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Mapungubwe National Park


Sharifa
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Mapungubwe means "hill of the jackal." It is situated on the borders of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe close to where the Limpopo and Shashi Rivers meet.

 

The site was "discovered" on the 31 December 1932, when a farmer E.S.J. van Graan, his son and group of men with a local tracker went up the Mapungubwe Hill to prospect and found gold and iron artifacts, pottery and glass beads. This was a centre of the largest known kingdom in the African sub-continent. It was a thriving trading centre from 1200to 1300 AD. Trading in gold and ivory with China India and Egypt.

 

The best known artifact of Mapungubwe is the "Golden Rhino" which belonged to the royal family.

 

In 1933 the government of the day bought the farm and kept it a secret until in 1999 the control was given over to SANparks to manage.

 

Mapungubwe was declared a World Heritage Site in July 2003 by UNESCO.

 

Now that we have the history we can begin the journey.

 

We were booked:

16/17 June in Leokwe Camp,

18 June in Limpopo Tented Camp

 

The distance from Centurion is 501 km and the roads are in great condition, no potholes. We took the N1 till Polokwane and then the R521 to Alldays and Mapungubwe.

 

The view of the Information Centre as you approach the entrance gate

 

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The entrance

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We stayed in Leokwe Camp first and this was our accommodation

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The bathroom had an outdoor shower

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The view of the shower from outside

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The pool area as it is very hot in summer

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Looks like a lovey getaway. Looking forward to reading more!

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New to me - looks very peaceful

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@@kittykat23uk and @@pault

 

it is a very quiet and restful place, full of history. There is a guided walk to the historic Hill as well.

 

Mapungubwe is like many places we have visited but at the same time unlike any one place having its own unique sense of place.

Sandstone formations,

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mopane woodlands

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and unique riverine forest and baobab trees

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form the astounding scenic backdrop for a rich variety of animal life.

 

Elephant, giraffe, white rhino, eland, gemsbok and numerous other antelope species occur naturally in the area. Lucky visitors might spot predators like lions, leopards and hyenas. Birders can tick off 400 species, including kori bustard, tropical boubou and pel’s fishing owl.

 

 

 

 

 

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The link below shows the map of Mapungubwe. A lot of the park is reclaimed land and it has two sections divided by private farms.

 

http://www.sanparks.org/images/parks/mapungubwe/maps/map2.png

 

The park should not be compared to Kruger or KTP. Game numbers are fewer and across the Limpopo you can see cattle and sheep. It is however a Big 5 Park, and also has cheetah and wild dogs and is wonderful for birds and an opportunity for a sighting of a Pels Fishing Owl and other rare bird species.

 

We in the west section and a drive from Leokwe Camp will reveal:

 

Giraffe

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Klipspringer

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Zebras

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A dassie (rock hyrax)

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kudu

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Vearreaux's Eagle (Black Eagle)

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Fish Eagle

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Lilac breasted Roller

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@@Sharifa great description and photos, as always. Is the black eagle a common sight in this area?

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@@africapurohit - We were there for two days and saw black Eagles on both days. If you ever in Johanessburg give me a shout, there is a nesting pair half an hour from my house.

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@@africapurohit - We were there for two days and saw black Eagles on both days. If you ever in Johanessburg give me a shout, there is a nesting pair half an hour from my house.

@@Sharifa where are the photos? ;)

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@@africapurohit - come to think of it we don't have any photos of the ones near our house. Anyway Augrabies National Park is another place where one can see Black Eagles. Will get round to that park in due course. Below is another picture of the Black Eagle in Mapungubwe ;)

 

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We got right below this pearl spotted owl

 

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Impala and Wildebeest

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First thing in the morning we did find a leopard but he did not hang around

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Spoonbill

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African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene)

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Predator sightings are rare although people do see them. For us the real attration of Mapungubwe is the birds and in the next installment I will take you on a special bird walk.

Edited by Sharifa
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A sign posted outside the entrance to the path up to the bird hide

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This is a walkway to the treetop birding hide which overlooks the Limpopo River.

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PP on the walkway taking photos

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As we walked we found ourselves going higher and higher to the canopy of the trees. There are benches all along the walkway to stop and watch the birds fly around you and if you are quiet enough they settle down in the branches close to you. This is a birding paradise!

 

White-fronted Bee-eater

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Purple Roller

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Crested Barbet

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Retz's Helmet-Shrike

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Meyer's Parrot

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Black-headed Oriole

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Little Bee-eater

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A very shy Bushbuck

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Although we were there in winter we were not disappointed with the birds we saw. The place will really be a birding paradise in summer with all the migrant birds that come.

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The view from the Treetop Hide overlooking the Limpopo River.

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Some of the other birds we saw from the walkway and Hide

 

Mocking Cliff-Chat

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Blue Waxbill

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Pied Kingfisher

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Grey Heron

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Egyptian Geese

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Green Wood-Hoopoe

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Red-billed Quelea

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A squirrel hugs his tree

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Another interesting destination Sharifa. Looks like we should move to South Africa for a while instead of flying to and fro. Maybe a few years, in order to do your parks justice.

Lovely pictures, especially that Pearl-spotted Owlet and the bee-eaters. And that Helmet-shrike's eyes sure look good.

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Another interesting destination Sharifa. Looks like we should move to South Africa for a while instead of flying to and fro. Maybe a few years, in order to do your parks justice.

Lovely pictures, especially that Pearl-spotted Owlet and the bee-eaters. And that Helmet-shrike's eyes sure look good.

 

@@johnkok - thank you.

 

That would be the best way to travel South Africa coast to coast. There are a few small Parks that are well worth visiting and can be included in the iternary when travelling to the KNP and KTP

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We now drive out of the Park again to get to the eastern side where there is a programme to restore the indigenous vegetation

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We stayed in tented units, which are en suite and with a fully equiped kitchen

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and an enclosed braai area.

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We were not the only ones thinking of going for a swim

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There are no shops so all your food and snacks will have to be brought with you and make no mistake you will need them for this side of the Park.

 

Our first sighting when reaching this camp was a white impala but we could not get a photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The klipspringer looked like it was close enough to reach out and pet. Retz's Helmet Shrike--a most interesting creature. Great job on the birds. So much in your 3-day getaway to Mapungubwe.

/

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looks interesting I have not heard of the place

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@@Atravelynn - the closest we got to a klipspringer, about 5 meters away

 

@@COSMIC RHINO - very good for birding and the mammals are a bonus. Not too far from Northern Kruger.

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On the Western Side, the best thing to do is get to the Maloutswa Hide with a prepared lunch and settle down for a few hours. You should be rewarded with some wonderful sightings. We were in the hide and watching a brown hooded kingfisher when suddenly they appeared. Just remarkable how silently such a big animal can walk. They came from behind the hide so we did not see or hear them till they were upon us. It was exciting and scary at the same time as they were really close to us

 

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This is a great report with wonderful pictures. We are doing a month long safari through northern SA and Zimbabwe in September of this year (2013) and have two days at Mapungubwe after leaving Kruger. Then at the end of our safari we are stopping there again after leaving Zimbabwe. Your pictures make it hard to wait. We have been to Africa three times previously and have learned to love the birds. It will be a treat to spend some time in this park and hope we can see the wildlife you have pictured so well. Thank you, again!!

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Thank you @@mphelps I am glad you will be visiting Mapungubwe as well. We have had some bad floods in February and the Hides were washed away but I am sure they will be repaired by the time you arrive. September is a wonderful time of the year to visit.The bird life will be prolific in the north.

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Still at the Maloutswa Hide

 

A view from the hide

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The thirsty zebras followed next

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Impala reflection

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A warthog too

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We watched the coming and goings of all the animals and in between the doves entertained us

 

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A Juvenile African Harrier Hawk landed, searched for something to eat and caught a frog

 

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If you are in the north of Kruger and you would like to do Mapungubwe then it is a stones throw away. The atmosphere and the birdlife is worth doing those few extra kilometres.

 

That concludes this trip report.

 

 

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