GPS Coordinates: -22.243599,29.400726 (Park entrance)
Mapungubwe National Park is located in the far north of South Africa in Limpopo province. It is around 5 and a half hours’ drive from Johannesburg and the closest town is Alldays
Mapungubwe is known for its historical significance as an ancient African Kingdom. It is also a South African National Parks trans-frontier conservation area.
The park is broken up into two areas, a west side and an east side. On the west side you will find the Mazhou campsite and on the east side, the main national park. There are other accommodation types on both sides of the park as well.
Between the two parts of the park is a gravel road through a mixture of conservation area and farmland. If you are staying at Mazhou, you have to check in at the main gate first and then drive across. The drive is around 30 min so remember to check gate closure times.
Portions of this road sometimes washes away with heavy rain so check with reception first before using it. The alternative is to use the main tar road (R572) on the outside of the park.
Within the park all the roads are gravel. Most of the roads were badly corrugated at the time of this video. There are also a few 4×4-only sections. There is no fuel available in the park. The nearest towns to buy fuel is Alldays or Mussina around 70 or 90 kilometres away.
The park itself is very different to the Kruger National Park. Don’t expect large herds of game or camps with loads of facilities. The landscape is breath-taking though and you may still have some animal sightings.
There is a restaurant at the main gate that sells limited provisions and a small kiosk at the confluence centre. There are no shops on the Western side.
The Mazhou camping site has 10 stands with a small ablution and scullery. The stands are generously sized and spaced from each other.
Stands 3, 6 and 7 are the most private with a good amount of space or trees separating them form other sites. Stands 4 and 5 are large sites under a massive nyala tree so great for groups if you can manage to get them at the same time. Sites are first come, first serve. All stands have a braai (BBQ), bin, water tap, electrical point and light. The ablutions have 2 heated showers and toilets as well as a disabled bathroom with shower and toilet. There is also an indoor scullery.
Although Mazhou is fenced off, fortunately it doesn’t keep the smaller animals out. Regular visitors to the camp include bushbuck, squirrels, bush babies, banded mongoose and loads of different birds. Oh, and don’t forget about the vervet monkeys. They are a real brazen bunch at this camp so make sure all your food, toiletries and garbage is secure. Don’t leave anything in your tent.
Activities in the park include game drives, guided walks, great birdwatching and visiting historical sites. If you have a 4×4 I can also recommend driving the 45km (4–6 hour) 4×4 Tshugulu Eco Route. Another unique vantage point is the tree-top boardwalk on the East side of the park. This gives you a bird’s eye view of lovely leadwood and fever trees as well as the Limpopo river. There are a number of great hides, waterholes and lookout points in Mapungubwe. The Maloutswa hide near Mazhou provides stunning birdwatching as well as occasional game coming down for a drink.
Mazhou camp is one of my favourites and well worth the long drive to the North.
Bookings can be made through the SANParks website or telephone;
Tel: +27 12 428 9111
Mapungubwe is a Malaria area.
Firewood and ice is available to purchase at the restaurant on the Eastern side of the park. I suggest buying wood at Alldays or Musina though as the quality and price is much better.