Mapungubwe Experience – Part 3

Mapungubwe - Archeological Site - View from the op of Mapungubwe hill. A view fit for a king!April 11, 2008

The day started bright and early, because I was scheduled to go up Mapungubwe Hill to photograph the excavations and stuff there, and I had to be at the main gate before 07:00. Well it turned out that the 7 o’clock tour was canceled and I could join a group of children at 10:00. So I cruised around the park for a while and headed back to my cottage for breakfast.

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Mapungubwe Experience – Part 2

Mapungubwe - Confluence Lookout - Sunrise at the confluence lookoutApril 10, 2008

Due to a late night before, I didn’t get up quite as early as I wanted, but was able to leave the camp a few minutes before sunrise. A mere 200 meters or so from the camp I had a “close encounter of the early kind” with an elephant in the semi darkness of the early morning. I don’t know who had the biggest fright – me or him! But the encounter didn’t produce any more harm than a few missed heartbeats and an early morning adrenaline rush, as we both carried along on our separate ways.

I was a few minutes late for the sunrise over the confluence lookout, but the view and the early morning light were still spectacular – well worth the effort of getting there so early!

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Mapungubwe Experience – Part 1

 Mapungubwe - Landscape - A typical Mapungubwe landscape of small hills (koppies), interesting rock formations and Baobab treesOnce inside the park, that old familiar feeling of peace, calm and anticipation filled my soul. Ah, what bliss. But very soon I realized that Mapungubwe presented a different mood and spirit than when I visit Kruger. It’s hard to describe, but the tranquility and ambiance that I feel here is something that I can’t remember ever feeling anywhere else.

Mapungubwe is not a place you visit – it’s a place you EXPERIENCE!

But let me not get ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning…

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Bush-woman’s initiation

Marakele - Wildlife - Zebra are often seen on the plains of the western side of the park.


Marakele (July 4)

Once through the tunnel, it almost felt as if we entered another world again – the Kwaggasvlakte Plains is a flat savannah area with open grassland dotted with Camel Thorn, Round-leaved Teak, Sickle Bush and Silver Cluster Leaf. We passed a small herd of zebra grazing peacefully in the mid-morning sun with a troupe of baboons foraging alongside them. We watched for a few minutes but could not stay for long as we had an appointment with the Park Manager.

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The Adventure of Being Alive (Continued)

Marakele - Tlopi Tented Camp - The camp as seen from across the dam. The reflections makes the scene "come alive"Marakele (July 3 – July 4)

Back at camp, a surprise waited in the kitchen – a brand new hotplate! I smiled at the kindness of the personnel but nonetheless regarded this little piece of equipment with a lot of suspicion – I’ve burnt my fingers with it once too often, (pardon the pun!). It was our last night at Tlopi tented camp so we decided to have a good ‘cook-out”. I took out the T-bones we bought in Thabazimbi to defrost while we headed off to one more photographic chore for the day.

We skirted the dam at Tlopi Camp to the opposite bank so that Johannes could have a view of the whole camp facing the water. As always, timing being of essence, we moved rather fast to be at the right spot when the sun reached the angle where its golden afternoon light would wash over the dam and the camp. As this area is not open to public for exploration, we followed game paths, ducking and diving underneath a thick canopy of thorn-bush.

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The Adventure of Being Alive

Marakele - This section of road is strictly for 4X4 vehicles - as the photo shows. It leads through a valley between the mountains with some spectacular views.Marakele (July 2 to July 3)

Much of our evening was spent indoors, reloading software on Johannes’s notebook. After nightfall, a cold wind came up that forced us to seek shelter in the bedroom area where it was much cozier. Mid-evening called for something to snack on which brought me back to the kitchen and our last surprise of the day. The tops of the spice and herb bottles, small plastic containers and basically anything else made of plastic that I packed into the cupboards were almost completely chewed up! The roll of aluminum foil looked as if had been through a shredder. Except for one potato, none of the food was touched. Was this Miss Mouse’s revenge for being thrown out of the tent? Well, if it was, she really had a field day with our containers.

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Prickly Breakfast

Lion vs PorcupineIt’s a chilly morning, early May, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

It took a little longer than expected for the coffee to kick in and get some warmth into my body, so I left Mata Mata camp a little later than gate-opening time.

I slowly made my way south (the only direction you can go from Mata Mata) with that wonderful feeling of anticipation filling my mind… What will I see today? The light is good early morning – I hope I can make use of it… Will I see any big cats today? (OK, big cats are not the only wildlife I am interested in, but they sure put a special tingle up my spine!).

A little distance from Craig Lockhart, I noticed a few cars around the water hole… What did they see?

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All things pear-shaped

Marakele - Along the roads around Tlopi camp you have some wonderful views of the majestic Waterberg Mountains.Marakele National Park (July 2)

A glorious sunrise lit the Kransberg, the sky became a riot of colours, filling a canvas of grey with a painting of incredible beauty. Around us, birds chattered and chirped excitedly about the new day. Some of them perched on the deck’s rails to catch the warming sunrays and proceeded to preen themselves – completely at ease with our presence. Egyptian geese flew over the dam, announcing to all and sundry that they are in charge of these waters. A Reed Cormorant glared indignantly at the new arrivals, shifting slightly from its perch on a fallen tree and then opened its wings to warm up.

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Tent Mouse and Co.

Marakele - Tlopi Tented Camp - Nothing beats a good meal and great bottle of wine while experiencing a typical African sunset from your deck.Marakele National Park (July 1 to July 2)

After a luxurious sunset the golden cauldron of water in front of our tent began to reflect the indigo of the night sky.  Darkness seeped in with a playful, but rather cold breeze that lifted from the surface of the dam.  Johannes started the fire whilst I busied myself with our dinner preparations.  All the time, whilst working in the kitchen area, I noticed the workings of mice – a chewed kettle plug, battle-scarred handles of kitchen utensils and gnawed wooden spoons.  I noted to myself that I must pack away everything before we go to bed – as not to tempt the little critters any further.

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Marakele - View of majestic Waterberg Massif across the water from Tlopi camp.


Marakele National Park  (July 1)

Suddenly everything started to fall in place – the numerous pages of travel magazines flipped, the websites visited and re-visited and the maps, yes the maps, unfolded on the living room carpet, that took me to one-dimensional rivers, escarpments and little villages, blue stripes and little dots with names that I pronounced in a whisper, careful not to let the world hear the longing in my voice.

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