Methinks it's time to break into all the KTP TR's with something new
We recently made use of the 40% discount offer and visited Mokala for a four night stay at Lilydale bungalows – basically a scouting mission to see if we would be able to reach either Haak-en-Steek or the new Motswedi campsites with our standard caravan during future visits.
After our recent trip to Kruger during the floods we sort of got used to the idea of bringing the rain with us – we arrived together with the rain in Kimberly. We did some shopping and made sure that we filled up the vehicle because we read on the forum that there is no fuel available inside Mokala. I recently bought one of those 4x4’s that everybody but the people actually driving them seems to be warning you against – a Land Rover Discovery II –nogal the luxury 7 seater version. First thing I did was to remove those ridiculous extra two seats at the back to make space for my camera gear, hehehehehe. The Disco handled the roads pretty well, even during the pouring rains, but I will recommend that should you decide to visit to enquire about the state of the roads the day you plan to visit. The roads deteriorated quickly and had to dry out before they could start fixing (which they did before we left).
If you read up about the history of Mokala you will know that it’s one of the newer parks that used to be a hunting farm. The farm Lilydale was added a few years later and is still fenced separate from the greater Mokala. They are busy removing old fences on Lilydale as well as erecting new electric fences on either side of the Riet River. Being ex hunting farms, the game are slowly getting more used to vehicles, but do not expect close up sightings that you normally are being spoilt with in Kruger. The variety of endangered species being bred makes up for it many times over. Big herds of Eland (and I mean big, as in 100+ animals) running across the road like a freight train is something I cannot describe in words, let alone capture on camera.
But, if you are patient, you will be rewarded with sightings like these:-
I also highly recommend that you go on the rock-art drive that departs from Mosu lodge even if you stay at Lilydale – it’s only a 24 kilometre drive to Mosu and the area is beautiful after the rains. I’m still working on the photos that I took – trying to figure out a way to salvage some of them, because I made use of the flash and it literally backfired against the ancients rocks. I have seen much better examples on the forum than my efforts.
We also saw Gemsbok, Roan, Sable, those Zebs with the new fashion pj’s, Mountain Reedbuck and numerous Tsessebe on the Mokala side as well as plenty Gemsbok, Eland, Black Wildebeest and Tsessebe on the Lilydale side. Keep a lookout for the birdies as well, many hawks and even fish and martial eagle along the river. The people that stayed next to us one evening told us that they took the Vaalbos loop whilst we were waiting for the sun to set at the lookout point close to Lilydale and saw a herd of 100+ Gemsbok running across the road in front of them.
The fishing, I must tell you about how I wasted 40 bucks on fishing at Kleinbek, Grootbek as well as De Krans – no fault on the part of Sanparks though. Well, ok maybe they could just warn you that to get down to the river at any of those places you will at least need a high-clearance vehicle. We noticed during our first night around the braai fire that there is quite a bit of ant activity after the rains, but if you look where you step, you could more-or-less sidestep most of them. I have no idea what they are called if the English language, but they are quite aptly named in Afrikaans, hehehehe.
I managed a few shots at De Krans (a magic, must visit place) before I decided to try my hand a catching one of our local yellow fish – catch and release – nah, with the ants around it was get back in the vehicle before you even get the reel onto the rod, let alone get a line in the water. So forget about the fishing and rather visit the old mining excavations close to Geelbek, but even there watch out for those darn ants………
Sunsets and sunrise at Lilydale are as magic as any African sunset, but if you take the 1 kilometre drive out to the Lilydale lookout point where there is nothing but grassland around, you might just be rewarded with Tsessebe or Black Wildebeeest coming to drink at the hidden waterhole. We also had a light lunch one day at Mosu Lodge – very reasonably priced and I take my hat off to them being able to provide a fresh fruit salad and apple crumble to these two odd visitors out there in the middle of nowhere – well done!
I will certainly visit Mokala/Lilydale again in future if the opportunity arises.