Limpopo Province, South Africa. 2011 - 2012 - Mapungubwe National Park

Mapungubwe is another SAN Parks Reserve. It's situated on the borders with Botswana and Zimbabwe. Our abiding memory of the Park is of the huge numbers of elephants at the waterhole - we saw over a hundred every day!

At the moment the Park has 2 sections, east and West. The campsite is in the western section and is a short distance from the waterhole where I spent hours and hours watching the birds and animals.

The Mazhou campsite (S22 11.234 E29 12.084) only has 10 stands but each has power, water and a bin. Most of them have plenty of room and shade. The camp was fully booked over the Christmas period but wasn't crowded. The ablutions are well maintained. Cost: R170 per night (excluding Park fees).

We spent 7 nights here and, despite the heat and there being no pool (but plenty of cold showers!), had a lovely Christmas. The campsite is fenced, to keep the elephants out, but the electric fence is 1m off the ground so smaller buck could wander around the site - we saw several bushbuck. There were also always plenty of birds about.

A bushbuck taking the opportunity for a drink.

Our large, shady campsite.

We saw this pied kingfisher slapping a fish against the branch for a good 10 minutes before it had broken the bones up enough to swallow the fish.

As well as elephant at the waterhole we encountered several groups around the Park. One group of over 30 held us up for 40 minutes on this gravel road.

We had a drive around the Eastern section of the Park and stopped for lunch at the lookout point over the confluence of the Shashe.and Limpopo rivers, which is the border between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It's likely that soon a new Transfrontier Park will be created linking Mapungubwe with The Tuli block in Botswana and Zimbabwe.

There was the remains of an old military barracks near the river.

An elephant carefully negotiating the barbed wire fence where the electric fence has been removed.

There was less than10 metres between the hide and the fresh water outlet at the waterhole so the elephants were very close - you could have almost reached out and touched them. When there were a lot of people in the hide they tended to have a quick drink and then rush off but when there were only a few people they seemed more relaxed although they obviously knew there were people there and the mums made sure to keep between us and her baby.

Elephants rushing down to the waterhole.

This is how close you are to the elephants.

A few other highlights that I saw from my time at the hide:

There were nearly always some warthogs around. I saw his family with 7 youngsters twice.

A vervet monkey stealing eggs from a communal buffalo weavers nest - with angry birds around.

A water monitor finding dung beetles in elephant dung.

A woodland kingfisher with a catch.

A couple of male waterbuck play-fighting.

A young wildebeest investigating a cattle egret.

We had a drive around the Western section of the Park and discovered a 4x4 trail (fortunately on our Tracks4Africa GPS) which we were able to follow as it twisted up through sandstone outcrops.

It wasn't a particularly hard trail but gave Kevin a chance to try out the bakkie. He had to use low range on a few occasions and found that it went very well though these sections.

The view from the lookout point on the 4x4 trail.

There were lots of birds at the campsite and around the Reserve as well as at the waterhole.

A male red-headed weaver in breeding plumage.

Little bee-eater on the lookout for food.

I took this at around 7pm on Christmas Day - note the christmas cracker hats! The temperature was still in the low 30s.

1. Chelmsford Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

2. Marakele National Park, Limpopo

3. Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo

4. Punda Maria, Kruger National Park, Limpopo

Diary (word document)


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