari of course is a totally different story. Passionate about that place, any time of the year. I am a reasonably senior guy already, so believe me when I say that I have been to (with one of my kids at a time) KTP not tens of times, but definitely in excess of 100 times. Annatjie at reception [you must know her] will confirm Meneer Green.
    I love photography, but obviously not at your level. However, some of my images I am quite proud of.
    Am watching your site anxiously for all the new and good stuff!!!
    Best.

  2. Maryna Bouwer

    Hi Morkel, love your photos and all the info you gave. We are traveling to the park for the first time in the beginning December – do you perhaps know if Botswana experienced early rain this year 2014? Many many thanks

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