Overview – Mapungubwe NP
Mapungubwe is unique in South Africa and a park that offers a very different experience for visitors. Mapungubwe is a UNESCO world heritage site and has both cultural and environmental significance. Although wildlife is not as much of a highlight as other parks, the scenery is spectacular and Mapungubwe Hill is the site of an ancient civilisation. Elephant, white rhino and several antelope species are regularly spotted.
Pros and Cons
- Beautiful scenery
- Cultural interest and visits to the 'Lost City' from the Iron Age available
- Stunning museum and interpretive centre
- Excellent viewpoints into surrounding countries
- Great birding facilities including treetop walk and bird hide
- Good self-catering accommodation for self-drive visitors
- Off-the-beaten track destination
- Cultural tour and night drive activities available
- No high-end accommodation available in the park
Mapungubwe is home to four of the Big Five (buffalo absent). Lions have been spotted, but they are nomadic and occasionally visit the area from neighbouring Botswana. Sightings of any big cats are rare. Elephant, giraffe, white rhino, eland, gemsbok and numerous other antelope species can be seen.
Mapungubwe is characterised by a combination of mopane bushveld and grassland savanna. There are at least 24 species of acacia, but it is the enormous baobab trees that steal the show. The scenery is dramatic with big sandstone formations dominating the landscape. One of the highlights in the park is the viewpoint over the confluence of the Limpopo and Shahe rivers – the place where three countries meet: South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Weather & Climate
Mapungubwe goes on the boil in the middle of summer (October to April), when daytime temperatures can soar to 45°C/113°F. Summer is also the Wet season in the park, though the rainfall can be sporadic and rarely lasts a full day. The Dry season or winter (May to September) sees clear, warm days followed by cold nights.
Best Time to Visit
Try to visit Mapungubwe in the first few months of the Dry season, which stretches from May to September. By this time the heat and precipitation of the Wet season (October to April) has gone, but the chilly nights of the later drier months are yet to arrive. The recent rains also wash the dust out of the air, which improves the view of the animals gathering around local water sources.
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Mapungubwe Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Lost city on the Limpopo
Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, this relatively new national park is not primarily a wildlife destination, so it ranks quite poorly judged on those terms. Its centrepiece is Mapungubwe Hill, site of the medieval capital...
Latest User Review
It's nice to see lot of baobad