Road to and in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Every time I am about to leave for the KTP the question comes to mind, the direct way via Van Zylsrus or via Upington?? All of you that have recently travelled to the KTP, probably had the same question cross your mind. The direct route leaves the N14 at Kuruman and passes through Hotazel and then turns east towards Van Zylsrus. It is tarred up to +- 20 km from Van Zylsrus. It is then a dirt road all the way to Askham where it joins the tarr road (R360) from Upington. In total it is thus +- 170km of dirt road and roughly 280km shorter than via Upington. The Upington (N14) road has quite a few “stop and goes” (my pet hate!!)

You can argue that travel time should be similar on either route as you have to travel at a slow 80-90km/hr on the dirt section. I have in the past travelled both ways and definitely prefer the direct route as the scenery is nicer (puts you in the Kalahari sooner) and the dirt section is not bad. Please keep in mind that this is my own view and everybody has to decide for them self.

The tar section between Hotazel and Van Zylsrus

with even a side road for the off road fanatics.

It has a short section towards the end which has some potholes in….

the end of the tar

The dirt road between Van Zylsrus and Ashkam

with some fellow travelers

some road works on the only bad section (probably only 5-8km) but there has been no progress in this regard over the last 2 years.

Although the base is good and I think it does not get slippery in the rain you do find a few areas with standing water…

some challenging road signage on the tar section from Askham to Twee Rivieren gate (especially if you are hungry)

Although Sanparks does their best with the roads in the park

it very quickly deteriorates due to speeding and people not deflating their tyre pressure.

with some roads closed for repairs (feels like years…..)

So which route do you choose?? I know what I will do…..

26 thoughts on “Road to and in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park”

  1. I think you meant turn west after Hotazel?
    Thanks for this update, but I was wondering if we don’t have more recent reports on the road condition in Vanzylsrust immediate area. The road in that area used to be horrible, but only for some 20 km towards Askham. For those of you who want to cross over into the Kgalagadi-South Region in the communal livestock area, you can cross border at Middelpits and take fresh water in at the Vanzylsrust police station. In the Kgalagadi South region the water is very saline. Drive to Khawa, meet the chief there and enjoy the beautiful dunes.

    1. Sarel, yes indeed turn west. Thank you for pointing this out. I just returned from there again this morning and this time used the tar road in Botswana crossing the border at Middlepits and then back into RSA at Bokspits. Very pleasant route and friendly border crossings with no issues.

  2. Dear Sarel and Tobie,
    Thank you very much for messages on this site about the road from Van Zylsrus to Twee Rivieren. We are going in October to the Kgalagadi. Now we can hire a cheaper car, because the road is much better this way. On many sites I have read about the road, but not so specailly.

        1. Hi Ray,

          Yes the road from Upington to Twee Rivieren is tarred all the way up to the gate of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Once you enter the park the dirt road starts and can get very corrugated at times. Deflate tyres as per SanParks recommendation and you have a softer ride and the roads don’t get corrugated so quickly.

          Enjoy your visit.

          1. Hi Tobie. Many thanks for that. Had a look at some of your photos. Brilliant. Just got back from Uganda where we did some gorilla trekking. Got some good photos and looking to post but not sure how or where?
            Best Regards,
            Ray

          2. Hi Ray,

            There are quite a few blogs or Facebook pages to use. I like South African Wildlife Photographers on Facebook (https://web.facebook.com/groups/264770003570/) or even your own Facebook page. Just ensure that you copyright protect them and even publish low resolution (72 dpi). Alternatively Outdoorphoto has a Gallery section which you can use. Their you will also receive some comments on images and how you could possibly improve them.

            Good luck and enjoy your photography.

            Regards,

            Tobie

    1. Lucinda,
      it depends where in Botswana you are going to. You can travel to Tweerivieren and enter Botswana at Gemsbok / Bokspits border post and travel on a lovely tar road all the way to Tsabong.

  3. Can someone confirm that the road from Upington to Twee Rivieren is tar road all the way (and condition) as I would like to take my caravan and base ourselfs there. We are travelling from Knysna around the whole of the Northern and Western Cape and would really like to visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
    Best Regards,
    Ray

  4. Hello there! We will be visiting the Kgalagadi during February 2017. How is the condition of the dirt road currently taking into account all the rainfall?

  5. During May I will be traveling from the Kgalagadi to Johannesburg. Clearly it is considerably shorter to go via Van Zylsrus and Hotazel as opposed to via Upington. The latter I have travelled many times and would like a change. What is the current state of the dirt road. I gather the dirt road still ends 20Km other side of Van Zylsrus.

    Additionally ,does anyone have an accurate record of the exact distances using both routes or put otherwise how much shorter is it to travel via Van Zylsrus.

    1. Hi Peter,

      I have not travelled this way since May 2016 (when it was only bad in a few patches). I will be using this route again on Saturday 15 April and can provide some feedback regarding the condition (subject to connectivity) thereafter. I always use this way, alternatively going through the Botswana border either at Tweerivieren or Bokspits (old Gemsbokpits) and travel on excellent tar road parallel to Ashkan Van Zylsrus road (just on Botswana side) and cross back into Botswana at Middelpits (just outside Van Zylsrus) . I travelled via Upington (going to Namibia and the road both sides of Kathu was hectic with all the mining activity in the area. I vouched to never again travel this way (unless going to Namibia). If you have decent tyres on your vehicle and stick to +- 80kph I find it a comfortable trip and still quicker and shorter than via Upington (some people argue 120kph all the way – I do not agree due to all the heavy vehicles). I do not off hand know the exact distances but are sure T4A or even Google Maps can help. (+- 220km shorter).

      Enjoy your trip to Kgalagadi.

      Regards,

      Tobie

      1. Hi Peter,

        I have just returned from Kgalagadi and travelled the dirt road both times (there and back). As stated above there were some bad areas but in total much better than the roads in the park (especially after the Easter Holidays).

  6. Hi I am traveling Kgalagadi on Friday 22 September 2017 and would like to inquire as to the condition of the dirt road between Van Zylsrus and Askam. Regards

    1. Hi André,

      The last time I travelled the road was at the end of April 2017 on my way to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. At that stage the road was in a very good condition with only the area both sides of Van Zylsrus a bit corrugated. As mentioned before the road is tarred until 20km before van Zylsrus (coming from Kuruman). The road is normally well maintained and in a better condition than most of the roads in the Park (traffic volume, tyre pressure and speeding). The tarred road through Botswana is an excellent alternative, just beware of the restriction on taking some product into Botswana (tomatoes etc.)

      Enjoy your trip to the Park, I will be back there at the beginning of November, cant’t wait.

      regards,

      Tobie

  7. How is the current status of the road from van zylrus to Askam
    Looking at going September 2018
    Don’t travel fast at all

    1. Merle, I used the road during Nov 2017 and if you do not speed (>80 km/hr) I always prefer to go this way. On my return trip I used the tar road through Botswana, what a pleasure, quick border crossing and very quiet.

      Enjoy your trip!

      Kind regards

      Tobie

    1. Hi Kerstin,

      No the R360 runs from Upington up north to the park. The road I am referring to is the B2 in Botswana going all the way from Tshabong to Gemsbokplein (Bokspits) or direct to Twee Rivieren in an east to west direction.

      Regards,

      Tobie

  8. Is anyone able to provide an update on the road condition between Van Zylsrus and Ashkam? We are driving to KTP next month and would prefer to use this shorter route, rather than going via Upington.

    1. Raymond, I have not traveled this route since my last report (see above) Unfortunately safety is a concern in Kuruman and now also Vryburg (as probably in many other areas). My approach is also be be wide awake and look out for people hanging around. Just be vigilant and lock your vehicle, don’t travel with open windows when stopping in towns and don’t store any valuables in plain sight.

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