A Birthday Weekend in Mapungubwe National Park

Back in July, we ventured north to spend a long weekend in Mapungubwe National Park. We had been wanting to visit this park for some time and we were really excited to find availability over my birthday weekend.

ViewsView of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe

Mapungubwe sits right on the border between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. For the moment only the South African part can be visited but apparently there is talk of making it a transfrontier park. While the park is not known for the quantity of wildlife sightings that one usually gets in some other parks, it is incredibly scenic and a great place to relax for a few nights.

As far as the eye can seeAs far as the eye can see

The park is divided into an eastern and western section, with private land separating the two. If you have a 4×4 you can drive the road dividing the two sections, but if you do not, it is about a 30 minute drive around the outside of the park to get from one to the other. I don’t think I have mentioned it on the blog, but we traded our Jeep (Just Empty Every Pocket) last November for a smaller, but much more reliable Honda Jazz. While the Jazz has been fine while we have been on safari in Kruger, we found that we were really limited as far as the roads we could drive in Mapungubwe. If you are going to visit, I would really recommend a 4×4 to fully enjoy this park.

There are several accommodation options in the park, including a campsite. We chose to stay at the Leokwe Rest Camp for 2 nights, located in the eastern section of the park. I just loved this camp and our 1 bedroom cottage was just fantastic. This place was absolutely huge. There was a bedroom with 2 single beds, a large kitchen/living room space and a beautiful terrace (we even saw an eland just off the terrace one afternoon) with a braai and and a view to die for. Oh, and did I mention the outdoor shower ?!?

Leokwe Rest CampLeokwe Rest Camp

Our cottageOur cottage

Spacious Living AreaSpacious living area

View

View from the terrace

TerraceTerrace with braai

ElandEland right off our terrace one afternoon

ShowerOutdoor shower with a view, I just loved this

PoolPool. Did I mention the views ?

Upon realizing our road options would be pretty limited, we signed up for a 3 hour evening safari drive on our first day. This allowed us to visit some of the parts of the park we wouldn’t get to see and turned out to be a lot of fun. My favorite sighting of the drive was a porcupine, a first for me. Unfortunately it was a bit too dark to get any photos but he was so cute just waddling down the road. Our guide also spotted a leopard way up on a cliff (too far and too dark for good photos); these guys always amaze me with their spotting skills.

KlipspringerKlipspringer. We saw many of them over the weekend; they love the rocky terrain here.

BaobabThere are so many amazing baobabs in the park.

SunsetWatching the sunset and listening to lions in the not so far distance.

The following morning we took a drive over to the western section of the park. The highlight here was the Maloutswa Hide. We spent over an hour here with the hide all to ourselves watching the spectacular birdlife enjoying the warm winter day.

Maloutswa HideView from Maloutswa Hide

African Sacred IbisAfrican Sacred Ibis

Pied KingfisherPied Kingfisher searching for lunch

HamerkopHamerkop coming in for a landing

BirdlifeLeft to right: White Faced Ducks, Hamerkop, African Spoonbill, Grey Heron

African SpoonbillAfrican Spoonbill strikes a pose

CrowdedThis log is about to get a whole lot more crowded

Grey HeronGrey Heron and his lunch

Reed CormorantReed Cormorant

White Faced DucksWhite Faced Ducks

White-fronted Bee EaterWhite-fronted Bee Eater

 Back on the eastern side of the park, there are two places that you absolutely need to visit. The first is the treetop canopy walk. Wooden planks wind their way through the trees affording some lovely views of the river below.

Treetop Canopy WalkTreetop Canopy Walk

ViewsViews from the canopy walk

BaboonBaboon pondering what kind of mischief he can get up to

BushbuckBushbuck checking us out

The other highlight of the eastern section is the Confluence Viewpoint. This is the place to be for the best views and amazing sunsets. There are viewpoints on both sides of the picnic area so be sure to get to both.

Viewing DeckViewing Deck

DassieLots of curious dassies around the viewpoints

GiraffesGiraffes

Confluence Picnic SiteConfluence Picnic Site

ViewpointLooking out from one of the viewing decks. This is where South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe meet.

Amazing SunsetAmazing Sunset

We really enjoyed our stay in Mapungubwe and I really recommend a visit if you are looking for a less crowded park to get away from it all and you aren’t concerned with only big 5 sightings. I’ll leave you with a few more photos of our wildlife sightings. Until we meet again Mapungubwe.

ElephantsElephants. We watched a breeding herd playing for quite some time.

WildebeestWildebeest

Elephant

Elephant and a Baobab

ZebraLooks like she may be expecting

ElephantsPart of a breeding herd

Zebra

Zebra Portrait

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6 thoughts on “A Birthday Weekend in Mapungubwe National Park

  1. I missed this post of yours while we were visiting Ithala, but I’m so glad I found it this morning! It’s been far too long since our last visit to Mapungubwe and I’d love to get back there. Even more so for seeing your wonderful photos! Did you see the gemsbok and sable antelope? Good to see that they are seeing leopards on the night drives still; believe it or not but Marilize and I were the first visitors to see leopards on a night drive at Mapungubwe when we visited just after the Park opened to the public!

    And I’m utterly impressed with your choice of vehicle to explore our wild places! We also travel around in a Honda Jazz. Apart from the reliability you’ve mentioned, its fuel consumption is much easier on the pocket than any SUV or 4×4, (meaning we can afford more trips!) and for a small vehicle the packing space puts many bigger cars to shame!

    Like

    • Thanks for the comment! We did not see gemsbok or sable, maybe next time. That is so cool you were the first to see leopards!

      I love our Jazz, so happy with it. When we had to trade-in the Jeep, we had a couple of other options but in the end we chose the Jazz due to the packing space. We had a camping trip to Kruger planned right after and we were able to get everything we needed in the Jazz including a pretty large tent setup. When we measured, it was reallly only slighly smaller than the Jeep for packing space. And yes, the fuel consumption is a huge bonus!

      Thanks for reading, I’m off to the Kruger again (in my Jazz) in a couple more weeks so stay tuned. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 2015: Where did you go? | Under an African Sun

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