A guided drive or walk provides the ideal opportunity to get to know the park on foot or in a
safari vehicle with a qualified and knowledgeable guide. Mountain Zebra National Park also
provides the unique opportunity of tracking a wild cheetah with the chance to observe these
cats in their natural habitat.
Visitors can also explore the park at their own leisure in their own vehicle on almost 70km
of tourist roads. Roads are mostly gravel but of good standard and suitable for all
There are two short walking trails within the fenced Restcamp that can be self-hiked. The
Black Eagle Trail (2.5km) is a more challenging climb to the top of the rocky outcrop with
spectacular views over the Park while the Imbila Trail (1km) is an easy, flat trail.
If you are staying in Mountain Zebra National Park for more than a few days, you might want
to explore some of the nearby tourist and historical attractions. Here are a few
- Fully licensed a
la carte restaurant, also serving light refreshments.
- Shop where curios and basic commodities may be purchased.
- Swimming pool in Restcamp for overnight visitors.
- Fonteinkloof and Weltevrede picnic sites with braai faciltiies, picnic table and
ablutions. There is a swimming pool for day visitors at Fonteinkloof picnic site.
- Unleaded petrol and diesel fuel is available in the Rest Camp from 07h00 - 17h00.
- No ATM facility available in the park. The closest bank facilities are available in the
town of Cradock (24km from the park).
- A Conference Room in the Reception building is ideal for your corporate meeting or
conference in the bush.
- Can accommodate a maximum of 30 people seated at tables or 50 people, cinema-style (no
- Catering facilities are available from the adjacent restaurant.
Park Reception Tel: 048 881 2427/3434 or
SANParks Conferencing Tel: 012 426-5025
Fax: 012 426-5488
- The Conference Room and Restaurant can be booked for small wedding receptions of maximum
- Bookings and enquiries can be made at the park reception.
Rest Camp Layout
Camping Section Layout
Impofu Hiking Trail Map
General Tariff Information
For people staying in Cradock, Mountain Zebra offers an excellent day visitor destination. There are a couple of picnic sites in the park to cater for day and overnight visitors.
Fuel Stations: Petrol/ Diesel
Vehicle fuel is available in all parks (or is available on the park periphery):
- South African legislation stipulates that fuel stations will accept legitimate petrol/fuel/garage/credit/debit cards or cash as a form of payment for any fuel purchase.
- 1 October to 31 March - 07:00 to 19:00
- 1 April to 30 September - 07:00 to 18:00
Check-in & Check-out times
- Check-in time is from 14:00 onwards.
- Check-out time is 10:00 on the day of departure.
- Check-in and check-out at 12:00
Hints & Tips
Remember to bring along a hat, walking shoes, sun block, camera, binoculars and bird and mammal reference books. Hikers on both nature trails and overnight trail must carry sufficient water.
- As outdoor lighting in camps is limited, a torch/headlamp is required when walking outside at night.
- Warm clothes are essential for the winter months.
- Visitors can only alight from vehicles at restcamp, picnic spots and certain marked areas.
- Pets are not allowed in national parks.
- Firearms must be declared at the entrance gate where they will be sealed. The seal will be broken upon departure.
- Motorcycles or bicycles are not allowed.
- Medical, pharmaceutical, vehicle repair and police services available in Cradock.
For enquiries email Mountain Zebra National Park or phone us on the following numbers:
- Park: Tel +27 (0) 48 801 5700/01
- Fax: +27 (0) 48 881 3943
During summer the average maximum temperature is 23.1ºC – 28.4ºC while the average minimum is 5.6ºC -13.6ºC. The winter average maximum 16.2ºC – 22.7ºC and the average minimum is 0.05ºC -7.8ºC.
The winter months receive occasional snowfall, which falls mostly on the higher peaks - the southern mountain range - of the park. Frost occurs May to October.
Annual rainfall is about 400 mm with the majority (70%) falling in the summer months (December to February).
The Mountain Zebra National Park’s restaurant is situated in the malaria free Eastern Cape 25km to the West of Craddock which is 260kms North of Port Elizabeth.
The restaurant is fully licensed and serves a splendid a la carte menu, including a variety of light refreshments. The craggy heights of the Mountain Zebra National Park's Bankberg embrace rolling plains and deep valleys, and have become an entrancing preserve for the Cape Mountain Zebra. The proclamation of the park in 1937 saved these animals from extinction, and currently their population stands at 300 where they roam 28 412 hectares of land. Other mammals found here include the cheetah, Cape buffalo, black rhino, eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and gemsbok, while mountain reedbuck and grey rhebok frequent the higher areas. Caracal occupies the niche of primary predator.
The National Park is yet another exceptional conservation effort. This small park (by African Standards) of 65 sq km's was established in 1937 to protect the 5 remaining mountain zebras of the huge herds that used to populate the area. Out of the 5, 4 were male!!! Cabinet ministers at the time could not see a problem and dismissed the problem as "donkeys in football jerseys". Amazingly conservationists managed to establish a breeding herd and there are now 350. So come visit Mount Zebra for all the wonders on offer and pop into our restaurant to be delighted and refreshed…
- Monday – Sunday: 7:00 to late (kitchen closes at 21:00)
- Tel: (048) 881 2211
- Fax: (048) 881 2211
How to get there
Mountain Zebra National Park is situated about 12km from the town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape. Cradock is accessible via the N10 highway and the Park is situated on the R61 between Cradock and Graaff-Reinet. There are signposts within the town of Cradock to direct you to the Park.
- 1 October to 31 March: 07:00 - 19:00
- 1 April to 30 September: 07:00 - 18:00
If visitors need to arrive or depart outside of gate hours, a fee of R120 will be charged. Arrangements should be made in advance with Reception on Tel: (048) 881 2427 / 3434 or email: Mountainzebra@sanparks.org
Approximate travelling distances
- 3 hours from Port Elizabeth (domestic airport)
- 9 hours from Cape Town (international airport)
- 9 hours from Johannesburg (international airport)
- 4 hours from Bloemfontein (domestic airport)
- 9 hours from Durban (domestic airport)
S 32° 8' 27"
E 25° 30' 35"
S 32° 14' 27"
E 25° 27' 15"
S 32° 13' 25"
E 25° 28' 45"
Picnic Site 1
S 32° 14' 1"
E 25° 28' 12"
Picnic Site 2
S 32° 15' 37"
E 25° 27' 16"
Gate Registration & Indemnity Form
History & Cultural Heritage Sites
From prehistoric sites with concentrations of stone artifacts situated along the river banks and rock art panels on the mountain slopes to historic farmsteads and cemeteries, Mountain Zebra National Park has acted as a backdrop for thousands of years of human history.
From 14 000 to 10 000 years ago, Later Stone Age inhabitants lived in the area now proclaimed as national park. Evidence of their settlements is found along the banks of the Wilger River. There are some 30 sites with pottery and stone artifacts that have been identified through research done by the University of Stellenbosch.
The San people left evidence of their lives about 300 years ago in at least three rock shelters containing rock art in the Park. The paintings show an antelope, baboons, a large cat - possibly a leopard or cheetah - and human figures.
Visitors can view rock paintings in one of the shelters by hiring a Park guide to show them the way. Although a fence protects the painting site, it is quite exciting to be able to stand less than a metre away from ancient artwork.
During the 1800s, British soldiers created a chessboard on the top of Saltpeterskop, a 1514m high koppie in the Park. While hiding out during the Anglo-Boer War, they played chess with their fellow soldiers in the old fort in Cradock, transmitting moves by means of a mirror, which had the official purpose of communicating warning signals.
The story goes that a certain farmer – unbeknown to the soldiers - picked up the signals and started a game against the soldiers while sitting on the stoep of his farmhouse.
The chessboard and the names of the soldiers are etched onto a flat slab of rock at the top of Saltpeterskop. Names recorded include the 5th Lancashire Fusiliers, the Coldstream Guards and some privates, corporals and a captain.
The legacy of white pioneers who moved into the area and set up farms during the Great Trek of 1836 still stands today. In 1838, one of the first permanent farmhouses in the area was constructed on the farm De Doornkloof, then owned by Hendrik Jacobus van Heerden. The house presently known as Doornhoek, declared a national monument in 1986, was restored and is still used as a guesthouse in the Park. It is popular with those who want a tranquil family getaway overlooking a lake, with spectacular star-gazing vistas at night.
In 1937, 1712 hectares of land was proclaimed as the Mountain Zebra National Park. Thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers in the area, a small herds of the endangered Cape mountain zebra still survived in the area and these provided a founder population for the Park. Paul Michau donated 6 zebra and later Mr H L Lombard donated 11 zebra to the Park. The Park’s Cape mountain zebra herd now numbers over 350 animals.
The Park at first expanded slowly over the years, but then received a boost with a joint public-private conservation initiative. An artist by the name of David Shepherd kick-started the initiative by donating prints of his works “Mountain Zebra: A Vision in Black and White” in 1996 and “Cheetahs” in 1998 so that money could be raised to buy surrounding farms and expand the size of the Park. SABC’s 50/50 programme shared the story with viewers and encouraged them to support the project by buying prints so that the necessary funds could be raised. The response was fantastic and also caused private individuals and businesses to make donations including The Barbara Delano Foundation, WildAid, Sasol and Vesta Medicines. South African National Parks Trust matched all of the funds that were raised.
Nine surrounding farms were purchased through this process, enabling the Park to expand from 6 536 hectares to 28 412 hectares in size. Following this, black rhino, buffalo and finally cheetah could be introduced to the Park.
Cultural Heritage Sites
An archaeological survey of the Mountain Zebra National Parks was undertaken 1973 at the request of the then National Parks Board of Trustees. The aim of the survey was “to establish the potential of sites for excavation or collection of material for the possible creation of site museums” (Brooker, 1977). Thirty archaeological sites were located during the survey. These include three small rock shelters which include San rock art and 27 open sites. Most of the sites occur primarily along the river valleys where the banks are wide and flat. Scrapers indicating a Holocene age dominated the formal artefacts discovered from 22 of these sites.
An extract from Mary Brooker’s paper (“The Archeology of the Mountain Zebra National Park” Koedoe 20: 77-93, 1977):
“The three small shelters are named ZP16, ZP28 and ZP29. ZP16 has no deposit but the presence of a circular scraper and artefactual waste that indicate it may have been occupied. ZP28 is a small shelter overlooking the Springbok Flats which has a small deposit with pottery and stone artefacts on the surface. ZP29 is a very small shelter and has neither deposit nor artefactual waste, although these might have been washed away by stream action. In a small niche on the overhang are two groups of ochre figures; one large antelope with three smaller antelope above (one possibly an eland) and the remains of four animals below. At the lower left-hand is a frieze in black including two human figures, an antelope, a large cat (leopard?) and three baboons one of which is carrying its young on its back. To the east of these are other paintings fairly high up on a rock face but except for two “sitting buck” these were too faded to record.”
Although individual European travelers would have moved into the general area during the late 1700s and early 1800s, an influx of white pioneer farmers took place during the Great Trek of 1836. During this year the farms De Doornkloof and Babylonsche Toren were provided to Willem van Heerden, while the farm Pretoriuskraal was given to Willem Meintjies van den Berg on the 31st of December 1836. After the death of Willem van Heerden in a road accident at Ratelshoek, his brother Hendrik Jacobus van Heerden took over possession of De Doornkloof and Babylonsche Toren. In approximately 1838 one of the first permanent farmhouses in the area was constructed, and the house presently known as Doornhoek was restored and is still used as a guesthouse in the park. The house was declared a national monument in 1986 (Novellie, 1987) (Van der Merwe, 1988).
During the 1800s, British soldiers created a chessboard on the top of Saltpeterskop, a 1514m high koppie in the Park. While hiding out during the Anglo-Boer War, they played chess with their fellow soldiers in the old fort in Cradock, transmitting moves by means of a mirror which was also used to send warning signals. The chessboard is till visible today but not accessible to visitors.
Visitors can book a guided tour of a San cave painting site.
Birding in Mountain Zebra National Park
Verreaux’s (Black) and Martial Eagle and Jackal Buz za rd soar impressively over this mountain habitat. Pale-winged Starling is very conspicuous on the mountain plateau, where Ostrich, Secretarybird, Blue Crane and Ludwig’s Bustard are the larger more visible species. Grey-winged Francolin, Ground Woodpecker, Large-billed (Thick-billed) and Eastern Long-billed Lark, Cape and Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Mountain Wheatear (Chat) and Orange-breasted Rockjumper should also be searched for, while Pink-billed Lark and African Rock Pipit are less common.
The wooded kloofs and acacia stands host species such as Red-fronted Tinker Barbet, Lesser Honeyguide, Red-throated Wryneck and Southern Tchagra.
The highlight of the park's mammalian fauna is the over 700 Cape mountain zebra after which the park is named. The Park was originally proclaimed to save this species from extinction, with a small founder herd of only 6 zebra. Mountain zebra can be seen throughout the park in small herds.
Buffalo can be spotted in areas with Acacia thicket and on the wooded valleys of the park. Antelope species include black wildebeest, red hartebeest, eland, blesbok, kudu and springbok. Mountain reedbuck and grey rhebuck prefer the high mountain slopes along the Kranskop loop.
Cheetah were reintroduced in 2007, becoming the first large predators in the Park. Brown hyena were introduced in 2008 but these secretive scavengers are seldom seen, except on camera traps and occasionally night drives. In April 2013, lions were introduced. Read the article about Lion released in Mountain Zebra National Park
Chacma baboons and vervet monkeys make up the Park's primate component. Elusive species that you may be fortunate to see include aardwolf, bat-eared fox and caracal.
Nocturnal species which can be spotted on guided night drives include black-footed cat, aardvark, porcupine, genets and polecats.
Download the latest Mountain Zebra National Park mammal checklist
Mountain Zebra National Park has three vegetation types (Mucina et al. 2005): the Eastern Upper Karoo, Karoo Escarpment Grassland and Eastern Cape Escarpment Thicket making up 37%, 53% and 10%, respectively of the park. The park thus incorporates elements of three biomes: the Nama-Karoo, Grassland and Thicket.
The Karoo Escarpment Grassland is dominated by the grass species Merxmuellera disticha, with shrubs such as Euryops annuus, and Elytropappus rhinocerotis. The Eastern Upper Karoo is a mix of grass and shrub dominated vegetation types that are subject to dynamic changes in species composition depending upon rainfall. Shrubs such as Pentzia incana, Eriocephalus ericoides dominate, while grasses such as Aristida spp. Eragrostis spp. and Themeda triandra are common. Fires are fairly common in the Karoo Escarpment Grassland and may also occur occasionally in the Eastern Upper Karoo. The vegetation types in the Mountain Zebra National Park are poorly or hardly protected elsewhere in South Africa (Driver et al. 2005).
The combination of different vegetation types is important from the point of view of preserving biodiversity, as well as from an aesthetic viewpoint. The area is one of transition between biomes allowing for an interesting mix of flora and fauna, as well as preserving important ecological and landscape processes. The warm north-facing slopes (which characterise the park) with a wide diversity of habitats ranging from mountaintops to valley bottoms provide suitable habitat ideal to cater for the seasonal requirements of the large herbivores (Novellie et al. 1988). In addition the north aspect provides for productive land capable of supporting relatively high densities of game, with greater proportions of the more productive Karoo veld types allowing the carrying of large herbivores.
Herbivore densities within the rocky grassland areas are likely to be low. Importantly, all of the major vegetation types in the park are currently very poorly conserved elsewhere in South Africa: South Eastern Mountain Grassland (0.3% conserved), Eastern Mixed Nama Karoo (1.08%), Valley Thicket (2.2%) and Central Lower Karoo (0.05%). Hence, the park will play a critical role in the long-term preservation of biodiversity.
The interface between biomes promotes a rich flora, as well as preserving important ecological and landscape processes. An analysis of the flora (Pond et al. 2002) revealed 680 plant species in the park, thirteen of which are Red Data species. At 5.05 plant species per 100 ha, the density of plant species in the Mountain Zebra National Park is very high compared to other protected areas in the arid and semi-arid areas of South Africa, a feature which can be ascribed to the wide habitat and substrate diversity of the park (Pond et al. 2002).
People with disabilities
The unit is accessible to the mobility challenged. The cottage features two bedrooms; one with a queen-sized bed and another with two single beds. It also includes a bathroom with roll-in shower, kitchen and DSTV (limited channels).
Accommodation images may differ from the actual units as refurbishment of various accommodation types occur on an on-going basis.
Accessible Activities & Facilities
- Main Complex
Access into and within the main complex is ramped. Accessible ablution facilities could be provided and access to the shop improved.
- Other Facilities & Activities
The park has limited facilities and activities. Game viewing is done from the comfort of one's own vehicle. The picnic sites and walking trails are fairly rustic, with no formal adaptation provided for persons with mobility or sensory impairment.
- A Conference Room in the Reception building is ideal for your corporate meeting or conference in the bush.
- Can accommodate a maximum of 30 people seated at tables or 50 people, cinema-style (no tables).
- Catering facilities are available from the adjacent restaurant.
Park Reception Tel: 048 801 5700/01 or
SANParks Conferencing Tel: 012 426-5025
Fax: 012 426-5488
- The Conference Room and Restaurant can be booked for small wedding receptions of maximum 50 people.
- Bookings and enquiries can be made at the park reception.
- Final arrangements should be confirmed with the park.
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