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Mapungubwe NP Safari

Guided 5-night epic self-drive 4×4 adventure – an authentic African Safari with full catering. Experience wild Mapungubwe with its profound heritage and rich culture.

Our accommodation is in several lodges the Mapungubwe National Park has to offer, including one night just outside the park at a tented lodge with breath-taking views over the Limpopo River, where our safari chef will provide authentic bush cuisine.


Ensure to fill up with fuel at either Alldays or Musina, depending on your route to Mapungubwe. There are no filling stations at Mapungubwe! We should drive around 550km from Alldays, in and around Mapungubwe and back to Alldays. Ensure you have enough fuel for the journey.

Please drive carefully! Take note that the roads about 80km from Mapungubwe are in terrible condition full of deep potholes. This is the case from either Musina or Alldays and it is suggested to maintain a speed of 25 – 35km/h over the last 80km or so – eish! Please keep in mind that this stretch of road will take you much longer to conquer and you might arrive an hour later than initially scheduled, so leave in good time.

All the overnight accommodation for our Mapungubwe Safari as well as the specifically mentioned activities are paid for by your LR Classic guide. You need to have your own Wild Card or pay the conservation levies as it is not covered by your safari costs.

You will receive a reservation number from LR Classic before 2 November 2020.

Please note: Mapungubwe is a wilderness area and all SANPARKS rules and regulations on traversing Mapungubwe National Park must always be adhered to. Please report to the main Mapungubwe gate reception before driving to Tsugulu Lodge.

Day 1: Monday 2 November 2020

Arrive in your own time at Mapungubwe Main Gate where the friendly staff at Mapungubwe main reception will welcome you. Please do the necessary paperwork and complete your entry forms at reception. Please update your Wild Card and have it ready to avoid extra conservation fees. At reception you will receive a gate pass and road map of Mapungubwe. Please keep this gate pass handy for the duration of our safari. We expect to exit and enter the park a few times during our stay at Mapungubwe. The reserve map comes in very handy to navigate the roads in Mapungubwe. Follow the directions to Tshugulu Lodge – distance 19.5km on the R572 towards Alldays. The signposted entrance gate is on your right-hand side. Follow the dirt road for 3.9km to Tsugulu Lodge.

Please plan your journey to arrive at Tsugulu Lodge no later than 15:00 – bear in mind slow driving for the last 80km to Mapungubwe as well as check-in time. The check-in process at Mapungubwe main gate and drive to Tsugulu Lodge should take maximum an hour. This will allow good time for offloading luggage, checking into your room and freshening up. Unwind a bit – you have reached your destination after a long journey! Depart around 17:00 for snacks and drinks at a nearby viewpoint for a “sundowner”. Relax and watch the setting sun over the Limpopo river valley.

Day 2

Our adventure starts in all earnest after a scrumptious breakfast. We pack our bags and depart for an adventurous day of driving through the park and do game viewing. The Mapungubwe National Park is split into two sections – the western side near the Pont Drift border called Vhembe and the eastern side towards Musina called Dongola with local community commercial farming activities in the middle section. We will drive on scenic 4×4 routes through the upper-Vhembe side, visit breath-taking viewpoints and unique cultural sites. This is also a good area for photography, amazing rock formations, massive Baobab trees, worthy for birding and ample wildlife. We will stop for a light lunch at a designated wild spot.

We continue our journey to the Dongola side after lunch. Exciting times await as we head off to conquer the not-too-difficult Kanniedood 4×4 route – engage low range and enjoy 4×4 driving through a spectacular section of the park! Our next destination is Vhembe bush camp. This is a small, intimate lodge where we will stay for the next two nights. Enjoy sundowners from a rock pool overlooking the Limpopo valley. Dinner will be served around a crackling campfire.

Day 3

Today we explore all the history, heritage, and culture of Mapungubwe. We depart after breakfast to the Interpretation Centre for a guided tour. The Interpretation Centre is an interesting and unique architectural structure and won an international award for architectural design. The informative tour is hosted by knowledgeable culture guides who were born and raised in the area – get it “from the horse’s’ mouth”. Here you get to see all the artifacts and a replica of the famous Golden Rhino! After a light lunch we will visit the site of the Mapungubwe kingdom, the core of the heritage of Mapungubwe – the sacred Mapungubwe Hill. We hop onto open game viewers for a relaxing drive to this special place. Arriving at the site, we disembark under the watchful eyes of armed ranger guides and perform a ritual before we can approach the site. We visit an excavation site where a timeline from the early 1200s is clearly visible. After an informative talk by our guide on the findings at the excavation site, we ascend the historical Mapungubwe Hill for an informative and interesting tour on top of the hill. This is where the king resided with his wives, grave sites are found and ancient games were played. This is the highlight of the heritage of Mapungubwe! Sit on top of the hill, relax, envisage what it was like all those years ago and soak up the ambience . . . The day’s activities end with sundowners at a mystery destination, followed by dinner back at Vhembe.

Day 4

We depart on another exciting day after yet another a hearty breakfast. We traverse more routes and dirt roads on Mapungubwe and stop for lunch at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers. This site has walkways to viewpoints where the two rivers meet, as well as ancient rock art, historic SANDF ruins, unique rock formations (Lot’s wife) and a wooden boardwalk to the edge of the Limpopo River. We exit the park and drive towards Pontdrift border post to find a site of fossilised reptile footprints. Our destination for the night is a tented camp on Rathu, a farm bordering the Limpopo River. Ratho is a commercial crocodile farm and we will spend most of the afternoon on a crocodile tour. Our accommodation comprises a luxury tented lodge overlooking the Limpopo River. Sundowners on the Limpopo riverbank, where elephant frequently quench their thirst.

Day 5

Breakfast is served by Ratho. We depart to Mapungubwe via the well-known ZZ2 tomato farm, visit Maloutswe pan for morning tea and on to a commercial community farming project at Mapungubwe for sightseeing. We traverse the bottom portion of the Vhembe district of Mapungubwe and stop for lunch at a designated spot. On the way back we enter at Mapungubwe main gate and drive towards our last night’s accommodation at Leokwe Lodge.

Why Mapungubwe?

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Discover an ancient African Kingdom, Southern Africa’s first, established at Mapungubwe Hill between 1200 and 1290 AD. Home to a powerful tribe that flourished on trading with Eastern cultures such as China and India, Mapungubwe saw the rise and fall of this great civilisation more than 700 years ago.

The beautiful Mapungubwe National Park, located at the top of the Limpopo Province, on the border of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, where the Limpopo and Shashe rivers meet, is a nature reserve and World Heritage Site.

A predominantly Venda-speaking area, Mapungubwe is known for its extraordinary history and was once the home of an exceedingly advanced African nation that lived in the area between 1200 and 1270 AD. The Kingdom of Mapungubwe was the first step in the development of the community that would later go on to create the powerful Kingdom of Greater Zimbabwe in the 13th century.

This is the place where archaeologists excavated the famous Golden Rhino and other evidence of a wealthy African kingdom.

Mapungubwe is incredibly historically important as the community that lived here is considered to be the most complex society in southern Africa at the time and also the first class-based social system in Southern Africa. Walking around the area one will clearly see the signs of social ranking separation as the leaders were separated from the rest of the inhabitants, living on the hill, and looking down on all below them.

There are several settlements in the reserve where the people lived at different historical times. The largest settlement is known as K2 or Leopard’s Kopje culture. The K2 people, who moved into the area due to the strong attraction to agricultural possibilities, were probably descendants of the eastern Bantu people. The K2 settlers hunted the Elephants in the area for their tusks, a valuable source of ivory and a popular trading item, and it was their control of both the ivory and gold that lead to their immense power and wealth.

With the availability and access of a wide variety of resources, the community at K2 grew in size and strength. Soon the population was too large for the area and in 1220 the people left K2 and relocated to Mapungubwe Hill.

A visit to the Lost City on top of Mapungubwe Hill will allow you to gain insight into the community that lived there, and you will be able to learn about their culture and way of life while taking in the beautiful view that stretches out before you.

The landscape is made up of strange sandstone formations interspersed with mopane woodlands, riverine forest, and tall ancient odd-looking baobab trees. Rich in a variety of wildlife, visitors to the nature reserve can look forward to sightings of giraffe, elephant, eland and gemsbok and might even be lucky enough to spot some of the predators, including lion and leopard.


  • Warm Clothes. Bring extra warm clothes – even in summertime it can get chilly on the early morning, sunset, and night Safaris.
  • Sunblockor sunscreen and a hat. The sun can get really hot during the day safari and special care should be taken.
  • Flashlight. It is advisable to use a flashlight when you walk around inside the camps when it is dark.
  • Binoculars, cameras

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