So, despite the cold and the fear, I unzipped my tent enough to stick my torch out. There in the spotlight I saw glowing eyes and fur. A werewolf? A brown hyena. The first brown hyena I had ever seen.
The following morning, we assessed the damage caused by the werewolf. Overthrown chairs and tables. A full 25-litre container of
water dragged through the sand. A pair of binoculars a few metres into the veld. A tripod even further into the veld. A solid steel camping fridge with teeth holes. Lesson learnt: put everything away at night. Everything. Over the years, we have had many predators pay a visit. Leopards, lions, spotted hyenas, and more brown hyenas. It is exhilarating.
Game-viewing in the Kgalagadi is very different to that in bushier, wetter areas like the Kruger National Park or Okavango Delta. There are no elephants, rhino, or buffalo. Impala, kudu, or giraffe that are frequently seen in other places are a rarity in the Kgalagadi. Animals like gemsbok and springbok that are more adapted to desert regions are commonly seen. The first time I visited Kgalagadi was also the first time I saw a bat-eared fox and the incredible Cape cobra.
Kalahari weather is that typical of a desert region. Daytime temperatures can be incredibly hot and drop to below freezing at night. The flat landscape also makes you vulnerable to heavy winds, which get a little uncomfortable when you're surrounded by fine sand.
Those who have visited the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park will understand its magic. There is nothing more rewarding than being out of reach, surrounded by wildlife and the most incredible landscapes. No phones, no shops, no internet, no deadlines. Just you and the unspoiled wilderness.