Mokala means camelthorn tree (Acacia erioloba) in Setswana, a name given because of the many twisted renditions of the tree, ranging between 2 metre-high shrubs to 16 metre sprawling crowns across the 27 500 hectare park landscape.
By all accounts, Mokala National Park is one of the most rewarding national parks to visit, purely for the dearth of visitors and the emphasis on endangered animals – the park breeds and provides other parks with rhino, buffalo, tsessebe, roan, sable and other endangered animals.
12 Reasons to visit Mokala National Park that will have you visiting, tomorrow…
You only need half a day to see a long list of wild animals (but you should stay at least 2 days)
Buffalo, blue and black wildebeest, rhino, giraffe, warthog, zebra, roan and sable antelope, any number of smaller game, springbok, oryx and tsessebe (tsessebe, roan and sable are all endangered).
Let alone at least 50 species of bird – there is so much game in this reserve, particularly if you head to the Lilydale section of the park, it’s been dubbed ‘Sanpark’s best kept secret’.
Look out for aardwolf and aardvark too. But for the park’s beauty to work its magic, stay at least two nights.
Enjoy the peace
No, there are no predators or ‘big’ game (like elephants) but the slow pace, and fewer tourists, means that your visit is pure peace.
Don’t miss the watering hole close to camp
Head here for sundowners, and a fantastic way to end your day. The watering hole is lit and animals come down for their last drink once the heat of the day has passed.
Experience none of Kruger’s crowds
Yes, there are no big predators, but the opportunity to see a long list of threatened antelope species in particular more than makes up for this apparent loss.
As a result, expect none of the crowds you’ll find in Kruger during the holidays.
PS: the night drive is half the price of similar in Kruger.
Mokala National Park is right off the beaten track
Visitors speak of intimate encounters with animals, like a pack of bat eared foxes – highly unusual – and a gem of an experience. These sorts of interactions are only possible because fewer people visit.
The Motswedi Bush campsite has only six sites
For this reason it’s wonderfully private, with plenty of camel thorn trees for shade, and each campsite has its own kitchenette and ablution area. Great for birds.
The skies at Mokala National Park are magnificent
Nothing like a Northern Cape sky at night! If you’ve never seen the Milky Way before, then here’s where it’s at its best.
Drive the new Mellifera and Merakeng 4×4 trails
These two trails in the Lilydale section of Mokala give you the chance to get off the main roads of the park, without any serious technical challenges.
So you can really experience the park for yourself.
You will need a permit, however.
Go on the sunset game drive
At this time of night you’re more likely to catch a glimpse of owls, bat-eared foxes, wild cats or jackals.
Go fly fishing or float down the river
The Riet River offers carp, barbel and yellow fish for a catch-and-release fly fishing experience. And you can hire inflatable canoes for a trip down the river.
Book a catered-for braai at Mosu Lodge
Tables under the stars is the order of the evening, but you will need a party of at least five people for the starlit braai to go ahead under the acacia trees.
Stay in a treehouse!
The Kameeldoring treetop chalet lies about halfway between Lilydale restcamp and Mosu Lodge. Book ahead, as word is out about this little gem that offers views over its own waterhole, so you simply need sit on your veranda and watch the animals come to you.
A similar treetop chalet (Dinokeng treetop chalet), just outside Mosu Lodge, went up in a blaze in August 2016.
Finding Mokala National Park
the first entrance is on the N12 roughly 37 km from Kimberley, and leads to Lilydale. The second entrance is a little further away from Kimberley (57 km) on the N12 and leads to Mosu.