Mapungubwe National Park

exploring north

This is a wonderful park bordering Botswana and Zimbabwe. Neither of us have been there before, so when friends of ours (Gustav and Bernice) moved to Alldays and invited us over we jumped at the opportunity to go check it out.

Hercules, a long-time mutual friend, joined us and volunteered his Suzuki sx4.  We hit the road from Pretoria that Friday afternoon, which turned out to be a bad idea as the weekend traffic going North was quite hectic. On top of that, the state of roads got significantly worse after the last major town, Louis Trichardt, and avoiding all the potholes in the dark was no laughing matter.

We were welcomed with cold beer and braai fire after the stressful trip. We hit the hay early as the next morning we were off to Mapongupwe.

The road to the main entrance was very intriguing and already yielded beautiful baobabs and elephants. Entry was quick and affordable but unfortunately, a part of the park was closed. This meant we had to exit at the same point and drive around to the other part. Another sad point was that we were visiting  during an extremely dry season.

Because of the drought, the elephants had starting stripping the bark of the baobab trees in the reserve. This left the baobab’s looking scraggly and like they have been in secret battles at night. 

The main part of the park had magnificent decks overlooking the (dry) rivers that divide the three countries. We made it out point to visit them all and were treated to views of dancing baobabs. And great bird life.
This part of the park also had some old military bunks and a lovely lookout point over a dam where a good breather was taken. On our way out we saw some elephants climbing under/pushing through the fences over to get to the neighbouring farm across the road.  Imagine that, farming with cattle and then waking up to an elephant in front of your house drinking from your dam.
Another big plus point was the inspirational Mapongupwe interpretational centre by Peter Rich. This was the big draw card for Salome (architect). She really enjoyed it but was quite disappointed that no pictures were allowed inside, at least we got some good ones from outside. We could also hide from the heat and grab some cold drinks and snacks at their rooftop cafe before we headed over to the second part of the reserve.
To get to this part we drove past beautiful orchards belonging to ZZ2 and on arrival, a huge Kori bustard greeted us. This part of the park contained campsite. There is a beautiful hide with more good bird and wild life.
We left the park with a beautiful sunset and headed home for some more cold beer and braaing. Thank you Gustav and Bernice for hosting us and Hercules for the wheels and fun times.