The impressive Mapungubwe National Park, spreads over 28,000 acres and is often overshadowed by the Kruger. This reserve contains some of the hottest African terrain in the Limpopo River Valley, reaching scorching degrees during the summer months. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Park is home to the most important Iron Age site in South Africa, as well as wildlife that range from white and black rhinos to the rare Pel’s fishing owl, including some incredible baobabs.
In 1933 archaeologists discovered a 13th century grave site on Mapungubwe Hill that contained ornaments, jewellery, bowls and amulets, majority of it covered in gold foil. There is a three hour Heritage Tour that you can partake in here, which offers a remarkable insight into the civilisation that also founded Great Zimbabwe – one of the biggest ruins in Africa. Group nature walks and drives are conducted during the mornings and evenings, and guests are highly encouraged to participate in the intriguing guided tour of the Park’s San rock art.
Marakele National Park is extremely mountainous and is located at the south-west end of the the Waterberg biosphere. The animals that graze below the red cliffs include elephant, black and white rhino, giraffe, zebra, leopard and cheetah, but the landscape itself is something remarkable. A fantastic vantage point of this stunning area is the vulture-viewing point where you can spot one of the biggest colonies of the endangered Cape vulture in the world. Nwanedi Nature Reserve on the other hand, is located on the arid northern portion of the Soutpansberg and provides a picturesque backdrop against the Nwanedi Dam. The flora here is mostly mopane and mixed woodland, with one of the main walks being to the gorgeous Tshihovhohovho Falls.
Spreading over 305 hectares, Modjadji Nature Reserve protects the forests of the ancient Modjadji cycad. In the summer mists, the Park and surrounding Bolobedu Mountains take on an otherworldly atmosphere. Ndzalama Wildlife Reserve is named after a locally popular rock formation. Here, you can spot an abundance of animals, including four of the Big Five. All but the buffalo are present here, and there are plenty of klipspringer antelopes that wander the 8000+ hectares of the park. The Ben Lavin Nature Reserve is most certainly worth a visit for its wonderful walking and mountain-bike trails. The park boasts over 200 bird species, as well as giraffes, zebras and jackals.
Image of giraffes in the Ben Lavin Nature Reserve courtesy of Africa Wild
Declared a World Heritage Site for its paleontological importance, Makapan’s Caves produced the renowned Taung skull, which belonged to a 3.3 million year old humanoid known as the Australopithecus africanus. The fossilised remains of long-extinct animals, like the sivatherium (an offshoot of the giraffe group) have been discovered in the caves, which are peppered with fascinating fossils and bones.