Expert Reviews – Mountain Zebra NP
Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.
Dazzles of Zebra
This tiny park came into being in 1937 with a sole purpose: to save the highly endangered Cape mountain zebra from extinction. In this regard it succeeded admirably and today the population hovers around the 300 mark despite a number of equids having been relocated to other suitable reserves in the region. However, this great conservation feat is not in itself reason enough for safari enthusiasts to make the effort to visit the Mountain Zebra National Park. More recently, a number of indigenous mammals have been reintroduced to the park, including cheetah, buffalo, black rhino, and a range of antelope species. I will admit that during my brief visit to the national park, I saw few of these ‘new addition’ species, while the park’s biggest feline, the retiring caracal, remained as elusive as ever. So, unless you’re a zebra maniac or happen to be passing through the area, I would probably recommend taking a rain check and rather safariing in one of South Africa’s better wildlife areas.
Paul is a travel writer, author of the Bradt guidebook to Zimbabwe and is closely involved in promoting tourism to Zimbabwe.
Craggy Heights and Deep Valleys
The Cape mountain zebra differs from its more common cousin, Burchells, mainly in its colouring, but it was nearly extinct at the beginning of the 20th century so it’s great to see about 300 thriving here in their natural surroundings. It shares the park with buffalo, black rhino, black wildebeest, eland, red hartebeest, gemsbok, cheetah and caracal (all of which I’ve seen here except the last two). While this is not a full-on, intense, game viewing park it has a great atmosphere with a variety of accommodations and activities such as hiking, 4x4 trails plus of course game drives amongst its very scenic crags, hills and valleys.
Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Guaranteed sightings of mountain zebra on a scenic grassy plateau
On our visit, the Mountain Zebra National Park hung with thick dark clouds, but the moody weather actually made for some incredible colours, and the steel-blue rolling mountains melted into a foreground of fluid golden grass. Our game drive looped across the wide Rooiplat Plateau, where we naturally saw mountain zebra, (they have narrower stripes than Burchell’s zebra), and the grey stormy Karoo sky silhouetted them perfectly. Other plains game included springbok, black wildebeest and red hartebeest, and we surprised a couple of large male kudu in a gully. Unfortunately black rhino and cheetah remained elusive but I think I heard jackals yipping during the night. It’s a good overnight stop (the Victorian-style Doornhoek farmhouse is a fine place to stay), and in the weather we experienced, great for camping with a hot stew cooked over the braai.