Mata Mata Rest Camp

Mata Mata Rest Camp: Our full report

Rooms
13 chalets
Traveller's rating
Good (80%) From 4 reviews
Open
All year

Immediately beside the Namibian border, in South Africa's section of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Mata Mata Rest Camp is one of this park's three original restcamps. Like the others, it offers fairly simple self-catering accommodation – with all the kit for cooking provided and a shop on site – and hence affordable access to this spectacular wilderness.Originally the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was made up of two separate national parks: Botswana's Gemsbok National Park, and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa – which never had any fences between them. In 2000 these two countries, facilitated by the Peace Parks Foundation, combined the management of the park to create Africa's first transfrontier park: the Kgalagadi.

This 38,000km² park is set up for self-drive visitors; this is by far the easiest way to visit. One Expert Africa team member visited it as early as 1989, and the park's essential character has remained fairly unchanged since then. Due to its relatively remote location, distant from most major towns, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park gets relatively few visitors – making the place all the more of a pleasure from those who do come here. Amongst its other game, the park has a thriving cheetah population, strong populations of lion, wildebeest and gemsbok, and is probably the best place in the world to see meerkats thriving amongst their native Kalahari dunes.

The original Mata Mata Rest Camp has always been fairly basic, and whilst it was given a facelift in 2009, it remains fairly simple by the standards of most modern safari lodges. (This is generally viewed as hugely positive for many of its visitors, of course.) While many visitors choose to camp here, there are 13 chalets, which differ in size and amenities. All are self-catering.

  • Each of the original chalets now comes with an en-suite bathroom with separate toilet and shower, one or two bedrooms, a kitchenette kitted out with fridge/freezer and all cooking and eating utensils; and outside barbecue facilities. Towels and bed linen are provided.

  • Eight brand new thatched chalets overlooking the dry riverbed are more modern in style, and include air conditioning, satellite television, a fully equipped kitchen with fridge/freezer, a lounge and a patio with barbecue facilities.
Unfortunately the chalets were all fully booked when we visited in May 2011 so we could not have a look inside.

The restcamp also incorporates a small shop selling basic food items, a game hide overlooking the dry Auob river, a swimming pool and a very useful fuel station.

Note that there is a border crossing between Namibia and South Africa, beside the camp. This was closed for many years from around the 1990s, but opened again in 2007. The Kgaladai's authorities are at pains to point out that this crossing is for tourist use only. This can mean day-drips into the park from the Namibian side, but more usually means visitors crossing into the park in order to stay in it. Thus the rules expect tourists who wish to use this crossing post to have confirmed accommodation for a minimum two nights within the park. Note that Kgalagadi Park's only full passport control post on the South African side is Twee Rivieren.

Our view

Mata Mata Restcamp stands at the edge of a massive wildlife reserve which is under-rated and under-visited. However, like most of the places in the Kgalagadi, it is best suited to slightly more adventurous safari-goers who know, from experience, that they enjoy pure self-drive trips. It's a good (although never luxurious) base from which to explore the park – best combined with at least two of the Kgalagadi's other camps. Note that accommodation here, like most places in the park, is often booked up well in advance – so book early if you possibly can.

Geographics

Location: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

Ideal length of stay: The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park can't really be fully appreciated in a short stay. To avoid disappointment, a stay of at least four nights is recommended (and preferably 5-7 nights), split between Mata Mata, Twee Rivieren or Nossob. Perhaps consider adding in one of the new wilderness camps: Grootkolk Camp, Kalahari Tented Camp or Bitterpan Camp.

Accessible by: Self-drive

Key personnel

Owner: South African National Parks

Food & drink

Usual board basis: Room Only

Special interests

Family holidays: The fenced, simple Mata Mata is one of the few camps in the Kgalagadi without any age restrictions. Whilst self-catering here will appeal to those on a tight budget on their family safari holidays in South Africa, others might miss a restaurant.

See more ideas for Family holidays in South Africa

Birdwatching: As part of a birding trip to South Africa the Kglagadi Transfrontier Park offers the chance to see 264 species of bird. Both resident and migrant species can be found here, and it is also great for raptors.

See more ideas for Birdwatching in South Africa

Wildlife safaris: These days the number of visitors to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is increasing, especially from South Africa. However, they are still relatively low, especially in comparison to places like Kruger – making it a fantastic place for game viewing without the crowds. Springbok, oryx or gemsbok, red hartebeest, eland and blue wildebeest are some of the larger mammals found here; lion and cheetah sightings are often good.

See more ideas for Wildlife safaris in South Africa

Children

Attitude towards children: Children are welcome at Mata Mata Camp.

Property’s age restrictions: There are no age restrictions.

Notes: Although the restcamp is relaxed and fenced, remember that you are on safari, and that dangerous big game wanders around this park – hence children should be supervised at all times.

Infrastructure

Power supply: Generator

Communications: There are no telephones or cellphone reception at Mata Mata.

Health & safety

Malarial protection recommended: No

Medical care: The closest hospital is in Upington.

Dangerous animals: High Risk

Fire safety: Each chalet is equipped with a fire extinguisher.

Extras

Disabled access: Not Possible

Laundry facilities: Laundry tubs and ironing facilities (no iron) are available.

Money: There are no electronic safes in the chalets and no currency exchange is possible.

Accepted payment on location: There are no debit/credit card facilities at the shop or fuel station.