Mapungubwe National Park

Mapungubwe National Park is the hidden jewel of South Africa a place its visitors keeps a close kept secret, in my opinion Mapungubwe must be the most under rated national park in South Africa. With rolling hills filled with age old Baobab trees, spectacular views and a rich cultural heritage this is the ultimate bush break.

Mapungubwe is situated on the border of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, it is 28 000 hectares of untouched wilderness that will make you come back for more.

Limpopo Forest Camp - Mapungubwe National Park
Limpopo Forest Camp - Mapungubwe National Park
We had a 4 night visit to Mapungubwe hardly enough to experience what the reserve has to offer but we were ready to make the most of a short visit. We started our trip with a one night stay at the Limpopo Forest Camp situated in the riverine forest along the mighty Limpopo river surrounded by fig and fever trees you will become one with nature.

Each tent has a fully equipped kitchen, braai area, bathroom with a shower and a spacious bedroom with twin beds and a ceiling fan, if possible take an extra fan with it gets very hot in summer. The tents are serviced daily and are kept in excellent condition. Only issue we had at the tented camp was of course monkey's (because people feed them) and strangely enough mice that raids everything you leave outside.

There is a swimming pool to provide much needed relief from the at time unbearable heat.

Day 2 - 4 we spend at Vhembe Wilderness Camp, the camp consists of four stunning chalets with a bathroom and a patio overlooking the beautifully valley below you, the units are services daily and in excellent condition. There is a communal kitchen area with braai facility and gas appliances making this the ideal camp for a group and an excellent opportunity to make new friends with people that share your interests.

The camp is supplied by solar power that was very unstable during our visit, if a guest turns a fan on in their room the camp loses power, the least of your worries are lights when you have the African night sky filled with stars to gaze up at.

Vhembe Wilderness Camp
The view from your patio overlooking the valley.

Sun downers at the small pool at Vhembe Wilderness Camp
There is a small swimming pool at Vhembe Wilderness Camp, ask the guy at the camp as it is not advertised, nothing beats watching the sunset with a cold beer with a herd of elephants walking in the valley below you.

From Vhembe Wilderness Camp you are centrally located and going out for a morning or afternoon game drive from here is ideal, the park offers some of the best birding in South Africa as well as a large variety of game including the big five.

Go for a sun downer at the confluence view point, after a short walk up the hill you make your pick of the many viewing decks overlooking what is called the confluence, where the Sashe river that separates Botswana and Zimbabwe meet the Limpopo river that separates South African from its neighbours to the north. The views are out of this world with the African bush spread out in front of you as far as the eye can see.
Sunset from the Confluence viewpoint.

We did not have time to do any of the cultural tours they have on offer, the Kingdom of Mapungubwe was the largest ancient city and trading point in Africa, trading gold and ivory with China, India and Egypt 1200 - 1300 AD. This was a thriving community that existed long before the European settlers arrived in the Cape in 1652.

Items like the Golden Rhino of Mapungubwe was discovered in 1932 in a royal grave at Mapungubwe hill, the artifact is around 800 years old and currently on display at the British Museum.

Other then the rich cultural history tours you can go on an exiting 4x4 game drive, note these routes are ONLY for 4x4 vehicles. One can drive for hours without seeing another vehicle, this is what makes Mapungubwe so unique.

There is also a treetop walk that winds its way towards the Limpopo river build on stilts in between the massive trees that line the mighty Limpopo river, this is a great opportunity to take your binoculars and do some bird watching.

A true gem I would recommend Mapungubwe National Park to anyone for a great bush holiday.

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