Cathy Withers-Clarke | Mokala
Sunset on False BaySunset on False BaySunset on False Bay


August 09, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Northern Cape landscapeNorthern Cape landscapeA dirt track stretches to the horizon in the Northern Cape, South Africa

Mokala National Park

"Where endangered species roam"

No large predators, no tarmac, no crowds - just 26,000 hectares of koppieveld and open savanna heaven for lovers of Antelope, Birds, Giraffes, Warthogs, space and tranquility. Sable and Roan antelope and Buffalo roam freely and you just might come across a family of Giraffe around the next corner.

Giraffe PortraitGiraffe PortraitA closeup facial portrait of a giraffe in Southern Africa Sable AntelopeSable AntelopeSable antelope standing in grassland, South Africa Roan Antelope PortraitRoan Antelope PortraitPortrait of a Roan Antelope in savanna in Southern Africa Kudu BullKudu BullKudu bull at a watering hole in Southern African savanna Muddy TsessebeMuddy TsessebePortrait of a Tsessebe antelope that has had a red mudbath African Buffalo Mother And CalfAfrican Buffalo Mother And CalfAn African Buffalo mother and calf standing in savanna while the mother gets a grooming from Oxpecker birds Burchell's Zebra PortraitBurchell's Zebra PortraitA portrait of a Burchell's Zebra standing in savannah in Southern Africa Springbok JumpingSpringbok JumpingA Springbok gazelle jumps as it crosses a track in Southern African savanna Warthog PortraitWarthog PortraitCloseup of a lone Warthog in Southern Africa Bat-eared FoxBat-eared FoxA Bat-eared Fox in savanna in Southern Africa Blue Wildebeest groupBlue Wildebeest groupA family group of Blue Wildebeest standing in early morning light, South Africa Black WildebeestBlack WildebeestBlack Wildebeest at a watering hole in savanna in Southern Africa Young African Buffalo PortraitYoung African Buffalo PortraitFacial portrait of a young African Buffalo

There are no ugly high wire fences round the rest camps or picnic sites so you are free to enjoy the beautiful landscape uninterrupted, and some cheeky antelope and Warthogs take advantage of that in the evenings - you might just emerge from your accommodation after dark and find the grass nearby being nibbled, and the Hares and peculiar little Springhares will be hopping just beyond the edge of the light when you walk down the path. Breakfast at one of the open picnic sites on the Matopi or Kameeldoring loops could have you holding your breath as you arrive to disturb the wildlife that has been grazing there at dawn. With no large predators in the park I daydream of doing horseback safaris there, but with the parks so overstretched already with the limited resources they have I suspect I will have to keep on dreaming for now.

     Springhare (Pedetes capensis)Springhare (Pedetes capensis)Springhare (Pedetes capensis)

For those of us that like to take it slow and are interested in everything large or small, the park is brimming with the smaller side of life, and the trees are alive with birdsong.

      Ammophila WaspAmmophila WaspA closeup of an Ammophila wasp in the process of digging a burrow in red sand in South Africa Meerkat SentryMeerkat SentryA Meerkat stands sentry on a termite mound while the family forages in Southern African savanna

African SpoonbillAfrican SpoonbillAn African Spoonbill bird foraging for it's meal in a waterhole in the Northern Cape, South Africa Dung BeetleDung BeetleA Dung Beetle rolls it's ball across a red dirt track

Yellow-billed HornbillYellow-billed HornbillYellow-billed Hornbill Red-crested KorhaanRed-crested KorhaanA Red-crested Korhaan standing in savannah in Southern Africa

The park is also home to Cape and Lappet-faced Vultures, who can often be seen circling high overhead or you might just find them fighting with Black-backed Jackals and each other over a meal provided by a hapless antelope that died during the night, as we did two weeks ago.


It always surprises me that so few people appear to be aware of Mokala, but I am torn between joy that we so often have the park almost to ourselves, and disappointment that more people aren't here to appreciate this incredible sanctuary. An unusual sighting or Vultures fighting over food would cause huge traffic jams in many parks but here we are left in peace and if another car or two happen to stumble across us there is still more than enough space to enjoy the sighting uninterrupted. Usually the only traffic jams you come across are those that you really don't mind...

  Rock MonitorRock MonitorRock Monitor Rush HourRush HourA group of Giraffes runs across a red dirt track in the Northern Cape, South Africa

It's just under 1,000kms from our house to Mokala, 70km southwest of Kimberley, but I will hop in the car at the drop of a hat and head there at every chance I get - we have already visited three times this year, and one visit last year was just for a long weekend ! The accommodation isn't 5-star but neither are the prices, with chalets starting at R.700 per night for two people and camping spots at R.400 or less, each with it's own bathroom and kitchen. 

If you haven't visited this special place yet make a plan.

That soft red earth is calling...

Northern Cape LandscapeNorthern Cape LandscapeA red dirt track stretches off into the distance in the Northern Cape savannah, South Africa





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