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Sanparks in Karoo


Guest sniktawk
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Guest sniktawk

SANPARKS IN KAROO

 

Before reading this report I think that it is only fair to point out the following.

 

1) All of these parks are fenced

2) Much of the game in each park has been reintroduced as part of SAN Parks conservation strategy.

3) These parks have basic but adequate self catering accommodation.

4) You need your own vehicle preferably 4x4, although game drives are available I would not consider them to be a good idea.

5) You have to look for the animals yourself; there are no trackers or guides.

6) No-off-roading is allowed and the road systems are fairly limited.

7) It is longer and more detailed than normal as I think that many people may not be familiar with these areas (apologies to those who are)

 

Costs are ludicrously cheap for 9 nights our costs were roughly as follows:

 

Accommodation Rands 6,585

Food and Drink Rands 2,500

Petrol Rands 2,250

Sundries Rands 665

Total Rands 12,000

 

Roughly $1,575 or £ 975 for nine nights for two!

 

We could get one night in Botswana (Green Season only) for the same price including travel costs.

 

We have a Wild Card which allows for free entrance to the majority of game parks in South Africa, this costs Rands 450 for a couple for one year (best buy in Africa), International visitors pass for a couple is Rands 1,850, see this link for full info

 

https://www.wildcard.co.za/faq.htm

 

Karoo National Park 9th December to 11th December

 

This park is roughly 500km from our home off the NI (Cape Town Johannesburg road) approximately 10 km before Beaufort West.

Details of the camp can be found at:-

http://www.sanparks.org/parks/karoo/

 

The accommodation is modern clean and well maintained and certainly not exclusive.

There is a good shop and a reasonable restaurant for those not wishing to cook for themselves. We think that this camp is generally used by overnighters rather than long-stay visitors.

There is a fairly limited road net work around 90 km in all.

There is a road suitable for normal vehicles, which includes the Klipspringer Pass a pretty steep climb, some of this road is tarred and needs to be.

The 4x4 trail around 50 km leads you into the northern part of the park, and is really 4x4 we grounded once, part of the road consisted of what can be best described as a river bed filled with boulders.

 

The scenery everywhere is magnificent and on the 4x 4 route which we drove twice we saw no other vehicles, so you can certainly feel alone!

 

Game viewing, the following were seen

Steenbok

Tortoise

Red Hartebeest

Kudu

Springbok

Black-backed Jackal

Black Rhino (distant)

Eland (individuals and a very large herd)

Mountain Zebra

Baboon

Dassie

Grey Rhebok

Oryx (Gemsbok)

 

Birding was disappointing, (wrong time of year)

 

Strangely enough we saw few Springbok the largest group was 6.

 

Photography was limited by the lack of off-roading and difficult light conditions, nevertheless some good shots were obtained.

 

These can be viewed at

 

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p603088655

 

We would visit this park again perhaps for a long weekend (there is an isolated cottage for rent at the furthest end of the 4x 4 route).

 

There are at present no predators except Caracal, although it is planned to reintroduce Lions of all things before the World Cup!

 

Mokala National Park 12th December to 14th December

 

This park is situated around 60 km south of Kimberley around 25km (dirt road) off the N12, in the Northern Cape.

For us it was around 500km from Karoo NP (5 hours).

 

This the newest park in SA having been officially opened in June 2009, it replaces Vaalbos NP which was closed following a successful land claim. The majority of game from Vaalbos was relocated to the new park, details of the relocation can be found here:-

 

http://www.sanparks.org/about/news/2006/july/vaalbos.php

 

Details of the camp can be found at:-

http://www.sanparks.org/parks/mokala/

 

Having no idea what to expect we had booked at Mosu Lodge, which turned out to be a camp which would be considered luxurious by most. We had a large thatched cottage with limited cooking facilities, but a bath and shower!

 

There is a restaurant (very limited menu) and NO SHOP, water and ice are available.

 

The road network is adequate but could do with expanding, you could drive the entire road network in 5 hours, so we did it twice a day and it was jolly good.

 

The park is tremendously scenic, almost up to the standards of Selous, it is lightly wooded (no Mopane) and certainly green at this time of year.

 

Game viewing, the following were seen

Warthog

Tssebe

Steenbok

Kudu

Red Hartebeest

Nyala

Black Gnu (Wildebeest)

Grey Duiker (unfortunately just bum shots)

Springbok and Black Springbok

White Rhino (group of 3 and group of 8)

Eland (Massive herds the largest we have ever seen)

Black-backed Jackal

Oryx (Gemsbok) (Massive herds the largest we have ever seen outside of Etosha)

Impala (?)

Roan (small herd with young and lone male)

Yellow Mongoose

Burchell’s Zebra

Buffalo (4 nice Dagga boys and large breeding herd)

Giraffe

Mountain Reedbuck (a first but no photos!)

Suricate (a first in harsh back-light)

Tortoise

 

Birding was disappointing, (wrong time of year), although we did get a good view of nest building by sociable weavers and a raid by a Yellow Mongoose on the nest.

 

Photography was again somewhat limited by the lack of off-roading and difficult light conditions, nevertheless some good shots were obtained.

 

These can be viewed at

 

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p986160654

 

We will visit this park again and in fact will do so on the way to Botswana in April.

 

As it is relatively near Kgalagadi Transfrontier it would make a great addition to a visit there.

 

Mountain Zebra National Park 15th to 17th December

 

This park is situated around 25 km north west of Craddock in the Eastern Cape

For us it was around 500km from Mokala (5 hours), including a detour to view Orania

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orania,_Northern_Cape not really worth the effort)

 

Details of the camp can be found at:-

http://www.sanparks.org/parks/mountain_zebra/

 

The accommodation here was a “little tired”, but was sufficient for our needs

 

There is a rather poor shop and a reasonable restaurant for those not wishing to cook for themselves, but last sitting is 19.15 (we think this was made up by the staff wanting an early night).

 

The road network is adequate but could do with expanding, you could drive all of the “game viewing” road network in 4 to 5 hours, thankfully there is a new link road joining the two game loops from which we saw lots, it is necessarily tarred in some places. There is a scenic route in the southern part of the park which needs a head for heights. There are two 4 x 4 routes we drove one which was relatively uninteresting and hardly testing.

 

The park is very scenic and as its name suggests fairly bumpy.

 

Game viewing, the following were seen

Springbok

Steenbok

Vervet Monkey

Red Hartebeest

Blue Gnu (Wildebeest) A first but even more difficult to photo than normal Gnu

Blesbok (a first)

Mountain Zebra

Ground Squirrel

Eland

Kudu

Yellow Mongoose

Baboon, (one with an Ostrich egg, too far away for good photos)

Impala (?)

Oryx (Gemsbok)

Black backed Jackal

Grey Rhebok

Mountain Reedbuck

 

Birding was disappointing, (wrong time of year), although we did get a good view of Secretary Bird.

 

Photography was better here, images can be viewed here

 

http://sniktawkwild.zenfolio.com/p549003068

 

This park is famous for the reintroduction of Cheetah. In July 2007 two males and two females were introduced into the park. Both females have given birth to 4 cubs; despite searching endlessly we never found them. They are there, two sightings of a female and 4 cubs were made in the same area of the park the day before we arrived.

This is of course a good reason to return, which we will hopefully do next year in combination with Addo which is relatively close.

 

SUMMARY

 

Given the cheapness of the trip the outcome was very pleasing, 4 new species and some good images captured.

In all parks game viewing was allowed between 06.00 and 19.00. I would have liked an earlier start in December it is light enough at 05.00.

The best part is deciding for yourself what you want to do, when you want to eat and how long you want to stay at whatever sighting you may find.

Nowhere was crowded given the fact that this is peak holiday season in SA this was most surprising, we only once shared a sighting and saw at most around 5 vehicles on the road in any one day.

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Mountain Zebra looks interesting... nice photos Ken. Isn't there a Karoo Reserve of some sort that is not the national park? Confusing...

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A lovely getaway with some nice viewing and photos. Aren't the Mountain Zebras supposed to be rather shy?

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Thanks for that. There are many fantastic places in South Africa to see. I popped into Karoo park some time ago. Scenery is superb. We still need to return. (sigh) too much to do too little time. At one time we were considering buying my uncles farm in the Karoo, its kinds sparse, but it does grow on you. You description in another post - " good place to make a western movie" is pretty apt.

 

BTW, is that area affected by the drought that is affecting the rest of the Eastern Cape?

 

Next challenge for you now is KZN. Bird life this time of year is spectacular - AND ITS GREEN!!!

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Sniktawk, I have been curious about Mountain Zebra Park for some time. How would you describe the density of game? And what time of year do you think is best to visit? Thanks.

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Sniktawk,

 

Thanks for this report – it was excellent (and written better than any guide book that I’ve seen)! I appreciate the way you incorporate links to the relevant Sanparks webpage and your pictures as well.

I particularly enjoyed your photos of Makola as well as the buffalo and zebra shots that you got in Zebra NP. It’s great to see that this type of wildlife viewing and experience is so accessible; and that the parks are not over crowded with vehicles so that you retain the feeling of remoteness. It’s also good to hear that the cost to visit is quite inexpensive - it definitely gives visitors a lot more options.

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I probably thought Mountain Zebra were shy because I didn't see any.

 

With the recent threads on rhinos and the threat to their survival, it was nice to find a black rhino on your list (or is compilation a more acceptable term? :) ) of species. I hope they do well in this location and that it is adequately protected for them.

 

The prospect of cheetah is also exciting, and that species seems to like the region if mothers are producing 4 cubs at a time. You'll have more cheetahs to hunt for on your next visit.

 

Do you think 2 males and 2 females offer enough genetic diversity for a healthy cheetah population to spring up from that?

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Do you think 2 males and 2 females offer enough genetic diversity for a healthy cheetah population to spring up from that?

 

In these circumstances they will introduce some new genes in the future. You will probably find that they were sourced from different places to start with. San parks are quite pro-active on that subject - it goes with fenced reserves.

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  • 2 months later...
Canadian Robin

We have stayed at Karoo National Park on three occasions and, admittedly, all have been overnight stops on our way to Upington and Kgalagadi National Park. It is a handy overnight stop between Cape Town and Upington. To drive from Cape Town to Upington, we prefer the route through the Karoo over the route north to Springbok and then east to Upington, although the route via Springbok lends itself well to an overnight stop at Augrabies Falls National Park, also a lovely park. The scenery at Karoo NP is stunning, particularly as the sun sets behind the mountains, when the colours are lovely. Robin

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