Ancient treasures, scenery to die for, and nature and wildlife experiences aplenty – Mapungubwe National Park will rock your boat. With these top five attractions, your itinerary will be chock-a-block. By Arnold Ras

Southern Africa’s first kingdom, a state of great wealth and power, was established here… More than 400 bird species, captivating baobabs and some of the Big Five call this park home… We are, of course, talking about the incredible Mapungubwe National Park.


Itching to head to Mapungubwe for a well-deserved mid-year break? Wild is giving away a two-night family stay for four at Leokwe Camp’s Family Cottage worth R3,730. Scroll down to find out how you can become part of the lucky draw. And remember to share your Mapungubwe adventures with us: use #wildadventuregoals and make other Wild travellers green with envy!

#1: Where waters meet

Sitting ryt at the edge…

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Ever stood on an elevated platform drinking in the sight of two rivers meeting, mixing and moving? The confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers will simply take your breath away. Strange how great bodies of water always inspire, silently talking to the soul. And this spot is definitely a soulful experience not to be missed while soaking up the park’s fascinating history. This is also the spot where three countries – Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa – meet.

#2: Walking on sunshine

Walk between fever trees, breathe in fresh wilderness air and open your ears to the sounds of bee-eaters, African fish eagles and Burchell’s coucal. The Treetop Walk is a raised boardwalk through the park’s riverine forest that will ignite all the senses. To make the most of the sights and sounds around you, take a seat on one of the many benches en route to the lookout point. Part of the tranquil walk is the Treetop Bird Hide on the banks of the Limpopo River – binoculars will come in very handy. From your seat up in the canopy, you might even spot one of Mapungubwe’s many mammal species like elephant, waterbuck or the elusive aardvark.

#3: Baobab dreams

At Mapungubwe, you will have the opportunity to come up close and personal with several impressive baobabs – one of these with a gigantic circumference of 31m. To add to their glory, baobabs are also home to several bird and bat species (which pollinate the tree’s flowers), while the giants’ seedpods are eaten by animals such as baboons and warthogs. Don’t head to Mapungubwe without returning with a priceless selfie with one of the park’s baobabs. The ‘upside-down tree’ is a living monument to the majesty of nature.

#4: Not just any rhinoceros

Gold 🦏 #gold

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With great kingdoms comes great wealth. In Mapungubwe’s case, quite a bit of gold. More specifically, the Golden Rhino excavated by the University of Pretoria in 1932. It’s believed that the gleaming artefact – one of South Africa’s most famous archaeological treasures – was buried alongside the king who reigned over the Limpopo River Valley some 1,000 years ago. Scientists suggest the Mapungubwe people abandoned the land due to climate change around the 1300s. Be sure to visit Mapungubwe’s museum and interpretive centre to get a glimpse of the golden rhino, the museum’s holy grail. The museum is open from Mondays to Sundays (08:00-16:00) and the entrance fee is R50 per person.

#5: Long, long ago…

San rock painting roughly 2000 years old. #travelqueen #sanparks #iollifestyle

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Amazed is but one word to describe how you will feel when standing next to San rock art painted 2,000 years ago. Although anthropologists now have some theories around the reasons for their creation, you may still wonder what the exact circumstances were when these simple masterpieces were created. No wonder Mapungubwe National Park is a World Heritage Site. The park boasts 150 extraordinary rock art sites that can be explored as part of a three-hour guided walk at R424 per person. Pre-booking is essential and guests are advised to contact the park on +27 (0)15 534 7923/24 prior to their visit. Alternatively, send an email to [email protected].

How to enter

Want to enter the draw to win a two-night stay for four at Mapungubwe National Park? Email the answer to our question below to [email protected] (subject line: Mapungubwe) before 18 June. Remember to include your full names and contact details. Wild will randomly select the winner. The winner will be notified via email. Entrants must be 18 years or older.

Question: What famous archaeological treasure can be seen at Mapungubwe?

Winner: Kathy Arnold

Terms and conditions

  • The prize is valid from 1 August to 30 November 2017 outside school holidays and long weekends.
  • Prizes may not be exchanged for cash and are not transferable.
  • Additional persons, meals, activities, etc. are for the prize winner’s own account.
  • Reservations are subject to availability and bookings must be made in advance.
  • A prize letter must accompany the booking request.
* Featured picture courtesy of SANParks