8 May 2012 by Julienne du Toit

South Africa’s newest, shiniest national park

Mokala National Park south of Kimberley was only proclaimed 5 years ago. It’s a baby compared to parks like Kruger and Tsitsikamma. But already it’s proving to be ecologically valuable, and is a real hit with visitors.

Mosu Camp at Mokala National Park near Kimberley.

When Vaalbos National Park outside the diamond town of Kimberley was deproclaimed a few years ago, it seemed like a real setback for conservation.

Several land-claims and the alluring whiff of diamonds here conspired to bring an end to Vaalbos.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. In fact it was the beginning of a better story, one with a happier ending.
New land – better land – was found about 80 km south of Kimberley. The new national park is called Mokala, the Tswana name for camel thorn trees

Park manager Deon Joubert also managed Vaalbos and he reckons the Mokala is much better. For a start, Vaalbos was so close to the built-up areas that it couldn’t expand anymore, whereas Mokala is already bigger at 27 000 hectares.

Mokala, proclaimed in 2007, also has more ecosystem variety because of its hills – another thing Vaalbos lacked.

It’s still a park in progress. But what a beauty. Mokala’s scenery is exceptional, often resembling classic parkland – savanna grassland dotted by spreading thorn trees.

This is where you can see endangered animals you might not see elsewhere. Roan antelope, magnificent sables, white-backed vultures and the speedy tsessebe are thriving here.

It’s still a park in progress. But what a beauty. Mokala’s scenery is exceptional, often resembling classic parkland – savanna grassland dotted by spreading thorn trees.

Some of the animals are still somewhat skittish. Mokala was proclaimed on a former hunting ranch. The springbok still tend to flee from vehicles, and the warthogs look at you as if they have grave suspicions you might pounce. Others are quite relaxed, including the wildebeest, oryx, giraffe and buffalo.

There’s also a wide variety of accommodation. Mosu Camp is perfect – it’s comfortable and has all the amenities you need (except a shop). Plus the food at the restaurant is excellent – and this is one of the few park restaurants that has not been outsourced.

Campers rave about Motswedi, where each campsite has its own ablutions and cooking area. You could also stay in a converted farmhouse at Haak en Steek or Lilydale, which is next to the Riet River and where you can flyfish and go whitewater rafting.

It’s also a perfect place to base yourself if you’re keen on battlefields like Jacobsdal, Graspan, Modderrivier and that magnificent memorial at Magersfontein.

Category: Wildlife


comments powered by Disqus