Mapungubwe National Park

The road from Marekele to Mapungubwe skirts the Botswana border.  Parts of it were slow going with the road surface very potholed in places, but we reconciled ourselves to this and enjoyed the ride.

Mapungubwe straddles the border at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashi rivers.  It is a very significant historical site and any visitor to the park would not want to miss a visit to the museum with its amazing display of 800 year old artefacts and the guided heritage tour to the old excavations and hilltop kingdom.  Of course, one can also see the wildlife which occupies the reserve and the birding is also very good, especially along the river banks and in the forests.  A tree-top boardwalk provides wonderful birding opportunities in the latter.  Unfortunately, this was damaged in recent floods, but nevertheless, we spent a number of profitable hours on the extant section.

We spent two nights in the very good Leokwe camp in stone rondavels which were well appointed.  The scenery around the camp is spectacular with outstanding rock formations and many baobab trees.  We then transferred to the Limpopo River tented camp, also a very comfortable space with excellently fitted tents.  Just as well as the monkeys were again on hand to trouble us!

Our guide to the world heritage site was Cedric ‘Shoe’.  I do not recall his real name, but he told us that it meant shoe, so that’s what stuck.  He was a very accomplished guide and kept us informed and amused with his cheerful banter.  Artefacts from the site are on display in the museum, a magnificent building which has been awarded a number of architechtural prizes, including the 2009 World Building of the Year!

The site is also interesting as it has relics of South African Defence Force activities dating back to the border wars of the late twentieth century.  The views over the river confluence are accessed from a series of platforms constructed along the adjacent hills and are well worth visiting.   We can certainly recommend Mapungubwe as an excellent destination.


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