Expert Reviews – Mapungubwe NP
Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.
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Culture, wildlife, scenery....
I went to Mapungubwe in January and it was hot...seriously hot...and seriously worth it. The wildlife almost plays third fiddle to the park’s other novel attractions. A Unesco World Heritage Site, Mapungubwe’s cultural landscape reveals a sophisticated African society discovered through archaeological finds that include a gold-plated rhinoceros dating back to the 13th century. The interpretive centre traces this uniquely African story and is both a fascinating place of discovery (keep an eye out for the intricate beadwork) and one of the country’s most startling pieces of modern architecture... and the icy air-con blast as you walk in is very welcome.
And then there’s the landscape: rocky, arid, creased with age and roofed with big skies. A wonderful viewpoint is at the confluence of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, which can be accessed from four viewing decks set high on a bluff. Jaw-dropping views include the Limpopo and Shashe rivers and big, furry rock dassies in the emergency-sitting position.
I didn’t see that much wildlife but was delighted by the unusual mix I did spot including meercats (first time - the babies are soooo cute), blue duiker spying on our bungalow and lumbering eland.