12 October 2007
President Thabo Mbeki, Botswana President Festus Mogae and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba jointly opened the Mata Mata Tourist Access Facility, a port of entry between South Africa and Namibia within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Africa’s first Peace Park.
The Kgalagadi, a San word meaning “place of thirst”, is Africa’s first proclaimed transfrontier park and authorities are hoping to increase ease of travel for tourists by creating shorter routes between the three countries, especially since it is popular for its 4×4 wilderness trails.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park incorporates the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. Comprising of an area of almost 3.8-million hectares, nearly twice the size of the Kruger National Park, it is one of very few conservation areas of its size left in the world.
There are six different camps, three traditional rest camps and three wilderness camps. The three oldest rest camps are Twee Riviere, (Two Rivers) close to the entrance; Nossob, next to the Nossob River; and Mata Mata next to the Namibian border. Twee Rivieren is the largest camp and also the administrative headquarters.
For tourists, electricity and cell phone reception in these areas are available 24 hours, while luxury accommodation is available at Twee Rivieren.
The new port of entry is expected to benefit the region by showcasing its unique eco-tourism packages during the hosting of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, when thousands of visitors are expected to visit the country.
In 2006 the South African government announced a R395-million infrastructure investment in the park, in the lead up to the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
In preparation thereof, the South African government announced a R395-million infrastructure investment in the park in 2006, which would include the building and upgrading of accommodation as well as the construction of roads within the park.
Senior South African officials are also to open the Sendelingsdrift Tourist Access Facility this month, launching the pontoon, a floating platform that tourists will use to cross the Orange River
This will form the international border between South Africa and Namibia within the Ai/Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
The opening of the Mata Mata and Sendelingsdrift Tourist Access Facilities are key to the strategy for desert tourism which explores the natural linkage between Kgalagadi and the Ai/Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier parks, South Africa’s Augrabies Falls National Park and the soon to be declared Sperregebiet National Park in Namibia.