At last he came to the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees.
– Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories
Katy and I recently took Mucky to visit Mapungubwe National Park, about a 150km drive north of Lajuma. The area was once the site of a great civilisation, dating back to almost 1,000 years ago, and today the park is known more for its cultural heritage than its wildlife. So the first thing inside the park was visit the museum, but we didn’t fancy paying £4 each to look at some beads so turned around and went to meet the current inhabitants.
Unlike mountainous Lajuma, the park is in the lowveld so it gets hot, and you can find most of the typical southern African savanna species. Some of the species were friendlier than others. The vervet monkeys at the camp were a bit too friendly, and Katy almost got into a fight with one when it stole our leftover oats from breakfast. The spotted hyenas were indifferent, and wandered around outside our camp throughout the night occasionally letting out an “ooooooooo-oooop!”. The elephants we drove past were less friendly, and I had to do some swift reversing when we got charged! Even a cheeky baby elephant got involved and trumpeted at us!
As well as getting to know the locals, the park also had great views of the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers, the point at which South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe meet.
South Africa (foreground), Botswana (left) and Zimbabwe (right)
The camp was great: quiet, private, shady, and with minimal fencing. There was a length of electrified wire to ward off the elephants, but nothing to stop the smaller animals from coming in. After a few beers, some amarula and a braai we slept in the hammocks to the sound of spotted hyenas calling around us. We will be seeing you again, Mapungubwe.
Camping out with the spotted hyenas.
Driving topless in the heat of the day.
Wildebeest getting some shade under a baobab tree
Waterbuck: beautiful from the front, but from the back they look like they sat on a painted toilet seat.
The baby elephant that set its mum on us
We all know that birds don’t really count, but here’s a few for you anyway.