In South Africa's far north, where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers meet and you can peer into Botswana or watch eagles soar over Zimbabwe, lies Mapungubwe. It’s rich in biodiversity and scenic beauty, conserves fossils and ancient rocks that are nearly three billion years old, and has 24 species of acacia tree and a magnificence of baobabs. But what makes it a Unesco World Heritage Site is its cultural importance. Here are 15 things to do at Mapungubwe National Park.
4. Don’t miss the ‘stone tribe’ at the Confluence. Go to the fifth lookout deck south of the car park (past the ablutions). In the distance to the left is the ‘stone tribe’, which is really a collection of fossilised termite mounds.
6. See how many of the park’s big trees you can identify – such as baobab, nyala, leadwood, fever tree, mopani, marula, fig and Commiphora trees (called Kanniedood, or ‘cannot die’ in Afrikaans because during winter they look dead even though they’re not). Bring along a good guide to trees if you’re new to all this.
7. Go on a guided sunset or night drive along roads not open to the public for a chance to see an aardvark, genet, hyena or leopard. It’s a great way to find out more about the animals and plants of the area from an experienced guide.
10. Go on a guided walk in the park to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of the bush and learn about medicinal plants, tracks and signs from your guide. If you make a special request beforehand you may even be able to visit one of almost 150 rock art sites in the park.
13. Hike the three-day Vhembe Trail and let your guide interpret the fauna and flora along the way. Book ahead.
14. Try to spot the Big Six of birds found in the park – Pel’s fishing owl, martial eagle, lappet-faced vulture, ground hornbill, kori bustard and saddle-billed stork. Remember to look up for a chance of seeing the magnificent Verreaux’s eagle. The park has an impressive bird list of some 400 species.
- To avoid disappointment, prebook activities by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning +27 (0)15 5347923/4.
- Fill up at Alldays or Musina; you can't buy fuel inside the park.