Kingdom of the Camel-Thorn

Just to the south of Kimberley is a hidden gem of a national park by the name of #Mokala. In Setswana, this means the ‘Kingdom of Thorn Trees’, and the park is the most perfect example of savanna-thornsveldt you will find anywhere in the Northern Cape, or for that matter anywhere else in South Africa.

Utter natural splendour and superb wildlife encounters are virtually guaranteed, with endangered game as the park’s main focus. Sable and roan antelope, aardwolf, caracal, aardvark, African hedgehog, tsessebe … you are bound to tick a host of peculiar beasties off your must-see mammal list.

The Isuzu_Za #RedDevil was the perfect vehicle for this savanna paradise, with enough height to allow easy game viewing. And there were certainly no complaints regarding leg room fro the kids in the back, so thank you, Lunga Ntsendwana for organising this yet again.

From amazing Mosu Lodge, we ventured to the unfenced Haak-and-Steek Camp Site, where all five of us crammed into a tent set upon the edge of the water hole … This was proper Africa: only us, the night jars, a star-struck sky, howling jackal and contorted camel-thorn trees silhouetted against the flicker of the camp fire.

Oh ja, there was the midnight black rhino that came snorting right up to the tent just after 12h00. This made for a few tense moments, but he bolted once I shone the torch to warn him away. Truly a nature experiencethat money cannot buy!

We grudgingly bade au revoir to our spot at Haak-and-Steek; to guru birding guide, Henry; to the gallumping tsessebe; and our shy rhino eventually, as the time had come to head towards Lilydale, one of the #Mokala lodges situated upon the banks of the tranquil Riet River.

Our drive there delivered both roan and sable antelope sightings, but the rest of the afternoon was spent trying to tempt wily yellow-fish from the mirrored pools near Grootbek. And finally, a 5am wakeup call to sneak in a final game drive before tackling the N12 south.

The only thing I missed were some outdoor activities … guided MTB rides, an interpretive trail, a koppie to climb … anything to get up close and personal to this beautiful place. Otherwise it is one of those spots you cannot afford not to visit.

Thank you for all the memories, Nadia Lemmetuis – such a superb experience!

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