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Mapungubwe National Park & World Heritage Site, Limpopo

Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site is situated at the very northern part of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, in the beautiful Soutpansberg region and on the border with Zimbabwe and Botswana along the line of the great Limpopo River.

Mapungubwe National Park was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003 thanks to the archeological findings of the area’s rich Iron Age past. Mapungubwe Hill is the site of The Lost City. It was here that archaeologists (circa 1932) not only discovered evidence of a very wealthy and developed African Kingdom (the forebears of the Shona people of modern day Zimbabwe), the people of which mined gold among other minerals and prospered between 1200 and 1270 AD, but also evidence of trade from as far away as China. It was here that the famous Golden Rhino was discovered among other gold leaf and gold ornaments, utensils and jewellery. The area is also rich in San Rock Art which predates the Mapungubwe Kingdom.

Mapungubwe has a rich past and cultural heritage, and an equally rich present. Here, where the Limpopo River separates South Africa and Zimbabwe, you will find the Lemba people. The Lemba are Africa’s Black Jews – they claim to be the descendants of the Lost Tribe of Israel – a claim backed by recent advances in mitichondrial DNA analyses which can track origins. This is also Venda country – the home of the proud and culturally distinct Venda nation.

Mapungubwe is known for its scenic beauty and unique flora and terrain. Sandstone formations, mopane woodlands and unique riverine forest and baobab trees form the astounding scenic backdrop for a rich variety of animal life and many species still thrive here naturally – i.e. they hadn’t died out from the area to have to be re-introduced. Animal species that can be seen here in abundance include elephant, giraffe, white rhino, eland and gemsbok among numerous other antelope species. Lion, leopard and hyena also call Mapungubwe home and over 400 species of bird have been identified in the park area, including kori bustard, tropical boubou and fishing owls.

There are several camps, a lodge and and a camping site, and many activities. The unique heritage of the area can be explored through a number of guided tours and routes offered in the Park – in addition to game drives, guided walks and a treetop ‘canopy walk’ along raised wooden walkways in the thick riverine forest on the Limpopo River.  Mapungubwe is a truly unique National Park with enough to keep you and your family occupied each day of an extended holiday.

Read more on Mapungubwe National Park and on The Lost City at Mapungubwe.

Getting there: Take the N1 north for Modimolle and Mokopane. Continue on to the R101 after Mokopane, then on to the R521. Continue north on the R521.

More info on the quaint town of Musina More info on the Soutpansberg area