The history of Kgalagadi Lodge

Kgalagadi Lodge is situated between the red sand dunes of the Kalahari, is an ideal desert haven where modern meets wilderness. Two-hundred and fifty kilometres away from Upington Airport and five kilometres from the popular Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Sarel Jacobus (35) and Denise Koortzen (29) are co-founders and co-developers of Kgalagadi Lodge. Sarel shares the history of their establishment…


Hotel name timeline?

Kgalagadi Lodge. It has been Kgalagadi Lodge since the launch in 2012

Launch date?

August 2012

Why was hotel launched?

Kgalagadi Lodge occupies what was once empty, desert land. My wife, Denise Koortzen and I spotted a gap in the market and saw the opportunity in a bare terrain to create a luxurious lodge in the Kalahari which offers only the best services and products to weary travellers and holidaymakers.

My wife and I have always been avid travellers and when we decided to open a lodge we did some extensive research to find the perfect location.

We have visited Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park numerous times and always noticed how full the accommodation got and realised there is a high demand for more accommodation in the area. We therefore decided to open up our own lodge only five kilometres away to cater for guests wanting to experience the park but got turned away due to limited accommodation.

The location itself is so beautiful, surrounded by the red sand dunes of the Kalahari and overlooking the Botswana border. We knew from our first visit to the location that the spot had a lot of potential for creating the ideal desert haven where modern accommodation can meet wilderness.

Hotel ownership timeline?

We have been the proud owners since it opened in 2012.


We designed everything ourselves and then took it to an architect, called Neels. He then drew up the plans for us.

Design / décor inspiration?

The décor has been inspired by modern African feel and every bit of detail within the lodge and restaurant has been hand-picked by Denise and most of the wooden furniture I made myself, indicating that Kgalagadi Lodge is truly a reflection of dedication and passion to hospitality.

Renovations or expansion timeline?

  • In 2012, the 1st phase was the building of the first 12 chalets, six campsites with own ablution, the shop with bakery and the big building with storage space workshop, laundry, water treatment plant and bottling plant. 
  • In 2014, March, we started with 2nd phase which was the construction of seven, two bedroom family Chalets and another 13 campsites with own ablution. 
  • In 2015, first six months, we added eight smaller business chalets and the last six months we built a restaurant with a bigger kitchen and upgraded the swimming pool area. 
  • In 2016 we refurbished the pool and we converted four of the campsites to luxury chalets, we also started with maintenance on the first 12 chalets. 
  • In 2017 we will only be doing upgrades to all the chalets, campsites and the terrain itself.

Hotel general manager timeline?

We’re extremely proud to only be on our second managers since we opened. Our current managers has been with us since July 2015. It is difficult to get people that are willing to move to the heart of the Kalahari. But like they say, once you feel the red sand between your toes, you fall in love with the Kalahari and our managers has truly fallen in love.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]

Share This Post On