The Mapungubwe National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, primarily due to its famous Iron-Age site known as the Hill of Jackals, thought to be the site of the first kingdom in Africa. The park is situated at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashi rivers, where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana meet, and is well worth a detour if you have even the faintest interest in archeology. The park is divided into an eastern and a western side connected only by the main road, with a large plot of private land in between. The main entrance is on the eastern side nearest Musina, which is also where you’ll find the Hill of the Jackals and most of the accommodation.
The park offers excellent game viewing with a scenic backdrop of unusual sandstone formations, mopane woodland, riverine forest, and a landscape scattered with otherworldly baobab trees housing wildlife such as elephant, giraffe, white rhino, plus various different antelope, including eland and gemsbok. You can explore the park either in your own car or on three-hour guided morning and sunset drives. If you’re lucky, you may spot predators such as lion, leopard and hyenas, and there are over four hundred bird species including kori bustard, tropical boubou and the magnificent pel’s fishing owl.
The long-term goal is eventually to develop the park into a tri-border park incorporating Mashatu Reserve in Botswana and the Tuli Circle in Zimbabwe.