06 October 2011 by Julienne du Toit

The Great, Grey-Green, Greasy Limpopo

At Mapungubwe National Park there is a treetop walk, a boardwalk that gently slips over the electrified border fence and leads to a great hide overlooking the Limpopo.

I loved it that someone at National Parks was whimsical enough to put up a sign with that famous quote from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories:

“And at last he came to the great grey-green greasy Limpopo, all set about with fever trees.”

The vegetation changes completely in the space of a few hundred metres.  From stunted mopane trees on the other side of the road, and scarcely a tussock of grass to be seen, there is this lush riverine forest, with towering trees and long grass, in which bushbuck lie contentedly.

From the hide, you look down on the river. We saw three-banded plovers busily patrolling the water’s edge, and a baboon sat alone, apparently deep in thought on a spit of sand in the middle of the river, scolded by a blacksmith lapwing.

A pearl-spotted owl chanted out its whooping challenge in a cascade of descending notes.

We watched more baboons making their way down to the river. Straight across from us was Zimbabwe (the roof of a little village shone on the side of a small hill). And in the wooded triangular groove between the Shashe and the Limpopo’s meeting point was Botswana.


Far in the distance, we saw the grassy top of Mapungubwe hill among the other sandstone outcrops, glowing warmly in the last light.

We could hardly drag ourselves away from this place, so much so that we were terribly late getting out of the park, and were good-naturedly scolded by the man at the gate.

Category: Wildlife

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