Spent a couple of hours in Mapungubwe on Monday 12 September. It was VERY hot and as I arrived late birding was not that good because most birds was most probably hiding away in the few bushes still left. The area is extremely dry as shown in photos below.
Went into the eastern side first and visited the Treetop hide (11km from the gate) were I did managed to see some impala, vervet monkeys, baboons and a herd of elephants having a drink (photo below). There was a number of baby ellies in this herd.
The hide is very neat and surprisingly cool inside. The river is very dry and there is only a little water in a channel close to the hide. I do however think that if you have some time to spend there that you will see great things. I did manage to see a number of White-fronted bee-eaters at the hide and some other "general" bird species.
The walk way to the hide also have areas where you can sit down which looks great for spending time watching birds, time was unfortunately not a luxury that I had available.
Next I drove the 2km to the Confluence area. There is a “visitors centre" there which I gave a miss and quickly did the walk to the look out. It is actually 4 look out platforms named: Sunset deck, Confluence deck, Main deck and Sunrise deck. As can be seen on the photos below the area is very dry.
Photo taken from the Confluence deck
Photo taken from the Sunrise deck.
The 2 photos below were taken on my way back to the main gate and also show just how dry the area is. Shortly after taking these photos I had a puncture and had to travel about 2km to a view point which seemed to be a place you can get out of the vechile (Limpopo view point?) where I had to change the wheel in VERY hot conditions.
From the main gate you travel 6km in the direction of Pontdrif, you then turn right onto the Den Staat dirt road and travel a further Ã‚Â± 20 km until you see a sign indicating a right turn to the Limpopo forest camp, the Western section of the park
Although also very dry this area has some “forest areas" that looks great. Saw the largest kudu bull ever in this section. Down at the hide at the dam I was entertained by an elephant that came down for a drink and a good mud bath.
Due to the time of day and hot weather I battled with the birding and only managed 35 birds (only managed to add another 19 species during the rest of the week at our conference venue
, but in total 7 new ones for my list
). The forest area in the west and the treetop hide area do however look very promising for early morning and late afternoon birding.
About 90% of the roads are only accessible to 4x4 vehicles and I think one will have a better experience of the Park when using such a vehicle when visiting. I could not visit Leokwe rest camp in the eastern section as access is restricted to residents.
I did manage to see the following animals:
Impala, duiker, steenbok, bushbuck, kudu, elephant, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey
If it is solitude you are looking for Mapungubwe is surely the place to relax and wind down from the stresses of city life. I would like to return one day with a 4x4 and spend a couple of nights there.
And one more thing. The toll road fees from Pretoria to Mapungubwe traveling on the N1 highway via Musina will cost you R112.00 one way!