OK...thanks for turning the page Micetta and Nkumbe...will start here with our trip to Mapungubwe in the Limpopo Province.
Mapungubwe National Park August 12/10
On our way out of the research camp we saw lots of impala and vervet monkeys. We had to stop the vehicle for a very large line of ants traversing the road. The colony eventually moved on about its business and we went on our way.
We stopped at the big town..ha…for petrol and managed to snag a piece of wire in a tire, which we quickly heard flapping and removed. This though was a bit of concern for the next while, wondering if we were going to have to deal with a flat tire. We didn’t.
We were headed north and a bit east to the Unesco World Heritage site/ SanParks Mapungubwe National Park (28,000 hectares). It is located about as far from our sabbatical home as you can get in South Africa…on the Limpopo River border with both Botswana and Zimbabwe. The low scrub land was replaced with rocky outcrops and rivers without water, as we ventured closer. There were many hunting game parks (I duck as we pass) and multiple heavily secured massive electric-fenced areas owned by De Beers. De Beers is a mega diamond mining company in South Africa. They apparently dabble in game as well, or perhaps the beasts are some extra security for the mines?? Ha.
Mapungubwe Nat Park was the site of a discovery of 13th century African civilization, which the apartheid government chose to keep under wraps, since it indicated a sophisticated black civilization. A golden rhino was unearthed by archaeologists, as were other amulets, jewelry and bowls covered in gold foil. An interpretive centre, spectacularly designed on the outside was supposed to have opened last year, but was still under construction…Africa time! There are plans to incorporate this park into a transfrontier conservation area of 800,000 hectares.
Unfortunately we arrived after the 3 hour hike began to the site of these discoveries, so we chose to self drive. We entered the eastern wing of the park; eager to see elephants and white rhino…there was lots of evidence of their presence at some point! Our first sighting was a huge baobab tree festooned with bird nests…followed by some zebra.
The Nungu Waterhole was dry and empty. The landscape was very rocky; with low scrub…it looked very primitive. There are some of the oldest rocks on the planet in this area, and it once again reminded us of the interior of Australia.
Those baobab trees have such character. We stopped at the Limpopo Valley view, spotting a few baboons keenly seeking a hiding place and probably some warmth. The road then meandered down into the valley.
We soon arrived at the Tree Top Walk, where there was an elephant exclusion zone to permit undisturbed natural vegetation. Not that we had seen any elephants yet!
We got out at the Tree Top Walk and walked to the Limpopo River. Do recall that TMLL hates heights, the walk was about 7-10 m off the ground, it was windy and occasionally there was a missing floorboard, which made life exciting for all! Give him his credit though he made it to the end, heavily concentrating on photography.