Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

Mopani Rest Camp, named for the mopane tree with its butterfly-shaped leaves that dominates the plantlife of the northern Kruger National Park, is located just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. From its hilltop vantage point, the camp offers splendid views over the Pioneer Dam (with a rich aquatic birdlife) and the mopane plains beyond.

Mopani_gate

Mopani entrance

Mopani_bungalow

Mopani bungalow

Mopani has an unfair reputation for not being a very prolific game viewing area of the Kruger Park, mostly because the mopane shrub can get extremely thick and difficult to see through.

Mopani_impala

Impalas displaying just how thick the mopane’s can get!

However, if you choose your routes carefully, the Mopani area has very much to offer; the best drive is undeniably the circular route made up of the S49, S50 and S143 gravel routes to the east of the camp that skirts the Mooiplaas and Tinhongonyeni waterholes and the Nshawu Vlei (marsh). Mopani, and especially the area around Tinhongonyeni waterhole, is a hotspot for sightings of the rarer antelope and large birds like the kori bustard, ground hornbill, ostrich and secretary bird. In fact, Tinhongonyeni is one of the best waterholes in the entire Kruger National Park for overall game viewing, and a couple of hours there will assuredly be time well spent. Elephant and buffalo thrive in the Mopani area (there’s a herd of buffalo in the vicinity more than 1,000 animals strong) and we’ve had a number of good lion and cheetah sightings in the district.

Mopani_buffalo

Buffalo in rainy weather

Mopani_buffalo2

This buffalo wasn’t overly happy to have his way blocked!

Mopani_charging elephant

Unhappy elephant!

Mopani_eland

Eland – a rare sighting in Kruger – at Tinhongonyeni waterhole

Mopani_elephant carcass

Vultures cleaning up the carcass of a tusker that died almost on Mopani’s doorstep

Mopani_elephant in the road

Claiming the road as his own, and who’s going to disagree?

Mopani_elephant procession

Elephant procession

Mopani_elephantbull

Lone elephant bull

Mopani_giraffe

Giraffe

Mopani_kudu

Kudu bull

Mopani_lion

This lion gave us a terrible fright, as we stopped right next to him without knowing he’s there (we were watching a herd of tsessebe at that moment)

Mopani_lions

Lions quenching their early morning thirst just a kilometer from Mopani

Mopani_Reedbuck

Reedbuck are frequently seen in the Nshawu Vlei

Mopani_Tinhongonyeni

Tinhongonyeni waterhole, with three rare antelope in one shot: eland, tsessebe and Liechtenstein’s hartebeest

Mopani_tsessebe

Tsessebe are seen more frequently near Mopani than anywhere else in the Kruger Park

Mopani_Tsessebe2

More tsessebe. Guess where? Tinhongonyeni!

Just south of Mopani, the Shipandani Hide, which overlooks a waterhole in the Tsendze River, offers a very different overnight experience as a single group of guests at a time may occupy the hide between sunset and sunrise.

Mopani_Shipandani

Shipandani Hide

Mopani_Shipandani_hippos

The neighbours at Shipandani

Mopani is also special to the de Wets for one more reason: it is here, in the glow of a magnificently romantic African sunset, that Marilize and I got engaged!

Mopani sunset

The scene was set to get down on bended knee!

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14 thoughts on “Mopani Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      We use both options Killaval, but when we do go camping it’s always with tents, so unfortunately I’m not able to give you good advice on campers or caravans. Sorry!

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