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Best park for culture: Mapungubwe
By Justin Fox. Source Wild Magazine.
Guide Moses Baloyi leads me up the steps of a narrow cleft to the top of the hill, where he shows me the remains of a stone-walled palace, a royal wives’ enclosure and a graveyard that has been rich in archaeological finds. We visit the king’s cistern, a square incision in the rock once filled with water lugged in narrow-necked pots by women all the way from the Limpopo River.
We are in the northwest corner of South Africa, where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers meet, the home of our country’s first great civilisation.
The ancient citadel of Mapungubwe, now the centrepiece of the national park of the same name, is an archaeological site of international significance.
While the golden age of Mapungubwe only lasted a short period, from about 1220 to 1280AD, the Limpopo Valley region was home to a series of successive civilisations. Mapungubwe was succeeded by Great Zimbabwe.
The first dig at Mapungubwe was conducted by a local farmer in the early 1930s, but he soon made his discovery known to the head of archaeology at Pretoria University and a team was dispatched.
They discovered dry-stone walling, large earthenware pots, iron tools, copper wire, beads and bangles, as well as gold-plated objects and jewellery.
The many items of foreign origin demonstrated the extent of Mapungubwe’s overseas trade. The most famous artefact was a golden rhino, which has become the icon of both the citadel and the park.
Take a guided heritage tour to the archaeological sites. At the time of publication, accommodation ranged from R745 for a cottage (sleeps up to four) to R2 025 for a wilderness cabin (sleeps two) a night. Campsites from R145. Bookings 012-428-9111 or visit their website.
More about the Park
Sandstone formations, mopane woodlands and unique riverine forest and baobab trees form the astounding scenic backdrop for a rich variety of animal life.
Elephant, giraffe, white rhino, eland, gemsbok and numerous other antelope species occur naturally in the area.
Lucky visitors might spot predators like lions, leopards and hyenas.
Birders can tick off 400 species, including kori bustard, tropical boubou and pel’s fishing owl.
Coordinates: 22º 11′ 33″ S 29º 14′ 20″ E
|More info on the quaint town of Musina||More info on the Soutpansberg area|
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