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 Post subject: Mapungubwe: INFO
Unread postPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 6:23 pm 
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An interesting article which also includes Mapungubwe info has been posted on the Kruger Forum under Camps & Roads. The title of the topic is Thulamela or you can click here for the contents of the post.
I visited the Mapungubwe Hill excavation site in Dec 2004 and was fascinated. Definitely a must when you're staying in Mapungubwe or anywhere near.


Last edited by Jose on Thu May 12, 2005 6:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Mapungubwe Info
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:26 pm 
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I think an interestening report about Mapungubwe. I think i would like to be there. Perhaps in december?

Mapungubwe on IOL

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 1:52 pm 
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As info on Mapungubwe on the internet is not so easy to come by, we booked 2 nights at Tshugulu Lodge on the west side of the park, then 2 nights at Limpopo Forest tented camp. We had not realised that both these accommodations were completely separate from the main body of the park around Leokwe -in fact to get from Tshugulu to Limpopo Forest, you have to leave the park and drive towards the Pontdrift border post before turning off through all the citrus farms and back into the park again. Tshugulu Lodge was stunning - secluded and luxurious, a little haven of lushness in an arid landscape.
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You get this whole part of the park to yourself with an exclusive 45km 4x4 eco-trail which left us laughing in amazement as the landscape changed completely at each turn in the track. I've mentioned it before, but my feeling was that this was possibly a hunting lodge in its past life. The wildlife was so nervous and, although you often heard something dashing off into the undergrowth, you very rarely saw anything. Despite this, Tshugulu Lodge and its spectacular surroundings completely blew me away and I must admit to entertaining a little fantasy of living there permanently! :redface:
I've just realised that I haven't posted any camp photo's since my trip so I'm putting that right now. Limpopo Forest will follow:


Last edited by Krokodile on Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 2:14 pm 
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Limpopo Forest was quite different from Tshugulu: very green and lush. The safari tents were beautifully designed - each set in it's own boma with sleeping accommodation and bathroom on one side and a small, fully equipped kitchen on the other side of a seating area. You can't see any of the other tents from your seating area, just the forest in front of you.

We spent most of our time here quite close to the camp. Like all the camps in Mapungubwe, Limpopo Forest is unfenced so part of the experience is the ability to walk around the camp and just look at the smaller stuff. Just outside our tent we had a golden orb-web spider and I also found a miniscule jumping spider (so cute! Wish I'd had a macro lens at that point!). Bird life is also spectacular there and it was possibly the noisiest natural wake up call I've ever had in the bush. As I mentioned before though, we didn't realise before we visited how disjointed the park actually is and therefore decided to see if we could get a flavour of the other side by changing our last nights booking to Leokwe on the eastern side of the park.
Leokwe details to follow.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 24, 2005 3:21 pm 
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Isn't it always the way that you can't stay any longer than you want to?
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Mapungubwe main reception is a striking building and is staffed by Nompumelelo Shongwe, who is one of the most helpful people out of a whole bunch of very helpful people I have met in SANParks! As you need to check in at reception before going to any of the camps, we visited a number of times and she was always there, helpful and smiling. My husband kept saying "We know this woman - we've met before", but couldn't put his finger on where. I (who have a very real problem with not remembering names or faces - very unfortunate problem!!) didn't think much of it. It was only when checking in for Leokwe that the penny dropped with my husband. Nompumelelo asked what our itinerary was for the rest of the trip and when we mentioned Pretoriuskop, she said "I used to work there", my husband said "You helped organise our wedding, didn't you?" The penny then dropped with Nompumelelo too - she had been Esrom's (the Pretoriuskop camp manager) no 2 and had been instrumental in ensuring that our wedding day was so special and memorable. I hope that she has been earmarked for greater things after her one year posting to Mapungubwe, as she is a charming lady and an excellent ambassador for SANParks.

Leokwe camp is beautiful. It's nestled in a valley surrounded by dramatic red rocks and striking vegetation. The 2 person cottages are very well designed and not too close together

This picture was taked from under the afdak each cottage has as shade by the seating and braai area (our braai can be seen in the foreground. The wall is your only protection from the beasties which are free to wander through the camp at any time. We were fortunate enough to have our first ever sighting of a porcupine in the wild as it ambled past our wall shortly after nightfall). The reed arrangement which can be seen on the cottage opposite is the outside shower area. What an experience, to have your morning shower outside with the rising sun shining through the reeds and the sounds and smells of the bush all around you. The inside part of the bathroom was possibly the most stylish I have come across in standard SANParks accommodation.
Image

Although all the camps at Mapungubwe are unfenced, this camp really feels it!


There is so much to see in this part of the park. I really wished we had just one more day to really be able to see it.

The Treetop walk is stunning!
When you first arrive, you see the Rudyard Kipling quote on the fence (mentioned in the IOL article), which made me feel quite emotional.

The walk is very beautiful and there are so many species of birds and small animals in the trees.
Image
It ends in a hide on the banks of the Limpopo, which as can be expected from other peoples accounts of the water level was pretty dry, but some of the deeper pools remained so there were plenty of birds to be seen here.

I found the confluence to be a bit disappointing, but that was mainly because a rather large and boisterous school trip was occupying the carpark and having a picnic. The lack of water also meant it was a bit difficult to see exactly where the confluence happens! We didn't have time to make it to Mapungubwe's Kanniedood dam, but we did the Plains 4x4 trail which - even though I've never been there - looked a bit like some of the Kenyan wildlife reserves look on TV!

We had to be back in Polokwane for my nephew-in-law's birthday the next day, so there wasn't much time for anything else.

I've just realised that this was a rather lengthy answer to Jose's question, so I'm going to belt up right now!!

I'm quite glad in some ways that I didn't do the Hill tour - I now have a very valid reason to return to this very special and different part of SA. I can't wait!


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Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2005 1:14 pm 
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Do it, Francois!

You have to go to the main gate first to visit any part of the park, and I would recommend you spend your limited time in this part anyway.

A good trip for just a few hours would be to visit the Treetop Walk and perhaps the Confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers also.

Birding is good round the treetop walk and it's a really pretty location - lush and green, which is quite a contrast to the red rocks and relatively thin vegetation away from the river.


Roads are not so good for small cars in Mapungubwe, being mainly dirt roads, although they are definitely do-able. The road from main reception to Leokwe camp was particularly corrugated on our visit but once we passed the Leokwe turning, it evened out considerably. If you want to see more of our pics of the area, look here

The Plains drive (head right once inside the gate) is also good, with wide open vista's, but this would definitely take more than a couple of hours.

An good alternative if you have a little extra time would be to go to the Limpopo Forest area and drive to Maloutswa bird hide. We saw more mammals than birds there, but it was a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon. I would only do this if you have quite a bit of time though, as you have to check into the park through main reception and the entrance to this part is right up near Pontdrift. I'd probably still go for the Leokwe part of the park - I left wishing I could have spent more time there.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 11:26 am 
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Thanks Krokodile. I'll definitly visit. I'm looking at the park map I've found on the website but do not see the "Treetop walk" marked on the map. In which area is this walk.

I'll mostly concentrate on birding so the animals will, for this trip, not be that important.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 9:27 am 
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Hi Francois
You're right: the treetop walk is not mentioned on the map! It's on the Botswana side of the confluence. I have a map they gave me at reception: tonight I'll scan it in and post it for you.


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Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 8:25 pm 
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Here's the map of the east part of Mapungubwe I promised.
Image

I find it strange that the "official" map on this website is so different. If anyone wants to see the western part of the park, I'll post that too.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 11:39 pm 
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Here's the map of the Western side:
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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2005 1:44 pm 
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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.

Image

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
Image

Photo taken from the Sunrise deck.
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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.

Image

Image

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 ± 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 :cry: , but in total 7 new ones for my list :D ). 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! :shock:

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2005 10:44 pm 
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I'm so glad you got to go, Francois. At least you have had a taster now. I know that most of the roads in the park only seem suitable for a 4x4, but I swear that using a vehicle with high clearance would have sufficed on 98% of the roads we went down on our trip. We had a "soft-roader" (x-Trail) and only needed to put it in 4WD once or twice in 4 days. We only found 1 road we simply couldn't get up and that was on the Tshugulu eco-trail, which you can only use from Tshugulu Lodge. The reason for that was that there were lots of very loose boulders and the road was headed uphill. I was gutted, because up that road, there was a hide set at water level. I'd seen pics of it in reception and it looked stunning. :cry:

I forgot you couldn't go to Leokwe without a reservation - it's a stunning camp and the pics on the website don't do it justice. However, as there are no facilities there, unless you were staying, there would not be much point.

From what I can gather, Mapungubwe follows a lower-impact style which SANParks are trying to utilise in all new parks and camps - smaller numbers of accommodation units, constructed to really blend into the landscape, using natural materials wherever possible. Furnishings draw on local handicrafts. Accommodation is more expensive on average than in Kruger, but for fewer "resident" visitors, something, unfortunately, has to give.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 1:13 pm 
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Krokodile wrote:
I know that most of the roads in the park only seem suitable for a 4x4, but I swear that using a vehicle with high clearance would have sufficed on 98% of the roads we went down on our trip.

Some of the roads marked 4x4 only did not look that bad to me either but I'm sure the little 1.4 Golf Chico I has as rental car would not have made it :lol:

I will sure like to return again some time.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2005 11:39 am 
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The view is of the Limpopo/Shashe confluence from one of the 4 viewpoints near the picnic site (I can't remember which one). That's Botswana on the left edge , Zimbabwe on the top and right and RSA in foreground (and Verrueax's eagles above me while taking the picture).

[img]..[/img]

Mapungubwe is only a few hours drive from Gauteng and really deserves to be visited more often. Those of you who enjoy the Zimbabwean game reserves will love it. Besides, it's home to one of the most important archeological sites in southern Africa. It is also one of the most magnificent birding spots in SA and has LOTS of elephants for the folk who like the bigger things.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 02, 2005 7:42 am 
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I am glad to see that Mapungubwe is getting a bit of coverage. It's a GREAT addition to the NPs. Next you go, FrancoisD, try to include a trip to the archeological site. It's something special, especially for southern Africans.


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