MZNP Trip Report: 1-3 May 2008
The family arrived at Main gate after 12h00 on Thursday, 1 May 2008. The Parks Board entrance member on duty was very helpful, gave us the Parks map and advised where the best game viewing site was located. He gave us the relevant entrance papers to go to reception for cottage keys and for us to pay for our big kids conservation fees. The road inside the park to the main camp is approximately 12 km and all eyes were peeled for game on this journey. SO and I sailed past the kudu but daughter and her SO stopped – young eagle eyes.
The main reception area is quite small and there was only one lady able to process bookings for day visitors, chalets and camping visitors. The queue obviously became long very quickly. She had one difficult person to deal with who did not have a firm booking (on a long weekend ???) and she was trying all the camp sites in Cradock to help him find accommodation. Well done young lady with the dark hair for keeping your cool, particularly when he was not at all grateful for your assistance!
We were advised of all the relevant details pertaining to game drives, restaurant and shop hours, so no faults there! The family had a good look round for me at the main reception. There is no board showing where game has been sited but a very large book for updates but there was no entry after 28 April to let us know where the cheetah were hiding. Think a pin board would be a good idea, Honorary Rangers.
Only little snag was our cottage was still being cleaned and this was already 13h15! Still we meandered up to Doornhoek cottage and worked round the lady. No big deal, but the tummies were growling a bit when she only finished up in the kitchen just after 14h00. As my daughter, who lives in Grahamstown, said, “Welcome to the Eastern Cape!” Gautengers aren’t as patient.
Is this not the ideal venue ?
So fed and watered it was back in the car and up the Rooiplaat Loop. Hey, I am not going to give all the secrets away – go see for yourselves! My pseudo 4x4 Runx couldn’t do the Kranskoop Loop. There was a temporary demarcation of 4x4 only. The park map does not indicate for 4x4 only so I think it must have just been road deterioration. We then popped into the first picnic site which was closed. So if I was doing a trip report I had to see why! In the process of building a swimming pool for day visitors – will be very welcome in the summer months.
Friday, 2 May: Off up Rondekop road as the cheetah had been spotted between the cottage and the picnic site the previous weekend but we could not go all the way round as it became the 4x4 route mentioned above, plus it was a no entry from that side. Three separate sightings of black-back jackals and it wasn’t the same one playing hide and seek!
Time to stretch the legs. Back to the main camp and a short hike - 3 km Black Eagle Trail. This trail meanders up from the main camp swimming pool and along a couple of the ridges then down again. The trail brings you back between the chalets which did make us feel we were invading other people’s privacy but did give us the chance to peer
in doorways on the way past! Chalets are equipped with big open fires for the winter months and looked very compact although quite close to each other.
View of main camp from trail.
The Ubejane Loop was previously only for 4x4 vehicles but has now been upgraded for all vehicles. This route was especially opened for the two long weekends and was in excellent condition. The game in that area is also plentiful. Thank you MZNP for making this loop available.
From reading previous threads regarding bad service in the shop I thought I had better pop my head in even although I wasn’t buying anything. A lady appeared from the back and I told her I was only browsing. I had a quick look and the basics were on the shelves, plus plenty meat if you hadn’t stocked up before entering the park and a good variety of “tourist” merchandise. I did thank her and she was very polite – wishing us a good day, with a smile too. So perhaps the reports have been passed back to MZNP.
I did fill up with petrol in the park and that was a bit time consuming as you have to join the queue at reception to pay. Yup, still only the one lady doing everything!
Photos round cottage: What happened to his shell?
Let's not forget the lovely birdlife.
Greater Double collared?
So we didn’t spot the rhino or buffalo. However at the closed picnic site we took a photo in the failing light and as this may be lost in the reduction we have not included it here. There is a pair of eyes shining in the background. Anyone wishing to have a guess on the full pic of 3 MB I will gladly pm.
Overall impression of MZNP.
OK it is not a big five reserve but the enjoyment of really having to find the animals in the thick bush was lots of fun. Whole family voted that we would definitely go back.