Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area
Did you know?
The Limpopo/Shashe TFCA, shared by Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, was renamed the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area because all three countries already have sites called Mapungubwe.
It seems quite fitting that the statesman who gave the world 'holism' and founded what would become the United Nations, first championed what is now the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area.
Back in 1922, Prime Minister Jan Smuts saw the potential of this land and agitated for it to be protected. First, it was set aside as a botanical reserve. Later, in the early 1940s, it was proclaimed as the Dongola National Park. It was then that General Smuts mooted the joining of this area with wilderness across the border, in Botswana (then Bechuanaland) and Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia).
Unfortunately, the park became a victim of politicking, and was deproclaimed shortly after 1948.
All through this time, academics quietly carried on excavating the fascinating lost kingdom of Mapungubwe, as they had since the 1930s.
Now things have come full circle for the Mapungubwe Transfrontier Park. The rare vegetation, Acacia Salvadora woodland, that must have inspired Jan Smuts to protect this land is now officially conserved. Red data list animals like wild dogs, tsessebe and sable have been introduced. The cross-boundary sanctuary General Smuts envisaged is in the process of creation.
On the South African side, a patchwork of land is being consolidated around the anchor, the Mapungubwe National Park. Already local communities are benefiting from the Greater Mapungubwe Conservation Area.The South African government has funded the creation of camps and other infrastructure in Mapungubwe through its Poverty Relief funding.
Across the Botswana border is the Tuli block, 36 privately owned farms working as a single, elephant-rich conservation entity. On the Zimbabwe side is the Tuli Circle hunting area and a few large game farms. Linking all this land will dramatically increase rangeland for the famous Tuli elephants.
The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area is another victory for holistic thinking.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111
How to get here
Enter the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area from Mapungubwe National Park in the Limpopo province. It is easily accessible by car from the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Best time to visit
Autumn, winter and spring are lovely times in this part of the world. Summer is good too, but often extremely hot and humid.
Tours to do
There is an excellent tour focused around the ancient kingdom of Mapungubwe. It is fascinating, and you will not want to miss it.
There are excellent game drives in the Mapungubwe National Park, for which a vehicle is provided. But you will find your own vehicle gives you a lot more freedom.
What to pack
Take something warm for the evenings in winter. Don't forget your camera and binoculars. And always pack a hat and sunscreen.
Where to stay
Mapungubwe National Park has an array of options for all budgets and tastes. The Tuli Block in Botswana has a number of luxury lodges.