Overview – Mokala NP
Mokala is a recently established national park, protecting sandy plains dotted with impressive camel thorn trees. In Setswana language, the word Mokala means ‘camel thorn tree’. The small park (located 80km south of Kimberly) isn't a prime wildlife-viewing destination but offers a range of activities. Rhino, buffalo and several antelope species have been re-introduced, but numbers are relatively low, and animals are still quite skittish as they are getting used to their new environment.
Pros & Cons
- Beautiful, unusual scenery with big camel thorn trees
- Game drives including night drives available
- Bush braais (barbecues) and bush breakfasts under ancient camel trees on offer
- Guided drives to rock-art engravings
- Little visited destination en route between Johannesburg and Cape Town
- Self-catering accommodation for self-drive visitors as well as a restaurant
- Can be visited as a day trip from Kimberley
- Not many of the flagship species present
- Far away from South Africa's main tourist attractions
- The harsh environment is not to everybody's taste
Mokala was stocked with wildlife from the closing of Vaalbos National Park. This conservation project involved an amazing translocation of 863 animals. Black and white rhino and buffalo have been re-introduced. None of the big cats are present, but several small predators, such as brown hyena, black-backed jackal and caracal can be seen.
Mokala's main habitat is sandy plains hemmed in by isolated dolerite (magmatic rock) hills. The camel thorn is the predominant tree in this arid, sandy environment. The main objective of the park is to protect the unusual interface of two biomes (large, naturally occurring communities of flora and fauna): Savanna Biome and the Nama Karoo Biome.
Weather & Climate
Occasionally during the summer (October to April), big storms blow in and unload torrential rain onto the park. But for the most part, conditions remain dry. It’s also consistently hot in summer, but everything starts cooling down with the arrival of winter (May to September). Perhaps a bit too much – at this time of year, it gets very cold when it’s dark.
Best Time to Visit
The drier months (May to September) see hazy skies and uncomfortably cold mornings, especially when it comes to game drives in open-sided safari vehicles. But this is still the best time to go wildlife watching, as the animals can easily be found congregating at rivers and along other water sources. The heat of the Wet season (October to April) holds no attraction, nor does the fact that some roads may be impassable due to rain.
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Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.
New Kid on the Block
Mokala is South Africa’s newest national park and it’s a stronghold and prime breeding ground for a wide variety of endangered herbivores. The newly created conservation area protects and actively propagates threatened wildlife species...
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