James Bainbridge
United Kingdom UK
Jan 29, 2015 January 29, 2015

James is a travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guides, including senior author of the guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Category: Best Kept Safari Secrets

A dose of history and culture in the veld, with a golden rhino, wildlife galore and views across three African countries.

Most safari-bound visitors to South Africa make a beeline for Kruger National Park, but there are quieter alternatives, where you will encounter less traffic jams. Among these, my favourite is Mapungubwe National Park, which lies on the border of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Animals from aardvarks to zebras are found here and it’s a fantastic setting, with rocky koppies and baobabs overlooking the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers. Leopards, elephants and giraffes are common, and the park has cultural cred. The golden rhino, excavated on Mapungubwe Hill and displayed in the Interpretation Centre, is evidence of the significant Iron Age civilisation that flourished here.